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Penn State Master Gardeners Host Field Day

Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County want you to stop and smell the roses (or garlic and basil).

They will be hosting their annual “Garden in the Parks Field Day” Saturday at the gardens in North and South Parks.

“We get to show the garden to guests as well as talk to them about native pollinators and proper composting, and we also have garlic tasting, tomato tasting and basil pesto tasting, and really just get to educate the public,” said Philip Bauerle, Interim Master Gardener Coordinator in Pittsburgh.

The event has increased in attendance since it began five years ago, and 1,000 people participated last year.

The master gardeners will lead plant-enthusiasts on a tour of the half-moon garden in North Park, which has a new theme every year.

“We did a color spectrum two years ago, and last year we did very bright chartreuse and orange and bright red colors last year and this year, after such a bright show last year, the natural choice is black and white,” Bauerle said.

The gardeners will use flowers like the white cleome and foliage like the black leaves from the sweet potato vine to create the color scheme.

Bauerle will be at South Park talking about the importance of maintaining “native pollinators.”

He said the gardeners have been looking at ways to support the 400 Pennsylvania bee species because of the recent colony collapse disorder that has been affecting honeybees, which are native to Europe.

He said the Penn State Master Gardener Program statewide created an initiative for people to certify their gardens “Pollinator-Friendly.”

“To do so, you have to meet certain requirements such as providing food, providing shelter, providing water and reducing pesticide use,” Bauerle said. “And those four actions will help the local pollinator population.”

Bauerle said they do not use pesticides or herbicides in their gardens.

“The nature of the garden is demonstration, it is an educational garden, we do let the pests affect the plants just because it demonstrates what kind of problems those plants can get,” Bauerle said.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.