Banner image of Tollgate Farm.
MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center

A series of classes on a wide variety of topics for novice and seasoned gardeners, taught by local and regional experts in their field.
Classes are held in the Conference Center, except as noted.
Cost: $20 per class
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EST

Advance registration is required.

See registration link below class descriptions
Space is limited to 60 people per class - please register early.

January 25
– Jan Bills – Landscape Design for Sustainability

February 8 – Janet Macunovich – Prune Trees and Shrubs Like a Pro

February 22
- Rebecca Finneran - Greening the Garden…a Smart Gardener’s Journey

March 8
– Steven Nikkila - Secret to Beautiful Gardens: Not the Green Thumb but the Right Tools

January 25 – Jan Bills – Landscape Design for Sustainability
Reducing waste, toxins, and water consumption in our landscape is always a good idea. It is also appealing to save money and minimize the amount of time and effort needed to maintain a beautiful yard. To manage our outdoor living spaces more sustainably, our choices begin with design. Whether we are starting with a blank slate, or we already have a fully designed landscape, we will walk away from this class with useful strategies for landscaping in 2018. Jan Coppola Bills is a certified landscape designer, advanced master gardener, entrepreneur, the author of Late Bloomer, and contributing writer for State-by-State Gardening magazine. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management.  After a successful career in the corporate world, she traded in her heels for Wellies and started the Detroit-area landscape design company Two Women and a Hoe®. Jan shares her gardening philosophy of comfort, ease and simplicity with her clients and her large online community on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

February 8 – Janet Macunovich - Prune Trees and Shrubs Like a Pro
If you have ever wondered how and when to prune your trees and shrubs to ensure beautiful bloom, good shape, manageable size, and healthy plants, this is the class for you. In it, garden designer and writer Janet Macunovich covers
• Simple, proven techniques for keeping plants within the bounds you set
• How well and how long popular landscape plants hold up to pruning
Winter thaws and early spring are great times to take charge of these plants, and this workshop is a great way to learn hands-on with an expert. You don't even have to know the names of your target plants. Janet encourages you to "Bring a branch!" Clip and bring a limb from each plant you want to trim and she will include those in the "How to." Dress for the weather, as the workshop is conducted outdoors unless it is raining. Bring your hand clippers and a small pruning saw if you have one. Since 1990, Janet has written nine books and hundreds of articles, reaching thousands of gardeners throughout the U.S., Canada, and England. She is a regular contributor to her website, and Michigan Gardener magazine. Her education in horticulture includes extensive coursework through botanical gardens, professional associations, and universities. She completed 25 years as an Advanced Master Gardener through MSU, and has been the owner-operator since 1981 of the garden design and maintenance company Perennial Favorites, serving clients in Michigan and several other states.

February 22 - Rebecca Finneran - Greening the Garden…a Smart Gardener’s Journey
If you love plants and garden design, but find yourself making resolutions to “green your garden,” don’t assume that all things beautiful must be put out to pasture.  By harnessing “Smart Gardening” ideas, you can have beautiful gardens that are environmentally savvy and “smart!”  During Finneran’ s presentation you will get ideas for plants and design that are water smart, pest free, and low input! Rebecca received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with emphasis in Landscape Design from Michigan State University. She has been serving Michigan as MSU Extension Horticulture Educator since 1987, where she helps the green industry and consumers learn about horticulture, our environment, and pesticide safety. Finneran teaches and sponsors numerous consumer horticulture programs across the state and is a prolific writer.  Finneran is currently overseeing an urban display garden in Grand Rapids known as the “Grand Ideas Garden” located at MSU Extension at 775 Ball Ave. NE.

March 8 – Steven Nikkila - Secret to Beautiful Gardens: Not the Green Thumb but the Right Tools
Even the best gardener can save time, energy, muscle strain, and reduce plant stress by using the right tool. Professional gardener, Steven Nikkila opens his own toolbox for your inspection and shares tips for selecting, using, and caring for garden tools. Steven Nikkila has planted, maintained, and photographed gardens and landscapes since 1983 and is co-owner of Perennial Favorites, a garden and landscape design firm. Steven has taught courses on horticultural photography and many other topics at Master Gardener conferences, Perennial Plant Association symposia (, community education organizations, and botanical gardens. He served as a senior instructor for the Michigan School of Gardening from 1996 to 2008. Steven received his degree in Landscape Technology from Oakland Community College in 1989.

MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center
28115 Meadowbrook Road - Novi, MI 48337

 MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact S. K. Rosina Newton at or 248-347-0269 ext. 229. Responses to inquiries will be made on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thank you!