Marketing and Outreach

Esther Jordan, Communications Specialist

2016 Horticulture Night deemed a Success! 

Imagine Master Gardeners, home owners, and flower enthusiasts pouring into the Horticulture Display Garden—notebooks in hand—ready to learn new techniques, knowledge, and creative ideas.  That was the scene of our 2016 Horticulture Night, held on Thursday, July 28.  An estimated 1,600 attended the event, a record high for Horticulture Night, which dates back to 1970. 

Horticulture Night 2016Our planning committee put together an amazing educational event which included the following presentations and speakers:

  • Growing Great Garlic, Carl Rosen of U of MN Extension
  • Designing Containers, Dennis Possin of Colorful Seasons
  • MN Hardy Mums, Neil Anderson of U of MN Extension
  • Attracting Backyard Birds, Margaret Kuchenreuther of U of MN Morris
  • Shade Trees for West Central MN, Peter Moe of the MN Landscape Arboretum
  • Seed Saving, Theresa Podall of Prairie Road Organic Seed
  • Outdoor Hardscapes, Duane Hastad of Heather Nursery
  • Growing Pie Cherries and Dessert Plums, Thaddeus McCamant of Central Lakes College
  • Hostas, Jodie Ramsay & Julie Schroer of Jean’s The Right Plant Place

In addition to horticulture presentations, we also offered tours and other agriculture learning opportunities:

  • Annual Flower Tour, with Mary Meyer of U of MN Extension
  • Build a Low Tunnel for Strawberries, with Steve Poppe of U of MN WCROC
  • The Meat we Eat, with Ryan Cox of the Dept of Meat Science
  • Hayrack Farm Tours of the WCROC
  • Cow Milking Demonstrations in the WCROC dairy parlor, with a sampling of ice cream and WCROC strawberries
  • Energy Efficiency Tours of our new “net-zero” dairy utility room (we aim to produce as much energy  as we use to harvest and cool our milk!)

We rely on the assistance of MANY individuals to make Horticulture Night happen; we wish to thank the staff, faculty and students at the WCROC, Steven’s County 4-H, Steven’s County Master Gardeners, UMM Police, UMM Facilities Management, Steven’s County Fair Board, Tri-State Band, Dacotah Bank, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, and the many volunteers that gave of their time and energy.

Consumer Favorites

Attendees at Horticulture Night were invited to participate in our first ever Consumer Favorite voting.  Participants were asked to select their top five favorite flowers from anywhere in the Garden (including hanging baskets, containers, and in the ground).  We had a great response!  We’ve tallied the results, and are happy to announce the Top Consumer Favorites in the Horticulture Display Garden:

Consumer Favorites (ranked in order)

  1. Tithonia Torch (Mexican Sunflower)
  2. Celosia 15S03, from All-America Selections

  3. Bougainvellea Barbara Karst, tropical plant from Monrovia

  4. Coleus French Quarter, also a 2016 U of MN Top Ten Performing Annual

  5. Dianthus Jolt Cherry

  6. Petunia Tidal Wave Red Velour F1

  7. Argyranthemum Flutterby Yellow

  8. Penstemon Arabesque Red

  9. Salvia farinacea Evolution

  10. Zinnia Zahara XL Fire Improved, also a  2016 U of MN Top Ten performing annual

Donor & Volunteer Appreciation Event 

Donors and volunteers that support the Horticulture Display Garden were invited to an appreciation event on Wednesday, September 7.  Guests were welcomed by Steve Poppe and Horticulture staff, and treated to a picnic-style catered meal, followed by keynote speaker, Julie Grossman from the U of MN Department of Horticultural Science. 

Our recognition program highlighted a handful of individuals, families and organizations that contributed to the enhancement of the Horticulture Display Garden: Morris Area Kiwanis, Elizabeth Russell, Dennis & Carole Johnson, the family of Don Poppe, and Jim & Jill Beauregard.

Morris Area Kiwanis

Morris Kiwanis re-staining the play structureMorris Area Kiwanis are dedicated to the Kiwanis mission of serving the children of the world, starting with their community of Morris.  In 2003, Morris Kiwanis gave the necessary funds to install a playground in the WCROC Children’s Garden, and boy, has it been a hit over the years! We see numerous children along with their families and/or classroom peers utilize the play structure for entertainment and learning.

As you can imagine, a well-used structure such as ours needs maintenance from time to time.  This last spring, we approached Kiwanis about the opportunity for Kiwanis help us provide some updates and maintenance to the structure.  Not only did Kiwanis financially support this effort, but they provided a work force to get the job done.  

Thanks to Kiwanis, we were able to replace a few boards on the structure, put down fresh mulch, reposition the slide, and gave the structure a new coat of protective stain.

Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth RussellBeth spent many years with the University of Minnesota Extension as an adult educator in Chippewa County.

Beth served on our Horticulture Advisory Committee since the committee formed in 2001.  She brings a unique perspective to the committee - most of our advisory members are gardeners, yet Beth claims to not have a green thumb.  Her interest in the Garden is beyond the flowers and plants.  She brings wonderful ideas to the table for our marketing, fund development, organizational structure, and planning for the future, which we typically hash over in her living room each December.

Over the years, we have appreciated Beth’s insight, guidance, and vision for the Garden.  It has truly been an honor to work with her on the advisory committee. 

While Beth’s guidance has certainly propelled the Garden forward, her financial contributions have helped make the dreams and wishes for the Garden a reality.  Not only does she vocalize her support, but she contributes resources to make it happen.

Dennis & Carole Johnson 

Dennis & Carole JohnsonCommitted to education and outreach in their community, Dennis & Carole Johnson recently established a bequest designated for both the Organic Dairy program and Horticulture Outreach and Education at the WCROC.  

Their love of maroon and gold runs deep; Dennis and Carole are both U of MN alumni; Carole obtained her Masters in Home Economics Education, and Dennis is a graduate of the West Central School of Ag.  Dennis also received his PhD in Dairy husbandry and served as the faculty scientist of organic and sustainable dairy research here at the WCROC.

Dennis is a member on our Horticulture Advisory Committee, and has been an active and engaged member since the committee was created in 2001.  Not only does he provide significant input and volunteer times to our educational programs, but he often encourages us to be forward thinkers when it comes to the planning for the future of the Garden.

Our sincere thanks to Dennis & Carole for their service, generosity and continued commitment to the mission of the WCROC.

The Family of Don Poppe

Children have always held a dear spot in the heart of Don Poppe.  He was known to take the time to seek out and visit with kids wherever he was.  Don was an avid storyteller, which served as a natural attraction for kids of all ages. 

Upon his passing, his family chose to have memorial funds dedicated to the Children’s Garden in the Horticulture Display Garden.  

The Family of Don PoppeThe Children’s Garden is a hub of activity in the summer months, from day camps, to daycare field trips, to casual visitors.  While we have a variety of outdoor activities for children, we lack sufficient shade during the heat of summer.  It’s been our wish for that last couple of years to have a shade structure in the Children’s Garden area – one that could accommodate classes, small groups, and families alike.

Thanks to the family of Don Poppe, we were able to purchase a 20x20 Kite shaped shade structure.  With one corner post twice the height of the other three, the kite-like shape of this structure, while orientated toward the sun, will offer maximum shading, not just underneath the structure, but well outside of it.  The structure should be installed prior to next summer.

It is our hope that this structure will enhance the visiting and learning experiences of children and families visiting the Children’s Garden, which we believe would have made Don quite happy.

Jim & Jill Beauregard

PergolaA couple of years ago, Jim contacted us about a metal pergola he had obtained, and wondering if we could use it in the Garden.  We took one look at it, and knew it would be a great asset to the Garden.   

After discussing many ideas on where it could go, we ultimately decided it would best fit in our shade garden area.  It now sits in the shade surrounded by hostas, with a comfortable bench underneath.  It has since been sanded and painted, and is a permanent fixture on the Garden.  It definitely compliments the Garden and allows visitors to rest and enjoy a full garden view from this shady spot. 

Thank you to Jim and Jill Beauregard for their donation and financial support of this new structure to our shady garden.

Upcoming Educational Events

  • October 19   10 am - 3 pm   U of MN Master Gardener Update.  Includes Come Grow with Us: 2016 Top Ten Annuals at 12:15 (open to the public.)  More info.
  • November 16   12:15 - 1    Come Grow with Us: Overwintering Plants
  • January 18, 2017   12:15 - 1    Come Grow with Us: Topic TBA
  • February 15   12:15 - 1    Come Grow with Us: Growing Good Apples
  • March 15   6:30 - 7:30    Come Grow with Us: Vegetable Gardening 301
  • April 19   12:15 - 1    Come Grow with Us: Topic TBA
  • May 17   5:15 - 6    Come Grow with Us: Drip Irrigation for your Garden
  • June 21   5:15-6   Come Grow with Us: Bringing New Life to Old Shurbs
  • July 27   5-9   Horticulture Night