FROM THE GROUND UP: Gardening and community — plant sales, contests, and more

Gardening creates so many opportunities to build community — from the simple act of sharing a spring bouquet or own-grown produce, to hobnobbing with growers at local plant sales or taking part in a community garden contest.

Here are a few gardening events coming up in the next few weeks:

PHS Gardening and Greening Contest: Entries accepted from May 1 through June 10

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) invites gardeners of all interests in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to enter their annual contest. “All interests” includes:

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Home Gardeners: in-ground, combination (flower and vegetable), container, or specialty gardens.

Children’s Gardens: gardens maintained by children, with adult supervision

Community Gardeners: vegetable or flower gardens, garden blocks, public-space plantings, parks.

Businesses that have beautified their properties with gardens and plantings.

Flower and Specialty Gardens: a new category this year, recognizing the increased interest in pollinator, native, or rain gardening, as well as rose and rock gardens.

Entries will be judged on maintenance and horticultural practices, as well as the variety, color, and suitability of plantings. Design and total visual effects and imaginative ideas will also be considered.

Gardeners whose projects are chosen for recognition will be invited to an awards reception, and discounted workshops and garden tours will be offered to all contest participants in the fall. You can’t lose on this!

“The Gardening and Greening Contest celebrates the talent and hard work of hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds across this region,” explains PHS President Matt Rader in a press release. “We hope it also inspires many others to connect with horticulture, whether it’s in their own backyard, in a community garden with their neighbors, or with an organization that is greening the community. All these efforts enrich our lives and our world.”

For more information and to enter the contest, please visit: http://phsonline.org/ggcontest, call 215-988-8897, or email ggcontest@pennhort.org.

Jenkins Arboretum annual Plant Sale: Saturday, May 6, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Sunday, May 7, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Presented by the Valley Forge Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, this is one of the largest public plant sales in the area. Offered will be plants ideally suited for area gardens, including rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants not readily available elsewhere. The sale also includes thousands of perennials, native wildflowers, ferns and slow-growing conifers, as well as donated plants from Society members’ gardens. You’ll also find answers your gardening questions from the Society’s knowledgeable horticultural staff. For more information or to request specific plants, call Chris Smetana at 610-688-5249.

Brandywine Conservancy annual Wildflower, Native Plant, & Seed Sale: Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., in the courtyard of the Brandywine River Museum.

This sale boasts a wide variety of native grasses, ferns, vines, shrubs, and trees, as well as organically grown vegetable plants. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and provide planting and horticultural information.

Why “go native?” Native plants are highly adaptable to local conditions, require less water and no fertilizer, directly benefit our local birds, bees, and butterflies, strengthen our local ecology, and help preserve the character of our regional landscape.

Arbor Day — April 28

Arbor Day gives us an opportunity each year to recognize and promote the value of trees, and not just for the beauty they provide or for their cooling effect during the hot summer months. As the folks at Davey Tree Experts point out, new research shows that trees account for 7.2 percent annual residential energy savings ($7.8 billion) and resulting avoided power plant emissions ($3.9 billion). These estimates are on top of reducing air pollution (valued at $4.7 billion) and sequestering CO2 (valued at $2 billion.) If those statistics don’t do it for you, how about this one: “A tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by an average of $7,130.”

Herb sale

An Herb Sale and May Festival is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at Heckler Plains Farmstead, Morris and Landis Roads, Harleysville. Sale will features herb plants, perennials and annuals, crafts, food and beverages, tour of a 18th Century PA German Kitchen Garden, gardening/growing handouts and information. For more information regarding this event, call 215-822-7422 (evenings). Proceeds benefit the Heckler Plains Folklife Society’s Children’s Colonial Education Programs.

Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener who lives in Kimberton. Direct e-mail to pcbaxter@verizon.net, or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442. Join the conversation at “Chester County Roots,” a Facebook page for gardeners in the Delaware Valley. Go to Facebook, search for Chester County Roots, and “like” the page. To receive notice of updates, click or hover on “Liked” to set your preferences.