Monday, August 29, 2011

2011 Autumn Stroll - Sunday, September 18th

Franklin County Master Gardeners are featuring gardens in the Blue Ridge Summit and Waynesboro areas for the 2011 Garden Tour.  It takes place Sunday, September 18th from Noon to 5:00 PM.
“This year's tour takes participants on a journey through time and landscape design,” explains Tour Coordinator Georgena Ruth. “Participants will view modern landscapes in a trendy Waynesboro development, and then step back in time while they visit a cluster of Summit communities that historically served as summer retreats, and whose landscape designs are as unique as the historical residences they adorn.”

Tickets are available for purchase at the Franklin County Extension Office, 181 Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg (717-263-9226) and at the following locations:



 Day-of-Tour Tickets: 

Eight private gardens, including three Master Gardener's are featured.  The host sites for 2011 are: 
Carl and Kathy Grove
11254 Brookdale Drive, Waynesboro

Doris and Robert Goldman
11632 Woodlea Drive, Waynesboro

Jim and Barbara Rock
11640 Woodlea Drive, Waynesboro

Ray Eckhart (MG) and Bob Parisien
Monte Vista Bed & Breakfast, Blue Ridge Summit

Karen (MG) and Earl Strimple
Rose Cottage, Blue Ridge Summit

Angela Weathers (MG)
25710 Military Road, Cascade, MD

Gerry Otremba and Stan Turesky
Wits End, Highfield, MD

Stan and Mary Beth Champlin
Craigsland, Highfield, MD

In addition, three public gardens at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, the Blue Ridge Summit Library, and the memorial garden at the Blue Ridge Summit Fire and Rescue Squad are available for viewing along the way.  The Church of the Transfiguration has graciously offered to allow public use of their restrooms, as well.  Refreshments will be available at Monte Vista Bed and Breakfast, which will also host the educational component on Invasive Plant Species and Wildlife-Friendly Alternatives to Lawn.  Watch out for the Guineas.

Visitors may view the gardens in any order, throughout the afternoon.

Rough and uneven landscaping may be encountered, and so comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes are recommended.  Tickets are $10.00 per person and include site directions, garden descriptions, and historical tidbits.

Tour proceeds will support the ongoing development of the Patrick Gass Garden, honoring a native son and his contributions on the Lewis and Clarke Expedition.

Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 Tomato Day Coverage

Karlyn Hazleton marks her ballot
Press coverage for the 11th annual Tomato Taste Day included local papers from Hagerstown and Waynesboro.  We had 164 people tell us their choices from a selection of 24 tomato varieties.

From the Herald-Mail:
Each table was lined with tomatoes as tasters armed with clipboards rated them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on flavor and appearance.

“I came just to taste them. I eat a lot of tomatoes,” Burke said.

While some believe an apple a day keeps the doctor away, Burke seems to have applied that same philosophy to tomatoes — but only in the summer.

She doesn’t like the taste of tomatoes in the winter.

“I only get them in the summertime when they are locally grown,” she said.
From the Record Herald:
The tomatoes offered were red, yellow, green and purple. Some were sweet, some were tangy.

The public was asked to rate each tomato on a one to five scale for flavor and appearance.

“I like it,” said Ruth Cozzoli of Hagerstown. “It’s a fun thing to do.”
Ann DeBien of Mechanicsburg drives one hour each way to attend the tasting.
“This is wonderful,” DeBien said. “It’s worth asking a vacation day off for.”

Kaytie, Alaine, and Becky Greenawalt
Take Turns Tasting

Bryton and Donovan Hazleton sample a Cherokee Green
"Not all Tomatoes are Red" 
This was also the second year we sponsored a salsa contest.  Celebrity judges, Commissioner Dave Keller, and 2010 winner Darl Hospelhorn chose Michael Kusco's entry, while the people's choice award went to Mary Crooks.

Mike Kusco

Mary Crooks

11 Year Old Annie Dingzon - Our Youngest Entrant
Angela Weathers and Harry Stutts showed off their grower prowess with tomatoes from their home gardens weighing nearly 2 lbs each.

Angela Weathers
Harry Stutts

Volunteers Pick on Monday 8/22
Much thanks goes to event coordinator Linda Watkins and all the volunteers and Penn State Extension staff of Franklin County who contributed to its success.  Planning started in January, selecting varieties.  Then came the seed starting and potting up the seedlings in March and April.  In late May 120 plants were planted and tended throughout the season by Extension's summer assistant, Autumn Phillips.  On Monday, August 22nd, teams of pickers picked and washers washed.  Tuesday, finalized handouts were collated, spread sheets set up, and keys and scoring sheets prepared for the public, all leading up to the teams of Master Gardener volunteers, setting up, slicing and dicing, and anchoring (literally, given the wind gusts that day) the information tables.  On top of all that, Denise Lucas, Peg Bundy and their team decorated the areas with flower and vegetable arrangements, while feeding the hungry hordes of volunteers, Extension Staff, and county maintenance troops who keep our facility in good condition.  Special mention goes to Laurie Collins, whose extraordinary data entry skills allowed us to have the 164 score sheets tallied and ready for distribution by Thursday morning.  Thanks, folks, and take a bow for a job well done.  Cheers!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Tomato Day Results

Sakura Honey
Grape varieties from Johnny's Selected Seeds came in the top three positions in Penn State Extension, Franklin County's 11th annual Tomato Taste Day.

Sakura Honey was number 1, followed by Red Pearl and Five Star

"Sakura Honey produces high yields of oval, avg. 15 gm fruits with excellent flavor. A good combination with Five Star Grape and Solid gold in a mixed container. Better flavor and more crack resistant than Chiquita, which it replaces. Indeterminate"

Red Pearl

"Compared with Red Grape, Red Pearl fruits are slightly larger, with more tender skin and fewer seeds for improved flavor. Resists cracking and stores well on and off the vine. Tall, healthy plants. High resistance (HR) to fusarium wilt races 1 and 2. Indeterminate."

Five Star Grape
"Five Star Grape has excellent, sweet flavor and firm, meaty texture with few seeds and little juice. Healthy plants bear high yields of bright red, 15-20 gm, crack resistant grape tomatoes. Indeterminate."

Rounding out the top five are heirloom varieties, Principe Borghese, an Italian heirloom noted for its ability to dry well  and Old Brooks (seed from Totally Tomatoes).  Originally the seed for Principe Borghese came from Pine Tree Gardens.

Principe Borghese
"HEIRLOOM Determinate. This is the tomato used for sun drying in Italy. It is very small (1-2 ounces), plum shaped, and pointed at one end. Fruits are born in large clusters of several dozen, like grapes. They are meaty with little juice and branches can be hung to dry until leathery. In Italy they just throw the vines over a fence. We've had success in our cool, wet climate with slicing them in half and drying them in an oven with just the pilot light."

Old Brooks
"Smooth, blemish-free fruits known for their superior resistance to blossom end-rot as well as to early and late blights. Gourmet quality flesh, with a fine, even texture. The taste is somewhat acidic, which proves to be an asset in home canning. Good all-around variety."

164 people participated in the event.  Here are the full results:

 1 Sakura Honey                  665.50
 2 Red Pearl                     623.50
 3 Five Star                     608.00
 4 Principe Borghese             555.50
 5 Old Brooks                    535.50
 6 Arbason                       525.00
 7 Fabulous                      521.50
 8 Heritage Hybrid               518.50
 9 Cherokee Green                499.50
10 SX 605                        493.50
11 Copper River                  493.50
12 Ceylon                        492.00
13 Lyn's Mahogany Garnet         491.50
14 Green Zebra                   475.50
15 Big Beef                      469.00
16 Tribeca                       466.50
17 Delicious                     466.00
18 Defiant                       457.50
19 Rocky Top                     451.50
20 Dr. Carolyn                   436.50
21 BHN 876                       432.00
22 Scarlet Red                   429.00
23 Bison                         417.00
24 BHN 189                       412.00

1 Red Pearl                      713.50
2 Sakura Honey                   670.50
3 Big Beef                       656.50
4 Old Brooks                     631.00
5 Rocky Top                      629.00
6 Principe Borghese              613.50
7 Arbason                        613.00
8 Scarlet Red                    611.00
9 Tribeca                        603.00
10 Heritage Hybrid               602.50
11 Five Star                     591.50
12 Dr. Carolyn                   578.50
13 SX 605                        578.00
14 Delicious                     573.00
15 BHN 189                       568.50
16 Defiant                       563.50
17 Fabulous                      558.50
18 Green Zebra                   552.50
19 Lyn's Mahogany Garnet         550.00
20 Copper River                  541.50
21 BHN 876                       534.00
22 Ceylon                        525.50
23 Cherokee Green                499.50
24 Bison                         477.00

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gass Garden - Timberrr

Linda Secrist was on hand to capture the Cumberland Valley Tree Service efforts to remove the old and diseased Colorado Blue Spruce at the site of the future Patrick Gass Garden.
Removing Limbs

From the Bucket
The Last to Go

Just the Trunk Remaining
An additional benefit from the removal of the tree will be to provide more sun to the area, thus increasing the options for plant material.

Grinding Out the Stump
Penn State Extension always recommends use of a certified arborist when dealing with your landscape trees.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bloom Day 3, August 4, 2011

What's big, impressive, clump-forming with lots of appeal?  Why Thalictrum 'Lavender Mist', of course.   When lavender mist meadow rue is in bloom, I always ask myself why I don't have more of this stunning plant.  Thalictrum 'Lavender Mist' will produce an impressive backdrop for a natural looking, wildflower garden with its open airy habit.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' with 'Lavender Mist'
Planted in part shade in my garden, this meadow rue is over 6 feet tall. Lavender Mist  is more upright, but much airier than other meadow rues. This allows the plant to show off its purplish stalks, and draws the attention to the lavender flowers with yellow anthers. The result is a graceful cloud of misty lavender flowers that never fail to draw attention as it mingles with other flowers.

Lavender mist meadow rue is a very carefree plant not bothered by any insects.  Note to self:  buy more Lavender Mist for next year!

We've all heard of Caryopteris clandonensis, commonly known as blue mist spirea.  But did you know there is a perennial Caryopteris in the family?   Caryopteris divaricata 'Blue Butterflies' is a vigorous plant topping out at over 6 feet; however, the plant can be cut back to layer or keep more compact.  From late July  through October hundreds of small blue-curled flowers resembling blue butterflies will cover the full-sun plant.

Blue Butterflies is another carefree plant that does not seem to be bothered by any insects or deer.  Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers and is easily divided in the spring for additional plants.

One of the highlights of a late summer garden is Tricyrtis for- mosana.  Long past when other plants have come and gone, Tricyrtis takes its place center stage with its miniature orchid-like flowers. This is an excellent plant to be used in a shady border or by itself in a more natural setting where it can be seen up close.

Tricyrtis formosana grows best in moist but well drained, humus-rich soil in deep to partial shade. Do not plant in full sun because the leaves will burn. This plant will form a rhizomatous clump over time. Tricyrtis formosana should not be allowed to dry out completely and would benefit from a layer of mulch when dormant.

Now that I've piqued your interest in Tricyrtis formosana, I'll share the plant's common name...toad lily...good thing I didn't tell you that first.  There are a few interesting theories about how the toad lily got its name. One theory is that it was named because the spotted appearance of the flowers was reminiscent of the spots on a toad. Another theory is that the name stems from the reputed practice of a native Philippine tribe of using the juice of the plant while collecting frogs to attract the frogs and make them less slippery when caught.  You decide, but I guarantee you won't get warts from this toad lily.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's Blooming!

I stopped by the demonstration gardens to see what's blooming.  Here's some of what I found.

In the Pollinator Garden....Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower)

In the Perennial Garden...Garden Phlox

And Alcea (Hollyhocks)

Asclepias (Milkweed) growing in a container up near the high tunnel

In the Wildlife Area....Gaillardia looking fresh in the afternoon heat

 In the Herb Garden....many wasps enjoying the fennel