Illinois Extension’s Spring Fling Goes Virtual This Year

University of Illinois Extension announces the return of Spring Fling, its popular gardening program featuring expert speakers to inspire and support thriving home and community gardens. This year the program is virtual and free to all who register. The weekly events take place on Thursdays at 2 p.m. during the month of March.

“As springtime quickly approaches, the community knows they can once again count on local gardening expertise from Extension’s Master Gardeners,” said Jordee Justice Koehler, Illinois Extension Director for Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties. “The format will look a little different this year with online programs, but it remains a great opportunity for the community to engage with gardening enthusiasts who are not only trained horticultural experts, but also gracious volunteers who serve the community through educational programs like Spring Fling.”

Residents can register for one or all the Spring Fling events by visiting

For questions, contact Extension’s Washington County Office at 618-327-8881, or email The weekly programming schedule includes a variety of timely, relevant, gardening guidance specific to our region’s planting zone. Session agendas include:

March 4 – Under the Canopy: Selecting, Planting and Caring for Trees in Illinois

Mary Grapperhous, retired IDNR Forester, will tell us what a difference trees make to our communities. Stately and beautiful, they clean our air and provide shade respite for our homes and activities. “Under the Canopy” will cover the basics of selecting a tree using a right tree-right place checklist, proper spacing, community easements, things to avoid, planting, pruning, and long-term care of your investment. There will time for questions and answers.

March 11 – Growing Small Fruits Can Be Berry Rewarding

Bronwyn Aly, University of Illinois Local Food Systems & Small Farms Extension Educator, will share information about growing strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries in your backyard. Bronwyn has over 20 years of experience in small fruit production and is more than happy to help anyone interested in learning about proper planting, pruning, fertility, and pest control techniques to make growing small fruit berry rewarding.

March 18 – Ages & Stages of Gardening

Gardens and gardeners change over the years. For many we had our cutting garden era and our daylily years followed by the Hosta craze and so on. As we age, we have to listen to our bodies and realize what we used to manage is becoming unmanageable. This program walks you through the stages of gardening. Martha Smith, Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension, will also talk about how to garden ‘smarter.’ We all have to adjust to what we have in our landscapes and learn to manage it as we and our gardens ‘mature.’

March 25 – Herbs: from Garden to Kitchen

Learn the basics of how to grow herbs in beds and containers. Learn how to identify, harvest, and preserve your fresh herbs from local Master Gardener Deanna Ratermann. Discuss the classifications of culinary herbs and extend your culinary experience by interacting with a Rend Lake College chef through Zoom. Chef Fairbanks will prepare items using fresh and dried herbs that are local to southern Illinois.

Learn more about Illinois Extension at or email Director Jordee Justice Koehler at You can also follow the organization on Facebook at

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