• By Leslie Rose
  • Posted Thursday, May 25, 2023

What's in Bloom Provides Community Education & Engagement

Gardeners contact us at Extension all the time to ask for assistance with plant identification. N.C. Cooperative Extension is happy to assist gardeners with identifying plants in their landscape and choosing plants appropriate for our area. In addition to providing one-on-one assistance, Extension manages two public gardens in Forsyth County. These are the Demonstration Garden located at the Forsyth County Agriculture Building (1450 Fairchild Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27105) and the Arboretum at Tanglewood Park (4201 Manor House Circle, Clemmons, NC 27012).

In April 2020, we created the “What’s in Bloom” page of the Extension website to share photographs of plants blooming at Extension’s gardens during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to update the page and, starting in 2022, began utilizing Extension Master Gardener Volunteers to collect weekly photographs and information about plants. Thus, the page serves a dual purpose: (1) to inform community members about plants that grow in the Piedmont region of NC and (2) to develop volunteers’ skills in plant identification and research.

The What's in Bloom website received a total of 3,045 pageviews from 2020 through 2022, with pageviews increasing every year since the creation of the page. The What’s in Bloom page increased community members’ knowledge of gardening. 96% of website visitors reported that the page was helpful from April 2020 through September 2022. Two people reported visiting Extension’s gardens after viewing the What’s in Bloom page. One website visitor stated, “I see plants here I may not have thought about planting myself.”

Volunteer evaluation feedback showed that 100% of volunteers gained skills in plant identification and researching growing information for plants. Having this volunteer opportunity allowed more diverse participants to serve as Extension Master Gardener Volunteers; 50% of volunteers who completed this task in 2022 work at jobs that prevent them from participating in other regular volunteer activities. One volunteer reported, “This program increased my interest in bees and butterflies…and I have found a passion in learning about butterflies and their host plants.”

We hope you will take some time to follow along with our What's in Bloom page this season and that it inspires you to visit or try new plants in your garden! Visit forsyth.ces.ncsu.edu/whats-in-bloom to see what is blooming now.

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