University of Maryland Extension

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demo Garden

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demonstration Garden

The original Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds was created in Gaithersburg in 1994, with the current site being the third location.  Although the County Fair is the high point of the gardening year, the Master Gardener team works throughout the year planning, planting and maintaining the garden to make an attraction for people attending the many other events held at the Fairgrounds.  Located at the corner of Poplar and Hickory Avenues, the Master Gardener site is across from Old Macdonald’s Barn and diagonally across from the 4H building making the Demonstration Garden easy to find.

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demonstration Garden

Each year thousands of fairgoers visit the Demonstration Garden to learn how they can maintain and improve their own home gardens.  Master Gardener volunteers are on hand each day during the Fair to answer specific questions about the garden, current best practices, and the Master Gardener program.  They also conduct tours through the garden and provide helpful gardening information including composting techniques, how to use insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides (referred to as integrated pest management or IPM) safely and correctly, and appropriate use of fertilizers. 

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demonstration Garden

The award-winning garden is the recipient of many Keep Montgomery County Beautiful awards. In a recent interview, ABC television called it, “An oasis within the Fair.”  The Demonstration Garden includes a rain garden with a bioswale which was developed with a grant from the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful organization.  Other features include a fragrance garden, shade garden, and monochromatic garden.  Recently, a vertical garden display was added to demonstrate how to grow plant material when space is limited. In addition, there are a wide variety of native plants and shrubs, as well as non-natives from around the world.  The native plants attract many butterflies, hummingbirds, bees as well as ladybugs and other beneficial insects and pollinators.   This reduces the need to treat the gardens with toxic chemicals and provides food and shelter for native fauna. 

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demonstration Garden

Master Gardener volunteers also maintain the beds at the nearby Heritage House and the 4H Garden located outside the Chilly Mall.  This includes creating designs for building on and expanding the beds, adding annual flowering plants, composting and mulching.  These improvements are the result of the close cooperation between the Master Gardeners and the Fairgrounds organization which has provided much assistance. 

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Demonstration Garden

The Fairgrounds Committee is a small but dedicated group of approximately a dozen Master Gardeners.  Currently, Carole Funger and Michael Parizer are the co-chairs.

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