Portage Community Garden Fundraiser Jan 19

Portage Community Garden is having its 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fund Raiser Jan 19th from 3-7PM at Real Life Community Church 3134 Swanson Road, Portage. Tickets available contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Phil Graham 219-973-1877.
Fazoli's is co sponsor so food is great. $10 adults, $5 children under 12( $1 more at the door) Last year we raised over 4000 lbs of organic vegetables for food banks, homeless shelters, Salvation Army , and needy families in NW Indiana. See you there and thanks for your support.


Spring Master Gardener Course

The Purdue Extension Master Gardener course is to be offered over a 13 week period from February 24th to May 19th, 2014.

Schedule:        9:00 AM – 12 Noon Monday

Location:         Purdue North Central – Porter County

                        600 Vale Park Road

                        Graduate Building – Room 124

                        Valparaiso, IN 46385

This course will cover basic gardening and horticultural topics for the motivated gardener with an interest in sharing information and helping others.  The faculty of Purdue University and other local institutions will participate. 

Eligible participants and costs:  Porter County residents will have priority in enrollment.  The cost is $200.00 for the course.  The class size will be limited due to size of available facilities. 

Course Coordinator – Lyndsay Ploehn, Purdue Extension, Porter County.   

219 465 3555


Seminars at the 11th Annual Gardening Show

Hirvela Photo

Valparaiso, IN, Jan. 8, 2014 – Former garden editor and writer for Martha Stewart Living magazine Stacey Hirvela is the keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Gardening Show on Sat., Jan. 25.  Hirvela, now the Proven Winners Shrub Specialist will present, “The Elegant Shrubs,” beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Porter County Expo, 215 E. Division Rd., Valparaiso, IN.  A host of seminars and demonstrations follow throughout the day:

10:30 am
"A to Z of Landscape Questions You Forgot to Ask"
Amanda Thomsen, Author, "Kiss My Aster" followed by book sales and signing at 11:30

"How We Reclaimed Wolf Lake"
Gregg Calpino, SEH Award-winning Landscape Architect

11:30 am
"Welcome Spring with Hosta, Heuchera and Hellebore"
Greg Stack, University of Illinois Extension Educator

12:30 pm
"150 Ways to Create a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You" Amanda Thomsen

1:30 pm
"Instant Gratification Spring Container"
Jennifer Brennan, ABC-TV Channel 7 Horticulture Correspondent

"Wetlands - the Ordinary and the Extraordinary"
Victoria Jostes, Lake County Master Gardener

2:30 pm
"Edible Ornamentals"
Jennifer Brennan

"Choosing the Right Tree for Your City Yard"
Gina Darnell, Urban Forester and Forest Resource Planner

Demonstrations Schedule

11:30 am
Worm Composting
Abe Paluch, Outreach Educator
Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County

12:30 pm
Butterfly Conservation at Home
Dolly Foster, Lake County Master Gardener

1:30 pm
Caring for Your Garden Tools
Mike Barrett, Alternate Plan Landscape Service

2:30 pm
Butterfly Conservation at Home
Dolly Foster

The 11th Annual Gardening Show will be held 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST (Chicago time) on Sat., Jan. 25.  This award-winning event features presentations by national, regional and local gardening experts, special lodging & dining packages, a seed & bulb exchange, garden photography contest, children's corner, food service by Suzie’s Café and Tate’s Place, and 100 exhibitors and vendors of products and services for and about gardens and gardening.  Admission is $10, children under 12 free, free parking and door prizes.  For more info visit

Photo:  Stacey Hirvela, presently with the marketing team for Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs, will share her love of gardening with attendees at the 11th Annual Gardening Show.  Hirvela is a graduate of University of Michigan and the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.


2nd Annual Rain Barrel Design Competition in Porter County

Schools, classes invited to compete in rain barrel design contest

Porter County –Schools in Porter County are invited to participate in the second annual Rain Barrel Design Competition, sponsored by the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County in cooperation with Porter County MS4 communities.

Teachers interested in participating must register for the competition on by Jan. 31.

This year, the contest will feature a semi-final judging event at the Porter County Government Administration Building in Valparaiso. The finalists will move on to compete against barrels designed by classes and schools in Lake and LaPorte Counties at the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration on April 19!

Winners at the Earth Day Celebration will take home classroom cash scholarships.

“Thanks to the Lake County Solid Waste Management District and the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District for spearheading the barrel contests in their counties, we will truly have a tri-county contest at this year’s Earth Day event,” said Donna Stuckert, public education coordinator for the district.

Participants will receive a rain barrel that they can paint or decorate with environmentally-friendly materials to illustrate an environmental theme.

All schools, public and private, and all grades are invited to participate Limitations include one barrel per school.

For more information, contact Donna at the District, 219-465-3819.


Taltree Announces Snowman Building Competition

Taltree Arboretum & Gardens snowman building competition now through March 2, 2014

Valparaiso, IN – Taltree Arboretum & Gardens is hosting a snowman building competition now through March 2, 2014. 

In order to participate, snowman entries must be built onsite at Taltree. Participants should take a picture and submit their entry via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with the following information: name, phone, snowman title, date built and Taltree location description. All competition submissions must be received by Monday, March 3, 2014 to qualify.

On March 5, all entries will be posted to Taltree’s Facebook fan page – – for fans to vote for their favorite snowmen. Facebook fans will have 48 hours to vote. The entry with the most Likes will win a one-year family membership. 

The winner will be announced on Friday, March 7. The free one-year family membership provides unlimited admittance into Taltree for two adults and all children under 17 years old, plus, four one-time complimentary passes. Membership benefits also include Taltree educational and event program discounts and reciprocal admission privileges to other North America arboretums and gardens.

“If it snows, this is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” said Alexis R. Faust, President and CEO of Taltree Arboretum & Gardens. “This is just the beginning of the family fun activities we have planned for this year.”

During the winter months, the arboretum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Member entry is free. Non-member entry is $10 per vehicle for up to 5 people.

Taltree is located at 450 West 100 North, Valparaiso, IN 46385. For competition rules and more information, visit or call 219-462-0025.

Recently voted Best of the Region, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens is a 360-acre, dog-friendly oak preserve of formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands and prairies that offers a variety of events, classes and exhibits. Taltree is open year round. All proceeds received power Taltree’s restoration, conservation and education initiatives.

Taltree is located at 450 West 100 North, near Valparaiso, Indiana in Northern Indiana, just south of U.S. 30, approximately 15 minutes east of Interstate 65. For more information, visit or follow Taltree on Twitter at @TaltreeArb and Facebook at


Recycle Your Living Christmas Tree at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in January

Valparaiso, IN – Taltree Arboretum & Gardens will be recycling Christmas trees from January 2 through January 12, 2014. Taltree will be converting the trees into trail mulch to benefit guests.

“Utilizing Christmas trees as a renewable path material is a win-win for the environment and for our guests,” said Alexis R. Faust, President and CEO of Taltree Arboretum & Gardens. “This is just one of the many recycle-reuse-reduce programs that we offer.”

Donated trees must be free of all decorative materials, including ornaments, hooks, tinsel, nails, lights and stands. For the safety of the wildlife, removal of these non-organic items, especially tinsel, is extremely important.

Christmas tree drop-off is at Taltree’s construction entrance, located at 440 W. 100 North, Valparaiso. The drop-off area will be marked with a sign, and people are asked to place trees in the designated area only. Drop-off is available 24 hours a day from January 2 through January 12. This program is sponsored by Simko Signs in Valparaiso. For more information, visit or call 219-462-0025.


Tree Decorating Naturally Dec 7

Tree Decorating Naturally will be held at Gibson Woods Nature Preserve on Saturday, December 7 from 1 to 3 p.m.  This is a free program but please call to register at 219-844-3188.  Individual sign ups only (no groups)

Decorating the Gibson Woods holiday tree with “natural” ornaments has been a tradition for many years. Stop by the Environmental Awareness Center anytime between 1 and 3 to take part in this annual gathering. Many unique decorations can be made out of simple items found in nature. Acorns, pinecones, seedpods, and other dried materials will be available and you are welcome to bring your own to share. Make an ornament for the Gibson Woods tree and another to take home. Enjoy holiday music and stop by the “Bird Room” to see who’s visiting the feeders.


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