Breakout Sessions

Creating a Bird Friendly Garden – by Brett Barker

In this session, Brett Barker will offer tips on how to attract birds to your garden and meet their needs once they arrive. An overview of likely backyard bird visitors in Wisconsin will be included with each species pictured. Information on bird identification apps and books will be distributed for those who want to learn more.  The session will also explore online tools to help you make decisions about plant selection and landscaping to benefit birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, including how your garden can be certified as a “Garden for Wildlife.” Information for all levels from the beginner to the experienced gardener will be provided.


Planting Designs with Perennials – by Benjamin Futa

The eternal quest in garden design is to create a garden with consistent interest year-round, and perennials can play that role. This presentation will demystify the design process, empowering you to create your most captivating garden.


Building a Bulb Lawn – by Benjamin Futa

This practical, step-by-step presentation will illustrate how to create a beautiful bulb lawn – an arrangement of spring-flowering bulbs planted in a lawn. We’ll explore tools, techniques, and the best plants for the job.


Wild Harvest: Useful and Edible Plants – by David Eagan

David Eagan, Former Honorary Fellow in the Department of Botany at UW-Madison, explains how to harvest and prepare Wisconsin’s wild plants and garden plants for food, fire, crafts, magic and more. Eagan focuses on plants in the forests, prairies and woodlands.


The Scoop on Nativars, Cultivars of Native Plants – by Mariette Nowak

What is a nativar and what makes it different than a true native plant?    How do nativars affect genetic diversity?   What about other concerns regarding nativars such as effects on pollinators and other wildlife, invasiveness potential, response to climate change, maintenance costs, and the potential to increase allergies?   These and other questions will be discussed in this talk, as well as relevant research that has begun to investigate these concerns.


Dream Theme Gardens … Designed by You – by Larua Syring

Your landscape is your haven. People are recognizing that interacting with nature, even if it’s simply looking through a window, benefits wellness. What area of your landscape would you most like to improve? This course will help you gain practical experience creating a landscape plan specific to your garden aspirations. Attendees will learn how to effectively draw a landscape plan to scale and create an elevation drawing.  You will leave this class with the essential knowledge and techniques needed to take the first steps in turning your area dream design into a flourishing reality.

This two-hour class is appropriate for beginning-level gardeners. Class limited to 25 participants.

Theme garden options include Pollinator, Native, English Cottage, Foundation, or Shade Garden.

Participants please bring:

  • Dimensions of area to design (limited to a maximum of 80’ x 60’)
  • Information about light availability (e.g., north side, south side, west with many shade trees)
  • Circle template (available at Office Max or online). There will be some templates available to share if you’d rather not purchase.

Instructor will provide:

  • Gridded design paper
  • List of plants suitable for your garden
  • Pencils

Course includes brief follow-up email or phone consultation by instructor following course attendance. Free consultation available through April 1, 2019.


Floral Workshop – by Fawn Mueller

The cost of the floral workshop is $30 with tax included. 

Workshop registration is open from December 1st – January 24th. We hope you are excited to create with lovely flowers!

In this session, attendees have the opportunity to create with fresh and seasonal flowers in our hands-on portion of Inspired By Nature’s presentation.  We will cover how to buy and select fresh flowers, how to prolong cut flower longevity and working with wet foam.  Also as gardeners and nature enthusiasts, we will discuss how to arrange what we grow in our own gardens with the knowledge of basic floral design skills.  These examples will be taught in our hands-on floral workshop portion of the presentation where attendees will sign up for the workshop beforehand beginning December 1st through www.eventbrite.com.  Search ‘Garden Visions Floral Workshop’ on www.eventbrite.com and simply make your floral reservation and pay online.

Attendees are asked to bring their own floral cutters or paring knives as we have limited cutters to borrow.  Class is limited to 50 floral creators.  Attendees are welcome to listen and watch the presentation without registering for the hands-on portion if they should choose.  Inspired By Nature will provide all the ingredients needed and vessels as well as packing material to keep the flowers from freezing for transportation.


JUMPing Worms – by Bernie Williams

Charles Darwin loved worms because he knew their tenacity to survive, spread, adapt and prosper was unrelenting.  Gardeners and everyone else love worms because they simply don’t know any better.  Earthworms are a lot like a loving relationship you can’t live with them, can’t live without them.  Though is that really true?  In Wisconsin we’ve got worms; all sorts, and none of them are native.  We knew we had European species but the discovery of Jumping worms in 2013, an Asian species was a complete surprise.

Now if you’re like most people the arrival of another invasive species is far from a good thing but sometimes it can really motivate people to get involved, or in this case; JUMP!


Invasive Species and Their Stories – by Bernie Williams

We live, work, and breath invasive species.  Though to the average individual who commutes to work and notices the changing colors along the roadsides or who is eager to plant their vegetable garden in the spring and spruce up their landscape with those thorny shrubs; they don’t know what an invasive species is.  Sure, they know dandelions and creeping Charlie but they’re weeds.

How do we change perception?  How do you change long thought beliefs that go against everything you’ve ever been told?  Whether you’re calling out those earthworms everyone thought were so good or pointing out that burning bush; though incredibly beautiful is misbehaving and you should rip it out.  You need to explain why.  Every invasive species has a story and it’s our job to tell their story and how we go about doing it will lead to success, failure and sometimes incredible uses!


Exploring Flower Photography: From Garden to Still Life – by Brad Schmicker

In this workshop, participants will focus on composition, natural light, studio style still life photography. Composition, often missed by novice photographers, can make or break a great photo. Outdoor natural lighting is key to a great image and we’ll discuss inexpensive ways to help the sun. Wisconsin weather keeps you indoors? Try using inexpensive studio booths and shoot your own still life. Bring your cameras. Tripods, lights, and booths are provided. Class limit 24.


Straw Bale Solutions – by Joel Karsten

A mere ten years ago, almost no one had heard of growing vegetables in straw bales. Today, Joel Karsten’s STRAW BALE GARDENS® technique has been adopted by gardeners all over the planet, and is arguably the fastest growing new method being used by vegetable gardeners since man started cultivating crops 10,000 years ago. The question is WHY?  Karsten will explain the advantages of his method, and explain why it has become popular so quickly. While many gardeners here in our country are constantly looking for a better, easier, faster and more economical way to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers, in many less fortunate countries around the world, growing food is essential to survival, not simply a hobby.  In his most recent book Joel profiles gardeners from around the USA and five other continents, who have implemented a Straw Bale Garden. Using the technique to overcome various problems that had kept them from growing successful vegetable gardens using traditional methods. For the first time, many of these poor and hungry populations have become Straw Bale Gardeners and are now able to grow food. This early success is changing the outlook for solving world hunger and eliminating urban food insecurity around the world.


Building an Outdoor Room – by Joel Karsten

Get a new perspective from an experienced Landscape Design specialist and gather some practical advice on how to turn your backyard into the dream space you have always envisioned.  Joel will guide you on how to efficiently plan and create an extension of your home, a new “room” where you can get away, relax, entertain guests or dine al fresco.  You will gather dozens of design ideas and fundamental principles to make your Do-It-Yourself project (or professional installation) successful, and insure you get the results you really want.   He will discuss plans for creating outdoor focal points including fireplaces, water features, specialty lighting, art and sculpture applications.  It’s not always necessary to spend more money; but instead spend it more effectively. Take home a few tips on how to prioritize your objectives, and your new outdoor room will be affordable, functional, and it just may become your favorite new room to hang out!


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