For the fifth consecutive year, the Teaching and Display Garden at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station has been recognized for its educational efforts, creative landscape designs and promotion of new proven varieties of flowers and vegetables. The first-place award was given by the All-America Selections organization in its sixth annual landscape design contest.
The garden, a joint effort among the research station, the Spooner Area UW-Extension Office and UW-Extension North Country Master Gardener Volunteers, competed against nine other entrants in their category from across the U.S. and Canada.
This year, All-America Selections challenged the AAS Display Gardens to create a design based on the theme of “Foodscaping — Interspersing Edibles in the Ornamental Garden.”
Recognition as one of the top AAS Display Gardens in the nation for five straight years may not come as a surprise to those who have visited the Teaching and Display Garden. In addition to hundreds of varieties of annual and perennial flowers and vegetables, the garden is signed with many “teachable moments” to educate visitors.
Part of this larger garden is an official All-America Selections Display Garden. AAS offer gardeners reliable new varieties of flowers and vegetables that have proven their superior garden performance in trial grounds across North America. For the contest, each display garden is responsible for creating and executing the design and generating publicity surrounding the contest. The gardens must then submit proof of publicity for the designed garden and AAS winners, as well as an overall description of their design.
The first-place honor for the “Foodscaping” theme is the culmination of a multiyear landscape design project headed up by local Master Gardener volunteers. This spring, 14 newly designed beds replaced three long, narrow beds. The result was a beautifully designed new series of gardens highlighting both old and new AAS winners. A central pinwheel garden and nearby vertical and container gardens used AAS winners to show visitors how they could mix edibles and ornamentals in their home gardens. The Spooner garden went one step further in their Monarch and Pollinator Sanctuary Garden and included native versions of many AAS plants. Judges were impressed with the overall designs in the gardens and how garden staff and volunteers promoted the contest with their newsletter, workshops, events and multiple media outreach.