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Master Gardeners swing into spring at JH presentation

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Spring is coming — eventually.

To prove the point, Master Gardeners will offer four sessions on specific gardening topics at the Jefferson Hills Municipal Center community room. The first event is set for Feb. 27 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Kicking off the Allegheny County/Penn State Master Gardeners programs will be Bill Goff and Dianne Machesney. Goff's talk is titled “Perennials in the Garden: Three Seasons of Color.” Machesney will discuss “Gardening in Deer Country.”

Jane Milner, program and events coordinator at Jefferson Hills Library, chose programs on pruning and trimming, vegetable gardening and container gardening for last year's spring and summer audiences.

“Our Penn State Master Gardeners programs were the most popular programs we presented in 2013 with approximately 40 people attending each one,” she said.

Goff, 65, of Ross Township, waited until after his retirement to pursue the Master Gardeners program. One of his loves now is a well-planned and well-tended perennial garden, something his PowerPoint presentation will explore.

“The challenge is to have something always changing from March to October,” he said, “and to grow something harmonious together.”

Goff tends the “Big Three” — peonies, day lilies and hostas. Each blooms in turn, bursting with color and fragrance. Other plants, such as spring bulbs and fall asters complement his garden “stars.” There are a variety to choose from: 7,500 cultivars of hostas, thousands of day lilies and hundreds of peonies.

He'll also focus on the care of gardens: dividing plants, fertilizing, mulching and generally cleaning up at the end of the season.

While the garden rests in all its beauty, predators may be enjoying the view, too. Machesney, also of Ross, will offer recommendations to keep deer at a distance.

The best way to prevent the intruders is to grow deer-resistant plants, which she'll name during her presentation.

But, she said: “If the deer are stressed, they'll eat anything.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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