(Oriskany, NY – May 2013) Yearly, the same garden questions are asked of Master Gardener Volunteers, and the Herb & Flower Festival held in June presents free classes to tackle some of them. It will be held on June 22 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County at the Farm & Home Center located off of Judd Road on Second Street in Oriskany.
The Parker F. Scripture Botanical Garden cared for by the Oneida County Master Gardener Volunteers located at Cornell Cooperative Extension serves as the backdrop of the Festival.
Plant diseases and pests are frequent questions, and this year the Festival has an interwoven concentration on the beneficial insects in the garden as well as the ones that are problematic. One of the stunning facts that Master Gardener Volunteers learn is that 95 % of insects are ‘good bugs’ in the environment and beneficial to our lives and our world. Many people think of honey bees as our only great beneficial insect, but there are more good ones than we can imagine!
Insect identification will be a part of the main speaker’s talk: “Take a Bite out of Pests: Beneficial Insects: Beneficial Insects in your Garden.” Dr. Jason Dombroskie, PhD will speak on this subject, and is a Professor of Entomology at Cornell University, the Collection Manager of the University’s Insect Collection as well as the Coordinator of Cornell’s Insect Diagnostic Lab. His talk will highlight which insects are good in the environment and how to protect their helpful presence aids in better gardens and healthier places for people and animals.
Another way to learn about the good bugs in our world is viewing our observational Bee hives exhibits. These include one that you can observe the inside the office building workings of a Bee hive in safety. Another Bee hive sits on the outskirts of the Nature Trail entrance so you can see the bees emerging to forage for nectar. The Oneida County Beekeepers Association will be having a honey tasting of the varieties of honey at their booth along with educational material on honeybees. One fact is that different tasting honey is produced depending on the forage plants.
Additionally education on Butterflies is offered at the Butterfly house that holds Monarch Butterflies in many stages of their life cycle with exterior Butterfly gardens to demonstrate plants attractive to butterflies. The Master Gardener Volunteer Booth includes more information on insects, as well as the opportunity to ask your own questions about garden related problems. Free seeds will be available there on a first come- first serve basis. There are free raffles for gardening tools and gift certificates also.
There are other classes covering Gardening topics:
-“Container Gardening –Planning, and Planting”
-“Herbs- from Seed to the Table”
– “Growing Berries in your Backyard”
-“ Lawn Care”
– “Where the Sun don’t shine-Natives in the Shade”
-“Using Ornamental Grasses in your Landscapes”
The Parker F. Scripture Botanical gardens are teaching gardens featuring a Butterfly house and related Butterfly teaching gardens, an All American Selections Gardens, Backyard Teaching Garden and a mile-long Nature Trail through the adjacent woods.
The All American Selections garden as well as the Herb, Bulb, Vegetable, the Cottage Garden and other gardens include botanical labeling of plants to offer the opportunity to meet new plants and learn what they are called to acquire a similar plant at the vendors or local garden stores. Last year the All American Selection Gardens at the Parker F. Scripture Gardens won 3rd place in a National Contest of the United States All American Selection Gardens. Each year plants of special note are picked for All American Selection.
As many as fifty plant merchants and gardening vendors will participate in the Festival. The wide variety of plants and information from the various vendors and the Master Gardeners enhance gardening education. Vendors offer Vegetable, Perennial, Water Gardens plants, and Cacti, shrubs, and trees. Hardscape development, specialty garden tools, wooden garden structures and Trellises and Blue Birds are also a part of the wares available.
In addition to plants and classes, there are Herbal Pastries and the famous ‘Lavender Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches’ for sale. Food vendors sell a variety of lunch food and a shady pavilion gives a comfortable lunch site among the flowers for show attendees.
There is a nominal $3.00 donation to attend the event which helps to offset the improvement of the Parker F. Scripture Gardens. Offsite parking will be available with shuttle bus to the Festival, and a Plant Pick Up area allows plant care and storage for attending classes or walking the Nature Trail.
This Festival is a continuing part of the educational outreach to the public by Cornell Cooperative Extension throughout the year. For more information, please contact the Extension office at (315) 736-3394.