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Family Gardening Day May 11 at Allen Gardens and D.C. Smith Greenhouses

Whether your garden sprawls across an acre or fits into a pot on your balcony, you’ll find great ideas for making it your best one ever at this year’s UW Family Gardening Day, May 11 on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

This annual showcase of gardening ideas runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the university’s D.C. Smith Instructional Greenhouses and Allen Centennial Gardens. UW-Madison and UW-Extension experts and volunteers will be on hand at both locations with answers, ideas and demonstrations for gardeners of all ages and levels of experience.

Here’s a sample of what’s on tap:

  • Designs for accessible gardens and ergonomic tools that can make gardening a lifelong activity for everyone, regardless of age and physical ability.
  • Kids can make a living locket—a seed wrapped in moist cotton in a plastic bag on a string—to keep warm inside their shirts until the seed sprouts for planting. They can also take home a four-pack of tomato, pepper, basil and oregano seedlings to grow the makings of a perfect pasta sauce, and transplant a seedling to a “cow pot” made of organic material that can be planted pot and all.
  • Ideas for limited-space gardening. The terrace and kitchen gardens of the 2.5-acre Allen Centennial Gardens will be full of raised beds, pots, planters, bags and similar gear for growing vegetables and flowers in nooks and crannies.
  • Displays of cold frames, row covers and similar techniques for extending the season.
  • Organic lawn care. Bando Organics will show how it maintains the Allen Centennial Gardens lawn.
  • Useful tools. Dramm and Fiskars, two Wisconsin-based firms that donate tools to the Allen Gardens, will have gear on display.
  • Tour the gardens to view thousands of ornamental plants including vegetables, perennials, trees and shrubs in 26 individually themed gardens. Volunteers will be stationed throughout to answer questions.
  • Steenbock Library, located between the two gardens, invites visitors to peruse its extensive collection of horticultural information, including UW-Extension materials for Master Gardeners.
  • The Babcock Hall dairy store will be open and dishing up its world-famous ice cream treats.

The D.C. Smith Greenhouse is located at 465 Babcock Drive, across the street from Babcock Hall.  Allen Centennial Gardens is a block north at 620 Babcock Drive. Free parking is available in Lot 40 behind Babcock Hall and in Lot 36 just west of Steenbock Library.