Janice Peterson: High quality horticulture education, right here in Janesville
I attended a great symposium at Rotary Botanical Gardens recently featuring three excellent speakers. We gardeners are very lucky to have such high quality horticulture education right here in Janesville. I encourage gardeners of all levels to attend these talks. Rotary Gardens offers two symposia each year – one in the spring and one in the fall. They are always top notch.
The first speaker was Neil Diboll (Prairie Nursery, Westfield, WI) who presented prairie plants for pollinators. He offered insights into the life cycles of both plants and insects, and he provided many suggestions for plants that should be included in a prairie (many which would also work well in perennial gardens). He introduced me to the word “nativar”, which is a native plant that has been enhanced by simple selection. He also performed a clever courtroom argument for defending the honor of goldenrod, which is so often confused with the allergy-inducing ragweed (“Goldenrod is insect-pollinated, it cannot cause airborne allergies. This is guilt by association. Your honor, I rest my case!”). Obviously, Neil gave a very enjoyable talk!
The next speaker was Dave Wanninger (Boerner Botanical Gardens, Hales Corners, WI) who spoke about new and exciting woody plants. Dave really knows his stuff and is always a dynamic speaker. Boerner Botanical Gardens has large trial gardens that test many varieties of perennials and shrubs – well worth a visit. I always feel like I don’t have nearly enough plants in my gardens after listening to Dave talk.
The final speaker of the day was Ed Lyon (Allen Centennial Garden, UW- Madison, WI) who discussed dwarf conifers. Ed is an exceptional plantsman, writer and speaker. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him many times over the years and I always learn something new from him. I don’t own any dwarf conifers (yet!), but I seriously could listen to Ed talk about any garden topic and be fascinated.
These talks are designed for gardeners of all levels. The speakers show lots of great photos and always have handouts listing the names of the plants. They are a great opportunity for both beginner and seasoned gardeners to learn about new plant varieties, get ideas for their own gardens, and share a day of camaraderie with other gardeners. What better way to spend a cold Saturday in fall?
The symposium also offered fun, garden-related raffle and silent auction items. Lunch was included, and attendees had the opportunity to walk around the gardens if they liked. Talks like these are always energizing and remind me of why I started gardening in the first place. The Spring Symposium at Rotary Botanical Gardens is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, 2015. It’s going to great – save the date!
Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.