Boone County Purdue Extension, 1300 East 100 South, Lebanon, IN 46052 [email protected] 765-482-0750

Next Gardenfest – April 6, 2024

Come and enjoy a day with the Boone County Master Gardeners!

Each year the Purdue Master Gardeners – Boone County hold a Gardenfest in early April. The event is at the Boone County Fairgrounds, and runs from 9 am to 3 pm. This is the perfect opportunity to get excited about your gardening projects for the coming year.

This is a free event and features vendor booths, door prizes, a garden café, soil pH testing, kids’ activities and Q&A opportunities. Three garden experts speak on topics of interest.

Here’s our 2024 Gardenfest flyer.

Our Featured Speakers for Gardenfest 2024

Our featured speakers for our 2024 Gardenfest will be Jared Spokowsky presenting “Pollinator Plants”, Jennifer Davies and Karen Smith speaking about “The Laws of Attraction – Birds, Butterflies and Bees” and Rachel Walker presenting “So You Bought an Orchid, Now What? Basic Orchid Keeping in the Home”.

Jared Spokowsky “Pollinator Plants” – 9:30am

Jared Spolowsky is native to upstate NY where he received his bachelor’s degree in forest biology and entomology from the State University of NY for Environmental Science and Forestry.  Formerly, he worked for the NY State Department of Agriculture as the regional supervisor on a variety of agricultural programs.  Jaren currently works for the Indiana DNR as the apiary specialist for the division of entomology and plant pathology.  He works with beekeepers across the state diagnosing disease and pest issues as well as talking to clubs, sampling for the USDA bee survey, and certifying bees for movement out of the state.  When not working, Jared spends most of his time in his quarter acre vegetable garden, landscaping for pollinators, hiking or hunting with his wife and six children.

Jared’s presentation will be on “Pollinator Plants”.

Jennifer Davies and Karen Smith – “The Laws of Attraction – Birds, Butterflies and Bees” – 10:30am

Jennifer Davies recently served as the Coordinator of Avon’s Outdoor Learning Center serving 10,000 students a year.  She retired after 26 years in public education and has lived in Australia and the Galapagos.  She is very involved in raptor rescue and the Indiana Raptor Center with her husband, Simon.  The Davies’ are caretakers of 200 acres on natural area in Danville.

Karen Smith is the Hendricks County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Educator of the Year.  She is a Gold level Master Gardener and a Master Naturalist.  She is active in the Women4the Land, the West Central Quail Forever, Indiana Native Plant Society and the Bluebird Society.  She manages three acres under an Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) Grant with her husband, Wayne.

Karen and Jennifer’s presentation will be on “The Laws of Attraction – Birds, Butterflies and Bees”.

Rachel Walker – “So You Bought an Orchid, Now What? Basic Orchid Keeping the Home” – 11:30 am

Rachel Walker is an ex-pat Australian and working geologist in the environmental consulting field. She bought her first orchid in 2005 on a whim and has been keeping orchids ever since. She joined the Central Indiana Orchid Society in 2018 and has been Treasurer since 2023. The Central Indiana Orchid Society started as the Hoosier Orchid Society in 1967 and continues today as a great resource for orchid keeping enthusiasts.

Rachel’s talk will be “So You Bought an Orchid, Now What? Basic Orchid Keeping in the Home”.

Boone County Gardenfest 2023: Unleashing Spring

Here’s a recap of Gardenfest 2023 written by Tom Ewing that appeared in the Lebanon Reporter and Current Zionsville.

By Tom Ewing

Boone County Gardenfest rocked Community Hall at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Lebanon on Saturday, April 1 (no fooling) transforming the hangar-style building into a dense mix of greens and colorful spring flowers.

Attendance exceeded 550, about 100 more than last year.

Gardenfest is all about plants and gardens, and just about everything else linked to the world of plants and gardens, from topsoil to mulch to all of the delightful accoutrements and statuary that turn gardens into magical places. More than 20 vendors participated. A popular activity for kids was the “Pansy Patch,” a chance for kids to paint flowerpots and transplant pansies. Flowers were donated by Jones Greenhouse, of Lebanon. Greencycle of Indiana provided the potting soil.

Gardening education is a key objective for the Boone County Master Gardeners (BCMG), the volunteer group responsible for Gardenfest. Master Gardeners complete a rigorous educational program set by Purdue University’s Cooperative Extension Service (there are about 40 such county-level programs across Indiana). To retain their standing, Master Gardeners meet annual education and volunteer requirements.

Gardenfest offered professional expertise and insights, from pH soil sampling to three lecture-information sessions. Speakers this year addressed dealing with nuisance animals, hydrangea gardening and “all about bees.” The sessions were “sold out.” Volunteers literally needed every folding chair available in the lecture room.

Valerie Jasper is BCMG Vice President. Gardenfest is important for a number of reasons she said. “It’s a good way to show off what we do,” Jasper explained. “It’s important for revenue,” and, she added, “it provides a venue for us to focus on efforts that extend beyond singular, individual gardens.” These efforts link to community-wide issues. Gardenfest revenue helps to fund garden projects throughout Boone County.

Gardenfest highlighted five active topic areas:

  • Rainscaping – developing gardens that maximize the use and conservation of rainwater;
  • Promoting native plants that complement rainscaping;
  • Eradicating invasive species, e.g., honeysuckle and garlic mustard;
  • Working with Purdue University’s sustainable food programs; and,
  • General gardening education.

Gardenfest is about more than information. It provided a way for people to follow up, to directly work on related issues. The information table for invasive species, for example, included links to register for two upcoming volunteer work sessions to root out garlic mustard from Zionsville parks. Another example: working with CISMAs – Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas – Indiana’s “invasives initiative” to leverage and complement efforts among groups to maximize invasives destruction.

Lesley Cain, of Zionsville, a Master Gardener since 2018, helped staff the invasives information table. To avoid weeds and invasives her focus is on native plants, a way to get a beautiful garden and minimize the hard work of constant weeding. In preparation for Gardenfest, volunteers painstakingly collected and packaged – and sold –  hundreads of native seed envelopes.

In addition to packaged seeds, tree seedlings were available to the first 300 attendees. Gardenfest followup: Boone County will get more beautiful.

Enjoy these photos from Gardenfest 2023.

There’s lots blooming inside! Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
A young gardener decorating his pansy pot at the Pansy Patch. Photo by Tom Ewing
Some young people learning about bees’ wax. Photo by Sandy Dailey
A jungle of plants – courtesy of Davidson’s Greenhouse and Nursery Photo by Tom Ewing
Chuck Dailey doing his presentation “All About Bees”. Photo by Sandy Dailey
The Master Gardeners were busy talking to attendees about Rainscaping and Controlling Invasive Plants Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
The Potting Shed team offering for sale all sorts of interesting used garden items. Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
An attendee learning about all the products offered by Sugar Creek Lavender Farm Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
Everyone needs another daylily and iris! And there were some beautiful ones offered by the Indiana Daylily and Iris Society. Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
Lots of people wanted to try growing native plants from seed. We offered this year 49 varieties of native plant seed harvested locally and packaged by our Master Gardeners. Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
Cultuvate HC promoted “Get Dirt Rich” by providing lots of product and information on how to improve your soil. Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
The Master Gardeners each year offer free pH soil testing and information about soils.
Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
Stone Petal Gardens had so many interesting items for sale.
Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
Anyone want some homemade pie? Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
All these flowers were made from glass! Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland
These Master Gardeners worked with children to create their own decorated flower pot planted with pansies. Photo by Cheryl Pleak Copeland

We look forward to seeing at Gardenfest 2024 on April 6, 2024!