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Gardeners' BIG Day 2024

monarch butterfly on purple aster
Event Date(s)
Event Time
Spoon River College - Canton Campus

The Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell Counties, are happy to announce registration is open for the next Gardeners' BIG Day.

In addition to four breakout session, participants will also enjoy hearing from Keynote Speaker Chris Enroth, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator serving Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren counties.

Registration opens on February 1. Breakout sessions are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Early Bird registration through March 1- $35, includes lunch
Registration after March 1- $40, includes lunch
Final deadline March 31.  Sorry, no walk-ins.
Chris Enroth presents Gardening for Pollinators
What do pollinators do for us? Imagine how much an apple would cost if we had to pay a worker to climb around and pollinate the apple bloom. Pollinators are integral to the health and well-being of a garden and are essential for much of our vegetable production needs. Join horticulture educator Chris Enroth as we discuss the importance of bees, butterflies and other pollinators and some basic methods for attracting them to your garden. As pollinator habitat dwindles, come find out what you can do to support nature’s most vital workers. 
Session 1 - 10:30am
  • Starting Your Own Garden Plants from Seed - John Curtis
Garden plants from the store or nursery are expensive and may carry diseases that you don't want in your garden.  They are also often not the best varieties for our area.  John Curtis from the Giving Gardens shows some simple methods for growing your own plants from seed and discusses how it can help you take your home garden to the next level. 
  • Kay's Kokedamas - Jodi Soler (also repeated in Session 2) 
Kokedama is the Japanese art of growing plants in a moss-covered ball of soil. Jodi has always enjoyed working in the garden and learned how to make Kokedamas when she retired. She named her hobby/ small business after her mother. In this session Jodi will demonstrate the art of Kokedama!
  • Natives, Starting from Scratch - Gayle Blodgett
Learn about how to get started with native plants, including: preparing the site for plants, selecting plants, planning for plant placement, choosing a vendor, and planting and maintaining the site. Native plants are diverse and beneficial and can add beauty and functionality to any landscape. 
  • Container Gardening 101: Tips and Tricks for Starting a Container Garden - Corinne Brown
Learn what container gardening is, how to select the correct container based on size and material, plan for adequate drainage, and select the right plants! Come learn a few tips to keep your container-grown plants looking and producing their best all season long.  
Session 2 - 12:30pm
  • Memories of a Master Gardener -Carol Cihla
    Many individuals who want to start a garden get a little frustrated in the early stages of developing a new garden, whether it be the current soil condition that needs to be improved, not sure where to plant certain seeds or seedlings, how to deal with animal control or whether to till the soil or go with a raised bed set-up. This is to name a few situations that a gardener can face. 
  • Conservation@Home - Ellen Denler and Tara Heath
The Conservation@Home program, offered by the Conservation Foundation and University of Illinois Extension, helps central Illinois homeowners make their yards more eco-friendly. The program guides residents in planting native plants, reducing water usage, and reducing chemical use, creating beautiful yards that benefit the environment. Attend this session to learn how you can become a Conservation@Home property! 
  • Nature Journaling for a Deeper Garden Connection - Rhonda Ferree
Join Rhonda Ferree, retired University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, to learn how journaling connects us at a deeper level with nature in our gardens (and beyond). In this session, you’ll discover how to record garden activities using creative outlets of self-expression that promote relaxation and calmness. Rhonda will lead you through some fun and simple exercises that will help you experience your garden in a whole new way.
Session 3 - 1:30pm
  • Managing Weeds - Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle
 Weeds are a common nuisance that every homeowner and gardener must contend with. Join us as we learn about a variety of ways to manage some of the most common garden weeds in Illinois. 
  • Wearable Floral Art - Christine Wright (also repeated in Session 4) Activity fee of $12.50
hands-on corsage, boutonniere & nosegay class - learn the history behind the wearing of flowers and the tradition of the nosegays. Learn how to use your garden flowers to do a wearable art bar for an event or party. Please bring floral clippers or floral knife , the rest will be provided! 
  • Identifying Native Trees - Karen Weigelt
Meet Karen and learn about strategies and tips to identify the native trees in our local counties.  We will explore tree characteristics and features to help you tell these beauties apart. 
  • Shade Gardening - Ella Maxwell (also repeated in session 4)
So many shade plants. How to choose? Ella will share some of her top performers from her garden.  Covered plants will include trees, shrubs, perennials, groundcovers, and bulbs. There is sure to be a new plant you will want to add to your garden.

Session 4 - 2:30pm
  • Seed Saving: Pick, Store, Sow - Louise Bassett 
 This presentation will cover the basics of collecting seeds, how to store them, and ways to sow the seeds. Focus will be on flower seeds, but will also touch on herbs and vegetables. 
  • Conservation@Home Panel Discussion - C@H members/evaluators
Have you heard about the Conservation@Home program but are unsure if your property is the right fit? Attend this session and hear some frequently asked questions and answers from our C@H evaluators and homeowners
  • Shade Gardening - Ella Maxwell (repeated from session 3)
  • Wearable Floral Art - Christine Wright ( repeated from Session 3) Activity fee of $12.50


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