landis valley sunflowers

The gardens of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum are in full summer bloom, in this file photo. The site's annual herb and garden faire, to be held May 10-11, is a gardener's paradise every year. 

The lure of heirloom and native plants, garden and home accessories, plant advice and more is enough to draw thousands every spring to a two-day Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum event.

This year’s Herb & Garden Faire, happening this weekend, with 80-plus vendors, food and community experts offering answers to your most pressing gardening questions, is planned to be no exception.

Since the mid-1980s, the annual event has been timed to take advantage of two springtime highlights: the official end of freezing temperatures (and the accompanying garden-planting frenzy), and Mother’s Day.

“Last year was probably our best year ever,” says Cindy Kirby-Reedy, the museum’s special events curator. She estimates 4,000 people came through Landis Valley’s gates on the hunt for items that would give their gardens a kickstart.

This year, the herb and garden festival’s 32nd edition, promises to bring more of what customers have said is helpful, and even some offerings for “the non-plant people,” Kirby-Reedy says.

Organizers work to ensure a variety of vendors, she says, and the living museum itself also is open with ongoing demonstrations.

“What’s nice about the event is that it can bring in a different crowd” than those solely interested in Landis Valley’s blend of history and education, “but we encourage everyone to wander” through the museum grounds. Everything is open, she says, including Landis Valley’s current special exhibit of redware.

This year’s slate of vendors continues the tradition of commercial businesses and community groups. Garden shops from the region join local favorites as well as groups from the community such as Manheim Central Future Farmers of America, who each year bring thousands of tomato plants and other offerings to sell and support club initiatives. Students from Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13 on the event’s first day sell birdhouses they’ve made — an item in hot demand, Kirby-Reedy says — and Lancaster’s Friendship Heart Gallery, which supports artists who have intellectual disabilities, also will have works for sale.

And, if visitors have questions about what to buy (or need advice on what they’ve already purchased), gardening experts from the community as well as Landis Valley’s own Heirloom Seed Project set up shop both days to guide visitors through their gardening dilemmas.

The experts, Kirby-Reedy says, have long been part of the event, “and there’s a lot of years of experience in that tent.”