Get Growing, tips from Master Gardener Cheryl B. Wilson: North Amherst Library garden

Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The garden outside the North Amherst Library is a labor of love by one devoted library patron and gardener — Nancy D’Amato.

Five years ago, D’Amato decided the landscape outside the library, which is located in a triangle of land between Route 63 and Sunderland Road, was sadly lacking. She wanted to create an oasis in the middle of the traffic. She succeeded.

Although D’Amato enlisted the help of individual members of the Garden Club of Amherst, notably Bernie Rubinstein and Pat Holland, the garden club never made it an official club project. D’Amato has done the bulk of the design, planting and maintenance herself. She has spent hundreds of dollars of her own money on plants and soil amendments while cajoling local businesses to donate funds and assistance. She has also wheedled shrub and perennial plant donations or discounts from area nurseries.

The results are spectacular. Visiting the garden on a hot August afternoon, I was amazed at the peacefulness and color of the garden. There is a bench in the middle where you can sit and admire the plantings.

Stately white lilies are dramatic accents among the white and purple phlox, Russian sage, Shasta daisies, coneflowers, daylilies and annuals. The beds are gracefully curved and create a natural haven for people as well as butterflies, which flit from flower to flower. D’Amato regularly appeals to garden club members to come help weed and mulch. But she certainly could use some more willing hands. Library patrons and other North Amherst residents should inquire at the library about how to help ensure this beautiful garden continues to impress.

IPM FIELD WALK IN ATHOL: Today, 3-5 p.m., UMass Extension specialists will lead a free Integrated Pest Management Field Walk at the Farm School in Athol. Learn how to manage pests in non-toxic ways on vegetables, soft fruit and tree fruit. Email Katie Campbell-Nelson at kcampbel@umass.edu or call her at 545-1051 for directions to the Farm School.

TOMATO FESTIVAL: The annual Tomato Festival at Red Fire Farm in Granby is tomorrow, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5; children under age 12 are free. There will be the traditional tomato tasting, chef demonstrations, workshops on wild edibles, flower arrangements and canning, vendors, live music and activities for children. For details go to redfirefarm.com.

SEED SAVING: Kate Stafford, propagator and operations manager for the New England Wild Flower Society, will lead a workshop on seed saving tomorrow, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Nasami Farm, Whately. Fee is $65. The program is limited to 16 participants. Register at 508-877-7630, ext. 3303, or at www.newenglandwild.org/learn/adult.

CATERPILLAR SHOW: Butterflies and moths start life as eggs that turn into caterpillars. For instance, wooly bear caterpillars become Isabella tiger moths, a fact that entranced my 7-year-old grand-daughter Isabella. Kids of all ages should enjoy a program by Sam Jaffe of the Caterpillar Lab tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, where they can get an up close look at caterpillars of Massachusetts. The program is free with admission to the gardens. For more information, go to towerhillbg.org.

PLANT SWAP: A plant swap will be held at Forbes Library, Northampton, Tuesday, 6 p.m., in the library’s parking lot. Note the library will be closed at that hour. Bring perennial divisions, seeds, produce, garden tools, etc., to share. For more information email Jessica Gifford at giff.jess@gmail.com.

ROOT CELLARS AND CROP STORAGE: The Trustees of Reservations are holding a workshop on root cellars and crop storage at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield, Aug. 31, 2-5 p.m. Learn how to construct a micro-root cellar and what factors should be considered for winter storage. Fee is $5. For more information, call 628-4485, ext. 1.