Discover hidden treasures in your garden

Discover hidden treasures in your garden


Owners of old houses and gardens can learn about botanical treasures that might be hidden in their back yards at a lecture and workshop on Feb. 8 and 9 featuring Scott Kunst, landscape historian and owner of Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, Mich. Kunst will offer an eye-opening primer on the landscape relics that survive all around us and will help gardeners wanting to restore historic landscapes or enliven any garden with a touch of the past.

A free slide lecture, “Antique Gardens, Home Landscapes, 1800 to 1940” on Feb. 8 will illuminate 140 years of American yards and gardens, from the scanty pioneer gardens of the early 1800s through the flamboyant Victorian carpet-bedding to the old-fashioned perennial borders of the early 20th century. In colorful, fast-paced slides, the lecture shows how plants, outdoor furnishings and the design of American yards changed dramatically through the years.

For old-house owners or museum and nature center staff, the workshop, “Restoring Your Old-House Landscape” on Feb. 9 will offer step-by-step guidance for researching and restoring, or adapting older landscapes to avoid loss of truly historic plants and features. Topics will include history of home gardens, respecting old landscapes, and how to integrate the old and new.

Kunst has taught landscape history at Eastern Michigan University and has written extensively for the Old House Journal. He has helped historic house museums and homeowners research and restore their grounds. In 1993, he launched a mail-order business devoted to selling heirloom flower bulbs. Since then, he has discovered and brought back into commerce many rare relicts for sale through Old House Gardens.

The free slide lecture on Friday, Feb. 8, will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Auditorium, 1600 Parkview Ave., Rockford. The workshop on Saturday, Feb. 9 will be at the Midway Village and Museum Center, 6799 Guilford Road in Rockford from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration fee for the workshop is $25 and includes lunch. Call the University of Illinois Extension at (815) 987-7379 to register.

The lecture and workshop are sponsored by the Natural Land Institute, University of Illinois Extension, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Midway Village and Museum Center, Erlander Home Museum, Graham-Ginestra House, Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford Park District and Rockford Park District Foundation—City of Gardens.

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