Garden Expo offers multiple attractions

Ray Mueller

I've never gone to it and I won't be going this year, but that doesn't mean that the 24th Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison isn't worth attending this weekend.

Hours are 2 to 8 p.m. today (Friday, Feb. 10), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

For persons above age 12 who didn't buy advance tickets at, the admission fees are $10 for one day, $13 for a two-day pass and $18 for a three-day pass. The respective advance prices are $8, $13 and $16. There is also a parking charge at the facility.

If the hundreds of exhibitor booths (from seeds to equipment) and nearly 150 seminars and demonstrations (garden designs to growing practices) during the weekend aren't worth the price of admission, then the appearance of state-wide and nationally known people from the gardening field should make up the difference.

Distinguished guests

Inga Witscher, the host of Wisconsin Public Television's “Around the Farm Table” show, will greet visitors from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. She will also present a demonstration on growing and cooking with garlic.

Another activity on Friday will be a showing of “Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home,” by film maker and producer Catherine Zimmerman. A panel discussion about the role of native plants in the ecosystem will follow.

The Seed to Kitchen collaborative, which is designed to develop vegetable varieties that provide exceptional flavor when being grown is Wisconsin's climate, will be described on Friday and Saturday by University of Wisconsin-Madison horticulture professor Julie Dawson.

Two presentations being given only on Saturday are by Gretchen Mead on the Victory Garden Initiative (3,000 gardens created in the city of Milwaukee since 2009) and by Joe Lamp'l, who is the creator, producer, and host of “Growing a Greener Garden” on the Public Broadcasting Service.

Saturday attendees can pose gardening questions to Extension Service horticulturalists Lisa Johnson and Brian Hudelson. They will be with Larry Meiller, who hosts “Garden Talk” on Wisconsin Public Radio at 11 a.m. on Fridays with a shortened repeat broadcast at 7 a.m. on Saturdays.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Wisconsin resident and nationally-known gardening guru Melinda Myers will be giving presentations. A Sunday special for attendees will be a winter farmer's market during all six expo hours.

Other notables scheduled to be at the expo are Wisconsin's well-known author on rural life Jerry Apps and Joel Karsten, who is an avid promoter of straw bale gardening.

Other attractions include a first-ever aquascaping contest on Friday and Saturday, botanical-themed cocktails and Latin jazz in the Central Garden on Friday evening, and a raffle with a raft of prizes.

As the expo sponsors suggest, enjoy a “spring-like respite” this February weekend in Madison.