Skip to main content

Gardeners' BIG Day is April 14

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator

The nineteenth annual Gardeners' BIG Day is almost here!

This year's event will be Saturday, April 14, 2018, from 8:00-3:00 at Dickson Mounds Museum. Attendees will hear speakers, visit vendors, and see gardening displays. Partnering sponsors include University of Illinois Extension Fulton and Mason County Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, Spoon River Garden Club, and Dickson Mounds Museum.

Back by popular demand, this year's keynote speaker is Fr. Dominic Garramone. Fr. Dominic is a monk of St. Bede Abbey in Peru, IL and the author of nine books related to bread baking. Known as the "Bread Monk" on his PBS cooking show, Fr. Dominic will show how to incorporate herbs and garden produce into delicious bread.

Attendees will also choose from a variety of breakout sessions. They'll learn about shading gardens, monarchs, miniature gardens, going organic, pollinators, hosta, climate change, beekeeping, and much more!

Attendees will choose four breakout sessions, which include the following topics and speakers.

  • 50 Shapes of Shade with Martha Smith
  • Homegrown Arrangements with Christine Wright (Session requires an additional $10 supply fee)
  • Creating a Miniature Garden with Kathryn Newman
  • Herb Basics: Container Gardening with Herbs and Companion Planting with Patricia Melaik
  • Going Organic with Chris Enroth
  • Pathway Perfection: People and Pollinators with Carrie Boehm Corrie
  • Our Passion for Hostas with Amy Deakin & Tom Pretty
  • Monarch Mindfulness with Jeanine Standard
  • Climate Change and Your Garden with Ray Wolf
  • Mix it up with the Bread Monk with Fr. Dominic
  • Backyard Beekeeping with Jill Reed
  • Weedy Vines with Rhonda Ferree
  • Edible Designs with Nancy Hebb (Session requires an additional $10 supply fee)
  • Master Gardener Q & A with Art Holtman, Bob Keene, and Terry Meade

Register at Early bird registration is $32 by March 26, or $42 by April 6. Registration for the day-long event includes lunch. Register early because these sessions fill quickly!

To receive notice about this and other local horticulture events, sign up to receive my Horticulture Happenings News updates. These are sent as eblasts every few months. Register for the E-blast Mailing List at For more information, contact our Extension office at, or 309-543-3308.



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.