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Belle Grove gearing up for annual Garden Fest

Peonies bloom behind Belle Grove
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Peonies bloom behind Belle Grove Manor House in a fence row along the gardens. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Lynn Hoffmann looks over a section of Baptista
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Lynn Hoffmann, master gardener with the Frederick County Cooperative Extension office, looks over a section of baptista in the gardens behind Belle Grove Manor House in Middletown. Belle Grove will host its 2011 Garden Fest on June 4, celebrating the valley’s agriculture and horticulture heritage. Rich Cooley/Daily

Rue grows in the gardens
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Rue grows in the gardens behind Belle Grove Manor House in Middletown. Rich Cooley/Daily

Peonies bloom behind Belle Grove Manor House
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Peonies bloom behind Belle Grove Manor House in a fence row along the gardens. Rich Cooley/Daily

Peonies bloom
View larger image

Peonies bloom behind Belle Grove Manor House in a fence row along the gardens. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Laetitia Clayton -- lclayton@nvdaily.com

MIDDLETOWN -- Belle Grove Plantation will offer something for gardeners of all levels next Saturday during the eighth-annual Garden Fest, hosted in conjunction with the Master Gardeners of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

The event features various classes and demonstrations, a children's program, raffles and what is likely the biggest draw -- the master gardeners' plant sale.

"All the plants we sell are something that will grow in your garden locally," said Lynn Hoffmann, a master gardener with the Frederick County Cooperative Extension office, who is also in charge of Garden Fest. "The master gardeners grow these and donate them to sell."

The plants are mostly perennials, Hoffmann said, like black-eyed Susans, daisies and daylilies. Shrubs, seedling trees and herbs also will be for sale, she said.

Some of the demonstrations include one on garden safety by the Virginia Farm Bureau Safety Department, a sheepdog demonstration and an ongoing woodcarving demonstration, said Cora Gnegy, Belle Grove's events and program coordinator.

"The event is a look at the horticultural and agricultural heritage in the Shenandoah Valley," she said. "Really, there's truly something for everyone. And it's a nice chance to get out on the grounds."

Admission and parking are both free, Gnegy said, but there are fees for some events, like a special luncheon to be held inside the manor house at noon. Nancy Walsh, of NW Designs in Woodstock, will be the guest speaker for the lunch, and will talk about the mechanics of flower arranging.

"You can look at the plants for sale, and then you can learn how to cut your flowers and arrange them," Gnegy said.

The cost for the luncheon is $18 for Belle Grove members and $20 for nonmembers in advance, she said. Tickets are $25 at the door, and seating is limited to 25.

Most of the master gardener programs are free, Hoffmann said, and a variety of topics will be covered, such as gardening for small spaces, how to deal with deer in your garden and creating displays in pots.

"The master gardeners will be on hand to talk to people about their own gardens, like what to plant and how to grow," Hoffmann said.

The demonstration garden at Belle Grove also will be open for viewing. The garden contains plants that would have been grown in 1800s, Hoffmann said, such as flowers for the house, and herbs used medicinally or to dye clothes.

Master gardeners use the garden for educational purposes, keeping it historically accurate, she said.

"All of the beds in this garden have a historical connection to Belle Grove," Gnegy added. "We utilize the garden throughout the year for school tours and youth camps."

With education being a big part of Garden Fest, a youth program will be offered for the second year in a row.

"It's being expanded upon," Hoffmann said of the Passport to Gardening program.
This year it will include a bee table, an herb table and more, where children can make things to take home with them, she said, like potting a small plant.

There also will be an animal display with miniature horses, chickens, sheep and donkeys.
"Then as they leave, they get a little badge," Hoffmann said, with the design of two bees and a tulip. "Scouts can use it as credit."

The Go As You Please Riders 4-H Club will provide food, Gnegy said, and there will be live music as well as various garden and specialty vendors on the grounds.

Raffle items include a rain barrel, a handmade quilt and a garden tool bag, she said.

A Second Hand Rose table will be set up, offering gently used garden and home items for sale. The public is invited to donate items, Gnegy said, like ceramic and clay pots, garden tools and watering cans.

The money made from selling these donated items will help support Belle Grove's garden internship programs, she said.

Hoffmann said there will also be an information booth where gardening questions will be answered.

"We try to do a little bit of everything for people," she said. "The kids can have fun while their parents ask about gardening.

"It's a good chance for us to come out and get our hands dirty and teach people."

Garden Fest will be held June 4 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown. For more information, call 869-2028 or visit www.bellegrove.org or www.nsvmga.org. Tickets for the luncheon can be purchased online or by phone.

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