Garden clubs all over the state have been passing the word around. Mike Nowak is funny. He’s also knowledgeable and packs more information into a handout than most people get into a full-length book. But sometimes, if you’ve just had a really good lunch, “funny” can be the most important thing.
Contact Mike for availability and fees.

I’m Not Really a Garden Expert, I Just Play One on the Radio

(1 hour plus Q & A)
Except for the fact that he has a radio show, Mike Nowak is probably a lot like you and your gardening friends. That is to say, he stumbled onto gardening somewhere in mid-life and has never looked back (except to see what he tripped over). Since then, he’s interviewed dozens of horticultural experts–some famous, some not, some controversial, some cranky, some strange–who have taught him valuable lessons about gardening, environmental responsibility and life. WARNING FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK A SENSE OF HUMOR: This presentation may not be entirely serious! (Heck, even the pictures are funny.)

Good Planets are Hard to Find

(1 hour plus Q & A)
Like many of you, Mike Nowak has been around to observe the successes and failures of the environmental movement in its short history. There’s some gardener out there right now asking, what in the world does that have to do with me? As a founder of the Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association and president of Chicago Recycling Coalition, Mike will answer that question, presenting new ways of looking at pests, pathogens and low-impact gardening solutions and, in the process, perhaps persuading you that ants, grubs and yes, even slugs, are less threatening than you ever imagined. (This is one is not much more serious than the other, at least in style.)


What the Heck Are You Doing To My Yard?

Questions You Should Ask Your Landscaping Professional to Get an Environmentally Friendly Yard

(1 hour plus Q & A)
Many of us want other people to do some or all of our gardening for us, so we hire designers and installers and sometimes just maintenance and lawn care types. Often the only question that gets asked is “How much is it going to cost?” while questions like “What chemicals do you use?” and “Is that design going to raise my water bill?” and “How much is it going to cost a year from now?” get left out of the equation. Mike takes the knowledge he’s gained as co-founder and president of the Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association (MELA – and teaches you how to arm yourself with questions that make sense and that will help you protect your investment–and your small patch of Earth. As always, don’t be surprised if Mike throws in a joke or a funny bit along the way.


Guys on Grass (or Organic Lawn Care 101

(1 hour plus Q & A)
As a die-hard gardener, Mike’s philosophy about lawns can be summed up in this phrase: “When in doubt, rip it out.” Yet, as a radio show host, he knows that people love their lawns, so his compromise is to preach the gospel of organic lawn care. He notes that 68% of consumers say that their concern for the environment is a consideration when buying lawn and garden products. Yet these same people are the ones who are afraid of what their neighbors will think if they don’t  have a lawn that looks like a golf course fairway.  In this talk, Mike looks at why the concept of the “perfect lawn” is so harmful, starting with that lock-step mentality and moving on to the use of synthetic fertilizers and pervasive pesticides. He explains how some simple cultural practices can be just as effective as expensive chemicals to keep your lawn green and healthy. He shows you why what’s in your soil is at least as important as what’s above it. And he dares to ask the question, “Why are weeds so bad?” (Hint: they’re not.)

That Ain’t No Way to Treat a Tree

(1 hour plus Q&A)
Mike Nowak is not really an arborist. He just plays one on the radio. Actually, for the past ten years, first on WGN and now on WCPT 820AM, Mike has functioned more as a clearing house/conduit/confidant/voice of reason for the kinds of people you run into every day. That is to say, folks who are clueless not only about trees, but about most living plant material. Yes, that can be frustrating, but it can also make you laugh…when you’re not crying or beating your head against the side of a garage. Opting for comedy over tragedy, Mike looks at the funnier side of misinformation, misunderstanding and miscommunication when it comes to the average American’s knowledge of the magnificent plants we call trees