Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening

Saturday, February 10, 2024 | 8 AM - 3 PM


Join us for the 25th Annual Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening for a day filled with inspiration and horticultural knowledge! Don't miss this opportunity to learn from horticulture experts, explore new gardening ideas, and connect with fellow gardening enthusiasts.

Register here

The event kicks off at 8:45 AM with a Keynote presentation, "This Isn't Your Grandparents Gardening Weather.” We all know the weather affects our gardens and landscape. Are changes in the weather affecting how we plant and grow? Duane Friend, Illinois Extension State Master Naturalist and Climate Change Specialist, will talk about trends in weather over the last few decades and provide some thoughts on how to adjust gardening and landscape activities to make the most of these changes.

Then choose one workshop from three additional sessions. Note: class sizes are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Session 1 (10-11 AM):

  • Ornamental—AAA Winners: The Secret Ingredient to Gardening Success Dive into the world of gardening success with Diane Blazak, Executive Director of All-America Selections. Discover the AAS seal's promise of quality, performance, and beauty. Learn how AAS Winners are selected, including a sneak peek at the 2024 AAS winners.
  • Edibles—Seed Starting: Learn how to start seeds for seedlings this spring. Join Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, to master seed starting concepts. Learn techniques for indoor and outdoor seed starting, enabling you to select unique varieties and have healthy plants ready for your garden.
  • Nature—Hunters of the Night: The Owls of Iowa and Illinois Explore the unique adaptations of owls with James Wiebler, Naturalist and Research Coordinator at Nahant Marsh. Learn to identify the eight owl species in Iowa and Illinois.

Session 2 (11:15 AM-12:15 PM):

  • Ornamental: Beneath the Canopy: Exploring Spring Ephemeral Flowers Take a virtual tour of the forest floor with Emily Swihart, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator. Gain inspiration for spring walks as you explore the beauty of early-blooming ephemeral flowers.
  • Edibles: Organic Vegetable Gardening Join Ken Johnson, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, to learn about organic gardening practices for your vegetable garden.
  • Nature: Climate/Weather Tools for Gardening Duane Friend returns to share several online weather/climate risk tools that can help make decisions for the growing season. Several will be presented.

Lunch Buffet (12:15-1:15 PM)

Session 3 (1:30-2:30 PM):

  • Ornamental: New Plants and Inspirations for the Spring Season! Join Molly Blogg, Manager, CEO, Co-Owner of Hornbaker, Inc., for a historical journey of Hornbakers. Get a preview of new plants for 2024 and tried-and-tested hardy varieties.
  • Edibles: Culinary Herbs in Your Garden/Kitchen! Learn about growing culinary herbs with Christopher Enroth, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator. Chef Elly Voss from Nest Café will share recipes using culinary herbs.
  • Nature: Enrich Your Yard with Native Plants Amy Loving, Director of Education at Nahant Marsh, will guide you in incorporating native plants into your yard. Identify ecosystem types, native plants suited for those habitats, and resources to start integrating natives into your landscapes.
Register now to secure your spot! 
Register here

Early bird registration through Jan. 5 is $60. From Jan 6-Feb 5 registration will be $70. Registration ends on February 5. You must register in advance—no walk-ins will be accepted. Your fee includes morning coffee and rolls, the keynote session, taco bar buffet lunch, three additional classes, and access to the Nursery School vendor area offering a host of merchants and agencies selling a variety of garden-inspired gifts, crafts, plants, and resources. Doors open at 8 a.m., keynote session starts promptly at 8:45 a.m. 

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact