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"Gardening to a Better Life": 2010 Upper Midwest MG Conference

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Rockford, IL: The Upper Midwest Master Gardener Conference was a great learning - andP1100115.JPG networking - experience. Four hundred seventy-five Master Gardeners and staff attended along with about 50-60 instructors. The Master Gardeners in IL did a BANG UP job of organizing and hosting. Vendors were plentiful and included a masseuse, garden art, jewelry and  .... ahem .... plants. I actually came home without any plants .... I know that astounds those of you who know me well. But many there were zone 5 hardy, and I still had six Hosta waiting to get in the ground when I returned home.

It was great to attend with other Master Gardeners and staff from Minnesota: Mary Zeug, Terry Salmela, Julie Schmidt, Linda Sizer, Bridget Barton, Barb Stendahl, Kathy Wenzel, Lynne Hagen, Karen Jeanette, Dennis and Sherrie Bowe, Jim and Sue Johnson, Nancy Braschler, Margaret Hansen, Janice and Bob Gestner, Jackie Wicklund, Diana Quinn, Debbie Tasa, and Craig Thiel. We made a pretty good showing!

On Thursday, I embarked on the "Local Foods" bus tour (heck, I like to eat!) We learnedP1090776.JPG about commercial beekeeping from Phil Raines, Raines Honey Farm, a U-Pick CSA (community supported agriculture) at Harrison Farm Market, and tasted some great wines from UMN grapes at Famous Fossil Winery. (Loved the Crescent Moon white wine made from le Crescent grapes). We also spent time Lubbers Farm, talking about challenges of the being a farm market vendor, and stopped for cheese (and ice crea, - num!).

Friday, Bill Cullina was the keynote speaker and while I missed his keynote (blasted email), I did catch his talk later on Ferns and Mosses. OK - I need more of both. His photos blew me away, and I bought his orchid book. I also caught Ed Lyons' talk on "Clutter, Chaos or Class?" garden design and I was definitely on the same page with much of what he spoke on. Afterward, I asked if he'd speak at the 2012 Upper Midwest Master Gardener Conference (visit us on when we host it at the MN Landscape Arboretum, July 19-21. He agreed to in a minute stating "Anything excuse I can make to come to the Arboretum!"

I also sat in on the "Monastic Herb Garden" presentation by Father Dominic. My stomachP1090791.JPG ached from laughing after that one! Fr. Dominic should be on Comedy Central! I heard from Karen my colleagues who attended the next door presentation that we were a bit of a distraction.

Friday night I joined Terry Salmela (Pine County EE), Bridget, Karen Jeanette, Cyndy Haynes (ISU), Jennifer Boussolet, and Lynne Hagen for a visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden. Don't be fooled by the name - it is the premier Japanese Garden in the USA - in little ol' Rockford, IL! Who'd have thought? Visit my Flickr account to see pictures:

Cyndy, Jennifer , Bridget and I also stopped at the Rotary Botanical Gardens inP1090878.JPG Janesville, WI, on the way home Saturday. WOW. RG Horticulturist Marc Dwyer was a speaker on Friday - I attended his talk on Landscape Design for Energy - and then Ed Lyons showed pictures of the Rotary Gardens in his talk. Again - check out my pictures on Flickr.

A great conference - many thanks to the Master Gardener program in IL and especially to Monica David, my colleague and state coordinator for the IL program, for making us feel welcome and for organizing a super conference. We - Minnesota - have a lot to live up for the 2012 Conference. Check out our Facebook page and mark your calendars for July 19-21, 2012.

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