Guest Article for the Tallahassee Democrat
May 10, 2013, Release for Tallahassee Democrat
Photo 1, Master Gardener Glenn Mayne at his booth.
Photo 2, Master Gardeners Jana Walling & Lana Arnold working with a visitor.
By Stan Rosenthal
If you are looking for something to do for Mother’s Day I have a suggestion. Take her on a tour of the beautiful gardens at the UF/Leon County Extension Office Spring Open House.
Twice a year, the Master Gardeners at the Extension Office host an open house to show off their gardens. This is an opportunity for them to show not only beautiful flowers that will make people happy but also educate on how to create such an environment in your own yard.
The key to this event is that employees and volunteers at the Extension Office give out information based on research from the University of Florida. At this event, you will be able to see the results of this research when applied to the grounds. The practices that are followed promote the principles of Florida Yards and Neighborhoods: right place, right plant, water efficiently, fertilize appropriately, mulch, attract wildlife, manage yard pests responsibly, recycle yard waste, reduce stormwater runoff and protect the waterfront. These practices are designed to help us create beauty in our yards but do it in a way that is friendlier to our environment.
Tours will be given of the demonstration garden — which is made up of seven distinctive areas of gardening and a new orchard. One of the gardens is a vegetable garden that compares organic and non-organic gardening techniques.
There will also be booths set up around the property providing information about bees and butterflies, sunflowers, roses, canning, healthy soil, micro irrigation, how to attract wildlife, plant propagation, composting, urban forestry and arboriculture and much more. There will also be 4-H and other youth activities for the kids. If that is not enough for you, the Big Bend Woodwind Quintet will also be providing music to add to the ambiance in the garden.
There also will be a plant sale, as well as other garden goods for sale. We will even have rain and compost barrels being sold at a discounted price.
If gardening is not your thing or you have an interest in lowering your utility cost, the Extension building and grounds are also Leon County’s Sustainable Demonstration Center. There will be tours of the net-zero energy system, solar photovoltaic array, geothermal heating and cooling system. If that sounds a little complicated, there will also be a booth that will give you simple and easy ideas on how to reduce your utility bills.
The Spring Open House is free and will occur from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11. The event is located at 615 Paul Russell Road, just east of the fair grounds.
Stan Rosenthal is an Extension Agent with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon County, . For more information about gardening in our area, visit the UF/ IFAS Leon County Extension website at http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov