Master Gardeners to feature crafts for the garden

Berks County Master Gardeners will host a free Garden Open House on Saturday, July 12, from 9 a.m. till 12 noon, featuring garden-related demonstrations. The event takes place at two locations: the Demonstration Garden at the Berks County Ag Center, and the Heritage Herb Garden at the Berks County Heritage Center. Both gardens are in Bern Township just west of Reading, and are about five minutes apart by car.

The theme for this year’s Open House is Gardening Outside the Box. Penn State Master Gardeners will be demonstrating how to create items such as containers for all seasons, hypertufa, vertical gardening, “chia pets,” and clay pot people. Topics at the Herb Garden include herb towers, growing plants in strawberry pots, and living holiday wreaths.

The annual event is an opportunity for visitors to interact with Penn State Master Gardeners at work doing the tasks required to keep gardens healthy and beautiful. Master Gardeners will be on hand at both locations to answer questions and offer advice on home gardening, lawns, landscaping, growing vegetables, composting, and more. There will be an abundance of free literature on dozens of garden topics.

The Heritage Herb Garden is located at the Berks County Heritage Center, Red Bridge Road. It is also accessible on foot by crossing the Tulpehocken Creek via the Red Bridge from Tulpehocken Road. This garden represents a typical German kitchen and herb garden of the 19th century, and offers both historic and horticultural interest. Master Gardeners will be serving snacks and beverages made with herbs.

The Demo Garden is located at the Berks County Ag Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Leesport. Visitors will be able to talk with Master Gardeners working in the garden they created in the mid 1990s. The main section features trees, shrubs, and perennials that have proven successful and appealing for Berks County landscapes. Among the criteria for inclusion in the Demo Garden are that a plant must be relatively pest and disease resistant, be drought and wind tolerant, have at least three seasons of color or structural interest, and be adaptable to the soil types found in Berks County.

In addition to the main garden, visitors to this site will see a number of specialty gardens: The Native Plant Garden, the Rock Garden, the Compost Area, Future Site of a Vegetable Garden, a Woodland Garden, a Groundcover Bed, the shady Wall Garden, an Herb Garden, the Oval Garden, a Rain Garden, and a Pollinator Garden.

The Pollinator Garden is part of a statewide effort through Penn State in cooperation with the PA Department of Agriculture and Haagen-Dazs. The Berks Master Gardener Demo Garden will be used for regular monitoring and identification of bee and non-bee pollinators.

There will be a short Dedication Ceremony at 10 a.m. for the Patio and Woodland Garden, recognizing the partnership of the Berks Conservation District, Berks Horticulture Club, and Penn State Master Gardeners of Berks County.

The Open House is free, as are convenient parking and light refreshments. Visitors are encouraged to spend the morning with the Master Gardeners, enjoying the gardens and finding answers to questions on all things horticultural.