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Public invited to UW Family Gardening Day on May 12

April 23, 2012 By Bob Mitchell

Whether you’ve got the greenest thumb on the block or you’re turning soil for the first time this year, you’ll find bushels of ideas for growing a great garden at UW Family Gardening Day, on Saturday, May 12 on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.

Photo: Allen Centennial Gardens

Allen Centennial Gardens is one of the sites to visit for UW Family Gardening Day on May 12.

Experts from UW–Madison and UW-Extension, along with master gardeners and other volunteers, will be on hand from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the D.C. Smith Greenhouses and the Allen Centennial Gardens, hosting a wide variety demonstrations and displays, answering questions and offering advice and free samples. The event is free and open to the public.

This is a new location for this annual spring garden extravaganza-it’s been held at West Madison Agricultural Research Station in the past-so repeat visitors will find plenty of new things to see and do.

Visitors can visit the D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouses to tour the university’s classrooms under glass, bask in the lush tropical conservatory and learn about the science behind the colors and flavors of cranberry.

A short block away, highlights at the Allen Centennial Gardens will include a trial of various mulches used to extend the growing season, and examples of different ways to grow vegetables in limited space, including containers and several types of raised beds. Volunteers from the Wisconsin Rock Garden Society will be on hand to talk about the unusual, highly specialized plants used in these types of plantings. Visitors can also pick up a brochure that will lead them on a self-guided tour of the 26 individually themed gardens.

Across the street from the gardens, Steenbock Library invites visitors to check out their extensive collections related to gardening, horticulture and floriculture (including the UW-Extension materials for master gardeners).

This is truly a family event, with lots of activities for kids. To name a few: They can build their own terrarium, extract DNA glop from wheat and look under a microscope to meet some of the cool beneficial insects and other organisms that are used instead of chemical pesticides to keep greenhouse and garden plants healthy and happy. And since the event happens the day before Mothers Day, kids can take home the perfect gift-vegetable and flower transplants to plant at home so that mom can enjoy them all season long.

There should even be time to stop by Babcock Hall for a scoop of ice cream or a sundae. (If you don’t think ice cream has anything to do with gardening, just try to come up with a flavor that doesn’t start with a plant!)

The D.C. Smith Greenhouse is located at 465 Babcock Drive, across the street from Babcock Hall. Allen Centennial Gardens is a block north at 620 Babcock Drive. Free parking is available in Lot 40 behind Babcock Hall and in Lot 36 just west of Steenbock Library.

More information and directions to the gardens can be found here.