Partnership boosts local horticulture education at ICC

An information table outside the demonstration garden was just one way Extension Master Gardens added to the educational happenings at Illinois Central College’s 40th Annual Landscape and Garden Day. Over 350 guests enjoyed seminars, visiting with horticulture experts, kids activities, garden and greenhouse tours, as well as a vendor fair and plant sale.

PEKIN, Ill. - There is no better place to learn more about gardening than in the garden. A beautiful day in mid-September found more than 350 people exploring the gardens, visiting with University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, and learning from horticulture experts, including Extension Horticulture Educator Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle at Illinois Central College’s 40th Annual Landscape and Garden Day

“Some of our long-time Master Gardeners have shared with me that we have been involved with ICC’s Landscape and Garden Day for many years,” Nicole mentioned. “This is my first year teaching a seminar for them. We both share the same goal of horticulture education and it is an ideal partnership between Extension and ICC.”

Following the lead of the event’s theme, “Diversity in the Garden,” Nicole taught the seminar “Companion Planting for the Vegetable Garden and Beyond.” She taught participants how they can reduce pest problems in their garden by adding biodiversity.

Throughout the event Master Gardeners enjoyed showing off their demonstration garden and answering questions that included topics such as trees, native plants, and natural lawn care. As guests wandered the paths through the garden, MGs were happy to share cuttings of plants and helped the guests feel confident in growing them at their home.

The MG demonstration garden is one of several at ICC that are open to the public. Others include the American Hosta Society National Display Garden, the All-American Selection Display Garden, a butterfly garden, herb garden, Japanese garden, and dwarf conifer collection. 

In addition to the educational opportunities shared by Extension staff and volunteers, Landscape and Garden Day participants heard from Kelly Cochran Cohlman about seed diversity and ICC Associate Professor of Horticulture Corinne Brown about ornamental plants that help increase animal diversity in the landscape.

ICC horticulture students, staff, and volunteers added to the day’s education through greenhouse tours, a vendor fair, plant sale, and fun kid’s activities.

“We are thrilled that we were able to host this family-friendly event again. It is exciting to showcase horticulture and provide hands-on learning to our communities,” said Corinne.

In 2021, the Extension Master Gardener volunteers have strengthened their partnership with ICC to create new learning opportunities for the community. Landscape and Garden Day is just one of the examples of how Master Gardeners are working with ICC to meet their mission of helping others learn to grow.

Horticulture is just one of the subjects that University of Illinois Extension is known for. Learn more about their resources available and upcoming events at

SOURCE: Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, horticulture educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties

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