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Classes and Contact Info

Thank you for checking out my presentation topics. I've taught classes and workshops at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum since 1997. I also do programs for libraries, garden shows, historical societies, local garden clubs and other organizations. Almost all of the digital photographs used in my presentations are from gardens I've visited in the Midwest and from my own one-acre garden, Wildwood. I rarely do the same exact program because I'm always looking for interesting plants. Fees vary by location and length of program. 


Buckingham Fountain Revisited @ Wildwood Garden.  

For more info on upcoming classes, or to schedule a presentation, contact info@thisgardencooks.com or 708-217-9357.

2018 Programs 

Saturday, January 27, Seed Swap Demo (veggies and milkweed seed starting tips) at The Morton Arboretum. 

Saturday, Feburary 3, 8-4 p.m. Central Region Symposium--The Perennial Plant Association. The Morton Arboretum.  Designing and Planting for Pollinators in the Home Garden

Bees, butterflies, and other insects play a crucial role in nature and in agriculture. They pollinate everything from ornamental flowers to many of the foods we enjoy. Nina will explore how humans and insects perceive colors and how to make the most of colorful plant combinations. We’ll look at effective and artistic ways to use a variety of annuals, perennials, native grasses and shrubs to create attractive gardens for people and pollinators. 

Thursday, February 22, 7-9 p.m. Seed Starting for the Edible Garden.  The Morton Arboretum.

Saturday, February 24. 8-4. This Old House: Midwestern Gardens from Past to Present.  And, Creating a Butterfly-Pollinator Garden. The University of Illinois Master Gardener Conference, Kishwaukee College. 

Tuesday, March 6. Midwestern Gardens from Past to Present. Three Rivers Gardening Angels. Garden Club.   

Thursday, March 8. 7 p.m. Succulents for Indoors and Out! Tinley Park Library (held across the street at the Train Station).  

Monday, March 19. Midwestern Garden Design. Western Springs Garden Club.  

Tuesday, March 20. 10-Noon, Outside the Bungalow, Chicago Botanic Garden

New! Bungalows and Arts and Crafts-inspired houses are typically charming smaller homes found in cities and suburbs across the country. These popular style homes are appealing because they were often designed to be in harmony with nature and outdoor living. Discover how plants, hardscape, and other elements can enhance your own bungalow garden. 

Tuesday, March 20, 1-3 p.m., Growing a Cook’s Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

If you have a spot in your garden, balcony, or deck that receives more than six hours of direct sunlight, you can grow fresh herbs and vegetables. We’ll cover how to grow the best essential ingredients for your kitchen: tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, garlic, and leafy greens. In this class, you’ll learn the basics of soil preparation, planting in pots, plant selection, protecting your harvest from pests, extending the crops from spring through fall, and ideas for food preparation.   

Thursday, March 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Early Bloomers--Plants for Spring Color. The Morton Arboretum.

Saturday, April 7.  Edible Gardens. The Morton Arboretum. 

Tuesday, April 10. 1 p.m.  Simple Pleasures: Weed Less, Enjoy your garden more! Garden Club of Park Forest 

Wednesday, April 11. 7 p.m. Gardening for Butterflies. Homer Glen Library.  

Thursday, April 12. 1:15 p.m. From War Gardens to Victory Gardens. Bensenville Garden Club. Bensenville Public Library.  

Friday, April 13. 1 p.m.  Cress Creek Garden Club, Naperville. Topic TBD

Saturday, April 14.  Painting Your Garden with Plants: Shade Chicago Botanic Garden 10-12

Saturday, April 14. Painting Your Garden with Plants: Sun, Chicago Botanic Garden 1-3

Monday, April 16. 7 p.m. Inspiration for Gardeners. Suburban Garden Club. Community House, 415 W. 8th Street, Hinsdale.  

Monday, April 23. 7 p.m.  American Home Garden Design: 1830 to the Present. Pottawatomie Garden Club Spring Luncheon. Location/time TBD.

Tuesday, April 24. American Home Garden Design: 1830 to the Present. Downers Grove. Avery Coonley School.  

Sunday, April 29. 10:30-11:30--Growing Greens followed by a cooking class with Mary Kay Gill at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Learn to grow and use spring salad greens in this unique gardening and cooking class. Start by learning how to grow spring salad greens such as different types of lettuce, spinach, and kale, as well as some cool-season salad fixings like radishes, small Parisian carrots, peas, and spring onions. Because many of these edibles have very small root systems, they can be grown in pots as well. Then, gain inspiration for hearty, seasonal salads at this demonstration cooking class featuring recipes from Patricia Wells’ Salad as a Meal. Lunch will be served.

Tuesday, May 1, 7 p.m.  Growing Edibles: Everything You Want to Know to Harvest Your Own Food. Green Hills Public Library District, Palos Hills. 

Wednesday, May 2, 7 p.m. Containers and Window Boxes: Creating the Wow Factor, Indian Prairie Public Library, 401 Plainfield Road, Darien  630-887-8760

Saturday, May 5, 9:30 - Noon. Grow Great Peppers!  The Morton Arboretum.

Wednesday, May 9, 7 p.m. Simple Pleasures: Inspiration for Gardeners. South Holland Garden Club. 

Thursday, May 10, 7-9 p.m.  Grow a Cut Flower Garden. The Morton Arboretum.  

Saturday, May 12, 1-3 p.m. American Home Garden Design 1832-Present. Chicago Botanic Garden. 

Thursday, May 17, 7 p.m. Container Gardening. Woodridge Library. 

Thursday, June 7, 7 p.m. Container Gardening. Hoffman Estates Garden Club. Schaumburg Library. 

Saturday, June 9, 9 – 11 a.m. Keep your Vegetable Garden Thriving.  Chicago Botanic Garden. 

Saturday, June 9, 1 - 3 p.m.  Using and Storing Herbs.  Chicago Botanic Garden.

Monday, June 11. 6 p.m. Container Gardening. Aurora Library.  

Saturday, June 16, 9 – 11 a.m. Warm Season Veggies. Chicago Botanic Garden. 

Saturday, June 16, 1 – 3 p.m. Creating Habitat for Birds and Butterflies.  Chicago Botanic Garden. 

Tuesday, Aug. 7. 7 p.m. Container Gardening. South Suburban Garden Club 

Sunday, September 9. 2 p.m. The Gardener as Artist. Chicagoland Daylily Society. The Community House, Hinsdale, IL

Wednesday, October 17. 7 p.m. Container Gardening. Ford Library, Western Springs.

Saturday, October 27. 10-noon. Growing Herbs Indoors and Out. Chicago Botanic Garden.

Saturday, October 27. 1-3. Planning Your Vegetable Garden. Chicago Botanic Garden.   

Saturday, November 10. Gardens of the Roaring 20’s.  9 – 11 a.m. Chicago Botanic Garden

Saturday, November 10. Prairie Flowers for the Home Garden Noon – 2 p.m. Chicago Botanic Garden  



Saturday, January 26. Starting Greens from Seed. Morton Arboretum.

Monday, February 18. Shade Gardening. Garden Club of Hinsdale. 12:30 p.m. Location TBD.   

Saturday, February 23. Growing Tomatoes and Peppers from Seed. Morton Arboretum.  

Tuesday, May 7. Container Gardening. Lake Zurich Garden Club.  7 p.m.


2020 Programs (yes, 2020!) 

April 4, 2020. Key Note speaker for the McHenry County Master Gardeners symposium.  


Other programs (call or email for more information):


From Pen to Print: Local Gardens featured in the Chicago Tribune and Chicagoland Gardening Magazine.  

American Home Garden Design: 1830 to the Present:  Draw inspiration for your own garden from the history of home garden design! We'll look at how home garden design has changed since the Midwest was first settled. Learn more about design evolution, the rise of the suburban lawn movement, foundation plantings, cottage gardens, moon gardens and heirloom plants to name a few. We'll take the best of these design ideas and examine how they can be used in your own garden, no matter what age or style home you own. (This is also offered as a 3- and 6-hour design class.)

The Artful Gardener: Breathing New Life into Your Garden. Thinking outside the Phlox.  Coloring outside the lines.  Yes, you ARE an artist in your garden.  A look at public and private gardens--from the quirky and magical to the elegant innovative (and their creators) -- and the plants and garden art within them. If you need inspiration, this is for you. 



Herbal Tea Gardens

Grow a Cook's Garden 

Create a Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden

Cottage Garden Designs for the Midwest:  

Exuberant gardens overflowing with old-fashioned flowers--that is the vision that comes to mind when we think of cottage gardens. Shrub roses, foxgloves, poppies, forget-me-nots, hollyhocks, vegetables, and herbs all have a place. Discover bed and border designs and plant combinations that can help you get the look of an English-style cottage garden.  

Moon Gardens: What's old is new again

The Gardener as Artist: Designing with Plants & Structures

Growing Edibles: Everything You Want to Know to Harvest Your Own Food 

Simple Pleasures--Inspiration for Gardeners

Gardening in Small Spaces

Containers and Window Boxes: Creating the Wow Factor   

If you're short on space and time when it comes to gardening, consider growing flowers, herbs, and edibles in pots or window boxes. Whether you have a balcony, a deck or small patio, containers provide an opportunity to add color and texture in sun and in shade. Discover how to choose containers and plants for maximum effect. 

Designing with Color, Texture and Form



Questions or Comments?  Email info@thisgardencooks.com


The patio above is planted with Evolution salvia (an All-America Winner selection), sweet alyssum, petunias, red fountain grass, a few pots of Garden Peach tomatoes and basil, lavender and pots of hibiscus and calibrachoa for the many ruby-throated hummingbirds that are present from late April through early October.  The color palette is in mauve, purple, pink, violet, rose, blue and white--a nod to my English mother's design sensibilities.  No reds or oranges here.  Except when you get up to the eggplant-colored arbor, which is surrounded by a deep red salvia--another hummingbird favorite.

Salvia guarantica

Salvia guarantica is my all-time favorite hummingbird nectar plant. It's like Salvia splendens on steroids, sending out its twisty stems in every direction.  The hummingbirds in fall migration are wild for the nectar. Great in containers or in a flower bed in full sun.  Just add sweet alyssum, vinca, zinnias and you're good to go.

Autumn Joy
Sowing Veggies in Late Summer for a Fall Harvest

Observe.  Reflect.  Bloom!

(c) 2017 Nina A. Koziol