Name: Candice Hart
City of residency: Bloomington
What sparked your interest in teaching horticulture, Candice?
What started it off was a class in high school. There were classes that were offered by my school's agriculture program, so I took this horticulture class and fell in love. I was also thinking that I wanted to teach, so I just decided to combine two interests into one. Plus, I've had an interest in gardening and horticulture since I was about 8 years old.
What's your all-time favorite plant?
There's so many! In general, it would be flowers. They're my favorite thing to grow. Anything flowery is my go-to, and roses are up at the top for me. I love to work with roses in my floral designs I put together for friends.
Any new going on at the extension office's horticulture department?
This fall, we're going to be doing a new hybrid master gardening training class for people interested in learning about gardening. Normally, we do this training in the winter, which is considered an off-season for gardening. We decided to switch it up this year and do it in the fall. We're going to bring in plant samples, and give people a lot of hands-on interaction with plants.
What do you love most about teaching horticulture to others?
It's just really rewarding to see someone get excited about a topic that they may not have heard of before. There's a lot of new possibilities that can come with it. For example, we've started doing a new master gardening project at the Decatur Correctional Center, and it's exciting to see the ladies learn their new skills. These are things that they can learn to help better their lives.
Do you have any go-to spots to check out your favorite plants or landscaping?
Anywhere I'm going, I always search and see if there's a botanical garden in town. I really like Chicago's and Missouri's, but there's also a lot of nice local gems. Peoria has a nice botanical garden, too. You can find a lot of inspiration just by walking among the plants, especially on things that you can do in your own garden. I also love to shop at garden centers to check out the newest varieties.