It’s been a long winter here in Yates County and if you are like me, you sustained yourself through the cold and snow with dreams of spring. With warmer temperatures on the way, signs of new life poking through the soil will soon be all around us, beckoning us to once again take up our tools, roll up our sleeves, and tend to our yards and gardens.

To get you ready and in a planting state of mind, please join the Yates County Master Gardeners at our annual Yard ’N Garden Day Saturday, March 23. Whether you are brand new to gardening or a knowledgeable horticulturalist with years of experience, Yard ’N Garden Day has something to offer. This year, we will welcome a wonderful and informative group of experts who will discuss native plants, invasive garden pests, and gardening in containers. It’s a perfect opportunity, before the full bloom of the season arrives, to sharpen your skills, learn something new, and leave energized and ready to get your hands dirty.

Our program includes three topics and speakers. “Landscaping with Native Plants” will help you select those plants best suited to our local conditions, more likely to thrive with less care, and be best suited to provide pollen and nectar to valuable insect pollinators.

You will also learn more about a far less benign insect, the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive plant hopper native to China, India, and Vietnam recently identified for the first time in Yates County. With a voracious and broad appetite and no natural enemies, this colorful but dangerous insect poses a significant threat to local agriculture. Armed with what you learn at Yard ’N Garden Day, you can be on the front lines of protecting Yates County—and valuable crops such as grapes and fruit trees—from this invasive pest.

Finally, what better way to end the program than by learning how to create beautiful container gardens. Valery Stern—whose lush, eye-catching container creations can be seen in during the season in downtown Penn Yan around Water Street Wine and Spirits—will lead our session on container gardening, sharing her tips and secrets to creating decorative container gardens for all seasons. You will leave ready and able to wow your friends and neighbors with show- stopping container gardens of your own that will brighten your porch, steps, or yard all season long.

The program will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Yates County Building auditorium. All attendees will receive free flower and vegetable seeds, generously provided by Bejo Seeds, Fruition Seeds, Hornings Greenhouse, and Seedway, as well as the opportunity to win at raffle some great gardening prizes donated by fantastic local businesses such as Knapp and Schlappi, Longs’ Books, and Carey’s Lumber. There will also be a used gardening book sale.

Refreshments will be served, and if you bring your own reusable mug, you will receive an extra raffle ticket. The cost to attend is $15 per person. Registration is required, so please contact the Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 315-536-5123 or visit our website at to register online.

Here at Cooperative Extension we believe that gardening is for everyone. So grab a friend or two and join the Master Gardeners as we celebrate the return of Spring. 

Contact Cheryl Flynn at 315-536-5124 or by email at to join Master Gardeners.