May 19, 2013

Garden tours offered

Richard Gast Cornell Ag Connection

— Franklin County Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners would like to invite you to join them on three separate occasions during the 2013 gardening season.

Entayant Gardens is a privately owned assemblage of informal woodland and cottage gardens hidden within the Adirondack forest along the lakeshore of a picturesque Adirondack lake. Just being invited is an opportunity, especially when you consider the time and hard work that has gone into designing, preparing and maintaining them.

Being invited on three separate occasions, which allows you to experience the changes that occur over the season, is nothing less than a privilege. And if one of those invitations includes a Victorian style garden party with music, a meal and more, well, that sure sounds like fun.

Dates are Sunday, June 23, for Peony Envy; Sunday, Aug. 18, for Garden Party; and Sunday, Sept. 8, for Grasses Bloom and Butterflies Zoom, at times to be announced.

Registration is limited and can be made by calling 483-7403 or by email at The cost for attending all three events, including the garden party with performing artists and a catered buffet meal, is $37 if you register by June 21 or $42 after the Peony Envy event. Tickets, directions and additional information will be provided with payment.

In my lifetime, especially during my years at Extension, I have met and worked with many devoted gardeners who, limited only by their imagination, have crafted some remarkable gardens. For many of them, nothing is more enjoyable than tending their gardens, except maybe talking about plants and gardening with fellow enthusiasts or helping novice gardeners succeed. 

Like many of them, my knowledge of gardening comes from both books and experience. Also, like many of them, I’ve had numerous opportunities to assist friends and Extension clients, helping to make them aware of the commitments and challenges (hard work, patience, critters, disease) as well as the satisfaction and serenity (fresh vegetables, cut flowers, hummingbirds, butterflies) associated with gardening.

I’ve always been fascinated by attractive flower arrangements, especially flowering plants growing in landscaped sites. And I’ve learned there are two ways to create beautiful garden landscapes. The first is to spend your children’s inheritance, hire professional landscapers, and possibly still end up disappointed. The other is through hard work and patience.

Prudent gardeners envision what they want to establish. They start small, persevere and appreciate that the perennials, trees and shrubs, with a bit of maintenance and commitment, will grow into a living work of art that compliments the home and is an extension of the gardener’s personality.

Landscape garden projects are almost always completed in stages using varieties of plants that create distinctively different environments. These gardens often appear under-planted at first and some may even require plantings of annuals to fill the empty spaces for the first couple years. But, once things have grown in and more experience is gained, the up-and-coming landscaper will be ready to tackle bigger projects.

Talk to someone in the know before starting a project. Every year I speak with someone faced with having to redo just about everything they’ve worked at. Learning from others, especially from other peoples’ mistakes, can save novices a lot of time, hassle and expense.

Once you become serious, you’ll come to appreciate how much time and effort successful gardeners devote to their landscapes. You’ll also come to understand how gardeners use plants that, over time, become low-maintenance, even maintenance-free, and how to use texture, color and form as design elements in order to create plantings that will remain attractive all season long for years to come.

I want to thank the team of Master Gardener volunteers from Franklin, Clinton and Essex counties and the other volunteers who will join them to make this fundraising series of events possible. Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions about garden planning, choosing varieties, pH and soil testing, planting, caring for or harvesting your garden. They can also address questions about lawns, garden soils, insects, diseases, gardening in raised beds, late-season vegetable crops and extending the garden season with cold frames, row covers and mulches.

Through this type of education, Cornell Cooperative Extension is living up to its mission of building strong and sustainable New York communities.

Richard L. Gast, Extension program educator II, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Energy, agriculture programs assistant, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, 355 West Main St., Suite 150, Malone, 12953. Phone 483-7403, fax 483-6214 or email