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Perennial Flower Garden Design

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator

Have you ever seen a garden that just took your breath away? You visit two months later, and the garden is again in full glory, and you wonder how do people do it? How do you design a garden that offers visual interest through the seasons? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, highlights University of Illinois Extension resources that will help you create your very own eye-stopping flowerbed.

The Stepping Stones to Perennial Garden Design program has helped many gardeners design amazing outdoor spaces. Created by Martha Smith, extension educator in horticulture, this program is available online at There you'll find lessons intended to help the homeowner evaluate their landscape, select a garden site, and follow a step-by-step approach to creating a perennial garden suited to their own personal tastes. The information is free and available anytime you are ready to begin.

Another popular Extension program is the 4-Seasons Gardening Webinar Series. Past presentations are all found on YouTube. The 2017 live series includes sessions on hosta, lawns, tree fruits, and much more. Go to for more info.

If you prefer a face-to-face program, don't miss this year's Gardeners' BIG Day. I started this annual event 18 years ago in partnership with Spoon River College and am proud of how the event has grown and expanded over the years. This year's BIG Day will be at Dickson Mounds Museum on April 29th. Area horticulture expert Ella Maxwell will give the keynote address. Attendees will also choose from a variety of breakout sessions, including xeriscaping, turf, herbs, moles, bulbs, plants of Costa Rica, and much more! More info is found on our website at

While on our website, be sure to visit my horticulture and blog pages. My "ILRiverHort" blog provides general garden information. The horticulture page contains links to other sites. You'll also find links to my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube sites.

Finally, if you prefer to talk to someone in person about your plant or garden design questions, our University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties are happy to "Help Others Learn to Grow." You might even consider being a Master Gardener too. Training will be in Fall 2017.

I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming program. Have fun designing your new garden!



As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.

After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.

ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.