The gardens are planted and now it's time to maintain, harvest and enjoy. But there's still a lot of garden action available. Check with your local nursery or garden club for summertime activities. Visit display gardens; take notes and lots of pictures of plants that catch your eye, interesting combinations in beds or planters, or an overall garden design that appeals to you. If you are planning to make some major foundation plantings, visit a local arboretum and see exactly what that tiny little tree will look like when fully grown.
During the recent heat wave, I attended a class on hypertufa at Point Phillip Perennials. Although the weather was terrible, Kay and Herb Johns conducted an interesting and fun workshop for the dedicated gardeners who braved the heat.
The class began with an introduction to cement and concrete. Herb Johns covered the local history of the cement industry as well as the composition and properties of cement. This information made it easier to understand the whys and hows of making a good batch of hypertufa.
Hypertufa is a manmade concrete mixture used to simulate the natural lightweight porous rock tufa. Tufa was originally carved to form water and feed troughs; then became popular as ornamental garden containers. It is hard to find and expensive; thus hypertufa was developed. It can be inexpensively mixed and molded to form lightweight (at least compared to regular concrete) containers or ornaments with an organic feel and natural texture.
The ingredients were listed, explained and measured; the mixture formed and Herb demonstrated the process of creating containers, ornamental mushrooms, leaves and faces and other projects. Kay discussed selecting the proper site, soil and plants for hypertufa containers. Then we formed work groups in which we measured, mixed and molded our own hypertufa creations. At the end of the class, I came away informed, entertained and with a new hypertufa pot and the confidence and enthusiasm that I can duplicate the process on my own in the future.
Additional hypertufa workshops will be offered on Aug. 19 and Aug. 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Preregistration and $15 materials fee are required.
Point Phillip Perennials, 2764 West Scenic Drive, Danielsville, 610-837-6038 or www.ppperennials.com.
Summer gardening fun
Gardening fun can be something other than reading catalogs, visiting nurseries and working in your own garden.
Classes, garden tours, lectures and festivals provide interesting and new ideas as well as the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. The arboretums are wonderful places to see mature tree and shrub specimens. The garden center and nursery display gardens are peaking and provide the gardener with a chance to see mature perennials in conditions similar to their own garden. Classes expose gardeners to new ideas that can enhance your own garden or home.
PLACES TO VISIT
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve: 134 acres displaying nearly 1,000 different wildflowers; located just south of New Hope in Bucks County. The preserve has trails, a visitor center, picnic area and nursery. $5 admission includes guided tour at 2 p.m. daily from March through October. 1635 River Road, 215-862-2924 or www.bhwp.org.
Graver Arboretum of Muhlenburg College: 63-acre arboretum with examples of more than 150 species of conifers as well as wetland plants, wildflowers and rhododendrons. Open during daylight hours. Trails lead through natural areas and a wildflower meadow as well as the conifer arboretum. 1581 Bushkill Center Road, Bath; 610-759-3132 or www.muhlenberg.edu/cultural/graver/
Parkside Orchid Nursery: 10th annual Summer Orchid Fest on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lectures, sales, food and fun for orchid enthusiasts and anyone interested in orchids. More than 20 vendors are scheduled to participate. Parkside Orchid Nursery, 2503 Mountainview Drive, Ottsville; 610-847-8039 or www.parksideorchids.com.
Well-Sweep Farm: Fresh Herb Wreaths class on Aug. 12, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Create two projects using fresh herbs. Also learn to dry herbs. Pre-registration and $22 class fee. Well-Sweep Herb Farm, 205 Mount Bethel Road, Port Murray, N.J.; 908-852-5390 or www.wellsweep.com.
Sue Kittek writes The Morning Call's weekly "Garden Keeper" column.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun