Gardening in the Air

Grow your gardening knowledge with timely fall topics.

Gardening brings together many elements. To be successful, a gardener needs to manage a range of factors. Extension helps bring all the pieces together in a one-day nine-session webinar, Gardening in the Air, led by horticulture experts from across the Midwest.

The 2023 fall edition will take place on Saturday, Nov. 4, and features three tracks: Gardening for Wellness, Invasive Species, and Behind the Scenes: The Horticulture Industry. 

Gardening in the Air is a virtual series held seasonally and co-hosted by University of Illinois Extension and Iowa State University Extension.


Fall 2023 Sessions

A pair of garden snips sitting on the edge of a wooden raised bed garden.

Gardening for Wellness

  • 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. | Elements of a Healing Garden: This session explores how gardens can have restorative and healing elements, engaging the senses and providing respite and mindfulness. The session includes discussions on plants, sensory engagement, design ideas, accessibility, and tips, using an existing healing garden as an example. Presenter: Mark Dwyer, Garden Manager at Edgerton Hospital Healing Garden. 
  • 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. | Introduction to Horticultural Therapy: Participants will learn about the positive impacts of plants, nature, and gardening on well-being in this introductory session on horticultural therapy. Presenter: Mike Maddox, Horticultural Therapist and Organizational Development Consultant. 
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Body Smart Gardening: This session provides techniques to make gardening more enjoyable, covering topics such as tool selection (including ergonomic options), proper tool use, garden gloves, clothing, and tips for preventing bug bites. Presenter: Jennifer Fishburn, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator.
Emerald Ash Borer damage on the side of a tree.

Invasive Species

  • 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. | Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Panel Discussion: Focuses on the aftermath of EAB in Illinois and Iowa, including woodland management after the loss of ash trees and efforts to find resistant trees. Panelists: Mark Vitosh (Iowa DNR District Forester), Mary Mason (Geneticist, U.S. Forest Service), Charlie Flower (Research Ecologist, U.S. Forest Service), and Mike Brunk (Illinois Urban Forestry Administrator).
  • 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. | Plant Alternatives (Plant this, not that): This session addresses invasive landscape plants and suggests native alternatives. Presenter: Jennifer Fishburn, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Jumping Worms: This session explores the discovery of jumping worms in Illinois, their potential impacts on ecosystems, and strategies for addressing them. Presenter: Tricia Bethke, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator at the Morton Arboretum.
Person placing garden seeds into small, plastic pots.

Behind the Scenes: The Horticulture Industry

  • 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. | Get the Scoop on Plant Trialing and High-Performance Plants: This session explains the plant trialing process in North America and how AAS Winners are designated. Presenter: Diane Blazek, Executive Director of All-America Selections and National Garden Bureau.
  • 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. | Growing Native Trees and Shrubs from Seed: This session covers seed collection, cleaning, storage, germination, root development, and seedling care for native trees and shrubs. Presenter: Mike Bevins, Former Owner of Iowa Native Trees and Shrubs Nursery.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Create a Family Legacy: Backyard Garden Seed Saving: Participants will learn about heirloom seeds, seed-saving techniques, and how to create a living treasure for future generations through gardening and seed saving. Presenter: Michael Washbun, Preservation Director at Seed Savers Exchange.