Registration now open for Gardenfest 2022

  • Botanist Chris Benda will lead the afternoon program of Gardenfest 2022 with "Botanical Humor: You Never Knew Plants Were So Funny."

    Botanist Chris Benda will lead the afternoon program of Gardenfest 2022 with "Botanical Humor: You Never Knew Plants Were So Funny." Courtesy of Chris Benda

Posted2/28/2022 6:49 PM

Explore the latest gardening trends, techniques and tools during Gardenfest 2022, a series of seminars for gardeners of every skill level, on Saturday, April 9.

This annual event by the McHenry County Extension's master gardener program will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Leucht Auditorium at McHenry County College, 8900 S. Route 14 in Woodstock.


The $45 fee includes two keynote speakers, multiple breakout sessions, lunch, and a vendor fair. You can also browse the used book table and go home at the end of the day with one of multiple door prizes.

The morning keynote speaker will be garden writer and horticulturist Nina Koziol on "The Gardener as Artist" from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Koziol has been teaching horticulture, design and residential landscape design history at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum since 1997.

Topics during the first session from 10 to 11 a.m. are: "Improving Your Garden Soil" by Rich Tobiasz; "All About Tea Gardens" by Kristina Rank; "Covering Ground: Preventing Weeds with Living Mulch" by Ken Williams; "Unexpected Edibles" by Heather Moister; and "Container Gardens" by Michael Fedoran.

From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Session II will feature "Pests and Disease in the Garden" by Rich Tobiasz; "All About Dahlias" by Nicola Birch; "You Can Grow it From Seed!" by Christine Nye; "Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces" by Michael Fedoran; and "Native Landscaping for Winter Beauty" by Sarah Michehl.

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After a break for lunch and exhibitors, the afternoon keynote speaker will be botanist Chris Benda on "Botanical Humor: You Never Knew Plants Were So Funny" from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

He is a past president of the Illinois Native Plant Society (2015-16). Currently, he works as a researcher at Southern Illinois University, where he coordinates the Plants of Concern Southern Illinois Program and teaches "The Flora of Southern Illinois." Besides working at SIU, he conducts botanical fieldwork around the world, teaches a variety of classes at the Morton Arboretum and leads nature tours for Camp Ondessonk. He has research appointments with the University of Illinois and Argonne National Laboratory, and is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois. Learn more about Benda at

Topics for the third session from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. will be "Weed Management in Vegetable Gardens" by Sarah Farley; "Growing Mushrooms in Your Backyard" by Garrett Beier; and "Dragons and Damsels: The Amazing World of Odonata" by Marla Garrison.

In the afternoon, there also will be a tour of the MCC Greenhouse by Rich Tobiasz; a limit of 25 people.

Sign up at

The registration deadline is March 25. After this date, registration is only accepted the day of the conference for an additional $5 fee (space limited).

For more information, call (815) 479-7570 or email

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