AMES, Iowa – For many gardeners and Iowans, trees are an especially important part of the landscape. Trees can be a significant investment and add environmental, aesthetic and even sentimental value wherever they are planted. As a reflection of this, the theme of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 2024 Garden Calendar is “Tree Care.” The calendar makes an excellent gift and can be purchased from the Extension Store for $8.
Aaron Steil, consumer horticulture specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said this year’s theme was inspired by the tree questions he frequently receives from home horticulturists.
“Every year, we try to have a different garden-related theme for the calendar,” he said. “Almost 30% of the questions I get are about trees. Trees are important to a lot of homeowners; they’re a big investment in both time and money and can become quite sentimental. Folks are really interested in making sure they take good care of their trees.”
The calendar, which is a collaborative effort between ISU Extension and Outreach horticulturists and the Agriculture and Natural Resources communications team, features extension resources, tree care tips and seasonal garden reminders, in addition to 12 different tree images.
“For the 2024 calendar, our communications team partnered with professional nature photographer Lynn Long,” said Micki Nelson, graphic designer with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Her technical expertise and artistic eye results in unique, vivid imagery, which has added great value to this year’s publication.”
Long resides in Minnesota, is a published author and has been featured in a number of regional art exhibits, magazines and publications.
While Steil noted that this year’s pictures were stunning, he particularly resonated with the cover image, which features an Eastern redbud in full bloom.
“Redbuds are beautiful trees in the spring, and they’re a great small, flowering tree for the home landscape,” he said. “They’re also a tree that’s well liked and well represented on Iowa State University’s campus.”
To produce a high-quality final product, the preparation begins early.
“We start almost a year in advance,” he explained. “Once we have our theme picked, we determine what tips or information we will include for each month. We try to make sure that the information we present aligns with what is going on out in the garden for that month. For example, June features recommendations for managing suckers on trees, since June is when you would typically do that work.”
“One of the nice things about the garden calendar is that it has tips throughout the year, so we try to add those next, and make sure we have an even distribution of different topics spread throughout the year,” he said.
Nelson said that this year’s calendar is also unique since it incorporates monthly QR codes, which provide additional educational content. “The QR codes that have been added to each month make the calendar more interactive than it has been in the past,” she said. “The codes lead users to other extension products, including associated videos or additional extension publications.”
As the holidays approach, Steil said the calendar is an ideal gift for gardeners of all experience levels.
“One of the things that makes this calendar a great gift for a gardener is that calendars like this can work really well as garden journals as well as calendars,” he said. “It’s often good to write notes about what’s going on in your garden throughout the year, which you can refer to in future years to know what to expect.”
Shareable photo: Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) in bloom.