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North Hills

North Hills Master Gardener hosting free talk about perennials

| Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Goff in a lavender field in Traverse City, Mich.
Bill Goff in a lavender field in Traverse City, Mich.
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Spring has been slow to make its way to Western Pennsylvania this year, but soon it will be time to get back in the garden.

On May 1, one of the area's top gardening experts will be at the Northern Tier Regional Library to talk about one of his favorite subjects — perennials. In his talk on three seasons of colors, Bill Goff will discuss the different seasons of the garden and what plants to choose to provide color and beauty from spring until fall. He will also discuss care and maintenance of the perennial border.

“The big three are peonies, hostas and day lilies,” said Goff, of Ross. “Those are the holy trinity of the perennial kingdom. There are so many cultivars in each one. Hostas have over 7,500, peonies have 4,500, and day lilies — there are hundreds of thousands of different types — so those are the big three.”

Goff will be showing his own perennial garden, which started as a vacant lot behind his house before he bought it from his brother-in-law. He'd always enjoyed plants as a child, starting marigolds from seed and planting them in his mother's garden, and then when he was a bit older he helped a family friend cart soil in a wheelbarrow and weed and tend to her garden. It was work, Goff said, but he realized how much he was enjoying himself.

He has been an avid gardener in the North Hills for 30 years, and in 2011 Goff became a master gardener through the Penn State program. A retired organist and director of music at Northmont United Presbyterian Church, his garden has been featured in Fine Gardening magazine.

There are two peak times in his garden, he said, one in late May/early June with about 16 varieties of peonies blooming along with fox gloves and allium, and another in July with his many varieties of day lilies, daisies and “Lucifer” crocosmia, which he said the hummingbirds love. In late summer and early fall he still gets color and blooms from aster, autumn joy sedum, heliopsis and lemon queen helianthus.

The garden is always a work in progress, he said.

“It's never done. There's always something to add or tweak,” Goff said. “Shrubs and plants need to be divided as they grow and expand, then there are always plants you want to buy because you just love them so much. The garden is always changing, always in a state of flux.”

Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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