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North Dakota research garden tour offers something for everyone

Gardening columnist Don Kinzler previews an upcoming event in Fargo that will showcase annual flowers and perennials and discuss fruits and vegetables and lawn care.

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Annual flowers such as snapdragons are trialed at the North Dakota State University display gardens.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — There’s a reason garden tours are highly popular. We enjoy working in our own yards, gardens and flower beds, but it’s intriguing to see what someone else is doing, learn a few new tips, view new varieties and rub elbows with others who enjoy gardening as much as you do.

The North Dakota State University Plant Sciences Department is hosting a fun and educational tour opportunity with a public event called Plants, Local Foods and Outdoor Spaces from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, in the NDSU Horticulture Research and Demonstration Gardens.

The gardens are on the NDSU campus at the corner of 18th Street and 12th Avenue North in Fargo. The event offers something for everyone, including annual flowers, perennials, lawn care, fruits and vegetables, including both informational sessions and tours.

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NDSU's All-America display garden shows winning varieties such as Mega Bloom vinca.
David Samson / The Forum
More gardening columns from Don Kinzler

The event will feature tours of the annual and perennial flower gardens. The gardens are an official All-America Selections bedding plant display garden. Each year, the NDSU Plant Sciences Department evaluates the performance of more than 200 varieties of annual bedding plants under North Dakota growing conditions. Plants are rated for vigor, bloom and uniformity.

“New this year, we will have the general public vote on their favorite annual bedding plants,” says Esther McGinnis, NDSU Extension horticulturist and associate professor in the Plant Sciences Department. “This is an example of how the public can help us with our research.”

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A key feature of the event will be tours of the American Daylily Society Historic Collection. Lisa Schmidt from the Central North Dakota Daylily Society will give a special presentation on daylilies at 3:30 p.m.

“We have scheduled this event earlier in the season than in previous years to celebrate our American Daylily Society Historic Collection. NDSU has more daylily cultivars than any other public institution in the country,” McGinnis says. “The collection is a virtual history of daylily breeding.”

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NDSU's daylilly collection is the largest in the United States at a public institution.
David Samson / The Forum

McGinnis continues, “In addition to garden tours, Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension horticulture agent for Cass County, will give a talk under the big tent at 4 p.m. on tips for preparing the lawn, yard and garden for fall. “

Children’s activities at 4 and 5 p.m. will include a special pollinator scavenger hunt.

Plant Sciences faculty members, Alan Zuk and Deying Li, will give educational demonstrations on selecting the best turfgrass species and mixes and also on home irrigation at 5 and 5:30 p.m., respectively.

At 6 p.m., NDSU faculty will lead a special riding tour of fruit, vegetable and organic research projects. Faculty conduct research so growing fruits and vegetables in home gardens is easier to do.

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A variety of turf types are grown at the NDSU gardens.
David Samson / The Forum

Extension Master Gardeners will be on site to accept donations of fresh garden produce and canned goods to benefit the Fargo Emergency Food Pantry as part of their Veggies for the Pantry initiative.

“Bring your excess cucumbers, zucchinis and other fresh produce to the event to fight hunger,” McGinnis says. “We will also accept canned goods to benefit our local food pantries.”

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Extension Master Gardeners also will be on hand to answer plant questions, with Peg Skaflen presenting on uncommon uses for herbs at 5:30 p.m. under the big tent.

I’m looking forward to the event! I’ll be presenting my program on preparing the lawn, yard and garden for fall at 4 p.m. under the big tent, and will be present for the rest of the tour as well. I always enjoy visiting, so please catch me and say hi.

For more information about the gardening event, contact McGinnis at 701-231-7971 or esther.mcginnis@ndsu.edu.

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The tour will include native plant and pollinator gardens.
David Samson / The Forum

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at donald.kinzler@ndsu.edu.
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