After living through months of sub-zero wind chills, record school delays and potholes large enough to swallow a mid-sized car, all of us are longing for spring.
The 19th annual Garden & Landscape Symposium April 12 is the place for gardeners to be inspired by nationally prominent horticulturalists and garden designers. Even if you're not game to spend a day in garden "wonkdom," you can get a start on planting by visiting the Garden Marketplace at the Shady Side Academy Ice Rink from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. The marketplace is free and open to the public, and it features the annual daffodil show hosted by the Daffodil and Hosta Society of Western Pennsylvania
In addition to garden art, the marketplace will feature unusual or native trees, shrubs and perennials selected by Penn State master gardeners. The curated plant choices will include:
'Burgundy Lace' Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum) -- One of the easiest ferns to grow in the home garden, painted ferns thrive in shade to part-shade and are deer-resistant. This one reaches 15-20 inches tall and is distinguished by silvery fronds complemented by maroon mid-ribs. It pairs beautifully with hosta with glaucous, or blue-ish, foliage such as 'Halcyon' or 'Blue Mouse Ears.' In a garden browsed by deer, try 'Burgundy Lace' with Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) and pink begonias.
Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) is a native plant that fits well into any sunny or part-sunny garden. Topping out at 3 feet, it is valuable in attracting butterflies and other pollinators to the garden and is deer-resistant as well. Mountain mint sports silvery leaves and pale pink flowers and goes well with coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and prairie gayfeather (Liatris spicata).
'Jester' ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) -- This is a superior cultivar of annual millet that provides a strong 3- to 4-foot vertical accent, perfect to anchor a dramatic container in full sun. Its early growth is chartreuse edged with burgundy. As the season progresses, the grass turns solid burgundy and is topped with a plume laden with seeds that attract birds. This millet's color works well with a restrained palette of pink or white flowers and gray foliage or a more lively combination of coral flowers and lime green foliage.
For more details about the Garden & Landscape Symposium, including registration and a list of vendors: http://extension.psu.edu/garden-landscape-symposium.
Carol Papas is a Penn State master gardener. Columns by master gardeners sometimes appear in place of the Garden Q&A by Sandy Feather, a Penn State Extension educator.
First Published March 21, 2014 9:51 PM