The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Idea Garden celebrates ten years

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

Just about every day I think of how lucky I am to work in a subject I love -- horticulture and with a great organization -- U of I Extension. I also get to work with some of the best people in the world -- gardeners. After all, who else but gardeners could look at a pile of horse manure and envision voluptuous tomatoes and beguiling begonias. Now there is someone with vision.

Master Gardener volunteers are the best of the best. Most of them are quite humble and don't consider themselves Master Gardeners. They are always eager to learn more and don't feel like they have mastered gardening (do any of us?). However, they are a wealth of information and we learn from each other every day. They also continue to help their communities with their dedication and hard work.


In Champaign County one of our main projects is the Idea Garden, now celebrating its tenth year. It's hard for me to believe it has gone from lawn to magnificent garden in just ten years. I've been volunteering in my own backyard for over ten years and I don't have anything like the Idea Garden. From the very beginning Master Gardeners designed, planned, planted, watered, and weeded.

Master Gardeners continue to sacrifice time from their own gardens to bring this wonderful resource to campus and community. The Idea Garden is a delightful place to walk, to get ideas for your own garden, or just to relax in the gazebo with a friend.

The Idea Garden is located within University of Illinois Arboretum on south Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, just south of the corner of Florida and Lincoln Avenues. The garden highlights different garden themes including vegetables, children's garden, rock garden, rose garden and berry garden. The gazebo is in the center where the window boxes explode with color.

The garden is surrounded by a picket fence and a mixed shrub, ornamental grass and flower border. Bring your pad and paper because you will surely want to jot down some plants that catch your eye.

Master Gardeners work in committees to design, plant, and maintain each area. In addition operating expenses come from Master Gardener fund raisers, mainly the annual Garden Walk. The garden changes each year and through the seasons.

The purpose of the garden is to demonstrate growing methods useful for home gardeners, highlight new plants, show design principles and provide a relaxing place to stroll.

From the beginning the Idea Garden's main focus was education. The gardens are used for tours, as a teaching tool for U of I classes and a learning place for novice gardeners as well as Master Gardeners.

You will find Master Gardeners working in the garden just about anytime with the main workday as Saturday morning. Stop by, say hello, maybe ask a question or two and let them know how you feel about the garden.

We have a visitor register book in the gazebo. We get comments from visitors from all over the world. Here is just a sample:

  • "Fantastic variety; great asset to the campus and community." Russ and Elaine, Champaign
  • "Inspired us to go home and plant." Carol and Tom, Ind.
  • "Beautiful! I could spend hours here! Thank you." Jane, Roanoke, Va.
  • "One of the most beautiful places I visited." Ella, Uzbekistan
  • "I can breathe here! Thanks." Holly, Mo.

That says it all.

Join us Sunday, September 16 from 2-4 p.m. for our 10th anniversary celebration. Food, fun, and festivities with a ceremony at 3:00 p.m. at the Idea Garden. And, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the pink lawn flamingo come see the entries in the flamingo decorating contest!

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