GREENSBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) presented the demonstration garden of the Penn State Master Gardeners of Westmoreland County, located at Ligonier Country Market, with the 2020 Blue Ribbon Award—highest honors— for “outstanding public space garden”. Wilma Light, MD, Ligonier resident and project leader of the demonstration garden, accepted the award on behalf of the Master Gardeners, and the Weeders and Seeders Garden Club of Ligonier, whose members help maintain the garden.
From 500 contestants statewide, the most prestigious award of Blue Ribbon was given to 122 gardens. The PHS recognized not only beauty in gardens, “but remarkable resourcefulness, ingenuity and community support in the face of challenging times.”
This year, entries to the contest increased by more than 25% compared to 2019, reflecting a spike in gardening interest and appreciation during the pandemic. For the first time in its 45-year history, the 2020 Gardening Contest was conducted fully online, with contestants sharing photos of their outdoor gardens, houseplant collections, or public space gardens, and answering detailed questions about the entries. With just over 500 completed entries received in 2020, 122 were recognized with a Blue Ribbon Award; 160 entries were deemed Gardens of Distinction; and 259 were awarded a Proud Participant.
Wilma Light explained, “We’ve been able to support our local food bank this year, despite limitations in our face to face interactions. The judging committee also liked our ‘sensory garden’ with signage designed especially for children, and signage in the perennial and milkweed gardens which provides information on best practices in gardening and supporting pollinator friendly insects.” PHS judges evaluated gardens and shared constructive feedback using the following criteria in scoring:
Aesthetic appeal including beauty, creativity and effective design
Plant Health & Production
Habitat for Beneficial Wildlife (Outdoor Gardens)
Social Connections to Family/Neighborhood/Community
A small army of volunteers from Ligonier and surrounding communities assists with design, planting and maintenance of the Ligonier demonstration garden. Prior to the pandemic, the garden and Penn State Extension Master Gardeners were frequently a “special feature” of the weekly Ligonier Country Market.
To learn more about the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program, visit https://extension.psu.edu/programs/master-gardener
To stay connected with Westmoreland County gardening activities visit the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Westmoreland County Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WestmorelandCountyMasterGardeners/
–Penn State Extension Westmoreland County