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Current Offerings​​




Engaging lectures accompanied by fabulous images


Garden History Topics


Beyond the Potted Palm: How Victorians Gave us House Plants

The Victorian Era was also England's Golden Age of Plant Exploration. It was a time when the public's growing interest in natural history and their obsession with "collecting" came together around plants. The variety of house plants available for purchase burgeoned during Queen Victoria's reign.  Ever after, Brits and we Americans have been in love with them. Not only can house plants compliment and enhance any room's decor, but NASA studies confirm their ability to remove indoor air pollution. Learn about many of the plants that populated Victorian parlors, how to care for them and simple ways to bring a Victorian touch to plantscaping your home.

60 minutes


Josephine - The Empress Gardened

French Empress Josephine’s fine taste informed 18th and 19th century style, from couture fashion to interior design.  Likewise, was she influenced by her Caribbean heritage, her narrow escape from the guillotine, and her legendary love for flowers.  When divorced from her husband, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, this powerful style-maker and lifelong fashionista focused her energies on her estate, Malmaison. There, Josephine’s passion for plants grew and bloomed.  Her legendary love of roses stopped a war, cost a fortune, set explorers to sail, and started a floral industry that endures today. 

60 minutes


Suitable for Framing: A Victorian Woman's Place in Botanic Art & Illustration

In 1834, when renowned British botanist John Lindley wrote "A Ladies Botany", he did so to block women from, not welcome them into, the academic world of horticulture. Learn how women figured it out anyway and managed to contribute to science, influence public taste and advance their own craft. The Victorian artists featured range from rebels to spinsters, suffragettes to missionary wives and are highlighted with strikingly beautiful imagery and humor.

60 minutes


Bring the Bard to your Yard: Gardening in the Age of Elizabeth I

History's greatest playwright was also one heck of a gardener. The age of Elizabeth I provided William Shakespeare with a rich and varied plant palette, both from England' s considerable bounty and foreign introductions. These he "planted" in his prolific contributions to English literature, and they still bloom today in language filled with plant lore and flower symbolism. Learn Elizabeth I's role in the advancement of English horticulture and peruse Elizabethan garden elements including mazes, knots, fantastical topiary and the pleached bower to add to your garden. Explore some Tudor and Shakespearean gardens in the UK and the USA to visit for inspiration.  Turns out, the world's not only a stage, it's also a garden!

60 minutes


Medicinal Plants of the Civil War

Could plants have played a role in the outcome of the Civil War?  Learn how important plants were in every aspect of this conflict, on battlefields and home fronts of both the North and the South.  Over 30 plants are discussed and their medicinal properties noted.  "Receipts," or recipes are included for popular herbal remedies such as horehound lozenges and witch hazel tonic. The history of patent medicines is explored and you will meet one of America's most important poets, the first African American physician and the man who revolutionized medical texts.  Audiences are often surprised to see how many "Civil War" plants they are already growing, and the haunting historic images create a compelling tale of interest to history buffs as well as gardeners. 

60 minutes


The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Early American Women and Their Kitchen Gardens

Kitchen gardens in the 1700's fed, healed, and clothed Early American families. The 18th century "huswife" skill set included "physicke, cookery, distillation, perfumery, the making of wool, hemp, flax, dayries, brewing, baking," and,   of course - gardening.  Growing plants both Native American and from their homelands, these women turned their soup pots into the "melting pot" that is America and exemplified all the best qualities of plantswomen and patriots.

60 minutes


We Grew it Here: 100 Years of New Jersey's Horticultural History

Think New Jersey only grows tomatoes?  Think again.  New Jersey was once the pinnacle for peaches, the ultimate for orchids, the tops for turf.  19th century New Jersey plant nurseries led the nation with their innovative breeding, greenhouse, field, and marketing techniques.  Meet the horticultural superstars who made New Jersey their home. Impresarios, hermits, academics, politicos and a cast of unlikely characters will make you a believer - New Jersey is the "Garden State." 

60 minutes


Coming June, 2023

Late Bloomers: Ladies of a Certain Age in the Garden

Some women began their gardening lives early, their hands in the soil as children. Others came to their gardens after careers, divorces, motherhood, and menopause.  Meet some "Late Bloomers" who, instead of throwing in the towel, picked up a trowel.  Late to the garden party, these ladies nevertheless left a green and enduring legacy.

60 minutes


Plant-Centric Topics

Plants of the Bible for your New Jersey Garden

The Old and New Testament are filled with references to plants, many of which will grow here in New Jersey.  These,   like the Cedar of Lebanon tree, as well as plants used in biblical times, like flax, and plants whose names have a biblical association, like the 'Joseph's Coat of Many Colors' rose, are all highlighted in this talk. You can bring meaningful symbolism, remember a favorite passage, or be reminded of stories from the Bible in your garden. We'll also "visit" some Bible Gardens near our area. Every garden needs periodic refreshing, and these plant suggestions add more than mere surface beauty.

60 minutes


Growing Great Garlic 

Ancient Egyptians swore oaths on heads of garlic, early Olympic athletes consumed copious quantities of it, and WW I soldiers used it as an antibiotic.  Now however, garlic is a star ingredient in just about every culture's cuisine.  So, why not grow your own great garlic? Learn about the various kinds of garlic, and which are best for your cooking style. We'll cover soil preparation, foolproof planting instructions, winter care, spring care and summer care, important garlic harvest tips, curing and storage.  A list of garlic vendors will be provided along with information on great cultivars to grow. 

60 minutes


Drama Queens: Dark Beauties for your Garden

Defined as "the absence of color," black in its many hues can highlight, offset and dramatize every real color in your garden. Understand how to use black hued plants for maximum impact . Over 75 dark beauties, including annuals, perennials, vines, trees and shrubs are featured in this compendium of powerful plants. We'll cover their habit and culture, and a useful plant list is provided. To create rhythm, punctuate place, outline areas and focus the eye, nothing works like black. Keep the drama out of your house, and in the garden!

60 minutes


Simply DeVine: The Charm and Surprise of Annual Vines

Vines can be effective screens, provide vertical interest, maintain shade for under plantings and bring color and fragrance where you want it.  Annual vines can grow up to 20’ long in a single season.  This class is recommended for seasoned gardeners with some seed starting experience. Learn about a cadre of start-from-seed annual vines, design tips for using them in your landscape and who they will attract. Beautiful, fragrant, pollinator-attracting - add some charm and surprise to your garden.

60 minutes


Lettuce Begin - Growing Lettuce for your Table

Everything you need to know about growing a successful crop of lettuce (almost) all summer long and well into the fall. Learn why Roman chef Epicus watered his lettuce with wine and why Peter, Flopsy and Mopsy were always asleep in the lettuce patch. Site selection, seed starting, lettuce types, great cultivars, IPM and critter control tips. historic recipes, harvesting and seed saving.  Save some green by growing your own gourmet lettuces.

60 minutes


The Final Act: Your Autumn Garden

There's no reason to simply succumb to pumpkins and potted mums come fall.  Learn how to extend your garden's floristic display by including plants that bloom from August through November.  A selection of perennials, shrubs and trees which come into their own in autumn will be explored and a detailed plant list provided.  Develop a plan to succeed with successive New Jersey appropriate blooms for a fabulous garden "final act" and save those pumpkins for pie!

60 minutes



A rapid fire illustrated talk, followed by an only slightly chaotic hands-on garden project


Kokedama - for groups of 30 max.                                                                                                                                            Learn about these Japanese offshoots of bonsai which are taking the plantscaping world by storm. Encased in a special soil, then covered in a layer of moss and artfully wrapped with twine or string, kokedama may be hung or displayed like artwork.

90 minutes


Pteridomania: The Victorian Love of Ferns - for groups of 30 maximum

What was behind the Victorian love of ferns, which at its height threatened the native fern population of England?  We'll learn all about the Victorian collecting crazes and which ferns are best for New Jersey pteridomanists.   Then, we'll craft a Victorian-style shell pot to hold a tiny fern for your home.

90 minutes


Lettuce Begin: A Lettuce Workshop

for groups of 10-20 in February - April

Learn the history of lettuce from early Egypt to today’s plates. Then, plant a flat of unusual lettuce cultivars for your spring or fall garden. The many shapes, such as oak leaf and deer's tongue and colors from chartreuse to maroon make lettuce a great ornamental choice for spring plantings as well.  So, whether you plan to eat it, or simply admire it, this class will get you off to a great start.

90 minutes


Plant a Herbal Filled Strawberry Jar

for groups of 10-20 in April-May

If you don't have a big herb garden, try an easy to care for and portable strawberry jar that will grow chockablock with herbs. Success is guaranteed with a special watering tube and just the right soil mix. Basil, oregano, sage, thyme and other flavorful herbs are provided, along with the soil mix, watering tube and terracotta cotta strawberry jar.

90 minutes


Herbal Vinegar Workshop

for groups of 10-20 in July - September

Capture summer’s bounty for your pantry in this hands-on workshop in which every participant will make 2 bottles of herbal vinegar. Herbal vinegar can be used in salad dressings, marinades, pickling, velveting, gravlax, sushi rice, all kinds of refreshing summer drinks and even desserts (think grilled peaches drizzled with lavender balsamic vinegar) Add layers of flavor to your cooking with this easy to master skill  Learn how to harvest herbs and prepare them, what equipment to use, savvy techniques and tips, and proper storage.  A recipe handout is provided.                                                                         90 minutes


Saving the Flavor - Every Last Bit

for groups of 10-20 in July - September

What to do with all those herbs at the end of the season? Learn how to dry, freeze, and dehydrate your herbs as well as how to prepare perennial herbs for the long winter ahead.  Which herbs can you take cuttings of to grow in water inside on a sunny windowsill? How do you make herbal butter, herbal sugar, herbal syrup, herbal salt and candied edible flowers?  Get the answers as you sample all of these delicious herbal treats. Get ready to get busy in your late summer herb garden!


Please email me to discuss fees and travel arrangements.


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