Art of Gardening returns to Muscatine Community College
by Margaret Hurlbert
February 19, 2022

MUSCATINE, Iowa–While winter still lingers in Muscatine and gardeners cannot get outside to start planting yet, it has not stopped them from getting excited for the growing season ahead. As new and experienced gardeners alike start making plans for the flowers, fruits, and vegetables they want to cultivate, Muscatine County Master Gardener’s annual Art of Gardening conference offers the perfect opportunity to learn new information and techniques that will reap rich rewards all season long. Following a two year pause due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Art of Gardening will return to Muscatine Community College, located at 152 Colorado Street in Muscatine, on March 12.

An all day event, the Art of Gardening offers sessions and experiences that will engage gardeners with all different interests and levels of knowledge. “It’s a broad selection of experts talking about a wide variety of gardening topics,” shared Muscatine County Master Gardeners Chair Mary Wildermuth.

After signing in and enjoying hot coffee at 8 a.m., attendees will go to their first two sessions of the day. Participants will have their choice of seven different topics for each session, touching on a vast array of topics from annuals to perennials, house plants to outdoor vegetables, to all of the best advice for improving soil quality and attracting pollinators. At midday, they will get a break to rotate between eating lunch, attending a stump the experts panel, and checking out the approximately 25 vendors who will bring beautiful garden art and useful supplies for shoppers to peruse. In the afternoon, gardeners will get to attend two more sessions, expanding their knowledge even further.

To ensure the health and safety of participants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have made several changes to their traditional Art of Gardening format. These include limiting the number of participants in each session, providing individual boxed lunches, rotating people through three stations during the lunch break, and spreading vendors out in Muscatine Community College’s little theatre. Attendees may wear masks at their discretion.

All green thumbs and budding gardeners interested in attending this year’s Art of Gardening conference will need to register by March 7 to participate. Registration costs $45 per person, including lunch. Participants may register online via Muscatine Community College’s website. Online registration will consist of two parts, registering through Muscatine Community College and completing an additional registration form. Anyone who needs assistance with registering should contact Paula Arends in Muscatine Community College’s continuing education department by calling her at 563-336-335. Anyone who knows a master gardener may request a paper application to mail in instead.

With the hope of warmer spring days on the horizon, gardeners across Muscatine county feel anxious to get out and working in their beds and planters. As they get ready to bring their gardens to life, Wildermuth anticipates seeing many of them at the Art of Gardening, which historically has had around 150 participants each year. The perfect time to learn more about cultivating plants, discover new tools, and meet likeminded people, Wildermuth looks forward to, “just meeting all the people and vendors and talking to everyone,” and believes many others will enjoy it as well.

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