Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wildlife Causing Problems?

Photo Courtesy USDA
Photo Courtesy NC Extension

Wildlife causing problems?

You're invited to a presentation about non-lethal solutions to common wildlife problems.

Monday, November 6, 2017
6:30pm - 8:30pm

Penn State Lehigh Valley Campus
Room 302
2809 Saucon Valley Road
Center Valley, PA 18034

Space is limited! 
RSVP by calling 610-231-3134

Brought to you by the USDA, Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Game Commission

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tonight at Del Val! The Layered Garden with David Culp

TONIGHT at Del Val!

"The Layered Garden" Presented by David Culp

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
6:30 PM - Refreshments
7:00 PM - Lecture begins

Delaware Valley University Life Sciences Building
700 E. Butler Ave.
Doyestown, PA 18901

Brandywine Cottage is David Culp's beloved 2-acre Pennsylvania garden where he mastered the design technique of layering — inter-planting many different species in the same area so that as one plant passes its peak, another takes over. The result is a nonstop parade of color that begins with a tapestry of heirloom daffodils and hellebores in spring and ends with a jewel-like blend of wildflowers at the onset of winter.

Using his own garden as a canvas, renowned gardener David Culp shares an inspirational but practical way to transform your garden by creating the “layered garden”. Starting with a basic lesson in layering — how to choose the correct plants by understanding how they grow and change throughout the seasons, how to design a layered garden, and how to maintain it. To illustrate how layering works, Culp takes you on a personal tour through his celebrated woodland garden, perennial border, kitchen garden, shrubbery, and walled gardens while highlighting the garden’s signature plants.

David Culp is the creator of the gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. David has been lecturing about gardens nationwide for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Fine Gardening, Green Scene, and many other publications. He is the author of the Timber Press book The Layered Garden, a past winner of the coveted Best Overall Book by the Garden Writers Association. He is a former contributing editor to Horticulture magazine and served as chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Hardy Plant Society. David is Vice President for Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut and instructs as an expert on herbaceous perennials at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. He is a recipient of both the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Distinguished Garden Award and the PHS Award of Merit and serves on the PHS Gold Medal Plant Selection Committee. David has also developed the Brandywine Hybrid strain of hellebores, and was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise on snowdrops. His garden, Brandywine Cottage, has been featured several times on HGTV, on the Martha Stewart Show, in Martha Stewart Living and is listed in the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Gardens.

See more about David at his website:

Purchase Tickets at the Door
Arboretum Members - Free
DVU Students - Free
Military - Free
Senior Citizens - $3.00
Non-DVU Students - $3.00
Faculty and Staff - $3.00
Non-members - $5.00

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

17th Annual Plant Sale, Sat., 05/06/17, 9am-1pm

© Ellen Macdonald

The Penn State Master Gardeners of Bucks County hold their 17th Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 6, 2017, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Neshaminy Manor Center Health Building, 1282 Almshouse Rd, Doylestown, PA (corner of Route 611 and Almshouse Rd).

This is a rain or shine event.

The sale offers many types of annuals, perennials, rare and unusual woodies, Master Gardener grown and donated plants, a huge selection of herbs and vegetables, including heirloom types.  Also offered are pond and butterfly/pollinator plants, shade and deer-resistant plants, house plants, native plants, container garden plants, as well as a beautiful selection of gift plants for Mother’s Day.  

This year’s sale features a much larger area with more parking and easier checkout.  
50+ Master Gardeners are on hand to answer home gardening questions and help with plant selection for Bucks County gardens.

Bring your wagon or cart. Boxes are available as well as help getting your purchases to your vehicle.   Cash and checks are preferred.

For additional information please call 215-345-3283.  All proceeds benefit the educational outreach of the Penn State Master Gardener Program of Bucks County.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Latest Buzz on Pollinators

Easter Cucurbit Bee - Peponapis pruinosa © Alex Surcic─â

Pollinators are animals (mostly insects but some mammals) that fertilize plants, resulting in seeds and fruit. Humans and other animals rely on pollinators to produce nuts and fruits that are essential components of a healthy diet.  Also, pollinator help is needed to make the seeds that will become the next generation of plants.
World-wide, pollinator populations are shrinking and several factors are contributing to this disturbing global trend. 
Habitat destruction along with chemical use are major contributors to ongoing declines in pollinator populations. You can help reverse this troubling trend by planting a pollinator garden and limiting chemical use on your property. 

In 2017, thanks to the
efforts of the Xerces Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Why?  Rusty patched bumble bees contribute to our food security and the healthy functioning of our ecosystems. Bumble bees are keystone species in most ecosystems, necessary for native wildflower reproduction and for creating seeds and fruits that feed wildlife as diverse as songbirds and grizzly bears. Bumble bees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes. Bumble bees are more effective pollinators than honey bees for some crops because of their ability to “buzz pollinate.” The economic value of pollination services provided by native insects (mostly bees) is estimated at $3 billion per year in the United States.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee - Bombus affinis © Dan Mullen

Have you seen a rusty patched bumblebee?  Submit a sighting!

Meanwhile, scientists have some wild ideas about solving the bee problem.  Eijiro Myiako, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, thinks there may be a technological fix. He and his colleagues have developed an insect-sized drone capable of artificially pollinating flowering plants!

Are you a beekeeper?  Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research needs your help! Through a beekeeper-scientist partnership, you can help identify landscape features that promote honey bee health. The Center is looking for interested beekeepers in Pennsylvania and surrounding states to be a part of this project.  Registration closes May 31st.

Are you interested in becoming a beekeeper?  Check out Penn State's online Beekeeping 101 course.

Keep up with the latest research on pollinators at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research and the Xerces Society.

If your Bucks County garden club, library, EAC or other group would like a Master Gardener presentation called "The Latest Buzz on Pollinators" we can help!  Contact us at

-- Kathleen Connally
Master Gardener Coordinator
Master Watershed Steward Coordinator
Penn State Extension - Bucks County

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Join us for "Cultivating Respect for Insect Diversity"

Please join the Bucks County Master Gardeners, in partnership with the Henry Schmieder Arboretum at Del Val University and Bucks Beautiful, in welcoming Dr. Daniel P. Duran, Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University and adjunct faculty member of the Barnes Foundation Arboretum School, to the Life Science Center at Del Val University.

Simply put: all life on earth depends on insects, for more reasons than most people realize. This presentation will explore some of the immeasurably important ways that insects keep ecosystems functioning. Nutrient recycling, pollination services, and trophic interactions will be reviewed. Lastly, there will be a discussion of the ways in which we can conserve our much needed insect diversity.

Dr. Daniel P. Duran is an Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University and adjunct faculty member at the Barnes Foundation Arboretum School. He is also president and co-founder of a new non-profit insect conservation organization, The Mid-Atlantic Native & Threatened Insect Zoo (MANTIZ). He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Stockton University in 1998, an M.S. in Entomology from University of Missouri in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Evolution and Ecology from Vanderbilt University in 2010. In between his degrees, he has also worked for the Natural History Museum, London, UK and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Currently, he teaches courses about a variety of topics pertaining to ecology, evolution, insects, and plants. His research is focused on 1) the discovery of new species and advancing the field of integrative taxonomy, and 2) examining the important roles of insects and plants in functioning ecosystems. Dr. Duran is a co-author of the book "A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada, 2nd Edition".

Cultivating Respect for Insect Diversity
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
6:30pm Reception, light refreshments
7:00pm Lecture

Delaware Valley University Life Sciences Building
700 E Butler Avenue
Doylestown, PA 18901

Arboretum Members - Free
DVU Students - Free
Military - Free
Senior Citizens - $3.00
Non-DVU Students - $3.00
Faculty and Staff - $3.00
Non-members - $5.00

Monday, March 20, 2017

Join us for "Pawpaw: The Story of America’s Forgotten Fruit"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
6:30pm Reception, light refreshments
7:00pm Lecture

Please join the Bucks County Master Gardeners, in partnership with the Henry Schmieder Arboretum at Del Val University and Bucks Beautiful, in welcoming Andrew Moore, author of the James Beard Award nominated book Pawpaw to the Life Science Center at Del Val University.

What is a pawpaw, and why have most people never heard of this amazing native plant or its delicious fruit?

Andrew Moore offers a brief history of the pawpaw, the largest edible fruit native to the United States, and offers some explanations as to why it has been overlooked in modern times. He also provides an overview of the growers and producers working to raise the fruit's profile, and how the fruit tree can be reintegrated into our diets, our culture and our gardens.

Delaware Valley University
Life Sciences Building
700 E Butler Ave
Doylestown, PA 18901

Arboretum Members - Free
DVU Students - Free
Military - Free
Senior Citizens -  $3.00
Non-DVU Students - $3.00
Faculty and Staff - $3.00

Non-members - $5.00

Thursday, March 9, 2017

More about mulch than you thought there was to know!

Photo courtesy © Darrick J. Smith
Well, it’s too early to plant, but not too early to plan!

As you’re shopping the seed catalogues and looking for perennials and shrubs to show sprouts of life, now is also a good time to give some thought to mulch!  And there is a LOT to think about!

There are many kinds of mulch to choose from.  Recently a Bucks County Master Gardener came up with a list of over 30 types of mulch—and each has its special features and benefits!

Whichever you choose, there are also right and wrong (some very wrong) ways to introduce the mulch to your garden.   First:  The benefits of proper mulching:

·        Weed Control:  One chief benefit of mulching is the reality that mulch prevents weed seeds from getting the sunlight they need to germinate and grow. A layer of cardboard or wet newspapers placed under a more traditional layer of mulch is very effective in weed control.  With this purpose in mind, early mulching is most effective. 

·        Soil temperature moderation: If an early warm spring thaw activates seeds or young sprouts, mulch (last year’s leftovers or a new layer if you got an early start) can moderate the soil temperature to protect tender plants and seeds from temperature variation or extremes!  This could save a plant’s life if Mother Nature throws a late freeze/snow anomaly our way!  Mulch can protect the soil from (too) early warmth and insulate it from (too) late cold.  Temperature swings in spring can be killers---and mulch can be the shield that makes the ultimate difference in a healthy start for a new plant.

·        Moisture control—goes hand-in-hand with the moderation of soil temperature.  Bare soil will heat up more quickly because it lacks the insulating layer of mulch; this will cause baked hard soil to lose moisture.  Alternately, during cool evenings in early spring mulch will insulate the soil, helping it to retain daytime warmth.  At temperature extremes, mulch can even prevent frost from heaving plants out of the ground.

·        Visual garden appeal:  a fresh layer of mulch enhances the curb appeal of your springtime garden, giving a fresh tidy appearance.  However, we recommend you resist the temptation to use dyed mulch.  Dyed mulches can leach poisons into the soil and be especially damaging to new plants. 

·        Prevention of soil erosion:  This is especially important on slopes or in an area where rain or drainage may cause soil erosion—heavy mulches (think stone or pebbles) can keep soil from eroding. 

·        Prevention of soil splash:  Splashes of mud can damage tender plant leaves or introduce pathogens that are harmful to the plants.  Especially on vegetables and fruits that are grown for food, this benefit is most appreciated at harvest time.

·        Enhanced soil structure:  Organic mulches (think finely shredded bark or wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves) that break down over time can improve soil structure.  Although not a substitute for fertilizer (or a reason not to test your soil for proper nutrients), decomposed mulch can be overall beneficial to soil fertility.

So how can you go wrong?

·       Depth:  Mulch spread too thick, or too thin, can be ineffective or counter-effective to the reason for spreading the mulch!  If using finely ground (or textured) mulch, 2” is ideal; for coarser mulch,  spread to a depth of 4”.  Deeper mulch is ineffective in moisture utilization and may encourage rodents to take up residence, or encourage plant diseases.  Use the 2-4”  range, along with the square footage of your garden, to calculate the cubic feet of mulch you should order—don’t over order (and overspend) and then be tempted to spread a layer that’s too thick. 

·        Proximity to plants/trees: Even professional landscapers have done it – the dreaded mulch volcano!  Mounding up soil and mulch around the base of either deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs can be harmful – and potentially fatal -- to the tree or plant.  A freshly planted tree with a mulch volcano around it will be subject to girdled roots—root growth circling the tree trunk to the point of strangling the growing tree in the years ahead.  (Sadly, you’ll see new trees planted this way in professional landscapes each spring.) For a mature tree, the trunk—all the way down to the where the roots flare out at the soil line—should be above ground and exposed to oxygen which roots  need to breathe.  If the lower trunk is covered, the situation encourages insects, mice, voles, moles and even diseases—enough damage to eventually kill the tree.  Wet bark can be a breeding ground for disease, rot, and fungus.  In autumn, exposed bark down to the root flare needs to harden to prepare for winter cold—if bundled in mulch, the hardening will be delayed and the tree will not be ready for winter’s harshness.  Always keep mulch or soil at least 3-5 inches away from the trunk to allow proper circulation so the bark can dry out between rain events, and so roots have proper oxygen and growth patterns, and rodents and insects will not take up residence.

·       Compaction: If last year’s mulch is not fully disintegrated, and a new layer of mulch is added, it may prevent moisture from sinking into the soil—and dampness from escaping.  Be sure to fluff up last year’s leftovers before adding more. You may find that only a small new layer is needed and then do not exceed the 2-4” limit including last year’s remnants.

·        Timing: Mulch is best applied in mid-to-late spring, after the ground has warmed and dried from winter rains. If applied too early, it can lead to water-logged soil.  If applied too late, it will be less effective for weed control.

·        Type:  There are many, many types mulches from which to choose.  Each has benefits and disadvantages in certain applications.   Black polyethylene used commercially by some fruit and vegetable growers doesn’t permit passage of water—but does protect plants from soil splash.  Some mulches (wood chips and bark) are high in carbon and actually drain nitrogen from the soil.  Compost adds great nutrient benefits to the soil, but can be a poor performer for weed control.  Pick the mulch that works best for your specific needs.

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MUCH MORE?  While NCAA fans are filing out their basketball brackets this month, you can select from the Sweet 16 mulches to pick your Final Four—and the ultimate winner for your garden!  Yes, it’s MULCH MADNESS on Saturday, March 18 when the Bucks County Master Gardeners invite the public to the Extension office auditorium from 10am-1pm to view/touch/learn about 16 types of mulch and get information about the best ones for Bucks County gardens.  You’ll find out if newspaper, aluminum foil (!) or wood chips are in your Elite 8 of mulch picks.  You’ll learn about application, timing, garden value, and mulching tools—and you’ll be a Mulch Master after taking advantage of this opportunity.  Plus, you’ll have fun learning—perhaps an opportunity to make a ‘hoop’ to win a chance at a beautiful planter.

Light refreshments will be available, light-hearted fun will be included, but most of all, a heavy dose of mulch knowledge is guaranteed at our Mulch Madness event.  Hope to see you there! Bucks County Extension, 1282 Almshouse Road, Neshaminy Manor Center, Doylestown, PA 18901.  Questions? 215-345-3283
-- Mary Ann Smith, Bucks County Master Gardener, March 2017


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spotted Lanternfly Public Meetings - Spring 2017

Spotted Lanternfly Public Meetings - Spring 2017
Would you like to learn more about this invasive insect?
- Why should we be concerned?
- What is the biology and life cycle?
- How does the quarantine order affect residents?
- What can you do to help?
Volunteers are needed!  We are looking for volunteers to place sticky bands on Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) throughout the summer and report how many spotted lanternflies are captured. If you would like to do this on your property, we’ll address this during the last half hour of the meeting so you can learn what to do and get the supplies you’ll need.
Nearest meeting locations:
Saturday, April 29th, 9:30 - 11:30a.m.
Milford Township Office
2100 Krammes Road
Quakertown, PA
Wednesday, April 12th, 9:30 - 11:30a.m.
Montgomery County 4-H Center
1015 Bridge Road
Collegeville, PA
Saturday, April 22nd, 9:30 - 11:30a.m
Lehigh County Ag Center
4184 Dorney Park Road
Allentown, PA
Please register for the meetings online at  or by calling 610-489-4315. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why Garden?

Bristol Borough Community Garden, Bucks County, ©2016 Kathleen Connally
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

Last summer I saw this quote on a local garden center sign.  I was impressed by its simple yet profound meaning. How many of us have planted seeds and waited for those first leaves to emerge? This is an affirmation that there will be a tomorrow and we will be around to see it.

A sense of well-being is one of the benefits of gardening. Senior citizen centers and community living facilities utilize garden clubs and gardening to improve the lives of their residents, including those who suffer from dementia and depression.  A recent experiment published in the Journal of Health Psychology compared the stress-relieving benefits of gardening to those of reading; however a more significant decrease in stress was experienced by those who gardened.  So how about reading in our gardens for maximum benefit?  Sounds like a bonus activity.  For me, gardening produces a sense of accomplishment.  Feeling accomplished and connected is especially important for retired seniors who no longer have their professional lives to instill self-worth.

Gardening can also help people reach fitness goals. Gardening is considered a moderate-to-heavy intensity physical activity and has been linked to beneficial changes in total cholesterol and reducing blood pressure (Armstrong, 2000).  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports only 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity level activity per week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon cancer and premature death.  Even a few plants in containers or a small raised bed can demand enough attention to fulfill 2 ½ hours of physical activity per week.  I am not proposing that gardening is a total substitute for exercise, but an afternoon in the garden can produce plenty of sore muscles!

Anyone who has planted a vegetable garden knows the joy of picking fresh vegetables and eating them raw, or cooking them same day.  The taste is incredible and nutrition is at its peak.  Growing your own food also gives an opportunity to know where your food comes from and if pesticides or insecticides were used to produce them.  Plus, if we go to the trouble to plant, care for and harvest our own fresh fruit and vegetables we tend to eat more of them.  Don’t be afraid to mix herbs and flowers with your vegetables in containers and gardens.  Flowers add color and possibly some insect or animal deterrent properties to your garden; herbs can be a healthy way to add flavor and color to your meal.

Gardening can also be a way to get our kids away from their electronics and become engaged in helping to grow their own food. Studies have shown that kids involved in growing and preparing food are more likely to try new foods.  My love of gardening began working beside my father in our vegetable garden and helping my mother in her flower beds, some of my fondest childhood memories.

Don’t have the space to garden outside?  Taking care of a few houseplants is still beneficial. Many plants, such as Snake Plant (Sanseveria), Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aures) have been shown to improve air quality in our homes.

Community gardening is even being used in many urban areas to combat crime.  Replacing abandoned lots with communal gardening plots gets residents outside to interact with neighbors. Scientific studies show that crime decreases as the amount of green space increases. 

If gardening is of significant benefit to our health and welfare, a better question might be: Why not garden?

Resource: Harriet Cooper The Dirt on Gardening, MSU Extension, What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?, Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening

- Written by Bucks County Master Gardener Joan Pavlica