For many people, summer living means beautiful flowers and eating from their gardens. Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County celebrate summer living each year with Garden in the Parks, a garden celebration and open house scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at North Park and South Park.
Both gardens feature perennial herbs, plants that draw pollinators and demonstration gardens. The demonstration gardens are filled with annuals and act as a laboratory for what will thrive in local gardens. Plants are chosen based on their suitability to our climate and soil. As the season progresses, gardeners can see the real world performance of seed and plants sold commercially in the spring.
This family-friendly, free event includes tastings of basil, garlic and other edible plants, and, for children, the chance to dig a potato and bring it home. Cookies, some of which are baked with herbs from the garden, can be sampled at the refreshment table.
Master Gardeners will bring home-grown tomatoes and visitors can see what varieties have thrived in our wet June and July, capped off by the recent rain-free heat. After guided tours of the gardens, visitors can vote for their favorite 2015 plant. Master Gardeners will also answer questions on garden topics such as preserving the harvest, attracting native pollinators, composting and growing herbs and vegetables. Staff will also help identify plants and diagnose plant diseases. A station at North Park will provide guidance on dealing with deer and other pests.
The garden market will offer home-grown produce, plants, specialty gardening items and Penn State Soil Test Kits. Local organizations on hand will include Burgh Bees, the Daffodil & Hosta Society, the American Chestnut Society, Tree Pittsburgh and the North American Rock Garden Society.
Finally, an event wouldn't be "Penn State" without ice cream from the Creamery. Sample August Pie -- vanilla ice cream with peaches, nectarines and red raspberry sauce. Come early for free samples of several flavors from this venerable Penn State institution.
Karel Ulizio is a Penn State Master Gardener. Columns by master gardeners will sometimes appear in place of the Garden Q&A by Sandy Feather, a Penn State educator.