(MOLINE, IL) Get inspired and cultivate your knowledge at the 23rd annual Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening, the Quad Cities’ premiere horticulture symposium! This year it will take place on Leap Day, Saturday February 29 from 8 am - 3 pm at a new location—the Conference Center of the East Moline School District located at 3451 Morton Drive in East Moline, IL.

Produced by University of Illinois Extension and Master Gardeners from Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark counties, Nursery School offers something for everyone, from the novice to the most experienced gardener. Horticulture experts share tips, pointers, ideas and information you can put to work!

Doors open for check in at 8:00 a.m. with coffee and rolls served. The welcome and keynote starts at 8:30 a.m. This year’s keynote speaker is Brent Heath– of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. He and Becky live and work on their 28 acre farm and gardens in Gloucester, VA. You’ll enjoy learning from this expert who is not only a flower bulb supplier, but also a garden writer, photographer, lecturer, and educator!

Registration fee is $55.  You must register by February 23—no walk-in registration will be accepted.  Your fee includes the keynote session, morning coffee and rolls, a buffet lunch, four additional classes, afternoon snack, handouts, access to the Nursery School vendor area, and a tote bag you can fill with catalogs, brochures and money-saving coupons from local businesses. You can register online Register online at: go.illinois.edu/NurserySchool2020 or call Rock Island County Extension at (309) 756-9978 for more information. 

Welcome and Keynote Session: 8:30 – 10 a.m.

BULBS AS COMPANION PLANTS, Brent Heath, co-owner Brent & Becky’s Bulbs

Whether you are planning to plant bulbs in a fresh, newly prepared empty garden, or whether you are adding them to an already existing one, this seminar will have the answers for you! With exquisite slides, you will be introduced to the best of the best...the right bulbs for the right spots. You'll learn how to combine bulbs, perennials, annuals, ground covers and flowering shrubs that will create just the feeling you want to generate for four seasons in your garden. After seeing and experiencing this seminar, you'll leave with information and inspiration to produce a garden that you, your neighbors and friends will enjoy all year.

Leap into a Track–Sessions have been arranged by themed tracks: Ornamental, Edible, Nature, and Do It Yourself. Take all of one , or pick and choose—it’s up to you! Here's the speakers and topics from which you can choose one from each session. Note: class sizes are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Session 1: 10:10 – 11 a.m. (choose one)

  • Ornamental: The Tropical Paradise Garden with Summer Bulbs Brent and Becky Heath, Owners, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs
    From the tropical rainforest, the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, the veldt of South Africa and the slopes of the Andes, come bold, lush leaves and a myriad of stunning diverse flowers of summer bulbs.  Brent and Becky Heath, bulb growers from Gloucester, Virginia and owners of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, will give you ideas on how to weave these spectacular bulb plants into your own relaxing, tropical garden getaway.  They will show you with breath-taking slides how to integrate summer bulbs with annuals, perennials, ground covers, trees and shrubs to create your own ultimate patio planter, window box, living sculpture or jungle.  You’ll also gather ideas on how to build the ultimate Evening Garden including luminescent, light colored, fragrant flowers. Let’s plan and plant something different this summer!

  • Edible: Don’t Kill Your Tomatoes! Elizabeth Wahle, PhD, Commercial Agriculture Educator, Illinois Extension
    Tomatoes are perennial garden favorite, but sometimes things just go wrong.  Join Elizabeth as she discusses the most trouble making disease and insect pests and how best to control them in the home garden.

  • Nature: Critter Control Challenges, Vickie Kittelson, Master Gardener
    You laid out the garden buffet, but it can be heart wrenching to see prized plants nibbled down to nothing. Learn some practical techniques to reclaim your garden from hungry wildlife.

  • DIY: U-Create Succulent Pot Bud LeFevre, Owner, Distinctive Gardens, Dixon, IL
    Succulents are among today’s most trendy plants —and it’s no wonder. Boasting an array of colors and textures, they are easy to grow indoors or out. You can get creative in this DIY session where Bud will offer his advice on succulent care and maintenance and help guide you as you select succulents for a 4" pot and add moss and stones to be placed in a galvanized pot.  This session is an additional $22. 

Session 2: 11:10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (choose one)

  • Ornamental: Going Wild: Gardening with Wildflowers, Hannah Howard, Community Engagement Specialist, Land of the Swamp White Oak Preserve, Letts, IA
    It’s time to let your garden go wild! Gardening with wildflowers will bring life to your garden with beautiful blooms that attract bees, butterflies, birds and more. Learn how to use these wildflowers in your garden and other ways you can help pollinators. 

  • Edible: Brambles & Berries, Vickie Kittelson, Master Gardener
    You also know them as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Did you know that they are easy to grow? Come learn some things to consider as we will delve into growing these wonderful fruit plants in your home garden.

  • Nature: Children and Nature, Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD., Crop Sciences Dept., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Schoolyard and backyard gardens provide children with a myriad of benefits such as supporting attention, academic achievement, healthy diets, and environmental stewardship behaviors that persist into adulthood. Learn about recent research findings and how to foster children’s connection to nature through gardening.

  • DIY: U-Create Succulent Pot, Bud LeFevre, Owner, Distinctive Gardens, Dixon, IL
    Repeat DIY from first session—Learn about succulents, and then select some to create a 4" galvanized pot with moss and stones to take home. This session is an additional $22. 

12:00 – 1 p.m.  LUNCH & VENDORS

A buffet lunch is included, offering a variety of choices plus beverage and dessert. You’ll have time to visit our vendor area packed with items of interest to the gardener!

 Session 3: 1:10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (choose one)

  • Ornamental: Geraniums- A Splash of Color. Not just Grandma’s Red Laura McGinnis, Hilltop Nursery, Illinois City, IL
    Explore zonal geraniums and all the beauty that can be had with a variety of growth habits. See exciting pictures of geraniums from around the world. 

  • Edible: Growing Culinary Herbs Candice Hart, University of Illinois Extension State Master Gardener Specialist
    Growing Culinary Herbs: Just about every dish tastes better with fresh herbs -- and there's no better way to get fresh herbs than to grow them yourself. Growing an indoor herb garden is a great way to extend the gardening season. Learn what herbs are great to grow indoors and how they can be utilized, dried and stored.

  • Nature: Climate Change and the Growing Season. The Impact of Gardening on Climate Change & Mass Extinction Joel Vanderbush, Curator of Conservation & Education at Niabi Zoo
    Scientists estimate species are currently going extinct at a rate 1,000 times greater than ever in recorded history. More than one million species of plants and animals could go extinct in the next few decades. Human activities such as habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, and runaway greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in dramatic climate change. Given the devastation of global and local ecosystems, should we just give up? Can gardeners do anything about it? Humans have the intellect and imagination to create solutions. Collectively, everyday people have the ability to take action to implement transformative change to protect and restore nature—for to save nature, is to save ourselves.

  • DIY: Winter Seed Sowing Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    Learn about the winter sowing method and get started with your own milk jug container seed starter in this make and take session. Supplies are provided. This session is an additional $5. 

Session 4: 2:10 – 3 p.m. (choose one)

  • Ornamental: What’s New in 2020, Laura McGinnis, Hilltop Nursery, Illinois City, IL
    New items on the market are sometimes a bit scary... Will it grow in my garden?  Does it play well with others? This class will show some of the new annuals and perennials in the greenhouse for 2020 along with tips on placement for best success. Start off a new Decade with a few new items to make your garden grow beautifully!

  • Nature: Do the Rot Thing: A Guide to Composting Activities Amy Kay, Clean Water Manager, City of Davenport  & Dawn Temple, Administrator, Rock Island County Soil & Water Conservation District
    Learn how to successfully create great compost! From outside containers to indoor vermicomposting, this session will review the necessary components of composting and cover some frequently asked questions.

  • Edible: Straw Bale Gardening-Easy on Your Back!, Lee Ann Wille, Experienced Vegetable Gardener
    Straw bale gardening may provide an answer for you. Davenport gardener Lee Ann Wille has been experimenting with this method for the past four years. She'll share her experience, go over the pros and cons, and provide information on how to get started with this breakthrough vegetable gardening method.

  • DIY: Wood Flower Recipe/Picture Holder Ginny Harris, Tinted Vintage Iowa 
    This hands-on class will create a recipe or picture holder featuring 10-12 flowers that are dyed a variety of spring colors. Participants must be able to use a hot glue gun.  This session is an additional $25.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact our office at (309) 756-9978. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.