Penn State Master Gardeners Offer Services to Assist Home Gardeners

Written by Michael Cassidy, Lancaster County Master Gardener, Maytown

Last November, the Maytown Historical Society hosted a program on “Working Gardens in 19th Century Pennsylvania Dutch Country.” This program was presented by the Lancaster Master Gardener Program of Penn State Extension. The 25-30 people attending the presentation at the East Donegal Township building found that the common “working gardens” of the 1800s
contrasted with the high Victorian style of the period. The still revered Victorian style centered around lawns and plant collections created and maintained for socializing– at a great cost. The more common gardens found on town lots in Maytown and Marietta, as a necessity, were dedicated to food production and home work spaces. While gardens included flowers and some ornamental shrubs, vegetables and grape arbors were a more important feature in Dutch Country. Town lots also commonly contained smaller versions of farm outbuildings and included animals. Many of these 19th Century outbuildings still exist locally. Gardeners today emulate their historical counterparts by reducing grass lawns providing more room for herbs, fruits and vegetables and incorporating native plants for pollinators. 

Community groups may request programs from the Master Gardener Speaker Bureau on many aspects of gardening including native plants to support pollinators (like bees and butterflies), vegetable gardening, invasive plants, composting, and many other topics. To book a speaker email the Lancaster County Master Gardener Coordinator at or call 717-394-6851.

Help is also available for gardeners with questions or problems. The Garden Hotline is a free service offered through the local Penn State Extension Office to help Lancaster County residents. Master Gardeners answer questions on a variety of topics including growing vegetables, fruits, ornamentals and turfgrass, plant identification, pruning, and insect and disease problems. Contact the Garden Hotline by email at Include pictures with your email, if possible.

For more information and gardening tips, use an internet search for “Penn State Lancaster Master Gardener Program.”