From making herbal vinegar to learning how to grow apples, you'll find a wide variety of topics at this year's "Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening." And remember, if you're interested only in edibles, or nature, or ornamentals or do-it-yourself, you can take only those particular tracks. If not, you can mix and match.
Here is the schedule; participants may choose one from each session:
Session 1, 8:15-9:30 a.m.
• Edible: Food to the Table, growing your own vegetable garden. By Vickie Kittilson, University of Illinois Master Gardener.
• Nature: Pollinator Pockets. Manicured lawns, exotic plantings, and enticing hybrids and cultivars often provide no value to pollinators that are critical to our food supply and human survival. By placing "pockets" of flowers that attract and nurture pollinators, you can help our ecosystem. By Martha Smith, Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
• Ornamental: The Latest & Maybe the Greatest — What’s Trending in 2019. By Maria McCulley, owner of Hilltop Greenhouses, Illinois City.
• DIY: Plant a Succulent Trough with a Mix of Plants & Cuttings. By Bud LeFevre, owner of Distinctive Gardens, Dixon, Illinois. Additional $30 materials fee.
Session 2, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
• Edible: Wild & Free: Eat the Weeds. Through slides and samples, you will learn to appreciate a few nutritious ‘wonder-weeds’, plus how to collect and use them. By Deborah Lee, holistic health practitioner, Four Winds Farm, Quincy, Illinois.
• Nature: Living with Backyard Garden Nuisance Wildlife Issues. Management techniques to help with rabbits, squirrels and deer. Dave Shiley, Illinois Extension.
• Ornamental: Hostas. With more than 6,000 registered cultivars, you can expand your palate. Ella Maxwell, horticulturist, Hoerr Nursery, Peoria, Illinois.
• DIY: Plant a Succulent Trough with a Mix of Plants & Cuttings. Repeat from session one. $30 extra materials fee.
Session 3, Lunch and keynote, 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m., in two time periods.
Paul Zammit, director of horticulture at the Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Botanical Garden, will speak on four-season gardening. (See cover story)
Session 4, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
• Edible: Backyard Apples. Starting apples in your backyard, with a focus on weed management, pruning, irrigation, harvesting and post-harvest handling tips. By Bruce J. Black, Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
• Nature: Moths Magic. Although they outnumber butterflies 10 to 1, moths tend to go unseen. Learn how-to, where-to, and when-to recognize them. By Dan Mays, Master Gardener, Iowa State University Extension.
• Ornamental: Dazzling Dahlias & Vibrant Zinnias. Learn how to get blooms as early as possible and sustain the parade of color throughout the season. By Chris Noth, Davenport dahlia and zinnia grower.
• DIY: Making the Most of your Afternoon Tea. The history of tea and tea gardens, types of tea, growing herbal teas, health benefits. Make-and-take sachets from an assortment of herbs and tea ingredients. Additional $15 materials fee. By Kristin Bogdonas, Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator.
Session 5, 2:45-3:45 p.m.
• Edible: Unique & Colorful Vegetable Cultivars. By Bruce J. Black, Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
• Nature: Making Your Backyard More Bird Friendly. Trees and shrubs, flowering plants, nest boxes and water round out your backyard habitat. By Dave Shiley, Illinois Extension
• Ornamental: Hydrangeas. Ella Maxwell, horticulturist with Hoerr Nursery, Peoria, Illinois, sorts through the explosion of varieties, explaining the different species, cultivation, flowering shapes and times, and how to prune.
• DIY: Herbal Vinegar. Participants will make an herbal vinegar for cooking, salad dressing or gifting. A decorative take-home jar and study guide are part of the $15 additional materials fee. By Deborah Lee, holistic health practitioner, Four Winds Farm, Quincy, Illinois.
Participants will have time during breaks and lunch to look through a vendor area with yard art, tools, books and plants and more. The day will end with raffle prizes.