A peek through an arbor reveals a circular bed with native purple coneflower, a variety of tall grasses and low-growing perennials and annual flowers in an inner-city garden. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Johnson County Master Gardeners and Hills Bank are hosting a free educational opportunity to learn about ways to benefit the natural environment.

Community Speakers Series 2024 will be presented Sunday, March 3, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., at the Johnson County Extension Office, 3109 Old Hwy. 218 South, Iowa City.

Registration is required at https://go.iastate.edu/WADMBQ and attendance is limited to room capacity.

The presentation will also be streamed live on City Channel 4 and recorded for rebroadcast on https://citychannel4.com/live-video.html.

Learn more about the program from the Johnson County Master Gardeners:

Gardeners looking to expand their knowledge about planning and garden design are invited to attend a Community Speakers Series 2024 hosted by the Johnson County Master Gardeners and Hills Bank.

The presentations focus on planning and designing gardens featuring options for a natural garden, rain garden and ornamental grasses. The free program is designed to give gardeners of all experience levels the confidence to create beautiful, functional gardens.

The free program is open to the public and will be presented in person on Sunday, March 3, from 1 – 4:30 p.m., at the Johnson County Extension Office, 3109 Old Hwy 218 South, Iowa City. Registration is required at https://go.iastate.edu/3RY76D and attendance is limited to room capacity.

Three presenters will be featured.

Natalie Ross is the owner of Ross Land Studio, a woman-owned small business that works with residential, commercial and institutional clients to create outdoor spaces, big and small. Her presentation Designing a Natural Garden, addresses creating natural landscapes that are beautiful, functional and ecologically resilient. She is helping Iowans “unlawn” their yards creating habitat for pollinators – birds and butterflies. She earned a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota and is a registered landscape architect.

Chant Eicke, Senior Restoration Manager and Professional Wetland Scientist at Impact7G, will help participants take advantage of rainwater runoff and the qualities of native plants to plan a practical and beautiful rain garden for their landscape. His discussion, Rain Gardens Enhance the Environment, reveals the many environmental benefits and tips and tricks for maximizing those benefits, while providing an aesthetically pleasing space along with food and shelter for butterflies, songbirds and other wildlife. He has worked in environmental consulting in Johnson County for nearly two decades. He has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.

Zac Hall, Associate Professor of Parks, Natural Resources and Conservation in the Agricultural Sciences Department at Kirkwood Community College, will address Using Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape. Grasses offer year-round, textural interest, provide an architectural attraction to the landscape and are wildlife-friendly and often drought-tolerant. In addition, grasses are low-maintenance and offer easy-to-grow options for homeowners. Hall is assisting the Re-Tree initiative on the Kirkwood campus following the 2020 derecho. Previously, he served as Superintendent of Parks and Forestry for the City of Iowa City. He earned an A.A. from KCC and a B.A. and M.S. from the University of Iowa. 

Attendance provides continuing education credit hours. The presentation will also be streamed live on City Channel 4. The program will be recorded for rebroadcast on the City Channel 4 YouTube channel – https://citychannel4.com/live-video.html. Note: If the weather presents hazardous travel issues, an alternate date of Sunday, March 19, has been chosen. Weather updates will be posted to social media and the JCMG Blog – https://jcmg-thymes.com/

The Johnson County Master Gardeners program was organized in 1982. The local organization celebrated 40 years of service to the community in 2022.