Posts tagged Johnson County

Taste of Heritage Gardens in Iowa City

         The Johnson County Master Gardeners will host their 14th annual Taste of the Heritage Gardens on Wednesday, July 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove Historic Site, 1030 Carroll Street in Iowa City.

        For a suggested donation of $5, attendees will receive a taste of 19th recipes for soups, salads, vegetable dishes, breads, drinks and desserts prepared by the Master Gardeners. In addition, the audience will be entertained by the Senior Center Horn band, and there will be guided tours of the gardens and 1844 Lucas house.

         There will be a drawing for door prizes and recipe booklets will be available. Free parking is available on site.

         The proceeds from this event go to garden maintenance and Kirkwood scholarships. In case of bad weather, the event will be held at Building C at the Johnson County Fair Grounds. Further information is available at 351-4903.

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Senior gardening in Iowa City

Seniors in the Iowa City area are invited to check out the Senior Center Garden Club. The club meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month in room 202 at the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center. Start at 9:30 am for conversation, coffee and refreshments, followed by the program at 10 am. The club has a variety of programs including speakers, video presentations, field trips, and conversations related to a shared interest in the growing of plants or the care of the environment.

Senior Center membership is required for on-going participation in the Garden Club. However, you can try it out for free during the month of March. (Membership is $25/year for Iowa City residents, a bit more for those who live outside the Iowa City limits.)

Already this month, the members heard from Mary Stigers, groundskeeper at the University of Iowa, who described and showed photos of seasonal plantings on the University grounds and at the president’s Home. They were also audience guests at Chuck Porto’s KXIC radio garden show broadcast.

This Friday, March 27, will be Johnson County Master Gardener Marilou Gay’s program “Collecting Flowers for Drying and Pressing.”

For questions, call Gracie Mayer at (319) 338-1775 or Lois Lee at (319) 354-0699.


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July gardening events

   The Johnson County Master Gardeners are holding their 13th annual Taste of the Heirloom Garden on Wednesday, July 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Plum Grove State Historic Site, 1030 Carroll street, Iowa City.

   This unique project funds the Plum Grove gardens (there are three:  vegetable, flower and wildflower}; a Horticultural scholarship at Kirkwood Community College, 4H prizes at the fair, and garden mainenance.

   The gardens have received two awards:  first Iowa State Service Award and National Garden designation by National Garden Clubs of America and the Smithsonian.

   Each year,  a committee scours 19th century cookbooks to plan a menu of three soups,  vegetable dishes, salads, breads, and desserts based on produce planted in the vegetable garden. There is a different food selection each year and a recipe pamphlet is available. Senior Center Post Office Brass entertains with old tunes,  door prizes are awarded, guided tours to gardens and 1840 Robert Lucas home, free parking and this year a visit from the ghost of Robert Lucas.

    Despite the late spring and continued rain, the garden is growing with new varieties.  More than  45 different heirloom tomatoes have been tested since its inception. Strawberry and Malabar spinach are some of the new varieties. The wildflower garden has new acquisitions and a new resting stump is from a tree under which the Mormons camp on their trek across Iowa.  This project will be featured at the Farm Progress show.

   For more information contact Betty Kelly


    Seed Savers 28th Annual Convention will be  July 18-20 at Heritage Farm north of Decorah, Iowa.
    Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.

   This year’s keynote speaker is Lynne Rossetto Kasper from NPR’s The Splendid Table. Other speakers include Rich Pirog from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and SSE Advisor John Swenson.
    The Annual Convention kicks off Friday evening with an informal reception at the Visitors Center. There will be a wine tasting by Winneshiek Wildberry Winery and turkey summer sausage and jerky from Jenkins Industries in Decorah.
   Saturday there is a full schedule of events – with walks and tours, a seed swap, flower arranging by Willowglen Perennial Nursery, and open houses in many of SSE’s facilities in the morning, and speakers in the afternoon. After a locally grown dinner is the keynote speech and a barn dance.
   Sunday morning there is a bird walk and a wide selection of tours and workshops to choose from.
   For more information call SSE’s office at 563-382-5990 or visit:


   Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse will have a free seminar, focusing on the benefits and beauty of gardening with native plants.

   Native Iowa Plants will be Saturday, July 19, from 10-11 a.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Road (Highway 151 East), in Marion. The seminar is being held as part of Culver’s Customer Appreciation Weekend, July 19 and 20, and will cover different types of plants native to Iowa and the benefits of using them.

  Native plants in the garden and landscape require less maintenance and water, cause less harmful runoff, are more likely to thrive, maintain or improve soil condition, and provide natural sources of food and shelter for native wildlife.

  RSVP by calling (319) 377-4195.

  Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse was established in April of 1998, an extension of Culver’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, Inc.   More information is available at:

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NatureMapping and more garlic mustard

    If you like to dig, pull, map or inventory, several workshops and volunteer opportunities are being offered in Johnson and Linn counties in the coming weeks. A great chance to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

    The first is a NatureMapping program, from ISU extension. The others that follow come from Marion-based Trees Forever. Note that the Great American Cleanup that had been scheduled for last month has been rescheduled for May 18, and while Johnson County’s Garlic Mustard Challenge was posted previously, another chance to help get rid of the invasive plant will take place May 20 in Marion…


    To help the state’s wildlife populations continue to thrive, Iowa State University Wildlife Extension has established the NatureMapping Program. Six workshops are being held throughout Iowa this year.


    The next workshop is June 21 at the Kent Park, 2048 Highway 6 NW, Oxford. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Started in 1999, the NatureMapping Program teaches citizens how to collect information on common wildlife species.


   “There are not enough professionals, time or funding to conduct an inventory of all the nation’s flora and fauna,” says Jim Pease, ISU Extension wildlife specialist and director, Iowa NatureMapping.  “One way to achieve the needed inventory is to involve an interested public in helping us.” Wildlife professionals use the information to establish management plans for the state’s wildlife.


   The program provides hands-on environmental education. “Involving the public in ‘finding the pieces of the puzzle’ is what NatureMapping is all about,” says Jason O’Brien, coordinator, Iowa NatureMapping. “Trained NatureMapping volunteers are a vital link in wildlife management efforts in Iowa. Currently, we are concentrating on amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds of Iowa.” He added that the goal is “to keep common wildlife common.”


   “Citizen involvement to date shows that Iowans are dedicated to protecting and enhancing our state’s wildlife,” O’Brien says. Since its inception, hundreds of people, representing schools, businesses, agencies and other community groups, have been trained. To date, tens of thousands of species reports, representing hundreds of Iowa species, have been entered into the Iowa NatureMapping database.


   “Volunteers can provide much needed data by recording wildlife observations around their home and feeders, when hiking, canoeing or doing other wildlife-related activities. School participation can vary depending on the size and scope of the projects chosen,” Pease adds.  “It can fulfill a valuable service to their community, while engaging students in a related project of data collection and analysis.”


   For registration information, contact O’Brien at (515) 294-6440, or visit the NatureMapping Web site at There is a $30 cost for each workshop, which includes materials and lunch.



   We Dig Your District Tree Planting- Redmond Park, Cedar Rapids

Date and Time: May 7, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm  

Rain Date: May 12, 1:15 pm to 4:15 pm

Location: 3rd Ave. and 16th St. SE, Cedar Rapids

Event Description: Help Trees Forever to set up and clean up the event, assist students and teachers with tree planting and/or serve refreshments. 

RSVP: Sign up with Karen Brook, 319-373-0650 x14 or

Google Map Link:,+cedar+rapids,+ia&sll=42.033293,-91.607223&sspn=0.013579,0.028195&ie=UTF8&z=16


    We Dig Your District Tree Planting- Wilderness Estates Park, Cedar Rapids

Date and Time: May 14, 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm  

Rain Date: May 16, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Location: Moose Drive NW, Cedar Rapids

Event Description: Help Trees Forever to set up and clean up the event, assist with tree planting and/or serve refreshments.

RSVP: Sign up with Karen Brook, 319-373-0650 x14 or

Google Map Link:,+cedar+rapids,+ia&ie=UTF8&ll=41.993691,-91.727772&spn=0.05435,0.112782&z=13&iwloc=A 


    RESCHEDULED Great American Cleanup- Cedar Rapids Metro Area

Date and Time: May 18, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Event Description: This event has been rescheduled from April 26. For more information see

Location: Various

RSVP: Contact Stacie Johnson for more information at or 319-377-5290, Ext. 108.


    Invasive Species Removal- Garlic Mustard Pull at Thomas Park, Marion

Date and Time: May 20, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Rain Date: TBA

Event Description: Remove garlic mustard (an invasive plant) and/or help Trees Forever set up this event and assist United Way Day of Caring volunteers. Volunteers do not have to stay for the whole day.

Location: Thomas Park in Marion (343 Marion Blvd, Marion, IA).

RSVP: Sign up with Karen Brook, 319-373-0650 x14 or

Google Map Link:,+marion,+ia&ie=UTF8&ll=42.033293,-91.607223&spn=0.013579,0.028195&z=15&iwloc=A


    Marion Street Tree Inventory

Training Dates: June 2, 3, & 4- Daytime sessions 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Evening sessions 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. (choose daytime or evening) 

Location: Monday and Wednesday training sessions meet at Trees Forever Office, 770 7th Ave., Marion.  Tuesday sessions meet at the Kirkwood Community College horticulture building.  Inventory locations are throughout Marion.

Program description: Volunteers will be trained in tree identification and inventory methods.  Volunteers who have done an inventory before or have good tree identification skills do not need to attend all sessions. After training, volunteers will select sections of Marion where they will identify, measure and record information about the city’s publicly owned street trees.  Volunteers can work at their own pace in the summer and early fall.  This information will be used by the city to better manage its trees and will be used to calculate the benefits the trees provide to the city. 

RSVP: To sign up or for more information, contact Sunshine McDonald at 319-373-0650 x15 or

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Garlic Mustard Challenge

   Because of the late spring, the Great Garlic Mustard Challenge in Johnson County has been extended through May 11.

   Volunteers are still needed to help pull the invasive plant at Iowa City and Johnson County parks, said Marcia Klingaman, one of the organizers.

  The goal is to beat the record of 1,960 pounds – almost 1 ton – of garlic mustard pulled previously.

  Volunteers can sign up to help at the city of Iowa City’s Web site:

   The site also lists the basics of garlic mustard: the plant was introduced to North America by European settlers who used it as a medicine and an edible herb. During the past two decades it has spread at an alarming rate across the eastern United States and, more recently, crossed the Mississippi into Iowa.


The site notes that garlic mustard can be found in most woodlands and woodland edges,  as well as un-mowed areas of shaded or

semi-shaded yards, parks, golf courses, and natural areas. If you live along a creek or along a ravine, there’s a very good chance that you will find garlic mustard.


Garlic mustard spreads rapidly and becomes so dense that it shades out all native species of woodland flowers, ferns, and tree seedlings. This in turn reduces habitat and food for woodland animals and leads to increased competition and pressure on native plants in those areas where they do exist. A single garlic mustard plant produces hundreds of seeds that can survive in the soil for more than 5 years. Within just a few years, garlic mustard completely dominates the woodland understory. Because most animals will not eat garlic mustard it has no natural controls.


The site also notes proper disposal methods – don’t place discarded garlic mustard in your compost or Yardy so seeds can’t further propagate.



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Great May events!

Following is a list of area gardening events in Eastern Iowa for the month of May 2008. If you know of other public events, add it in a comment or send an email to:

Thurs. May 1 through Sat., May 3 – Annual tulip festival in Pella, Iowa. See schedule at:


Sat. May 3 –  9 a.m. to noon, Indian Creek Nature Center annual spring plant sale featuring wildflowers, prairie grasses and flowers, hosta, geraniums, and a variety of garden perennials, as well as garden art and accessories.


Sat. May 3 and Sun. May 4 – Urban permaculture workshop at 3409 Seminole Valley Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids. See schedule at:


Sat. May 10 – 9-11:30 a.m.,  Project GREEN’s annual Garden Fair at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City. Perennials for shade and sun, hostas, wildflowers, trees and more will be sold.


Sat. May 10 – 9 a.m. to noon, Brucemore annual plant sale, featuring several types of perennials and annuals from Brucemore’s greenhouse, 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids.


Sun. May 11 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Noelridge Park Greenhouse open house, corner of Collins Road and Council Street NE, Cedar Rapids. Blooming planted baskets will be sold at $30 each as a fundraiser for the greenhouse. The open house also will feature a gardening and nature book fair, Bonsai display, and beekeeper and mushroom displays.


Sat. May 17 – 8 a.m. to noon, Johnson County Master Gardeners Garden Flea Market and Plant Sale, Food Booth Building, Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds, featuring garden and lawn tools, plant containers, yard art, horticulture books and plants, seeds and bulbs for sale.


Sat. May 17 – 10-11 a.m., Garden Containers with Pizzazz for Decks & Balconies with Mike Duggan Wyatt – Class will be in the Hy-Vee Garden Center, 5050 Edgewood Road NE, Cedar Rapids. The class fee will cover soil, plants and instruction. $20.  Pre-register at Customer Service, (319)378-0762.


Sun. May 18 – 2-4 p.m., Second Annual Master Gardener “Top Gardening Tips,” Iowa City Public Library, Room A, Betty Kelly will present top organic gardening tips and Sherlyn Flesher will present easy composting.


Sat. May 24, 8 a.m. to noon (or until plants are gone) – Linn County Master Gardeners annual plant sale, Extension office parking lot,  3279 Seventh Ave.,  Marion. Many kinds of perennials for sun or shade,  hosta, daylilies, wildflowers, groundcovers, ornamental grasses and some annuals,  from Master Gardeners’ own gardens will be sold.



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