Organizers of Mahomet's annual Spring Gardening Seminar learned an important lesson after last year's inaugural event: Although gardeners love to learn about their craft, they're also eager to get their hands dirty after the long winter.
While last year's seminar lasted a full day, this year's sessions will be limited to the morning "so people can go out and garden in the afternoon," organizer Carolyn Haines said.
Last year, she noted, guests were "just itching to go out and garden, because it was the first nice day of the season."
This year's seminar, which is April 6, is presented by the Enhance Mahomet civic beautification committee and Mahomet Landscapes. Profits from the event will go to fund Enhance Mahomet's efforts to revitalize Russell Park, a small green space tucked between two storefronts downtown. In the fall, Russell Park got a new paved path, while two large trees whose roots and branches were playing havoc with nearby buildings were removed. Haines said proceeds from the seminar will be used to fund new plantings for the park, including dogwood trees.
The event will be at the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve and will feature four speakers. Topics will address not only horticulture and garden design but also sustainability and the environment in central Illinois.
Haines said that a greater interest in the impact of the climate led to the expanded focus on environmental issues.
"A lot of it is because of the drought we just came through," she said, noting that presenters will address ways to guide gardens through adverse conditions.
One of this year's presenters is Jim Wuersch, co-owner of Five-Acre Farms Daylilies near Philo. He will talk about how to utilize woody shrubs and trees in gardens and landscapes, spotlighting some newer hybrids and native species that he said are underused.
Wuersch said last year's less-than-ideal conditions can give gardeners a chance to reassess.
"It's an opportunity, with some of the loss that came because of the drought last year, to try some new things," he said.
Horticulturist Mary Ann Metz, who boasts several decades of experience in the nursery industry, will talk about how to highlight color in a garden through creative design.
Stacy James, a water resources scientist with the Prairie Rivers Network, will talk about creating rain gardens — an increasingly popular solution for gardeners interested in controlling runoff, protecting local waterways and reducing erosion and flooding.
Jamie Ellis is president of the board of Grand Prairie Friends, a local group dedicated to the preservation and restoration of tallgrass prairie. He'll speak about using native plants in home gardens.
In addition to hearing from the speakers, guests will get to browse vendors and look at resources for local gardening.
Registration will be available at the door at 8 a.m. at Lake of the Woods Pavilion. The cost is $25.