Garden club member Rege Malone will give our members a private and informative tour through the many gardens of the University of Florida's Collier County Extension Service. The gardens are not a manicured public garden, but were created as a training facility for the Master Gardener Program and 4-H. We'll learn what the Master Gardener trainees learn: how to identify plants and types of leaves, how to prune shrubs and trees, how to propagate various plants, how to transplant, how to fertilize, how to recognize plant diseases, how to use many types of plant material, and much more.
The gardens are essentially a training ground for Master Gardeners. They get to see their achievements as well as their failures. Master Gardeners maintain these gardens on a continuing basis. Rege is not only a Master Gardener himself, but also assists in teaching the Master Gardener courses for Collier County. He has helped to maintain these gardens for many years, so he's our ideal guide for this tour. He'll be able to answer all our gardening questions. We'll meet him just outside the entrance by 3 PM. Public restrooms will be available starting at 2:30.
To let Rege know if you can or can't attend this event, please scroll up to the RSVP link near the upper right corner of the screen. Submit your reply on line and, if your plans later change, just return to this page to revise your answer. Visitors are always welcome at these free events, so you can invite interested friends to come along. If you do, please include the number you've invited in your RSVP.
Each of the gardens we'll examine has unique features which we can adapt for our own gardens. The Color Garden displays a vast selection of bromeliads, rose cultivars, flowering trees and flowering shrubs, each of which can provide glorious color for extended periods. Its central focal point is the Gazebo, where we can relax with other members and view the garden.
The Butterfly Garden contains flowering plants like red pentas and blue porterweed, which colorfully attract butterflies to feed on the flowers' nectar. Larval host plants like passionvine, pipevine and milkweed are included so that butterflies will come to lay their eggs on the leaves. The caterpillars which hatch out will feed on the leaves, develop their chrysalids (cocoons), and emerge as additional beautiful butterflies. The garden's illustrated interpretive signs will help us identify butterfly species.
The Native Plant Garden promotes the planting of those wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and aquatic plants that are indigenous to Florida. These plants have evolved over the millennia to thrive on the natural soil and normal rainwater of Florida, needing no man-made fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides or other chemicals. That makes them ideal as low- or no-maintenance plants for our gardens.
The Vegetable and Recycling Garden will show us the wide range of vegetables that we can grow in this semi-tropical environment. The garden's bench and raised planting beds are made from recycled plastic. The walkways between the beds are composed of shredded recycled rubber.
The Sensory Garden features plants that stimulate the senses of smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing. This garden contains culinary herbs, fruit trees, spice trees, plants with heavy leaf textures, plants that have fragrances, and some that create sounds when the winds blow, such as palms and bamboos.
The 4-H Children's Garden is a learning playground where kids of all ages can explore the world of plants through the principles of 4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Club members with children should bring them along so they too can enjoy this entertaining and educational event.
The last time Rege Malone hosted an event for the club, a record 47 gardeners attended. Let's see how many will come this time.