The University of Illinois Extension is offering the virtual Think Spring Gardening Series in place of their annual in person gardening days which will not be held this year due to the ongoing pandemic. The series will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings beginning March 16 and going through April 1. The presentations will be from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. each evening and will be held via the Zoom platform. You must pre-register to receive the Zoom link to join the presentation. The series is being held free of charge, but donations are being accepted to help offset the cost of Extension programming. To register complete the form below.

Tuesday, March 16-Designing a Garden to Attract Birds

Dr. Michael P. Ward, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Illinois

Dr. Ward will bring to the presentation his understanding of avian ecology and behavior and his knowledge of birds’ habitat selection, describing design features and plantings we can introduce in our home gardens to make them both inviting to and protective of the variety of song birds that frequent this area 

Thursday, March 18- Lessons for the Red Oak Rain Garden

Eliana Brown, Water Quality Specialist with Illinois Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and Layne Knoche, Visiting Outreach Associate with Illinois Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

The Red Oak Rain Garden, located on the University of Illinois Urbana campus is a site that soaks up rainwater and supports pollinators. Many lessons were learned throughout the process of designing and building it that homeowners can apply on a smaller scale to their own properties. Eliana and Layne will share with you lessons learned and how you can be successful establishing a similar type of landscape on your property.

Tuesday, March 23-Bulb Lasagna-Creating Layers

Mark Dwyer, Owner and Founder of Landscape Prescriptions by MD

Spring is always busy for gardeners but it's not too early to think about adding bulbs to your landscape later in fall.  By observing gaps of color and interest in the spring garden, identifying areas for "bulb beautification", to be addressed later in the year, is prudent and worth the time.  Your bulb planting should consider the "layered" or "lasagna" approach in putting multiple varieties of bulbs in close proximity (even the same hole!) to create amazing, layered compositions while maximizing beauty in even a small space.  We'll discuss some great bulbs to consider as well as how to create your own "bulb lasagna" out in the garden.

Thursday, March 25-50 Shapes of Shade

Martha Smith, Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Trees and shrubs come in a wide array of shapes.  Have you ever thought of how those shapes can be used in the landscape to their best advantage?  Columnar or weeping or rounded?  Not only their summer forms and shade cast but their winter silhouette?  Martha Smith, Horticulture Educator University of Illinois Extension will share some of her favorite shapes and how to use them in the landscape.

Tuesday, March 30-Succulent Wreaths

Bruce Black, Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator

Bright and textured succulent wreaths are living plant wreaths for any occasion. Succulents are desert plants turned houseplants. Learn more about what succulents are, their biology, and how to build and care for a succulent wreath in this presentation.

Thursday, April 1-Starting Seeds Successfully

Grant McCarty, Illinois Extension,  Local Food Systems & Small Farms Educator 

Starting seeds indoors for your vegetable garden can be challenging. You need proper equipment and the right environment to be successful. Each year, there are new varieties in seed catalogs, but most of these depend on you starting them indoors before planting this spring. This class will go through the basics of selecting varieties, using seed starting equipment, and trouble shooting.