Garden Party: Annual festival seeks to educate, entertain

Annual festival seeks to educate, entertain

PHOTO COURTESY OF DEB DAMASKA This Saturday, the Lycoming County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer plant-related questions and offer suggestions for buying new plants at their annual GardenFest. All of the demonstration gardens will be open, and vendors will be on site. The festival will be held rain or shine.

This year’s Garden Fest, set for Saturday and organized by the Lycoming County Master Gardeners, won’t involve just colorful flowers and fresh vegetables. Birds will be a part of the show too.

Gary Metzger, president of the Lycoming Audubon Society, will be on hand with binoculars and a spotting scope that visitors can borrow to observe the birds that take advantage of the cover and insects found among the perennial, native, annual, pollinator, sensory and square-foot vegetable gardens that the Master Gardeners plant and maintain.

Metzger and other society members will lead a hike on the nearby Conservation Trail at 9:30 a.m. and will have information about the local chapter of the Audubon Society available for the public.

A number of other activities and workshops, plus several vendors, will be at the Lysock View Complex, 542 County Farm Road, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. rain or shine on Saturday. The festival is free.

“The best part of Garden Fest is talking to people who have similar gardening passions you can learn from,” said Carol Loveland, a Master Gardener. “Whether it’s attending one of the workshops or just talking to a Master Gardener in the gardens, you can go away knowing more than you did when you came.”

A special emphasis has been placed this year on activities for youths. A taste-testing table will be set up especially for children and will include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Other activities for youngsters include a scavenger hunt with prizes, face painting and playing with rainsticks.

“If you couldn’t make it for Kids Day in June, you should try to make up for it at Garden Fest,” said Master Gardener Linda Betts. “We have a fantastic new addition of kids’ activities.”

For instance, the rainsticks, which the gardeners made out of bamboo and dried beans, rice or peas, create a sound like that of falling rain when they are turned upside down. They fit in nicely with the newest greenspace at the complex — the Sensory Garden.

The rainsticks “obviously cover the sense of sound but there’s also sight and touch,” said Betts, who is the Sensory Garden chairwoman, “and the ‘sense of wonder’ that always is a delight to see in children’s eyes.”

For adults, the following workshops and instructors are planned:

“Identification and Management of Important Non-native Invasive Species,” by Benjamin Gamble, a forester with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, at 9 a.m.

“Grow Your Own Medicine,” by Sue J. Morris, owner of Sue’s Salves, at 10 a.m.

“Tools and Tricks to Stay Healthy and Minimize Pain (So You Can Garden as Long as You Want),” by Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, owners of Green Heron Tools, at 11 a.m.

“Weeds, Seeds, Pods and Flowers: Creating Wreaths from Items in Your Backyard,” by Carole Livingston, Clinton County Master Gardener, at noon.

Reg Laughner, of Ironwood Acres and Victory Garden Products, will be share tips on “How to Improve Your Soil Organically.”

In addition to the scheduled workshops, Garden Fest also features educational displays, garden-themed vendors, plants and garden treasures.

A cookbook written by members of the Lycoming County Master Gardeners will be for sale. The group also will sell items such as gardening gloves and garden “cobras,” tools that are used to dig, cultivate and plant.

Light refreshments will be served and guests may register for door prizes.

“The refreshments provide great ideas as to what to do with your garden produce,” Loveland said.

The Garden Fest also provides a great opportunity for residents to “Ask an Expert.”

Master Gardeners will offer their diagnosis, identification and recommendations. Questions, samples or pictures are welcomed.

“There is something for everyone — whether it be eating, shopping, learning or socializing — in one of the prettiest locations in the county,” Loveland said.