Gardens spruced up for Saturday’s open house

On Saturday, Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual open house from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Display Gardens. These gardens surround the Allen County Extension office at 4001 Crescent Avenue, on the campus of IPFW. Master Gardeners have spent hours prepping and sprucing up the gardens for you to browse through and enjoy. There will also be plants for sale, and I’m told these will include some very nice perennials at good prices. One very special plant being offered comes from our beautiful shade garden.

This particular plant is a show-stopper and always draws a huge amount of attention each year – I use the word “huge” because this plant, a Butterbur (an Herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family) has leaves that measure 16 to 32 inches across. If you are lucky enough to purchase one, it is important that you talk to the master gardeners at the shade garden about best location and how to plant. There is a good reason for consulting with them, especially if you plan to plant it near a pond or water garden. Butterbur likes moist soil and near water can become invasive – but if planted correctly it can be kept in check.

Several vendors have been invited and will be offering items such as honey, heirloom trees, worm castings and more. The ladies from Settlers will be providing music to tour by, and if you get hungry, there will be a couple of food trucks in the Extension parking lot.

Parking in the parking garage or the open IPFW parking lot is available and a very limited number of handicapped parking spaces are available in the parking lot of the Extension. Also, if you purchase plants or other products from the vendors and need assistance to take them to your car, you can either drive up and have them loaded into your vehicle or use the services of a master gardener who will transport them for you.

The gardens are nearly at their peak at this time of year so don’t miss this open house opportunity to tour and spend time asking questions from the master gardeners at each of the 15-plus gardens.

Here is an exciting tree I just have to talk a bit about. I am sure you’ve noticed in landscapes and park strips around the city, lovely little trees with loads of greenish-white blossoms that look and smell just like lilacs. This is the Japanese Lilac Tree “Ivory Silk” Syringa reticulata “Ivory Silk (tree form).” Here are some specifications if you find you would like one for your landscape:

* The Ivory Silk is hardy to zone 3 (37 to 40 below zero).

* It grows well in either full sun or part sun.

* Mature height is 20-25 feet tall

* Width of crown of the tree will normally grow to be 15 feet wide.

* This is a spring/early summer flowering tree so it needs to be treated as you would your lilac bushes because it sets buds for the next year almost immediately after the blooms fade. Once the tree reaches heights well above your head, you will probably have to let nature take its course and let the wind and rain prune off the spent blossoms each year.

* They are available for purchase at many online nurseries but if you wish to see one and talk to a professional about planting, cost, etc., you can visit Arbor Farms here in the city. <br>

<i> Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on “The Plant Medic,” a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel. </i>