Friday, July 13, 2018

In bloom now - Monarda!

Adam Eyring

You probably have noticed patches of deep red or pink tall flowers on your local travels this June. There's a good chance they are two different species of Monarda. The red ones are Monarda didyma and the pink are Monarda fistulosa. Didyma is an eastern North American native while fistulosa is native to all of North America.

Monarda didyma

These plants are in the mint family and have common names such as bee balm, bergamot, oswego tea, and horsemint. They are herbaceous perennials and if you look closely, are well-visited by a number of critters thanks to the strong fragrances. Didyma is among the most fragrant of Monarda and a favorite of hummingbirds, which have the ability to reach into the deep flowers. The pink fistulosa are frequented by large bees. Both flowers are also visited by some butterflies and moths.

Monarda fistulosa

Monarda are very easy to grow and spread fast. The best time to plant them is when they're short in spring or to transplant their dormant stems in the fall. As mentioned above, they are tall (and leggy) and thus it helps to plant them as a group so they can support each other - otherwise staking may be necessary. Although I've never encountered it, I've read they can be susceptible to powdery mildew and thus one solution is to plant them in full sun and ensure some wind can pass through them. 

A good place to visit these flowers is at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center Pollinator Demonstration garden. Seriously consider planting native shrubs & perennials that supply nectar & pollen for an array of native bees & birds.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Serviceberry and the Urban Garden

Michelle L. Dauberman

The Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) that you see in these pictures is planted in a small courtyard garden in Fishtown, a neighborhood located northeast of Center City Philadelphia, and as you can see it is the perfect size for the compact urban environment.

For the urban gardener it is also great to know that this tree provides three seasons of interest:  

  1. In the spring, it will display a delicate white shower of lightly fragrant flowers over the entire tree
  2. In the summer, it will bear tasty berries but be quick.  Birds love these berries too! 
  3. In the fall, the round leaves turn a stunning shade of orange. Also, you will find that the Serviceberry comes in multi or single stem.
It’s the beginning of June in Philadelphia so the Serviceberries are in full fruit production right now and what a treat! You can pick the reddish/purplish fruit right off the tree or bake them into cakes, muffins & pies just like you would with blueberries.

If you’re on a budget and if you live in Philadelphia, you can register online and pick up one of these attractive trees for FREE at the next Tree Philly event in the fall of 2018.

For more information on the Tree Philly free tree program visit:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Plant Sale Success!

Marc Cappelletti

All smiles throughout the day. 
The morning sunshine shone warm and bright among the flowering trees, plants and display tables Sunday morning at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, as Penn State University Extension Master Gardeners set up for their annual plant sale. 

This annual sale raises funds for future outreach all while providing the public with expertly grown and cared for plants at very affordable prices.  

Learning about the power of seeds at the Science Fair tables.

Science Festival displays enhanced the event further, and were particularly intriguing to families and children curious about the soil beneath their feet and how science plays a part in their everyday lives. 
Container Gardening Presentation

Everything from succulents to herbs to tomatoes, peppers, edible greens, perennials, native plants and more were on sale. 

And as a bonus, the Master Gardeners were on hand to answer all gardening questions.

Almost time for tomatoes! 

Presentations ran throughout the morning as well, giving visitors a chance to learn about vermiculture (composting with worms), container gardening and the use of indoor plants to clean the air. 
A satisfied customer. 

City living--you have to get those plants home any way possible! 

A delicious salad dressing recipe to spice up our fresh greens. 

Teaching about herb pairings and salad greens. 
Visitors could also learn easy salad dressing recipes and herb pairings, possibly to use in time with their newly purchased plants!

The perfect "classroom" setting.

Everyone who came also enjoyed the chance to appreciate nature, our ultimate goal on this Earth Day.

Penn State Master Gardeners send a warm thanks to everyone that was able to attend.  Enjoy your plants!  

As always, we would love to hear from you.  How did you spend your Earth Day?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Penn State Extension MG Edible Demonstration Garden at Fairmont Park’s Horticultural Center is expanding, again!

by Michelle L. Dauberman

Last year the edible demonstration garden expanded its footprint by adding five raised beds and this year the garden is adding four more!  

This fun expansion was spear headed by Lois Fischer and graciously supported by the Edible Garden Committee, Penn State Extension Master Gardeners & some philanthropic Drexel University students.

This is such an exciting time for the garden so check out the new additions while we celebrate Earth Day during the Penn State Extension Master Gardener Plant Sale on April 22, 2018.  Visit our location again over the summer when the garden at it peak!

Thanks to everyone who donated their generous time, materials and labor!

For more information on the Penn State Extension MG Garden Day and Plant Sale:

For more information on raised beds: