Master Gardeners Annual Plant Fest a Blooming Success

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MOUNTAINSIDE — The secret was definitely out his year at the Master Gardeners of Union County plant sale.  More than 170 bargain hunters and garden enthusiasts were lined up at the gate before the noon start to the annual event, held on the grounds of the Trailside Museum and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation.

The Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture programs and information to the general public. Union County’s Master Gardeners contribute thousands of volunteer hours annually, more than 7,200 hours last year alone, running a helpline,  conducting horticultural therapy programs and evening lecture series, along with a broad array of community beautification projects.

THE VELVET FOG… the man members of the Master Gardener’s tease and call “the voice,” Al Hanneman of Berkeley Heights has been the official barker at the annual plant sale for some years now, cajoling shoppers to not only buy more plants, but make sure they stopped by the baked goods tables to take home goodies for the non-gardeners in the family.

EXPLAINING THE WORKINGS…of a rain barrel, Rosalie Donetelli of Scotch Plains tips the barrel for Michael Delia of Berkeley Heights to get a look at how the water-saving device is constructed.  Trailside Nature and Science Center is sponsoring an upcoming workshop for county residents on how to conserve rain water and utilize it in the garden.

DECIDING WHAT TO BUY…Joyce Friedman of Westfield considers which plants she wants to purchase as Master Gardener Ruth Yablonsky describes the planting conditions required.  Members of the Master Gardeners donate the perennials to the sale, with the proceeds going to fund various programs, including providing fresh vegetables to area food pantries.

THE SECRET’S OUT…as gardening enthusiasts and bargain hunters flocked to the annual Master Gardeners’ plant sale held on the grounds of the Trailside Museum and Science Center. By the end of the day, barely a plant was left on the dozens and dozens of tables.  Area nurseries provided shrubs and annuals to the Master Gardeners at reduced prices so that the organization could resell them to raise additional funds.

BY THE WAGON LOAD…shoppers waited patiently on long check-out lines to pay for the plants and shrubs they scooped up at the annual Master Gardeners of Union County plant sale held on the grounds of the Trailside Museum and Science Center.  While it has rained on the sale in some prior years, the beautiful weather that Saturday contributed to one of the most successful plant sales.

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