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Get Growing: Public plantings

  • Weeds in rotary by Atkins on 116.<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Weeds in rotary by Atkins on 116.<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

Hats off to Merry Cushing of Amherst who wrote a letter to the Gazette drawing attention to the poor public landscape maintenance at the new Atkins Corner roundabouts in South Amherst. All spring and summer I have noticed — and privately grumbled about — the plethora of weeds within the circles. It has been impossible to appreciate the daylilies, Shasta daisies and ornamental grasses so carefully planted to enhance the area. Weeds have grown taller and taller blocking the view of the landscape plants. I hadn’t realized it was a traffic hazard but now I recognize it is a safety issue as well as an aesthetic one.

Yes, all gardens require maintenance! A few hours of pulling weeds followed by good mulching would have made those plantings a pleasant addition to the landscape. Instead they are simply an eyesore. Atkins Farm itself has been adding trees shrubs and perennials to their property so don’t blame the market for the roundabout disasters.

As for the lovely gardens in Sunderland at the intersection of Routes 47 and 116 mentioned by Cushing, they are meticulously maintained by volunteer Lucy Alman with the occasional help of her friends. Alman took over the job from the man who did the original plantings. She has been faithfully planting and tending the gardens for more than a decade. I, too, like Cushing, hope for a red light so I can better admire the beauty.

Perhaps some volunteers need to come forward to take care of the Atkins Corner plantings. The state does a good job at the entrance of Sugarloaf State Park where members of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association created a small perennial and shrub bed several years ago. But somebody needs to get organized in South Amherst.

BIKE TOUR OF AMHERST GARDENS: The Edible Garden Bicycle Tour is tomorrow in Amherst starting at 2 p.m. from Town Hall on the Town Common. Four gardens will be open, in South Amherst, downtown and North Amherst. A potluck will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the garden of David Lovler, who arranged the tour for Grow Food Amherst. Learn about various garden techniques, including permaculture. For more information and to confirm attendance at the potluck, call Lovler at 617-733-7577 or email howitallvegan@yahoo.com.

TOMATO FESTIVAL: The annual Tomato Festival at Red Fire Farm in Granby is tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m. Live music, kids activities, tomato tastings, crafts and cooking demonstrations. Admission $5, children ages 12 and under are free. For details check the website: redfirefarm.com.

COLD FRAMES AND HOOP HOUSES: Learn about cold frames and hoop houses in a workshop Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield. Emmet Van Driesche, property steward for the Trustees of Reservation property, will demonstrate building structures to extend the gardening season. Grow your own winter lettuce and spinach with the help of these simple structures. Get your hands dirty to learn to construct these season extenders as well as when and what to plant and how to maintain them over the winter. Fee is $5; members of the Trust participate for free. Questions, call Van Driesche at 413 628-4485, ext 1.

THREE COUNTY FAIR: For many the Three County Fair which opens next Friday in Northampton for the Labor Day Weekend is simply a family event for having fun on rides and watching demo derbies. For others, it represents the traditional agricultural fair with prizes awarded to outstanding livestock and garden produce raised by commercial farms and rank amateurs including youths. Janet Mollison of Ashfield is in charge of the amateur competitions in vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as maple syrup and other garden/ farm products. Enjoy displaying your own crops, apples, flowers or beans, by entering for premium prizes ranging from $1 to $50. Your entry might be a flower arrangement on a specific theme, a display of perhaps five apples or fruits in a basket or wooden bowl. Enter an array of 15 shell beans, 5 carrots or 2 acorn squash, all grown to perfection. For a book of rules and premiums (prizes) contact Mollison at 667-2220. Deadline for bringing your entry to the fairgrounds in Northampton is Wednesday at 8 p.m.

TOWER HILL FLOWER AND VEGETABLE SHOW: A competitive flower and vegetable show for home gardeners will be held at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston this weekend. Roger Swain, former host of The Victory Garden on PBS, will lecture on “Growing Vegetables in Your Front Yard” tomorrow at 2 p.m. The fee for his lecture is $30. There is also a taste test of vegetables from the Tower Hill vegetable garden for $15 or a combination ticket for both events for $40, a savings of $5. This is all in addition to garden admission of $12, seniors $9. For details on entering the competition and for hours of the display, check the website: towerhillbg.org.

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