Garden Dreams


A Saturday with Portage County Master Gardener Volunteers

Whether you are an experienced gardener, a first-time gardener, or someone who is just “dreaming” about becoming a gardener, you will soon have an opportunity to attend Garden Dreams, a Saturday with the Portage County Master Gardener Volunteers.

January is a great month to learn from garden experts about how to attract pollinators to your garden, how to care for houseplants, how to pick the best shrubs for your garden, and how to build and maintain a pond.

The Portage County Master Gardener Volunteers are once again hosting Garden Dreams at the Lettie W. Jensen Community Center in Amherst. This winter’s program will be held on January 9th from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Cost is $30.00 and includes a hot catered lunch.

The first session of the day is entitled Creating a Pollinator’s Paradise. The presenter, Mark Dwyer, is the Director of Horticulture at Rotary Gardens, an award winning, 20-acre non-profit botanic garden in Janesville which is home to many dramatic and themed gardens. Mark will provide you with a wide range of plants and techniques for creating your own pollinator’s paradise.

Domesticated honey bees, which are commonly used to pollinate crops, have declined dramatically in recent years. The hummingbird’s main threat is habitat loss and destruction. Mark will tell you how your garden can be transformed into a beautiful and safe haven for attracting a wide range of the beneficial pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. He’ll show you how to maximize the appeal of your garden by making appropriate plant selections, and combined with the incorporation of other elements, you will be more likely to attract these vital creatures into your garden.

The second session is Indoor Gardening and Houseplants with Diana Alfuth, UW-Extension Horticulture Educator in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix Counties in western Wisconsin. Diana is a regular columnist for Wisconsin Gardening magazine and a guest on Larry Meillor’s Garden Talk on Wisconsin Public Radio. Diana will explain how we can still feed our plant addiction by growing plants indoors over the winter while our yards and outdoor garden plants are sleeping. Whether it’s traditional houseplants, edible options, or something unusual, she’ll talk about how to give indoor plants what they need to survive, revive, and thrive as they provide us with much-needed plant therapy throughout our Wisconsin winters.

Topics to be covered will be fertilizing, watering, light requirements and other cultural needs, as well as various growing methods and potential pests…everything you need to be successful.

For the third session, Mark Dwyer will return to talk about Sensational Shrubbery explaining how our landscapes benefit from the addition of appropriate shrubs that add scale, texture, form, and color. There is a wide range of durable shrubs that will thrive in a variety of growing conditions. However, durability should also coincide with high impact features such as colorful foliage, showy blooms, wildlife potential, fragrance, and other ornamental features of interest. Mark will help you examine a wide range of shrubbery for the entire landscape, and share examples of how to use these successfully in the landscape.

Pond Magic is the topic of the afternoon session presented by Ray Campbell of Campbell’s Signature Landscapes formerly known as Lost Eden Ponds in Clearwater, MN. Ray is a nationally recognized and multiple award-winning water feature expert. Also known as Dr. Pond, Ray has had the opportunity to build a number of exceptional landscapes with water as the main focus. He will explain how ponds and water features can be created in a variety of shapes and sizes, and how plants, rocks, and bacteria are all necessary components. He will show many examples of ponds, while giving a designer’s perspective on the pros and cons of owning a water feature, including step-by-step installation and many helpful tips for the entire process.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for registration with the Welcome & Opening Remarks beginning at 8:25. Coffee and other hot beverages will be available between 7:30 and 8:25 a.m., along with light refreshments.

Everyone is welcome. Registration deadline is Wednesday, January 6.

The Lettie W. Jensen Community Center is located at 487 North Main Street in Amherst. Or go to For more information email Or, you can call or text (715) 340-8378.

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