Connecting People & Plants, One Story at a Time

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Current Offerings​​

Please see the Schedule of Talks page for Covid-19 updates


Engaging lectures accompanied by fabulous images

Garden History Topics

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

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

When renowned British botanist John Lindley wrote "A Ladies Botany" in 1834, 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

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

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.

60 minutes

Plant-Centric Topics

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 updated 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.  Learn about a cadre of simple to 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

Coming Spring, 2021

The Final Act

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 room or don't want a big herb garden, try a easy to care, adorable and portable strawberry jar filled 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

Presherbvation: Saving the Herb Garden's Flavors and Scents in Vinegar, Honey,      Sugar, Butter                                                                                             for groups of 10-20 in August - 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.