Winter – time for all good gardeners to go to school



The holidays are over – goody.  Now it’s time for workshops, classes, all-day seminars, slide shows – all

about plants and soil and creating beauty in nature.  Hey, I’m there!  Here’s what I’ve signed up for (so far):

Sponsored by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, an all-day Seminar about Sustainable Landscapes, covering the issues of zero waste, right plant/right place, permeable paving, rain gardens, and the Sustainable Sites Initiative itself.  GOBS for me to write about here on the Rant and back home on my blog.  I begged a press pass to this $79 event and guess what – it worked!

And at Green Springs Garden in Northern Virginia, 2 lectures, $10 each: "Survival in the National Garden", which is an update on the National Garden with Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden and popular local speaker.  And Jeff Lowenfels, author of Teaming with Microbes:  A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, a much-praised book I admit I haven’t read yet.   

SO, fellow students, what classes are you taking?


  1. There’s a course about native flora to start at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University in nearby Wolfville which I might sit in on for a couple of classes, but I’ve misplaced the info! The other thing I plan to do is sign up for PlantWatch this year; I keep saying I’m going to do it every year, and every year I forget. It’s a part of Naturewatch, is free, something everyone can enjoy, and I really oughta write about it!

  2. No classes, but lots of books, first and foremost ‘Alien Species and Evolution: the Evolutionary Ecology of Exotic Plants, Animals, Microbes, and Interacting Native Species’ by George Cox.

    I had a look at the Sustainable Sites Initiative preliminary report (available as a 100+ page PDF at their site) and was rather disappointed that it is aimed not at the homeowner but at the landscaper, architect, site developer, etc. There are some good ideas in the report (like recycling water from washing machines for gardening purposes) but ways of modifying existing systems are lacking. It’s all about building a sustainable site on fresh turf, which seems contradictory to containing sprawl.

  3. I posted yesterday about Blithewold’s winter classes – we’ve got everything from Bonsai training to African Violet care; from bee keeping and honey tasting to a bus trip to Smith College. I hope they’re all well attended and I’m actually considering staying late at work and coming in on Saturdays to attend them! I love winter for the educational opportunities – we always go the RI Nursery and Landscape Assoc. conference (like NE Grows in miniature) and one or two other fun lectures. Last year we saw Fergus Garrett speak at Mass. Hort – it’ll be hard to find something to top that…

  4. Well, I MIGHT be taking Master Gardener’s classes if they were held at a time when I could. Actually I think the program is on hiatus here anyway.

    The Botanical Gardens holds some OK classes but I think I would learn more by volunteering there.

  5. A fellow writer told me of an environmental issues writing class at our local community college but danged if I can find it in their current catalog.

    I hope to squeak in a few Master Gardener classes, too. I went through the program in ’96 but it never hurts to go back for refreshers, to see what’s new and to see where the program is heading.

    I wish I had more options but I’m in gardening knowledge limbo at present. Classes that suit my needs are few and far between. I’m beyond the basics. Local university classes sound intriguing but aren’t quite the right fit either. I’m not interested in a degree and tuition can be quite steep for me. I’m an info-maniac in need of info.

  6. Does anyone have recommendations for on-line classes? This might expand my options as well as be a good fit for my wacky freelancer schedule.

    I’ve taken two on-line classes with mixed results. One was an intro to writing for magazines. That wasn’t satisfactory; a bit too much fluff and gloss and not enough constructive guidance. The other was a grammar refresher course; both course and instructor were excellent.

  7. The Department of Horticulture at Cornell University (full disclosure: I work there) offers online courses in Plant Propagation, Organic Gardening and a new course that’s an Introduction to Botanical Illustration that starts Jan. 21.

    There’s more info here:

    The instructor is Marcia Eames-Sheavly, whose Art of Horticulture class was recently featured by Julie over at the Human Flower Project:

  8. I’d take plant physiology this semester at my local university. Depending on the semester, there’s nearly always something garden-related I could take: there’s also a landscape ecology course offered this semester, a course in range and forest management, and other offerings in other years include courses in wetlands ecology, environmental pollutants, soils, soil physics, hydrology, geology, local flora, and entomology. Those are the courses I haven’t taken–lots of chemistry, biology, ecology and biochemistry courses are also available.

  9. I’m starting the Certificate in Horticulture program at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this Spring. (Their Winter classes were already filled.) I haven’t been in a classroom outside of work in about 20 years, so I’m taking it easy. I’m starting with Botany for Horticulturists, which should be easy for me.

  10. Hey, Susan, how come you haven’t read Teaming yet? Now is the time to read! Don’t let another season go by without Teaming!

    Cheers and thanks for the mention of the lecture.
    Jeff Lowenfels

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