ELIZABETH, NJ - Spring has finally arrived and for many, it means time to spruce up the yard. Many will be out planting gardens and flowers. Gardening enthusiasts can stock up on plants, seedlings and other supplies at the annual Master Gardeners of Union County Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale.

The Spring Garden Fair takes place this year on Sunday May 20, from noon to 4 p.m. on the grounds of the Union County Demonstration Garden, located by the Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

“The Spring Garden Fair is a fun, inspiring and educational way to kick off the growing season,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “Come and stock up on plants and other supplies for a healthy, beautiful yard or garden, and get expert guidance from the Master Gardeners of Union County.”

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As always, admission to the Garden Fair is free, and parking is also free. Visitors are advised that all sales are cash only. All proceeds go to civic activities of the Master Gardeners, including raising and donating fresh produce, community beautification and education, and a scholarship fund.

“The Master Gardeners volunteers make outstanding contributions to life in Union County, and I encourage everyone interested in community service to come to the Garden Fair, speak with our volunteers and find out how you can participate in this worthwhile program,” said Chairman Granados.

Among the hundreds of plants and seedlings offered for sale, the Spring Garden Fair features deer resistant, drought tolerant and fragrant plants that thrive in Union County, including many easy-to-grow plants for beginner gardeners.

The Spring Garden Fair, which has been taking place for 29 years, is also known for a large selection of herbs and tomatoes including the popular Ramapo and the Rutgers 250.

Along with plants, baked goods, books, crafts, and garden supplies for sale, the Spring Garden Fair offers free activities for gardeners of all ages including:

  • Guided tours of the Demonstration Garden including the vegetable and herb gardens.
  • Displays and information for Square Foot Gardening, Invasive Plants and Mosquito Control.
  • Information on joining the Master Gardeners and the 4-H Master Tree Stewards.
  • Children's activities (children must be accompanied by adult during activities).
  • Garden clinic and Rutgers information fact sheets for troubleshooting garden problems.

Attendees can bring plant and insect samples for diagnosis, and Rutgers soil test kits are available for sale.

Free parking is located nearby at the Trailside Nature and Science Center parking lot and the Scout Camping Area in the Watchung Reservation. Additional free parking is available in the Loop playground area, located a short walk away on the other side of the Trailside Center.

Visitors are advised to bring a small wagon to convey their purchases. Pets are not permitted at the Garden Fair.

The Spring Garden Fair is organized each year by the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County, an all-volunteer organization run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County and supported in part by the Freeholder Board. Anyone with an interest in gardening and volunteer service can become a Master Gardener. No previous education or training in horticulture is required. 

Among the Master Gardeners, many volunteer services are the free Garden Helpline (908-654-9852) where residents can receive gardening advice, horticulture programs for people with special needs, and a community gardening speakers' bureau.

The group’s work in the Union County Demonstration Garden has yielded thousands of pounds of fresh produce for local food pantries and many donations of cut flowers to cancer centers along with other projects and programs.

For more information on the Master Gardeners program contact Tamisha Hopkins at the Extension, 908-654-9854 (ext. 2), or visit online at ucnj.org/rce.

The Extension offices are located in the Colleen Frasier county services building, 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.

More information on the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County is available at mastergardeners-uc.org.

For quick links to all Union County programs related to gardening, sustainability and nature conservation visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.