‘Fairest’ garden of them all: Master Gardeners bring skills to fairgrounds landscape

The “Fairest Garden” is one of several gardening-related exhibits at the Washington County Fair by the County Master Gardeners group. The group also holds garden education sessions and clinics where fair-goers can bring in plants and insects and get advice.

A frequent stop for the more than 5,000 visitors to the Washington County Fair each year is the demonstration garden on the east side of the fairgrounds created by University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners.

The “Fairest” garden consists of many gardens within the garden, including a cottage garden, native garden, vegetables, roses, ornamental grasses, perennials, annuals and herbs. Eight containers of flowers give visitors many ideas for their own pots. The result is a colorful and beautifully designed treat for visitors.

Included in the garden is a “Monarch way station” with six varieties of milkweed and several nectar producing annuals. Milkweed is the only host plant monarch caterpillars eat and there are several varieties of milkweed available that make beautiful landscape plants, unlike the common milkweed found along roadsides. Homeowners can help stop the decline of the monarch population by incorporating milkweed into their gardens.

Master Gardeners will answer questions about monarchs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 4 and noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 5.

Master Gardeners will conduct diagnostic clinics from noon to 3 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 4. The public is invited to bring plant and insect samples and photos for diagnosis by Master Gardeners. Volunteers will identify the plants or insects, diagnose common problems, and make recommendations.

Four rain gardens located near the Fairest Garden demonstrate several options for improving water quality when landscaping. One garden consists of all shrubs, another has perennials and two areas contain native perennials. These gardens are a cooperative effort of the Master Gardener Program, Washington Conservation District, Valley Branch Watershed District and Washington County Fair.


Demonstrations & Displays at the Fairest Garden


Master Gardeners are on hand in the Fairest Garden to answer visitors’ questions about the many plants and other gardening questions. Visitors are encouraged to stop by any time and “Ask a Master Gardener” or attend these events:


Aug. 2

Noon to 5 p.m. — Kids’ Touch and See Booth


Aug. 3

11 a.m. — How to create a bonsai (a bonsai will be given to someone in the audience)

Noon to 3 p.m. — Diagnostic Clinic

1 p.m. — How to create a bonsai (a bonsai will be given to someone in the audience)


Aug. 4

11 a.m. — Proper Tree Pruning

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Monarch Question & Answer

Noon to 5 p.m. — Tree Care and Kids’ Touch and See Booth

1 p.m. — How to Create Your Own Compost

1 to 5 p.m. — Buckthorn Display

1:30 – 3:30 p.m. — Diagnostic Clinic

Aug. 5

Noon to 5 p.m. — Tree Care and Kids’ Touch and See Booth

Noon to 2 p.m. — Monarch Question & Answer

1 p.m. — Proper Tree Pruning

1 to 5 p.m. — Buckthorn Display

3:30 p.m. — Container Garden for Decks/Patios

The Minnesota Master Gardener program is part of University of Minnesota Extension. Master Gardeners attend a 48-hour core course taught by U of MN horticulture professors and volunteer at least 50 hours in their first year and 25 hours annually thereafter. Many Master Gardeners have advanced training in tree care, home insect control, plant healthcare, home landscape design and shoreland restoration. To learn more about Master Gardeners in Washington County visit our website at http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mgweb/washington and find us on Facebook.