Mid-American Gardener Panelists
Dianne Noland, host
Dianne is a horticulture instructor of five courses in the University of Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Since the age of 5, she has enjoyed a life-long love affair with flowers and plants. As an exchange student to Switzerland, Dianne worked with flowers, fruits and vegetables, which increased her interest in horticulture. Dianne received both her bachelor and master of science degrees in horticulture from the U of I and worked for several tree nurseries in central Illinois.
“I teach landscaping, so it’s my vocation,” says Dianne. “But gardening is my avocation. I love to garden and it’s fun to talk about it. Gardeners are interesting people and it's great when we put our heads together to solve gardening problems. My family and I live on 33 acres so I experience many highs and lows with flowers, vegetables, trees, weeds, and insects just like everyone else.”
Her informal style of engaging and encouraging people, whether experienced or novice gardeners, puts callers to Mid-American Gardener at ease. “The viewers are an extension of my classroom,” says Dianne. “My goal is to educate and motivate. I guess education can be entertaining, too.”
Dianne, a frequent speaker throughout the state on gardening, was on the first show in 1992 and a regular guest on Mid-American Gardener before taking over as host in 1999.
A Word With Dianne
WOW! I have always liked flowers and gardening. A daffodil is actually my first memory at age 5. By grade school, I was helping Grandpa Charley plant potatoes in the vegetable garden. He taught me that my foot was the “just right” spacing between spuds. I still use that same technique today.
It is so enjoyable to hear from all of our fellow gardeners on Mid-American Gardener. Gardeners are generous, hard working and lots of fun. I appreciate your plant enthusiasm and that you watch the show!
James E. Appleby
Jim is an entomologist and an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. He teaches a course on the insects and mites of forest and ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. He is particularly interested in the life histories of these creatures. Jim says being a panelist on Mid-American Gardener keeps him informed about current insect problems in the average Illinois landscape and garden.
Sandra Mason is a unit-based horticulture educator with University of Illinois Extension. She provides leadership and expertise in horticulture and environmental programs in Champaign County. Mason has a B.S. in horticulture and a M.S. degree in agricultural education from the University of Illinois.
Sandy uses her expertise in horticulture (flowers, houseplants, vegetables, fruits, lawns, trees and shrubs) to supply answers to questions and educate the public through workshops and other educational programs. She trains and assists in coordinating the Master Gardeners who can then also provide expertise and educational programs to the public. The Idea Garden on South Lincoln Avenue in Urbana is just one example. Mason also provides expertise in composting and landscape waste issues, integrated pest management and proper pesticide use.
In addition to appearing on Mid-American Gardener, Mason appears monthly on WILL-AM’s Focus 580. She can be heard the second Tuesday of the month from 10-11 am. Mason hosts the “In the Garden” segment of WCIA-TV’s The Morning Show each Thursday at 6:50 am and 7:25 am, and also co-hosts WCIA’s Illini Farm and Garden. In addition, she writes the weekly Homeowner's Column for the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette.
Shane is a fifth generation nurseryman and is one of the owners of family run Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana, Ill. His family’s original nursery, Onarga Nursery, was founded in 1865 and is still being run by other family members.
Shane began working with plants in high school at his father’s nursery but it turned from work to love when he joined Country Arbors in 1995 and began to work with the plants in all areas from landscape installation to propagation. As a business owner, Shane majored in finance at the University of Alabama, but says his education in plants has come from touching and talking to them every day for the last 15 years.
Shane can also be seen on various "Talking Dirt" and "In the Garden" segments on ABC. He says he loves the fact that he can make a living doing something he would do for free.
Kaizad is program director and professor of landscape design and horticulture at Parkland College. He teaches landscape design, construction, business management, design graphics and whatever his department can throw at him.
As a native of India, and as a practicing architect there, Kaizad had visions of continuing his design studies in Illinois, where his idol Frank Lloyd Wright had practiced. He came to the University of Illinois and received master’s degrees in landscape architecture and architecture. He found that his interests were more centered on landscape architecture and has held positions in both the public and private sectors of landscape design.
Kaizad is a master gardener, and consults on local and international projects. He was recently honored with an award by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association for outstanding local community service. He was also awarded the “2006 Outstanding Technical Teacher Award” from the American Technical Education Association and the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s “2008 Outstanding Faculty Award.”
A recent noteworthy addition to his achievements includes being a member of the National Design Team whose design was selected for the World Trade Center Heroes Park that will be built near Ground Zero. The park honors and commemorates the heroes of the disaster.
An entomologist with University of Illinois Extension, Phil has statewide responsibilities for pesticide safety education and the integrated pest management of landscape and household insect pests.
Phil and his wife, Carie, live in rural Tolono where they maintain a vegetable garden, flower garden, fruit orchard and a number of water gardens. They also have plantings of butterfly, bee and bird food plants as well as enough trees to make the house almost invisible. They maintain mason bees to pollinate their fruit trees, and grow bonsai. In addition, they have a variety of pets, including native fish kept in aquaria and outdoor ponds.
Bob has taught horticulture for more than 34 years. He began his career at Purdue University and then came to the University of Illinois in 1976. The author of many scientific papers, book chapters, and a collaborator on numerous research programs, he is co-author of two plant patents. Bob has been included on the University of Illinois Incomplete List of Excellent Teachers each semester he has taught for the past 29 years.
He was awarded the senior teaching award for the College of ACES in 1998. He became a founding member of the College of Agriculture's Academy of Teaching Excellence in 1992. In 1996 he received the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit. In 1998 the United States Department of Agriculture awarded him the North Central Regional Award for College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. The University of Illinois awarded him the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education in 1998 and again in 2004. The American Society for Horticultural Science awarded one of his thornless blackberries, “Chester Thornless,” outstanding fruit cultivar for 2002. In 2003 the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture named him their 2003 Central Regional Outstanding Teacher. In 2006, he received the Broderick Allen Award for excellence in Honors Teaching from the University of Illinois. He has received campus-wide awards for guiding both undergraduate (2002) and graduate (2008) research. In 2008 the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture awarded him their highest award, The Teaching Award of Excellence. Bob’s research deals primarily with plant improvement using non-sexual methods including the use of tissue culture.
Judie grew up in Decatur around agriculture and horticulture. “I was one of those people you hear about who had blocks attached to the pedals so I could drive the grain truck and the combine,” she said. She worked in the horticulture department at the University of Illinois in a position equivalent to head grower in the outside world.
After 28 years, she retired and became a charter member of the Champaign County Master Gardeners. In 1993, she went to work for Prairie Gardens where she helps customers with yard and garden projects and conducts workshop. Fair also speaks to community groups and participates in WDWS’s radio call-in program, “Coffee with the Plant Experts.”
Jim is an University of Illinois Extension specialist and pesticide safety educator in the Department of Crop Sciences. Before joining Extension, he worked for many years in the landscape industry, ran his own business and worked as a technical adviser for a Cook County landscape contractor.
Jim’s work for U of I Extension has included being horticulture adviser for DuPage County and n horticulture educator at the Countryside Extension Center. His awards include two Cooperative Extension Service Awards for Innovative Programs, two national awards sponsored by Lesco for horticulture therapy, an Achievement Award and a Distinguished Service Award sponsored by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents as well as their Search for Excellence recognition.
Mike is the City Arborist for Urbana, Ill., one of the charter members of the “Tree City, U.S.A.” program. Mike manages the community forestry program, the landscape maintenance and beautification programs and a countywide Landscape Recycling Center, the first municipal-operated facility established in Illinois.
In addition to his 23 years at the City of Urbana, Mike has also worked in the private tree care industry as well as the Illinois Shawnee National Forest. Mike has a University of Illinois degree in landscape architecture and is a state-licensed Landscape Architect and an International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.) Certified Arborist.
Mike recently initiated the creation of a state-wide public education publication titled “Under the Canopy: A Guide to Selecting, Planting and Caring for Trees in Illinois.” Mike raised $30,000 from public and private organizations for the creation of the piece and has distributed over 80,000 copies of the publication across Illinois in its first year. The “Under the Canopy” publication received nationally recognition in 2008 through the American Public Works Associations Award of Excellence.
Bill Erickson has been designing landscapes in the Champaign-Urbana area for more than 25 years. He is a Registered Landscape Architect with Country Arbors Nursery-Urbana Landscaping Company in Champaign where he focuses on residential and commercial landscape design, estimating and sales. Bill has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois. He is a registered landscape architect with the State of Illinois and is an Illinois Certified Nursery Professional through the Illinois Green Industry Association (IGIA). In 2007, Bill was chosen to represent the IGIA as their Illinois Certified Nursery Professional of the Year and has contributed numerous articles to their monthly publication, Growing Trends.
Bill’s personal interests are rooted in the areas of art and nature. He sees landscape design and construction as a living art form that must be properly understood and implemented. It is his goal as a landscape architect to gather the elements from nature’s design palette into artistic and functional outdoor living environments. His other related interests include sketching, painting and photography.
In 1994, John took the University of Illinois master gardener class, the first offered in Vermilion County. Eager to get the message out that the program existed, the gardeners, including John, started a master gardener radio show on WDAN radio a month or so later with Jean Eisenhauer. John began appearing on Mid-American Gardener a few months later.
He became interested in gardening when he helped his grandfather pick raspberries and vegetables in his garden. “My children and now my grandchildren enjoy helping me in my gardens,” John said.
John and his wife have developed their three acres near Bismarck. When they moved there in 1974, there were no trees or flowers except dandelions in the grass. “We have enjoyed planting over 100 different trees and shrubs and many more types of perennials in our gardens since that time. Each year we also put out a vegetable garden with many varieties. Sun gold are my favorite,” John said.
quot;I continue to learn more about plants each year. When someone asks a question I don't know, I have to find the answer and that helps me expand my knowledge for the next gardener. The more you know, the more you don't know" he said.
Gloria has an Mid-American Gardener panelist for 15 years and a Master Gardener for 16 years. She writes a weekly column for the Danville Commercial News called “My Backyard” and occasionally does a local radio show about gardening for WDAN radio. Her interests are in identifying plants, raising heirloom vegetables and plant care. She teaches landscape design at the Danville Area Community College career lab.
David is a center-based horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension, headquartered in Springfield. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University and a master’s from the University of Illinois. He provides ornamental horticulture programming for approximately 40 counties in central and southern Illinois.
David concentrates on woody ornamentals especially on underplanted, unusual, and under-rated trees and shrubs; as well as emphasis on unique herbaceous perennials. He provides assistant for statewide Master Gardener training, commercial and private pesticide training, and the Certified Arborist program. He has a weekly column in the local Springfield State Journal-Register, as well as a monthly column in a statewide rural electric magazine, monthly radio programs, and a weekly call in on WICS-20 television in Springfield. His recent efforts have included statewide programming for emerald ash borer management and invasive species.
He tries to pack as many plants in his yard as possible, continually removing more of the front lawn (the back lawn was lost four years ago) to plant more trees, shrubs, and flowers, all surrounded by stone walls and containers of color.
Doug is a doctoral student in the landscape architecture department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds a bachelor’s degree ornamental horticulture from UIUC and an master’s in landscape architecture from Cornell University. His professional vocation includes both public and private work ranging from the intricacies of floral design to city and regional planning. Doug has taught landscape architecture at the undergraduate and graduate level. One of his most enjoyed design experiences was designing a memorial garden for the George Washington Carver National Monument while working within the National Park Service.
Working with Master Gardeners and inspired by his grandfather who grew a community garden in his backyard, he became aware of the importance of working with the land. Renovation projects to convert abandon lots into community gardens, participation in neighborhood garden walks, and doing odd landscape/home gardening jobs provided the Chicago native with a rudimentary understanding of horticulture. His design philosophy is inspired by the likes of W. H. Whyte, J. B. Jackson, Ian McHarg, Walter Hood, Rachel and Robert Kaplan. Currently his research focus is on the relationship between social capital and community gardens.
Jim is the Illinois State Climatologist at the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Institution of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He divides his time between doing applied research and outreach/education on climate issues facing Illinois. He maintains an extensive archive of historical climate data dating back to the mid-1800s. He works on a website and blog with information useful to gardeners – things like maps of normal temperatures and rainfall, drought conditions, and snowfall as well as data for specific sites. Jim is available to field questions from individuals and gives frequent talks around the state.
Naturally, Jim has a long-time interest in the impacts of weather and climate on the garden. “Every year the weather in Illinois brings new challenges to gardening, as a result I’m always learning new things in my garden,” says Jim.
While Dyke was working on his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois in Ornamental Horticulture, his advisor, Dianne Noland, was responsible for introducing him the world of perennials and grasses. In addition, Dyke has a master’s degree in Earth Literacy with a specialization in using native plants and environmental sustainability.
Dyke is the owner of Barkley Farms Nurseries located in Paris, Ill., established in 1992 on the family farm. His nursery is known for growing and propagating hundreds of perennials, ornamental grasses, flowering shrubs, and trees. The two acres of display gardens are used for showcasing new and underused plants for not only testing purposes but for inspiration as well. He is currently trialing 80 types of ornamental grasses which are a personal passion, and one he loves to talk about.
Dyke was responsible for the creation of the Horticulture/Landscaping program at Lake Land College. He currently is the instructor of horticulture and agro-ecology courses. Dyke has spoken to many groups and seminars as well as taught Master Gardener classes in the two-state area. His favorite pastime is to get people enthused about planting plants. He is a self-proclaimed plant geek, and his students would agree he loves to talk about plants.
Ella graduated from the University of Illinois in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in ornamental horticulture. She began her career at Getz-Edgemor Nursery in Morton, where she worked for seven years. She started at Hoerr Nursery in Peoria in 1989 and is currently the assistant manager of horticulture education in the garden center.
In 1991, Ella became a Certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. In 1993, through the Illinois Green Industry Association, she became an Illinois Certified Professional (ICN Pro). Ella has also been a Tazewell County Master Gardener since 2004. She is a member of several local garden clubs and plant societies and this knowledge lends to her expertise and career at Hoerr Nursery.
Scott has been a Ball Horticultural Company sales consultant since 2002. He travels to visit greenhouses and garden centers in all of central and northern Illinois advising them on what’s new in annuals and perennials as well as giving cultural advice to help growers produce great looking crops. Scott is also a product manager for the Burpee Home Gardens line of annuals and vegetables. His role is to help source new varieties for the national brand of live plants found in garden centers across the country.
Scott has a bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture from the University of Illinois in Urbana. He got started in gardening at a young age in the vegetable garden with his parents and grandparents. “I think everyone in my family had a vegetable garden with some flowers in it. It’s like it was meant to be.” In high school and college Scott worked for a wholesale produce farm growing over 80 acres of vegetables, melons and small fruits. After college, Scott managed Growing Grounds Garden Center in Bloomington, Ill., before joining Ball.
Nancy Pataky has lived in Champaign since 1974, raising four children (with her husband) and working at the University of Illinois. Except for a two-year period in the 1980s, she was the director/coordinator of the University of Illinois Plant Clinic from 1977 until her retirement Aug. 1, 2010. Nancy is an ornamental horticulturalist (BS) and plant pathologist (MS) by training and has developed diagnostics as her specialty.
Nancy was a major author for the University of Illinois Home, Yard, and Garden Pest Newsletter, covering common plant disease problems as well as the exotic and invasive diseases. She taught plant pathology to countless Illinois master gardeners over the years and will miss their enthusiasm for learning.
Retirement has allowed Nancy more time to work in her neglected gardens and landscape. She is reminded daily of how much work this can entail but still considers it a dream job. She is currently contemplating her next phase in life. It will definitely involve plants, but maybe not diseased ones.
Mary Ann Metz
Bill Vander Weit