Over 1,000 garden pros are coming to Overland Park. Come join the fun, plant lovers

The International Master Gardener Conference is coming to the Kansas City area in June, and it promises to be one of the biggest gardening events ever held in the metro. Gardeners might be curious to learn more about the conference — as well as the role of a master gardener.

Master gardeners are volunteers trained in collaboration with the land grant universities to provide educational information and assist Extension in their communities. Locally the Extension Master Gardener program (EMG), is sponsored by the University of Missouri Extension and Kansas State.

Gardeners who want to expand their knowledge and give back to their community make great EMGs. The program starts with basic training. Call it a mini-university experience.

Once training is complete, EMG volunteers help maintain demonstration gardens, answer lawn and garden questions, work with youth and so much more. All area programs will hold training sessions later this summer and fall. If you are interested in joining the EMG program in your county, contact the county Extension office in Missouri or in Kansas for more details.

Master Gardeners from Kansas and Missouri are preparing for the International Master Gardener Conference, coming to the Kansas City area June 18-22.
Master Gardeners from Kansas and Missouri are preparing for the International Master Gardener Conference, coming to the Kansas City area June 18-22.

Now that you know more about the EMG program, let’s turn our attention to the International Master Gardener Conference (IMGC). This event, designed for EMGs across the United States and Canada, is the ultimate professional development conference. Johnson County EMGs will host the 2023 IMGC from June 18 to 22 at the Overland Park Convention Center.

The conference includes tours, interactive workshops, renowned speakers and a trade show. This is the first time this conference has been held in the Kansas City metro. More than 1,100 garden enthusiasts will descend on the Kansas City area to participate. Conference-goers hail from 43 states, two Canadian provinces, and two will even be coming from London, England.

The goal of the Johnson County EMGs, when they bid to host, was to showcase our Kansas City community, our excellent quality of life and our Midwest hospitality. Your local EMGs do great work to help make KC greener, and we want others to appreciate those efforts.

Another goal was to provide local gardeners with opportunities to participate. We designed several activities accompanying the conference as open to the public.

The Tour of Private Gardens offers a rare opportunity to view six outstanding top private gardens, usually closed to the public. These gardens showcase the variety of beauty in our city. From small city lots to acreage, from suburbs to inside the city, from formal to casual, you’ll find inspiration to return home to your garden.

Evening speakers include three nationally and internationally known speakers. Learn about gardening in England from Kew Gardens Horticulturist Leigh Hunt. Travel along the monarch migration route with local author Sara Dykman. And learn garden design tips from bestselling author Dan Hinkley.

The Garden Thyme Marketplace features more than 90 garden-related vendors. The trade show at the Overland Park Convention Center is free and open to the public. Browse and shop nature-inspired crafts or unique plants for the garden.

We are ready to roll out the red carpet for all our attendees. Join us at our public events, which are sure to inspire. Complete information on the IMGC public events can be found at www.johnson.ksu.edu.

Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Need help? Contact the Johnson County Extension gardening hotline at 913-715-7050 or email garden.help@jocogov.org.