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2017 Second Sunday Garden Forums


                                                            By Connie Goeb

Favorable weather, along with diverse and fascinating speakers and topics, drew great audiences to the three Sunday Garden Forums this year.  We are already planning for the Forums in 2018, and would welcome your thoughts and ideas. 

On January 8, an overflow crowd gathered at the Iowa City Public Library to hear regional gardening expert and author, Robert Lyon, Director of Reiman Gardens at Ames, explore “Midwest Gardening:  Possibilities Beyond the Prairie”.  Mr. Lyon challenged his audience to rethink the traditional constraints of Midwest gardening, and offered examples of success (and failures) in his attempts to grow non-traditional specimens in both the public gardens and his home landscape.

In February, we welcomed Connie Mutel, Iowa City based author, plant ecologist and senior science writer at the University of Iowa, who presented “Lives Written on the Land”, the ongoing ecological story of Iowa’s agricultural transformation and its effect on the state’s native plants and animals.  Connie graciously shared her remarkable expertise and passion on a wide variety of water, soil, climate change issues and offered ideas on how we can help restore Iowa’s ecological integrity. The sizable and engaged audience was eager to  explore the topics with thoughtful questions during the Question & Answer portion of the program.

Juli Seydell-Johnson, Iowa City’s current Director of Parks and Recreation, rounded out our 2017 Forums in March with a comprehensive look at the current and future plans for Iowa City’s myriad of parks, trails, open space and recreation centers.  Through her excellent visuals and complete but concise commentary, Juli shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for the bold new ideas for Iowa City’s public spaces and described the role that public input had in forming “Iowa City’s ‘Gather Here’ Growing Parks and Community”  Master Plan.

A huge thank you goes out to the many Project GREEN volunteers who make these Forums entertaining, organized and well attended, including Linda Schreiber who designs and distributes promotional materials and solicits door prizes; Becky Gelman, Fern Allison and Jo Patschull for running the hospitality table (and to all those who provide cookies and bars); and Betty Kann, Joy TenEyck and Jan Carpenter for juggling the duties of the entry table.  A special thanks goes to Beth Fisher and her staff at the Iowa City Public Library who always have the room in perfect shape and provide invaluable AV assistance.

Our generous door prize sponsors in 2017 included Earl May Garden Center, Forever Green Landscaping and Garden Center, Iowa City Landscaping, Lowes Home Improvement, Theisens Home-Garden-Auto, and Pleasant Valley Garden Center which closed its retail business in 2016.  We are also grateful to Prairie Lights bookstore for providing books for sale at our January and February Forums.

The Sunday Garden Forums will be back next year, beginning on January 14, 2018!


The January 8th Garden Forum had over 160 in attendance to hear Ed Lyon speak on “Growing the Midwest Garden”. A copy of his presentation outline can be downloaded HERE.

Ed Lyon discussing, "Growing the Midwest Garden" at the January 8th Garden Forum.