Breakout Sessions

Climate Change and Its Impacts on Gardening in USDA Hardiness Zone 4 – by Paul Whitaker

Climate IS changing around the globe, despite what you may hear from some vocal climate change deniers.  Our changing climate presents both advantages and challenges to gardeners in our region.  This session will explore the causes of climate change, the connection between climate and weather, and the importance of microclimate for gardeners.  We’ll also consider how our changing climate might allow us, and in some cases force us, to adjust our gardening practices and choices of plant materials.


The Basics of Vegetable Gardening – by Brian Smith

Want to grow your own vegetables and don’t know where to start? This presentation will cover all the basic considerations for starting a vegetable garden. Topics covered will be site selection, design, garden soils and soil tests, easiest and best crops and varieties to start out with, growing your own transplants, watering basics, fertilizing the vegetable garden, pest control, rotation concepts, harvesting and storage.


Growing Grapes in Wisconsin – by Brian Smith

Grapes have a certain romance associated with them, especially the thought of a vineyard and having wine grapes.  Well, it all starts with the first grape plant that is set in the soil. This presentation will cover both basic wine and table(dessert) grape culture for backyard gardeners and what it takes to successfully grow them in our challenging Wisconsin environment. Topics covered will be site selection which includes a soil discussion, trellis design, cultivars (varieties) to plant, preventing winter injury, training and pruning procedures, pests and their control, proper harvesting techniques and storage.


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. Learn how to create an arrangement of spring-flowering bulbs planted in a lawn that look natural and esthetically pleasing. 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 Laura 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

In this session, attendees have the opportunity to create lovely floral compote centerpieces 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.

The cost of the floral workshop is $30 with tax included, and is in addition to the cost of Garden Visions registration. In addition to registering for Garden Visions attendees must sign up for the hands-on portion by going to www.eventbrite.com. Search for ‘Garden Visions Floral Workshop’ to make your reservation and pay online. Registration will be open from December 1 to January 24 and is limited to 50 participants.

Attendees are asked to bring their own floral cutters or paring knives as we have limited cutters to use. 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.


Invasive Species and Their Stories – by Bernie Williams

We live, work, and breathe 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? 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!


Small-scale Native Deciduous Trees and Shrubs for Gardens – by Lisa Johnson

What small-scale native deciduous woody plants should you use for the best fall color or mid- summer blossoms? How about for supporting pollinators? What is a nativar and under what conditions might a nativar be a better choice than a straight species of native plant? Learn the answers to these questions and learn about the large palette of native shrubs and trees that are hardy to your area.


Container and Raised Bed Gardening – by Lisa Johnson

Container gardening has become a hot topic as more of us are living in condos and apartments with limited space for gardens. Also, as we age, gardening with containers allows us to garden with less bending and kneeling. Learn about types of containers and raised bed materials and construction, soils that work best in containers, fertilizing and watering regimes and trends in container gardening.


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 and have used 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.


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