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Joys of Gardening

Joys of Gardening
Event Date(s)
Event Time
Highland Community College Student Conferee Center
Event Fee

Join us for the 25th Annual JOYS OF GARDENING on February 24, 2024, for a Saturday of Horticulture Fun!

The event runs from 8:25 a.m. to Noon (registration at 8 a.m., keynote at 8:25 a.m.) at Highland Community College, Student Conference Center Room 201, 2998 W. Pearl City Rd, Freeport, IL (use Parking Lot A)

Cost is $15.

To REGISTER, click the orange button above or contact U of I Extension-Stephenson County at 815-235-4125; the deadline is February 19, 2024.


8:00 - 8:25 a.m. Registration & Refreshments (coffee & tea)

8:25 - 8:30 Welcome

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Keynote Address 

9:45 - 10:45 a.m. - Session 1 Workshops

11:00 a.m. - Noon - Session 2 Workshops


Keynote Presentation

8:30 to 9:30 am

Patterns in Nature that Inspire Japanese Garden Design
Tim Gruner, Garden Curator - Anderson Japanese Gardens

Join Tim as he shares a very brief history of Anderson Japanese Gardens then reveals some of the patterns in nature that
inspire Japanese garden design and the reasons for all the effort. Included will be some techniques for integrating the
garden and architecture into one cohesive space.


Session 1: 9:45 to 10:45 am

Myth-Busting Nature
Connie McIntosh, Master Naturalist & Nature Photographer
We’ve all heard misconceptions about our local wildlife that we may
believe as fact. During this program, we are going to bust those myths
and gain a better understanding of the natural world. Join us to clear up
the most common myths, uncover lesser known facts, and have fun
playing Fact or Fiction as we learn about nature right here in the region.

Backyard Cover Crops
Grant McCarty, Local Foods & Small Farms Educator, U of I Extension
One of the "newer" tools for the home gardener to address soil issues has
been around for quite some time. Cover crops, a crop commonly grown
between the end and start of your season, can be used to provide
nutrients for your plants, break up compaction, manage weeds, and
enhance pollination. While this sounds like a perfect crop, there are many
decisions you need to make when it comes to determining what cover
crops are right for you- and if they are right for you! This presentation will
provide an introduction, overview of management, spotlight certain cover
crops, and get into general practices you can take this upcoming season.

Designing with Perennials—Looking Beyond the Bloom
Bruce Cubberley, Superintendent of Parks & Natural Resources,
Freeport Park District

Are you obsessed with perennial plants but not sure how to use them in
your garden? If you are like most gardeners, your first use of perennials in
the garden came from a desire to enjoy an individual plant. However,
successful design comes from color and other characteristics that groups
of plants bring to the landscape. In this talk, I will cover the steps I use for
successful perennial gardening—from a simple idea to a garden alive with
color and texture.

Bees as Pollinators
Dick Van Raden, Master Gardener
Honeybees and native bees serve as important pollinators. Learn how to
support these important pollinators in your yard. This talk will cover the
preferred habitats of the honey, mason, and leafcutter bees.

Session 2: 11 am to Noon

The Right Tool for the Job
Dan Cunningham, Senior R&D Engineer, Fiskars
Learn from a Fiskars tool expert about how to choose the right tool for
the job, what makes your tools work, and how to keep them performing
their best year after year. Dan will begin with tool basics and dive deep
into specifically garden cutting tools (loppers, pruners, shears), and will
bring a variety of new or interesting tools you might not have seen
before. At the end of the presentation there will be time for trying out the
tools as well as a Q&A with Dan, a Fiskars Senior R&D Engineer.

Ornamental Grasses for Your Landscape
Monica Putnum, Owner, Hidden Timber Gardens
Learn about the different varieties of ornamental grasses, understand
their specific growing habits and requirements, identify ideal locations
for integrating them into your landscaping, and acquire essential
maintenance tips for their optimal care.

Spot the Spotted Lanternfly: Illinois’ Most Unwanted
Invasive Species

Tricia Bethke, Illinois Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator
A spotted lanternfly was confirmed in Illinois; what do we do now? Don't
panic! Learn how to identify, report, and possibly manage this new
invasive pest. Join Tricia Bethke, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator, to
explore ways that you can help protect our trees and plants from this
'pesky' pest and potentially others.

Lilac Care and Pruning
Michael Iacomini, Master Gardener
This class will cover the basics of lilac planting and care. Learn about the
most popular types of lilacs, their growth habits, and problems they may
have. Discussion will include when and how to prune lilacs.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact
Program Areas