Kisonia Patience Mafuta and Linn County Master Gardener Emmaly Renshaw, of Feed Iowa First, presented a session Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the Winter Gardening Fair on cultural vegetables of Linn County. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

HIAWATHA, Iowa — Iowans were thrust into the deep freeze this weekend, after nearly springlike temperatures earlier in February, but gardeners know the season is close at hand.

Hundreds gathered Saturday, Feb. 17, at the 2024 Winter Gardening Fair, hosted by the Linn County Extension Master Gardeners at the Kirkwood Linn County Regional Center in Hiawatha.

Josh Spece of In the Country Garden & Gifts was among the gardening experts who presented at the 2024 Winter Gardening Fair. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Registrants could choose six classes from more than 80 sessions and hands-on workshops, led by Master Gardeners, local professionals and ISU Extension Specialists, including Aaron Steil, Consumer Horticulture Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, host of “Gardening with Steil” on PBS and a regular guest on Iowa Public Radio’s weekly “Horticulture Friday.”

Steil’s classes covered “Gardening for Butterflies and Other Welcomed Insects,” “Turfgrass Alternatives” and “Frequently Asked Questions for Iowa Gardeners.”

Aaron Steil presents a session Feb. 17, 2024, during the Winter Gardening Fair in Hiawatha. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Other presenters included Linn County Master Gardener Teresa Wake, who addressed growing conditions for houseplants; Scott Koepke of Garden Bridge Outreach on the healing power of gardening; John Clemens of the Eastern Iowa Bonsai Association on the care of bonsai, and many more.

Attendees also tried their hand at making macrame plant hangers using simple knots; creating ornamental glass flowers for the garden; constructing a garden bench and winter sowing in a milk jug, among other hands-on sessions. Vendors sold plants, garden art and other items.

More: See photos from the 2023 Winter Gardening Fair

The Winter Gardening Fair is a fundraiser for the Linn County Master Gardener Volunteer Program. All proceeds help to fund Master Gardener volunteer projects around the community. Projects include community gardens, demonstration gardens, and educational classes for both adults and youths. As a program of ISU Extension and Outreach, Linn County Master Gardeners are volunteers, trained to share the research of the university with all Iowans.

See more photos from the 2024 Winter Gardening Fair, below: