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Our Extension Unit is very fortunate to have a very dedicated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of Master Gardener volunteers. This group is composed of people with a passion for gardening, landscaping and nurturing plants to grow.

As the days get warmer this spring and you get involved in outdoor landscape management projects, you may have concerns about plant health and care, lawn rejuvenation or other gardening tasks. The Master Gardener volunteers in our Extension Unit are ready to assist you in finding the answer. In the University of Illinois Extension offices located in Charleston and Arthur, these volunteers manage what we call the “Help Desk."

If you call one of the Extension offices in Unit 19, the question and your contact information is given to one of these volunteers working the "Help Desk." Master Gardener volunteers respond to these questions once or twice a week. Research based information from the University of Illinois is used to answer your questions.

In addition to answering your horticulture questions, these volunteers are ready to help you in other ways. Do you belong to a group or organization that is looking for a speaker? Our volunteers are available to provide programs in many aspects of horticulture -- from succulents to lawns -- from perennials to trees. Each program runs about 30 minutes. You can contact the Coles County Extension Office at 217-345-7034 for more details.

Another education opportunity for you is available annually in February. Master Gardener volunteers offer a program at the Life Span Center called Spring Into Gardening. To give you a taste of this event, one of our volunteers, Karen Yeakel, wrote an article about the 2018 Spring into Gardening program, and part of her article is presented below.

"Fantastico", “That's what everyone was saying about the Spring into Gardening Seminar. Mary Ann Metz, from Prairie Gardens in Champaign, presented the morning seminar. Her expertise gave us a new view on 'Continuous Color in the Garden.' We all like those blooms in the first signs of spring, but there are so many plants to use that bring color to the summer, fall, and winter landscapes of our gardens.

"The next presenters, Chris Newell and Racheal Pearcy, talked about 'Glam in the Garden.' These women know how to bring some bling into the garden. Their demonstration in how to renovate glass into unique artistic pieces for the garden was fun and hands on.

"Finally, Alicia Kallal, U of I horticultural Extension educator talked to us about 'Vegetables for the Landscape.' She gave some great ideas for gardening in small spaces and the use of containers when space is not available for a traditional vegetable garden. Add to the educational sessions, an assortment of delicious finger foods and a silent auction of numerous garden theme baskets, and it is a great way to learn more about gardening. If you didn't get to come this year, don’t miss next year’s event."

I encourage you to take advantage of the wealth of information our Master Gardeners have and the research based information they can connect you to this coming growing season.

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at 217-345-7034.

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