Saturday, August 21, 2010

Iowa State Fair: Master Gardeners

One of my favorite exhibits at the Iowa State Fair is the Polk County Master Gardeners' showcase garden.  I talked to a few of the master gardeners who planned the garden this year, and I was surprised to learn that they start the seeds for the garden at the Des Moines Botannical Center each winter.  So there's a lot of advanced planning (and some really creative folks) that goes into this State Fair garden.

And this year, the master gardeners really outdid themselves.  Right away, a towering, exotic-looking flower captured my eye.  I went over to look at the label, which read Caster Bean Oil plant.  I love the pom-pom red flowers.

Someone on Twitter told me that caster bean plants are very easy to grow.  You can just plant the seed in the ground, and they take off.  It looks like they need to be staked, though, so they don't topple over from their height.

I was just strolling next to another flower bed and I saw another surprising garden feature -- a dill plant growing between marigolds.  Then I noticed kohlrabi growing in the patch, as well as ornamental kale.  I asked one of the master gardeners, and sure enough, it's an edible garden.  Even the marigold flowers are edible!  I so want to replicate this in my yard next year.

I was impressed by how many garden features they squeezed into such a small space around the Agriculture Building.


And look!  A rain barrel!  With a rain chain!  I've got to get me one of these!

A big thank you to the Polk County Master Gardeners for putting on such an inspiring display.  I came away with lots of garden ideas for my own home.

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