Winter Gardening Fair offers lectures and workshops

Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette

A sparrow sits amid forsythia flowers at Coralville Lake in this file photo. Master Gardener Judy Stevens recommends putting down crab grass killer when forsythia blooms, as that indicates the right soil temperature.

While winter holds fast over the Midwest, area gardeners are already preparing for the growing season.

The Linn County Master Gardeners program will hold its annual Winter Gardening Fair on Feb. 16, with classes on everything from starting seeds for spring planting to which flowers best attract bees and butterflies to designing landscapes with garden art.

Presented with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, which coordinates the Master Gardeners program in Iowa, the daylong fair is a way to help gardeners start to think spring.

Master Gardener Judy Stevens of Cedar Rapids will teach five classes at the fair this year, including “Meditation, Healing and Stress Relieving Garden” and “Gardening Folklore.”

“I have been a Master Gardener for 27 years. I am the Master Gardener that likes to experiment with different plants and method of planting, loves to watch things grow, give away my flowers and produce and always question why and how of plants. Because of this my gardens are not immaculate, but I enjoy them, which is important,” she said.

For Stevens, gardening is about more than growing flowers and food. It can be a spiritual act, both connecting the gardener to the past and helping them stay grounded in the present.

“For a lot of people, for gardeners, gardening is a stress reliever in itself,” she said. “There are several reasons to garden, one is to relieve stress.