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2017 Illinois Master Gardener Conference and awards Ceremony – Friday September 8th, 2017 with optional pre-conference tour Thursday September 7th in the Bloomington/Normal area.

Please join your fellow Illinois Master Gardeners as we celebrate our state award winners and discover gardening through the ages on Friday September 8th at the newly remodeled Radisson Hotel at 8 Traders Circle in Normal.
Conference features two special speakers, Awards Ceremony and tours of area garden sites and nurseries. Do a little shopping at the silent auction while you support statewide Master Gardener programs. All for only $40 per person. Add in the pre-conference tour and it's just $75 a person for the full package. Master Gardeners may bring one adult guest. All participants must register separately. Registration closes September 1, 2017. Register Here

Pre-Conference Tour - "Gardens Through the Centuries" Thursday, September 7, 2017

Come early to hobnob with your fellow MGs as we discover remarkable gardens through the centuries. Join us Thursday September 7 for our pre-conference tour from 12:30-5:30 p.m. with optional ride to downtown Bloomington for dinner on your own from 6:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Pre-conference tour price of only $35 includes comfy air conditioned motor coach, snacks, garden tours and optional motor coach ride to and from downtown Bloomington for dinner (dinner and gratuity is not included in pre-conference tour price.) Find out more here

2017 Illinois Master Gardener Conference and Awards Ceremony

The preliminary schedule for September 8 is:

8:00 a.m. Registration opens in Radisson Hotel at 8 Traders Circle in Normal.
8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Silent Auction bidding. Silent Auction benefits state MG grants and programs. Contact Sandy Mason at or to offer donations. *See more details below.
9:00-10:30 a.m. ISU Horticulture Center gardens tour with learning stations. Just a short drive from the hotel.
10:50 a.m. Welcome, introductions and announcements.
11:00-11:45 a.m. Gardening as We Age by Barbara Kreski, Director of Horticultural Therapy Services at Chicago Botanic Garden.
12 noon-1:00 p.m. Lunch and Silent Auction Bidding. Silent auction ends at 1:00 p.m. with winners posted at 2:30 p.m.
1:00-2:30 p.m. Awards Presentation
2:30-3:15 p.m. The New Generation of Plants from a 5th Generation Nurseryman by Shane Cultra of Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana Illinois.
3:15-4:45 p.m. Visit area gardens: Unity Community Center; Community Cancer Center; Refuge Food Forest; Sarah's Garden and area garden centers (registration packet includes descriptions and maps to gardens and list of garden centers offering discounts.)

Registration fee is $40. Includes the two speakers, luncheon, tours and garden center discounts. Master Gardeners may bring one adult guest. All participants must register separately. Registration closes September 1, 2017. Participants must coordinate travel to ISU Horticulture Center and to each afternoon tour location through carpooling or personal vehicle. Plenty of free parking available at the Radisson. Register Here

Hotel rooms are available at conference location. Click to reserve a room at the Radisson Hotel. Special rates (double occupancy $109) available until August 10, 2017. Be sure to mention State Master Gardener Conference to receive special rates.

Registration closes September 1, 2017.
*Silent Auction Details
For the silent auction we are looking for donations of artwork, sculptures, paintings, photographs, books, garden tools, garden gifts, etc. Proceeds from the silent auction support the Master Gardener program including future conferences. Bring donations to registration desk at the conference. Contact Sandy Mason by September 1 at slmason@illinois.edu or 217.333.7672 to offer donations.

Morning Tour 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Participants must coordinate travel to ISU Horticulture Center through carpooling or personal vehicle. Plenty of free parking available at the Radisson. ISU Horticulture Center is a short drive from the Radisson, just west of hotel on Raab Road and across the street from Corn Crib Baseball Stadium.

ISU Horticulture Center
The Illinois State University Horticulture Center, operated by the Department of Agriculture, is a 12-acre outdoor classroom for all ISU students. It provides a focal point and support for horticultural instruction and scholarship, as well as public demonstration and outreach. Master Gardeners are involved in several areas. The Center consists of a variety of gardens, including a children's garden, pinetum, prairie, herb, vegetable, and pollinator. Tour the gardens and stop by the various learning stations throughout the Center to discover tips to take back to your Master Gardener program.

Our Speakers

Gardening as We Age
Barbara Kreski, MHS, OTR/L, HTR

Director, Horticultural Therapy Services, Chicago Botanic Garden https://www.chicagobotanic.org/therapy

With apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes, "man does not quit gardening because he grows old; he grows old because he quits gardening".

often discourage seniors from taking up the trowel. Let's explore some ideas to help the roughly 85 million U.S. gardeners to continue "digging it" during their golden years. Prevention, preparation, position and partners can keep your thumb green for a lifetime.

The New Generation of Plants from a 5th Generation Nurseryman
Shane Cultra

Co-owner, Country Arbors Nursery, Urbana Illinois http://countryarbors.com/

Country Arbors is owned and run by 4th and 5th Generation nurserymen (and ladies) of the Cultra Family. The original family nursery was founded in Onarga Illinois in 1865. Gardening and the horticulture industry has changed dramatically since then. Discover what new plants are on the horizon.

Afternoon Tours of Gardens and garden Centers

3:15-4:45 p.m.

You must arrange your own transportation for tours. Visit gardens and garden centers in any order. A map to the garden sites and garden centers will be provided at registration.

Site 1. Unity Community Center and Gardens

The Unity Community Center is a multicultural center that provides programming for youth from families with limited resources. As a program coordinated by University of Illinois Extension it provides after-school programming to approximately 40 children, aged 5-18. Junior Master Gardening became part of the program at Unity Center in 2003. The garden consists of containers and raised beds filled with herbs, vegetables, and pollinator plants. During the school year, youth are engaged in weekly gardening lessons. A wide variety of gardening experiences are offered by the Master Gardeners including growing perennials, annuals, and vegetables as well as lessons on insects, birds, and flower arranging.

Site 2. Community Cancer Center

The Community Cancer Center Healing Garden started in June of 2015 to create an oasis of peace for cancer patients, their families, staff and the community at large. Master Gardeners are involved in planning, planting and care for the three stunning gardens... a terrace garden, labyrinth (meditative walkway) and a butterfly garden to be viewed by patients receiving infusions. Master Gardeners worked collaboratively with the Cancer Center in all of these gardens, but were the sole designers and planters of the butterfly garden completed last summer. A recent Horticultural Therapy Conference at the Center provided hands-on experiences to facilitate understanding of key concepts and theories for engaging people in therapeutic gardening. https://cancercenter.org/

Site 3. Refuge Food Forest

The Refuge Food Forest is a unique urban retreat consisting of a diverse planting of fruit, nuts, and perennial vegetables. Strategically located in a food desert the project is a collaboration between University of Illinois Extension and Town of Normal. The fruits and nuts produced in the Food Forest are free and available for anyone to harvest. The long-term goal of this project is to reconnect people with the source of their food and to help create educated consumers that will support the continued development of our local food system.

Site 4. Sarah's Garden at the David Davis Mansion

Sarah's Garden, located at the David Davis Mansion state historical site, is a 145- year old garden that preserves the original design in the same location with 18 of the original plants. Sarah's Garden is cared for by the McLean County Master Gardeners who not only nurture the beautiful heirloom plants but also educate Bloomington youth through 3rd-grade field trips in the fall and the spring and also workshops for Girl Scouts. Adults also benefit from garden tours and propagation workshops where participants can learn to plant seeds and bulbs, transplant starts, and divide perennials and take home some heirloom plants! McLean County Master Gardener volunteer efforts in the garden earned them the Master Gardener State Teamwork Award. It is a Central Illinois jewel that "Helps others learn to grow!" https://www.daviddavismansion.org/