Breakout Sessions

Easy, Fun, Landscaping Ideas – by Rob Zimmer

Discover a treasury of easy, fun and vibrant landscaping ideas in this inspirational look at unique ways to garden and grow. If you’re short on time or short on cash, you’ll love these simple, yet eyecatching ideas for landscaping projects at home.



Growing the Best Blueberries – by Brian Smith

Attendees will learn the optimum methods of establishing and successfully growing blueberries in the home garden. Major topics will include:
• Types of blueberries
• Best cultivars to grow
• Site preparation and soil amendment techniques
• Typical pests and control measures
• Protection from birds
• When to harvest
• Best mulch materials
• Pruning for best production
• Fertilizing and watering amounts and methods
• Winter protection options
• Solving plant problems: playing detective

Growing the Best Strawberries – by Brian Smith

Attendees will learn the optimum methods of establishing and successfully growing strawberries in the home garden. Major topics will include:
• Best cultivars to grow
• Achieving optimum plant density
• Typical pests and control measures
• Fertilizing and watering amounts and techniques
• Winter mulch application and removal timing
• Renovation procedures
• Rotation in the garden
• Solving plant problems: playing detective
• UW-River Falls Strawberry Breeding & Testing Program

How to Make a Freeform Twig Trellis – Demonstration by Sandy Lotto

Here’s a fun and unique opportunity to learn how to make a one-of-a-kind, freeform twig trellis using maple saplings, nails and a little imagination. These beautiful and simple trellises are a great beginner project that allow for a lot of individual creativity. And the best part is, there are no rules! This demonstration, including handouts with written instructions, will give you plenty of information and inspiration to make your own trellis at home. Your climbing plants will love it, and when your friends ask where you got such an awesome trellis, you’ll be able to say, “I made it!” This program is geared towards people with little or no previous woodworking experience. All are welcome!

Hummingbird Nesting – by Stan Tekiela

This talk takes a fun and entertaining look at the world of hummingbirds. Stan traveled all over the US to study and also capture the many dazzling images of hummingbirds that adorn this book and presentation. Stan will talk about how hummingbirds feed, catch insects, mate, migrate and so much more. This presentation will be a welcome addition to the many amazing presentations that Stan has to offer. Your group will love this presentation.


Meet and Eat:  Wild Edibles – by Billie Olds

Take a bite of the wild side in this interactive session.  Learn how to begin foraging by identifying and eating some of the wild bounty that that surrounds us in Wisconsin.  From eating rather than weeding and exploring the fields and forests to create special dishes, this session is sure to awaken your taste for the wild.



Native Flowering Shrubs – by Alan J. Branhagen

Midwestern native shrubs offer a wealth of interest in the landscape from spring through winter. Many don’t conform to the ease of production (they grow deep roots and/or take time to produce through special propagation methods) and are thus more expensive while others have adaptations that make them run or self-sow; not conforming to traditional gardens. Learn the inherent character and beauty of Midwestern native shrubs and how to use them in the home landscape so that they will enrich your garden experience.

Natives in Shade Gardens – by Alan J. Branhagen

See some of the iconic Midwestern native wildflowers that thrive in woodland conditions from wet to dry and degrees of shade from open to dense. Learn what creatures they engage in the garden to enrich your landscape beyond pure aesthetics. A successful woodland garden is a celebration of each season and yes, there are plants beyond spring! You also need to ask: are there any plants that still look good in the winter?

The Art of Growing Food – by Ellen Ecker Ogden

A true kitchen garden opens your senses both in the garden and in the kitchen, and in this keynote address Ellen Ecker Ogden will share her journey from art school to co-founder of The Cook’s Garden seed catalog to author of The Complete Kitchen Garden, featuring theme garden designs with recipes for cooks who love to garden.  Learn the tools to create an edible garden that is both productive and beautiful, turning “ordinary” into “extraordinary.” based on classic design techniques that anyone can follow. Discover 6 steps to success that will turn work into play, and inspire you to transform any edible garden into a kitchen garden with an eye towards beauty, easy care, and pleasure.


The Living Soil – by Amy Jo Dusick

The soil is often referenced as an abiotic, or non-living entity of an ecosystem. The soil food web, however, is a highly complex and interactive biotic community that is tightly linked to above-ground nutrient and water availability. Get to know these tiny, yet charismatic key players, learn about their their roles in maintaining soil health and the ways you can promote a functional and sustainable soil environment in your home landscape.


The New Heirloom Garden|Modern Designs for Old Fashioned Gardeners –  by Ellen Ecker Ogden

Ever wonder what to grow for the best flavor? In this new lecture, The New Heirloom Garden, takes a journey to the past, to rediscover exceptional heirloom varieties that were most likely in your grandmother’s garden.  Be inspired to take a new look at fruits, flowers, and vegetables that add color, aroma, and exceptional taste to your repertoire of plants. Learn what is the difference between an heirloom and open-pollinated plant, and why growing heirlooms is essential to the future of seeds. You’ll get to know more about Aunt Molly’s Cape Gooseberry, Mortgage Lifter Tomato, and Gilfeather Turnip. Recipes included, featuring gorgeous color photos of seed-saving favorites.  This lecture features photos and designs from Ellen’s upcoming book, The Complete Heirloom Garden (Rodale 2019), with a step-by-step process to illustrate her design technique.

Out of the Shadows – by Rob Zimmer

Join Rob Zimmer for an exciting look at out of the box ways to garden with hostas. No longer relegated to the depths of the shade garden, modern hostas are fun, colorful, versatile plants with many surprising uses in the garden.


Pest Insects:  Identification, Life Histories, and Control – by Paul Whitaker

There are probably 20,000 species of insects in Wisconsin. While very few species are pests, it is often these that get our attention. Using some common insect pests as examples, this session will help you learn to identify insects and choose control strategies. Knowledge is power, and there are some important things you need to know if you want to avoid or minimize the use of chemical insecticides. And if you’re OK with using chemical insecticides, there are things you need to know to choose and use them safely and effectively. The course will also point you toward some of the best resources for identifying insects in our area, learning more about their life histories, and choosing and using various control practices.

Taming the Savage Beast:  Invasive Plants that Might Be Calling Your Current or Future Garden Home – by Paul Whitaker

The “Pine Woods” at the Monk Botanical Gardens has not been intensively managed for many years.  Like many shaded areas in this region, the understory is a jungle of invasive plants.  Taming this savage beast of invasive species is the first step in transforming such an area into a beautiful and “well-behaved” shade garden.  Beginning this year, the Northcentral Wisconsin Master Gardeners will be developing a section of the Monk Gardens’ Pine Woods into a shade garden featuring hostas and other shade-loving plants garden plants.   Using this project as an example, this session will describe how you might begin to identify and plan the removal of invasive plants that might be occupying the spot where you would like to develop a garden on your own property.

The Joy of Beekeeping – by Bill Heipp

Bees are a fascinating creature and can quickly become a passion. Being a beekeeper in one of the top honey-producing states presents some challenges and rewards beekeepers in other states don’t get to experience. The presentation will cover topics such as equipment, honey production, overwintering and some interesting factoids. If you have any interest in beekeeping join us for a taste of what a beekeepers year entails.


Vertical Gardening Session Summary – by Heather Schlesser

Are you like me and you wish you had a little extra space to get more into your garden, or do you want more flowers to help brighten up the place?  Well do not fear, this session will discuss various ways to grow plants vertically.  Vertical gardening makes the most of a small garden footprint and allows you to get more out of your space.  In this session I will talk about the vertical gardening structures I have experience with through the UW-Extension teaching garden and experience as an Agriculture teacher.  Vertical gardening doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.  Come and learn how to grow things vertically the economical way.


Weeds:  Identification, Life Histories, and Control – by Paul Whitaker

If a weed is just a plant out of place, then why do some plants get out of place so much more often than others and why are they so hard to get rid of? This session will help you to identify some common weeds and to appreciate how getting to know these amazing plants a bit better can strengthen your attempts to control them. A weed’s life history includes how it disperses, when and how it germinates, how it changes as it develops, whether it is an annual, biennial, winter annual, or perennial, and whether it reproduces by seed or vegetatively or both. Through examples of common local weeds, this course will demonstrate how weed life histories allow them to outwit our many efforts at controlling them. By knowing a bit more about weeds, we can be better able to choose and time control and prevention strategies. The course will also point you toward some of the best resources for identifying weeds in our area and learning more about their life histories.


 North Central Wisconsin Master Gardeners is now on Facebook! 


Sharing is Caring - Click Below to Share