Please Bug Me! Rutgers Master Gardeners’ 15th Annual Insect Festival

It’s that time of year again!  Time to join the Mercer County Master Gardeners as we celebrate everything that creeps, crawls, flies and floats during our annual Insect Festival!

NEW START TIME FOR 2017: After 3 straight years of soaring late-summer temperatures, we decided to beat the heat this year and changed the start time of the festival to 10:00 am from our usual 1 pm.

 15th Annual Insect Festival

sponsored by the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Mercer Educational Gardens, 431A Federal City Road, Hopewell Township

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.    Rain or shine.

Free admission,  On-site parking 

What’s the best way to learn about the importance of insects in our lives? By diving in to one of our super-fun, hands-on  activities!  And there’ll be plenty to to choose from!

This year’s festival, themed “Please Bug Me,” will include an encore performance by the ever-popular Big Bug Band –which is sure to  get things humming! While you’re there, be sure to buzz on by some of these perennial favorites: Bees, Butterflies, Bugs Galore; Bugs in Water; Games in the Garden, and the always hoppin’ Insect Hunt in the Meadow (pictured below).

Through scavenger hunts and guided tours, adults and kids alike come face to face with some fascinating facts about the creatures that share our Mercer County environment.

Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer County Horticulturist

So whether you’re bonkers for butterflies or sweet on honey bees, feel free to flutter and flit your way from one event to the next!  Activities will be going on all day, each designed to give you and yours an engaging encounter with one of the earth’s most diverse group of organisms: insects!

There will also be plenty of experts from local environmental agencies on site, giving demonstrations and offering lots of take-home info and advice. Stop by and say hi to folks from Rutgers University Entomology faculty,  Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Mercer County Mosquito Control Commission, NJ Department of Agriculture Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory, Mercer County 4-H, and the Mercer County Equestrian Center.

The Naturalist from Mercer County Parks will also be on hand to lead a series of brilliantly buggy, insect-related activities.  And, of course, Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer County’s Horticulturist, will be there to address all your garden questions, quandaries and quagmires.

The schedule below gives a quick list of some of the day’s highlights:

[2017 Insect Festival events FINAL


Location, location, location…use the map below to find out what’s happening where.  The buttons on the bottom of the map will help you to zoom in on just what you’re looking for:

2017 Insect Festival map


How does our garden grow? Come and find out!  Attendees are whole-heartedly invited to grab some garden inspiration from the diverse plantings in our “outdoor classroom.”  Stroll through the seven demonstration gardens that form the backbone of the county’s Educational Gardens.  Be sure to check out our Annual, Butterfly, Cottage, Herb, Native Plant, Perennial, and Weed ID gardens –and take home some ideas that you can put to work where you live!

The Cottage Garden, pictured here, is just one of the display gardens located at Mercer Educational Gardens. Each offers a living example of suitable plants and cultures for a variety of garden types and conditions.

For more information about Insect Festival and any of our other upcoming events –or for help with any  garden issue you might be having– call the Mercer County Extension Office at (609) 989-6853.  


From caterpillars to crafts, Insect Festival has it all! Come on out and see what the buzz is about…You’ll “bee” glad you did!


Master Gardener Plant Expo 2017

This year’s sale day is sure to be fun for seasoned gardeners and novice gardeners alike!

The plant sale will feature the ever-popular Rutgers Master Gardener home-grown perennials, trees and shrubs and a garden market of plant material sold by selected top-notch nurseries from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

This is a unique opportunity to talk with vendors and purchase a wide assortment of native plants, woody ornamentals, perennials, herbs, annuals and tropical plants. This year we will welcome a new local vendor featuring certified organic plants. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes (Rutgers varieties and heirlooms) as well as many hot pepper varieties will be in abundance.

Mercer County Horticulturist Barbara J. Bromley will be answering gardening questions and Rutgers Master Gardeners will be on hand to help choose the right plant for the right place.

Click here for a scalable map and location guide:

2017 Plant Expo Map

Plan to come early for best selection and stay to enjoy every aspect of Expo. This event will be held rain or shine and there is plenty of free parking. Credit cards, personal checks and cash are accepted at the sale.

Check out some of this year’s selections below: 

Home-Grown Plants

Master Gardener-grown plants are the most popular part of Plant Expo!

People line up very early to get the best selection of home-grown perennials, trees and shrubs and return year after year to check out the selection. Whether you have a shade garden or a sunny butterfly garden, you can find something of interest in the Home-Grown area. Of course, there is no guarantee that every variety will be available on sale day but there will be a wide assortment of plants.

Click below for list of home-grown plants for this year’s sale:

2017 Plant Expo Home-Grown Plant Selections

Jersey Tomatoes!

Home-grown tomatoes and peppers will be in abundance, including the popular Rutgers tomato varieties, Rutgers, Ramapo, Moreton, Rutgers 250, KC-146 and Rutgers 39. Rutgers Master Gardener Bruce Young has started the tomatoes and peppers from seed for the sale and has potted up over 1,000 tomatoes. Along with the Rutgers varieties of tomatoes there will be lots heirloom varieties. Patio, cherry, and plum, to name a few types, will be available for purchase. Popular and some different Hot pepper varieties will be offered.

Click below for list of tomatoes and peppers being grown for this year’s sale:

2017 Plant Expo Tomatoes 

2017 Plant Expo Peppers

We will try hard to have each variety listed available on sale day but there are no guarantees!

Select Local Plant Vendors

Our hand-picked plant purveyors offer a variety of plants uniquely suited for local gardens.    

This is a unique opportunity to talk with vendors and purchase a wide assortment of native plants, woody ornamentals, perennials, herbs, annuals and tropical plants. This year we will welcome a new local vendor featuring certified organic plants.

To view a list of our select group of local plant purveyors, click here: 

2017 Plant Expo Vendors

Second-Hand Sale 

The ever popular Second-Hand Sale of garden-related items will be back this year. Pots galore, baskets and books to name a few, will definitely be available this year.  There are always a few surprises and you really never know what treasure you might find.