’Tis the season for Centre County Master Gardeners.
Spring has officially sprung, which means that there will be plenty of flowers, vegetables and other assorted green life for Bonnie Walter and company to tend to over the next few months.
The Master Gardeners’ next major event will be the Annual Plant Sale, held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Ag Progress Day Site in Pennsylvania Furnace. Visitors will be able to chose from more than 5,000 plants, including annuals, perennials and herbs.
Below, Walter talks her approach to the craft of gardening.
Q: How does one go about becoming a Master Gardener?
A: The best way is to contact Centre County Extension office for an updated schedule of classes. The Extension office is located in Bellefonte and the phone number is 355-4897.
Q: Has the experience changed the way you think about your craft?
A: I have moved toward a more native plant landscape. Restricting plant choices to species that are native to our area. Also, wildlife gardening. Incorporating plant material that provides habitats for wildlife, which includes plants for the butterfly. Each of the above attempt to address specific aspects of sustainability.
Q: Do you think that it’s important to preserve or pass down those skills? Why?
A: Yes, I believe giving the children a love of nature at an early age will provide skills and a everlasting sense of love for nature for a lifetime.
Q: What are some of the things you’ll have growing in your home garden this spring?
A: Presently, blood root is in full bloom, as well as the Virginia bluebells. The daffodils are beautiful now and the Helleborus have continued to bloom. Soon the May apples will appear.
Q: Is there a type of plant or flower that you would recommend for someone who is just beginning to dabble with a home garden?
A: I would suggest daffodils. They are easy to plant, they are know for their animal deterrent properties. Very showy when blooming. The botanic name is Narcissus. Plant the bulbs in the fall before the ground freezes for blooms in the spring.
Q: What’s something that people seldom think about when planting or tending a garden but really should?
A: I believe it would be the pH level of the soil. Every plant has its preferred range of soil acidity. Soil tests are available for sale at the Extension Office.
Q: When do you typically start planting?
A: That would depend on the plant, however, basically around middle to end of May. Knowing the first and last frost dates will help, and reference the USDA plant hardiness zones.
Q: How much time per week do you typically devote to your garden?
A: My garden is my stress-free zone and I try to spend as much time as possible in the garden. For weeding, watering, etc., up to 15 hours a week.
Q: Who taught you how to garden? How old were you?
A: That would be my mother. I was probably 5 or 6 when I first started planting. I was a member of 4-H, so that reinforced the love of plants.