Demonstration Garden Awards

1st Place Winner

Orange County Stormwater Demonstration

Orange County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program

What was once a barren, severely eroded patch in the middle of a parking lot has been transformed into the Courthouse Garden, located in the historic downtown district of Hillsborough, North Carolina. The garden offers visitors the opportunity to slow down and enjoy colorful, native plants and the spicy scent of African blue basil.

The Courthouse Garden was the training project of the 2018 Orange County Master Gardeners class. Students researched how to address environmental challenges, including 80% stormwater runoff, severe erosion, highly compacted and poor-quality soil, and heavy foot traffic. The students integrated stormwater control, garden design, and plant selection principles and rolled up their sleeves to transform the site from barren to beautiful. Students partnered with Hillsborough Boy Scout Troop #438, who helped dig out poor soil, and with Orange County, which donated high quality soil and compost. They installed a one-foot gravel edge to capture runoff and a swale bordered by native grasses, groundcovers and primarily native perennials to promote infiltration. They secured plant and rock donations from the North Carolina Botanical Garden and area businesses and donated plant divisions from their own gardens. The resulting garden has no stormwater runoff, which protects water quality of the Eno River, Hillsborough’s source of drinking water. A sign directs visitors to TheOrangeGardener.org website for information on stormwater control and an interactive map to identify garden plants. This project provided learning by doing for the Master Gardeners, solved a real-world problem, and encourages the use of stormwater management gardening principles.   

2nd Place Winner

Fred Heutte Square Foot Gardening Demonstration Garden

Norfolk Master Gardeners

Fred Heutte Square Foot Gardening Demonstration Garden

For over 10 years, Norfolk Extension Master Gardeners have operated a Demonstration Garden at the Fred Heutte Center in the Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia. The garden, consisting of 40 4ft X 4ft raised beds, utilizes Square Foot Gardening (SFG) techniques to demonstrate how to maximize food growing potential in an urban environment. The entire garden is maintained by a cadre of extremely dedicated Norfolk Master Gardeners and a few neighborhood volunteers. All produce is donated to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. The garden has annually provided over 1,500 pounds of fresh, locally grown produce to help feed those in underserved communities of Southeastern Virginia. Its primary goal is to promote vegetable gardening in an urban environment by demonstrating the ease of growing produce without the need for all the space and hard work involved in traditional row gardening. It has served as a hands-on educational opportunity for not only our Master Gardener interns, but for our “seasoned perennials” and local volunteers as well. There is not a better place to learn, hands on, all aspects of vegetable gardening, and the practical application of square foot gardening (raised bed, intensive gardening techniques) that is one viable solution to large area requirement that is a major impediment to traditional vegetable gardening in an urban environment such as Norfolk. It has been a central focal point to help groups and individuals interested in techniques suitable for urban gardeners for growing their own produce. For additional information about our project our primary points of contact: Tom West and Paul Ziegler can be reached via email through our office at [email protected]

3rd Place Winner

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden

UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Demonstration Gardens serve homeowners and residents in Polk County, Florida with over 45,000 people visiting the Extension Service grounds annually. Many types of gardens are used to showcase the variety of landscapes in central Florida: 1) Shade Garden, 2) Butterfly Garden (Certified Monarch Waystation and Certified Butterfly Garden), 3) Hummingbird Garden, 4) Sun Garden, 5) Container Garden, 6) Annual Garden (seasonally changed), 7) Color Garden, 8) Succulent Garden, 8) Fairy Garden, 9) Selfie Stop, 10) Foundation Garden, 12) Edible Garden, 13) Aquatic Bog Garden, 14) Pollinator Garden, 15) Water Wise Garden, (16) Crapemyrtle Arboretum and, (17) a Florida-Friendly Arboretum. In addition, we have a “Little Free Library” on site and a memorial path through our butterfly garden with bricks honoring former Master Gardener Volunteers who have passed. Rain barrels, microirrigation and compost bins are on display, as well as different types of organic and by-product mulch (with signage) to assist in educating Polk County residents. The gardens were recognized by the state Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program in 2019 as an “Outstanding Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Garden”. The goal of the demonstration gardens is to teach Polk County residents Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles by demonstrating practical ideas they can implement in their own yards to help conserve and protect our natural resources all while maintaining a beautiful landscape. Visitors to the garden can tour the gardens using a self-guided tour brochure and map or utilize signage with QR codes throughout the gardens for an audio tour. The audio tour was created in 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. All in-person tours were paused, and the self-guided audio tour is a way for people to get the same information provided in group tours. The use of audio narration for the walking tour allows visitors to explore the gardens in more depth through this educational enhancement.