Somerset County

Welcome to the University of Maryland Extension (UME) - Somerset County, which is part of a statewide educational organization funded by federal, state, and local governments. Our mission is to support Maryland's agricultural industry; protect its valuable natural resources; enhance the well-being of families and individuals, both young and old; and foster the development of strong, stable communities.

The UME network of local or regional offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes. UME has field offices in all twenty-three Maryland counties and Baltimore City.

This mission is accomplished by faculty and staff within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of Maryland, College Park through the discovery, integration, dissemination, and application of research based knowledge in the agricultural, human, and life sciences.

The Somerset County UME faculty and staff provide a broad range of outreach through workshops, seminars, classes, clinics, newsletters, consultations, and media efforts related to the following topics:   

  • 4-H and Youth

  • Agriculture

  • Food and Nutrition

  • Home Gardening

  • Health & Wellness

  • Money

Mertensia virginica

Plant of the Week... is also called Virginia bluebells or Virginia cowslips, a lovely native herbaceous perennial that thrives in moist, rich, well-drained soils in part to full shade. They grow as clump forming erect plants 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 to 1 ½ feet wide, and depending on the site blooming from March to May, for about 3 weeks.  Plants are cold tolerant in USDA zones 3-9, and have deep taproots that don’t like to be disturbed. The 2-8 inch foliage is attached alternately on the stems, emerging in a deep purple color, maturing into a green blue color with a smooth, oval shaped with wavey margins. The flower buds start out a soft pink that develop into a bright sky-blue trumpet shaped flower. Flowers grow to ¾ to 1 inch long and have a delicate sweet fragrance with 5 petals that fuse together to create the trumpet. They can self-seed and colonize, filling in areas around the trees.   In mid-summer the plant foliage dies to the ground and goes dormant, so they should be interplanted with other shade loving perennials like Trillium, Dicentra, ferns or shade loving annuals for summer color. While they are in bloom bumblebees, long tonged bees, butterflies, skippers, moths, flower flies, bee flies and hummingbirds will visit.  Plants are resistant to rabbits, deer and Black Walnuts. There are no serious pests.

Ginny Rosenkranz