In the heart of Betts Park is a little Warren County gardening jewel. Beautiful flowers emerge, live for a time and return to the earth. Birds fluttering from branch to branch and insects going about their pollinating business provide the music of a summer afternoon.
From its beginnings outside the green house at the State Hospital to its present location at Betts Park, Penn State Extension Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Clifford R. Betts Park, its proper name, but affectionately known by one and all as the Bill Bloomquist Demonstration Garden is enjoyed by many visitors. Maintained by Penn State Master Gardeners, the season begins in May and June with early spring maintenance and the planting of the annual garden, to October when the season ends.
In late June, the Walk and Talks, guided by Penn Sate Master Gardeners, take place Saturday mornings every two weeks from 10 to 11 a.m. The garden walks are guided by a few concepts. First what is blooming at the time, second what and why maintenance is being done and third what questions do the visitors have.
Many people attend these garden walks on a regular basis. They watch the garden grow and change throughout the season. All plants are clearly labeled by botanical and common names. A bird house (made and donated by Master Gardener, Scott Jenkinson) on one of the arbors, holds brochures for the garden visitor. There is much to be learned and much to be enjoyed. Throughout the season different flowers emerge from the soil, bloom and die. The flowers and foliage change from day to day as the spring garden changes to high summer and the full flush of the perennial border. As the season changes to late summer and early autumn, new plants delight the senses.
Maintenance is preformed by a committee of dedicated Master Gardeners. They plant, mulch, thin, weed, water, and deadhead. During the garden walks maintenance is discussed and even demonstrated to the visitor. These maintenance activities produce the successful garden and these maintenance tasks are what gardeners need to master to produce good results in their own gardens.
We have so much to learn from each other. As I toured the garden I was able to study the pollinator garden up close and personal. The banana spider and the humming bird moth were as interesting as the flowers. Planted in this area are wildflowers, a project we all should consider as well as the purchase of a good book to identify the insects. Our pollinators are in trouble and wildflower gardens would help the situation.
I love a garden walk. I like meeting the gardeners and talking about the techniques and strategies they use to perfect their wonderful gardens. I like seeing interesting new cultivars that would thrive in my garden. I learn something from every garden I visit and every gardener I meet. The last two walks of the year are scheduled for September 8 and 22 from 10 to 11 a.m. Gardening thrives in our little corner of the world. Take advantage of the garden walks at Betts Park.