Connecting People & Plants, One Story at a Time

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Current Offerings​

TALKS   

Engaging lectures accompanied by fabulous images


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


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

History's greatest playwrite 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 mounts and mazes, spouting sundials, 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


Drama Queens: Dark Beauties for your Garden

Although defined as the absence of color, black in its many hues can add 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


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 lovers as well as gardeners. 

60 minutes


Growing Great Garlic - offered August - November

In modern times, garlic's primary use is culinary but its fascinating history reveals that Ancient Egyptians swore oaths on heads of garlic and WW I soldiers used it as an antibiotic.  Learn about the various kinds of garlic, sample unusual cultivars and learn how to successfully grow it.  We'll cover morphology,   soil preparation, planting instructions, winter care, spring care, harvest tips and that most important final step that can make or break your long-awaited harvest - curing.  Garlic for planting will be sold.

60 minutes


UP!  A Vertical Vegetable Primer

When space is at a premium, there's only one way to go - UP!  Vertical gardening is not new (think: Hanging Gardens of Babylon) but there are lots of advances to talk about.  You'll be introduced to new vegetables from around the world and meet cultivars of familiar plants like beans and cucumbers. You'll gather many great ideas from unusual trellis materials to shoe bag gardens, from pallet arbors to stacks of hay bales.  Think outside the box in your vegetable garden - think UP. 

60 minutes


Beyond the Potted Palm: Victorians and Their House Plants

The Victorian Era was also England's Golden Age of Plant Exploration.  It was a time when 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


The Green Heart of Beijing: Its Public Parks & Imperial Gardens

Armchair travelers, fasten your seat belts as we take off for Beijing, China to explore its green spaces.  We'll visit the Beijing Botanic Garden, The Old Summer Place and the new one, Jingshan Park, Black Bamboo Park, and many others.  We'll study Chinese garden elements, and better understand how Europe came to embrace the philosophy of Chinese garden design.  Stunning images, taken over numerous trips, delight the eye and give insight into how these precious green spaces are used by Beijing's residents.  A plant list of trees and shrubs native to China, and perfect adding an Asian feel to  Zone 6 and 7 gardens completes this talk. 



WORKSHOPS  

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 offered in late 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 started with an assortment of cut and come again lettuce.

90 minutes


Presherbvation: Saving the Herb Garden's Flavors and Scents in Vinegar, Honey, Sugar and Butter -                                      for groups of 20 max. in July - September

Capture summer’s bounty for your pantry. Make an herbal vinegar, an infused honey, a compound butter and a layered sugar with organically grown herbs. Pack them in a selection of trendy bottles and finish them off with raffia ties and handmade labels. Perfect in your kitchen or as a hostess gift!

90 minutes


Please email me to discuss fees and travel arrangements.