Contact Us

University of Illinois Extension serving Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties

Rock Island County
321 W 2nd Avenue
Milan, IL 61264
Phone: 309-756-9978
FAX: 309-756-9987
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8am - 4:30pm (closed from 12pm - 1pm)

Henry-Stark County
358 Front Street
Galva, IL 61434
Phone: 309-932-3447
FAX: 309-932-3454
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am - 4:00pm (closed from 12pm - 12:30pm)

Mercer County
910 13th Street
Viola, IL 61486
Phone: 309-871-5032
FAX: 309-871-5034
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 8am - 4:00 pm, (closed from 12pm - 12:30pm)

Mercer County
2106 SE Third Street
Aledo, IL 61231
Phone: 309-582-5106
FAX: 309-582-7338
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 8am - 4:00 pm, (closed from 12pm - 12:30pm)

Upcoming Events

Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening February 17

February 17, 2018

Augustana College, Gerber Center
3435 9th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201 (Rock Island County)

You must pre-register for this event, and registration is closed. Shake off the winter doldrums at Nursery School: Lessons in Gardening on Saturday, February 17. It's the Quad Cities’ premiere gardening symposium produced by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners from Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark counties. Nursery School offers something for everyone, from the novice to the most experienced gardener. Local and regional horticulture experts share tips, pointers, ideas and information you can put to work!  The 21st annual event will be held at Augustana College in the state of the art Gerber Center at 3435 9 1/2 Ave., Rock Island, IL.  This year the lessons start earlier with the first session at 8:15 a.m.

Free shuttle from Centennial Hall   For the best parking, take our free shuttle bus from the Centennial Hall parking lot: 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island from 7:30– 8:45 AM & 3:15 - 4:30 PM

Registration fees are $45 through January 31, 2018.  They increase to $55 on February 1.  You must register by February 11—no walk-in registration will be accepted.

Your fee includes the keynote session and lunch, four additional classes, handouts, access to the Nursery School vendor area, morning coffee and tea, and a tote bag you can fill with catalogs, brochures and money-saving coupons from local businesses.

Here are the sessions, speakers and topics from which you choose one from each session plus the keynote at lunch:

Choose one from Session 1: 8:15—9:30 AM

  • Raised Beds
    Vickie Reschke, Master Gardener
  • Learn the keys to successfully integrate raised garden beds in your garden. A convenient way to make the most out of your garden. Benefits include good drainage, protection from weeds and many pests, plus well-aerated soil perfectly blended to encourage growth. A great choice for those with limited space, soil or sunlight restrictions or just an appreciation for higher yields with less effort.
  • The Other Less Common Fruit Bearing Plants
    Elizabeth Wahle, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    Most people don’t try what they aren’t familiar with.  Everyone, or most everyone is familiar with fruits like apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries, but what about lesser known fruit plants like bush cherries, medlars, shipova, goji berries and pawpaw? Learn about 24 of the lesser known fruiting plants and their care, including which are hardy for outdoor planting and which taste good straight off the plant or require processing to bring out their full flavor profile.  Sun or shade, a superfood high in antioxidants or a great addition to a planting for supplying soft mast to wildlife, there is probably an uncommon fruit that will suit your need, especially if you like the uncommon or unusual.
  • Our Climate, Your Garden
    Dr. S. Elwynn Taylor, Professor of Ag Meterology, Iowa State University
    Elwynn Taylor was a student at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis (Shaw's Garden).  He has never stopped being amazed by plants and how they adapt to their climate: the same plant on the East side of my house is hardly recognizable as the same as the one on the West side.  A friend called me in tears: "I got a lovely potted "Weeping Fig" and every one of the leaves have fallen off, HELP!"  The plant is not able to move to a better place (like a animal would), but they do adapt in seconds, or weeks, or years. 
  • Plants Unknownus
    Martha Smith, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    Wouldn’t gardening be more fun if the names were easier to remember and pronounceable!  Botanical Latin names are universal – flip through Polish or Japanese horticulture text and you may not understand a single word except the plant names.  Acer is always going to indicate a type of maple!  Common names are a nightmare! Let Martha Smith show you Latin is not an inconvenient necessity but can make shopping for plants both informative and fun!

Choose one: Session 2: 9:45 - 10:45 AM

  • Native Pollinators
    Ken Johnson, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    When it comes to pollination, honey bees get a majority of the attention.  However, many insects play a role in pollination. Ken will discuss different native pollinators and how to make your landscape attractive to them.
  • Blueberries and Brambles
    “Farmer Chris” Nordick, Beacon Woods Farms
    Learn how to successfully grow blueberries in the Midwest—including soil preparation, cultivar selection, acidifying, fertilizing, weed and pest management, and harvesting. But don’t stop there! Growing brambles is easy and delicious and helps round out the summer with fruit. Learn more about growing and managing blackberries and raspberries - in all their amazing colors and varieties.
  • Landscaping for the Long Term
    Chris Enroth, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    Have you recently purchased a new home, are on a budget, or would like to give your gardens a new look? Avoid potential pitfalls by phasing in your new landscape over the long term. University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Chris Enroth will discuss the best practices for phasing in important elements first, while accounting for the future needs of your landscape.
  • Ikebana
    Sue Ruxton, University of IL Extension Master Gardener
    Learn about Ikebana (Japanese) flower arranging using cut flowers. Sue will demonstrate how easy it is to create beautiful cut flower arrangements for your home using different sizes of containers and whatever flowers happen to be available at the time.

Session 3 - LUNCH & KEYNOTE, 11 AM- 1:15 PM

LUNCH A: 11:00-12:00 eats first while lunch B attends keynote

LUNCH B: 12:15-1:15 eats second while lunch A attends keynote

Go Native, What Does That Mean?
Edward Lyon, Director, Reiman Gardens
A recent noble gardening trend is a movement to using native perennials, trees and shrubs in the home garden. However, most home landscapes have changed considerably from the cultural conditions that were originally indigenous to the site and the honorable push to support this movement tends to highlight the tribulations without the education that addresses the trials. Many worthy garden movements have failed due to oversimplifying information, resulting in unhappy homeowners who revert to a simpler form of gardening when new system fail.  Go native, what might this mean to you? This talk will address the trials as well as the tribulations of the native plant movement.

Ed Lyon became director of Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University on Jan. 20, 2017, He leads the operation and continued
development of Reiman Gardens' 17-acre site, representing the gardens within the university and externally, and planning and implementing the campus entry project and the Jack Trice Stadium expansion.

Session 4: 1:30-2:30 PM

  • Seizing the Power of Your Smartphone Camera
    Brian Tugana, Shared Talents
    Learn amazing things you can do with your smartphone camera—including inexpensive add-on products that can greatly expand your picture-taking horizons; and some of the many image editing apps useful for adding creative touches to your pictures.  You’ll also see examples of smartphone images taken by professional photographers and learn about publications dedicated to smartphone photography.
  • I Heart Whole Grains
    Kristin Bogdonas, University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Educator
    What kind of whole grains do you enjoy eating? Have you thought about growing your own whole grains? Open your mind to a whole new world with whole grains, as we explore a wide variety of grains available for you to grow in your backyard or community garden. We will uncover the health benefits of eating whole grains (February is American Heart Month), the many culinary uses, and you’ll receive resources and recipes to experiment at home. Food demo, tastings and whole grain giveaways included!
  • Using the USDA Cold Hardy Chart
    Dr. S. Elwynn Taylor, Professor of Ag Meterology, Iowa State University
    Elwynn was the Climatologist assigned to the making of the new generation of the "USDA Plant Cold Hardiness Chart." The "Zones" have moved about a bit with the changing climate over the past 70 years.  "Climate Stations" positioned in every US county serve as the primary indicator of the limits of the climate zone categories.  Learn from its designer how to best use the chart makes to easily identify the difference in "zones”.
  • Patterns and Rhythms in Nature that Inspire Japanese Gardens
    Catherine Marsh, Anderson Japanese Gardens
    Much of what guides Japanese garden design is derived from patterns and rhythms found in nature and the human connection to the landscape. The general pattern formed by trees growing along streams and on slopes, the nature of a stream meandering and cascading down a mountain or winding through a gentle meadow, the gradual transition of the seasons marked by ephemeral blooms. These design elements will be discussed.

Choose One Session 5: 2:45-3:45 PM

  • The Glass Garden
    Jim Brown, Woodlawn Landscapes  Design, Dixon, IL
    Create a miniature garden paradise under glass in this "make & take" session. Terrarium plants, types, containers and decor will be covered.  Class fee of $30 includes container, plants, soil and gravel.
  • 50 Shapes of Shade
    Martha Smith, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
    Trees and shrubs come in a wide array of shapes. Have you ever thought of how those shapes can be used in the landscape to their best advantage?  Columnar or weeping or rounded?  Not only their summer forms and shade cast but their winter silhouette?  Martha will share some of her favorite shapes and how to use them in the landscape.
  • Roses, Part II
    Sue Ruxton, University of IL Extension Master Gardener
    At the 2017 Nursery School, Sue presented a program entitled “Growing Roses suited to Our Zone”.  This year Sue will continue with the program and go into more detail about how everyone can grow beautiful roses in their home gardens.
  • Let’s Make a Succulent Ball
    Bud LeFevre, Distinctive Gardens
    Get creative with Bud who will help participants create a succulent ball that can be hung in your home.  The ball will be about 4-5” in size and the cost to participants is $20, which includes all plants and materials. (limited to 12 participants.)

Registration Information:

Register online at University of Illinois Extension’s website for Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties at For more information call (309) 756-9978.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to attend this program, contact Extension at (309) 756-9978 several weeks in advance.

To download a brochure, click here

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