Visit the Kane County Master Gardener Idea Garden this summer

  • Kane County Master Gardeners pause their work on the 2022 Idea Garden to pose for a quick picture. Stop by the garden during one of three open house days this summer.

    Kane County Master Gardeners pause their work on the 2022 Idea Garden to pose for a quick picture. Stop by the garden during one of three open house days this summer. Courtesy of Kane County Master Gardeners

Posted6/15/2022 1:25 PM

See inspirational ways to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and native plants at the Kane County Master Gardener Idea Garden in St. Charles. Trained University of Illinois Extension volunteers will host three summer open houses to share growing ideas and expertise.

Visitors are welcome to tour the garden from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays, June 18 and July 16, and Tuesday, Aug. 9.


Master Gardeners also will be available for questions and discussion.

"The Idea Garden is back this year, and once again, it showcases innovative gardening methods and fun designs that are easy to replicate at home," said Sarah Fellerer, Kane County Master Gardener program coordinator. "Some new features include a Hugelkulter style bed, a Black Swallowtail butterfly host plant garden, native plant plots for both sun and shade conditions, small pumpkins, and fruit patches with goji berries, seaberries, rhubarb, and raspberries."

There also are a variety of themed gardens, such as fairies, tea, Victorian, English cottage, and even one designed to feed guinea pigs.

"This year, we also have some unique projects involving tomatoes, including a patch planted with seeds that have been in Space, and another with an heirloom variety with a rich history and ties to Chicagoland," added Fellerer.

The "Space" seeds spent five years orbiting Earth before coming home on the Columbia shuttle in 1989. In 1990, schools across the country grew the special seeds as part of a large science experiment, and recently, Kane County Master Gardeners found a leftover kit from that experiment and started tomato seedlings that are now growing in the Idea Garden.

The second unique tomato patch features the Inciardi paste tomato, which also made a historic trip.

"It was brought from Sicily to America by the Inciardi Family, who sewed the seed into their clothes so they would not be confiscated at Ellis Island," said Fellerer. "Henry Inciardi settled in Chicago, worked for General Electric, and survived the tragic Eastland disaster. His family continued growing the seeds for decades until it nearly went extinct."

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However, the variety was brought back by a handful of local gardeners who continued to grow and save the seeds. Today, it is grown almost exclusively in the Chicago area.

The Idea Garden is located at 3480 Lincoln Hwy. (Route 38), at the intersection with Peck Road, in St Charles. Visitors enter via the Route 38 driveway. Follow the Idea Garden progress on

If a reasonable accommodation is needed to participate, contact or call (630) 584-6166. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.

Help desk open

Do you have questions about your garden, lawn, or trees?

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners also host a seasonal Help Desk at (630) 584-6166, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, or via email at

For more information, visit


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