CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

This 2-day workshop explores the critical connections between soil, bugs, plants and sustainable practices, plus the many healthful benefits of gardening.

Friday, March 3 - Practical Sessions at various locations offer interactive, hands-on demonstrations, both indoor and in the garden.

Saturday, March 4 – Keynote plus a full day of sessions with select classes live-streamed. Choose from Focused Classes or attend Themed Sessions featuring presentations on related topics followed by a Q&A.

 
Harvey Brenneise
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The Joy of Growing and Blooming Orchids at Home

Orchids are mostly exotic tropical plants that will often grow well and bloom in modern houses as houseplants. The class will focus on practical issues for making this possible and how they are different from terrestrial (dirt-based) plants. By the end of the class, participants will understand issues of temperature, water, light, fertilizers, growing media and other issues of growing them at home. The class will provide the most benefit for participants with basic knowledge of growing houseplants in traditional media.

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Barb Faville
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The Trees of Meerkerk

Meerkerk Gardens is known for rhododendrons, but what about all its trees? The class provides an in-depth discussion of these specimens, including the meaning of their botanical names and their use as crowning elements in gardens. We will review the use of botanical nomenclature as a tree identification tool, offer greater appreciation of Meerkerk trees in their relationship to other trees, and provide interesting facts about them that leave you yearning to find a place for one or two in your garden.

The class is co-taught with June Davis.

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Bess Bronstein
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Tough Trees (and a Few Shrubs) for Tough Times

Summers in the maritime Pacific Northwest are changing, and not for the better where our gardens are concerned. Plants that used to handle our more typical summers are now suffering from longer periods of higher temperatures and little to no precipitation. Learn which ornamental and native trees and shrubs require less water to successfully grow and even thrive in these tougher times. We will also focus on plants that need less maintenance or pest and disease management.

This class is beneficial to everyone, whether you are an experienced gardener who is ready to revamp your decades old landscape, or a beginner who is focused on creating a truly sustainable garden for today. There are so many great plants to choose from, so stop dragging hoses around all summer and re-imagine your garden!

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Rachel Brooks
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An Introduction to Forest Health

Come learn about basic forest health concepts, including how to identify important diseases and pests you might see on your trees, as well as possible management options to deal with these issues. Samples to help with identification will be shared.

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Trevor Cameron
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Sensational Spring Shrubs

Are you looking to add more spring color to your garden? Spring-blooming shrubs provide colorful flowers and foliage to welcome a new gardening season in our Pacific Northwest gardens. We will discuss some extraordinary newer rhododendrons and azaleas as well as many other useful classic shrubs that shine in the spring season. Traits we will emphasize include bright new growth, variegation, fragrance and of course flowers. Both broadleaf evergreens and deciduous beauties will be covered for all locations in our landscapes. Join us and explore some of the best shrubs for both spring flower and foliage.

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Jessica Dahl
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Thinking Outside the Box!

What is the key to creating a beautifully productive garden? Thinking beyond your raised beds! This class will briefly outline design principles for siting an edible garden and then dive into concepts for boosting both the production and aesthetics of your garden by integrating it into the surrounding area. Participants will glean ideas ranging from making structural additions to selecting perennial plants for improving their edible garden via its surrounding area.

This is a great class for anyone who is building a new edible garden or is interested in improving their existing edible garden, both aesthetically and productively, by implementing changes to their larger landscape. This class will build on the information presented in the themed session on attracting pollinators, but it is not critical that participants attend both.

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Marcia Dillon
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Secrets for a Bounty of Tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest

We will cover all aspects of growing great tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest, from seed to harvest. We will also discuss mitigation strategies for climate challenges and reveal our trial garden winners from the Bellevue Demonstration Garden.

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Travis Furlanic
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Cultivating Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great to add to your garden not only for the food they provide you but for the nutrients they unlock from organic matter and the carbon dioxide they release into your crops for healthier plants! In this class, you will learn the basics of cultivating gourmet mushrooms from home.

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Focused  Classes
Sue Goetz

Landscape Design with Herbs for Pollinator Support

The aroma, color, and texture of herbs are beautiful and purposeful for use in pollinator garden designs. Get tips on how to design a garden that is bee-friendly and attracts other pollinators. Learn about techniques to add plantings to existing borders and gardens. Get a list of the best plants to grow and all you need to know for a healthy, sustainable, and colorful garden.

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Mara Grey

Less Water, More Blooms

Did you know that you can grow over forty types of drought-tolerant annuals? Plus perennials from over 150 genera, not counting species and varieties? You will receive a list of these plants and learn how to set up your garden, how to push plants to the limit of their drought tolerance, and how to water most effectively.

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Charlie Seablom

Marine and Shore Plants

Do you walk the beaches of Whidbey Island and wonder what plants you are passing near the shore? Do you want to learn how to identify common marine and shore plants and learn how to key using identification books? Learn with a mixture of plant terminology, common locations, and pictures for identification, with hands-on materials, such as ID books, and plant species which are available during the class.

The class is co-taught with Susan Mador.

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Don Krafft

Garden Black Gold: Convenient truths about home composting

This class will cover a basic technical description of the composting process and materials, along with the challenges and choices that gardeners face. We will look at how to make compost, including composting input feedstock, where to compost, hot vs. cold composting, trouble-shooting, and using the final composted product. This will be an interactive session with questions and comments welcome throughout the discussion.

The objective of the class is to enhance gardeners’ understanding of the composting processes, challenges, and benefits with a focus on practical considerations for the home composter.

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Paul Kusche

Dahlias - More Than Just a Pretty Flower

Whether you dig and divide or just leave them in the ground for next spring, it is good to learn about dahlias, how to grow and care for them, and the role they play for pollinators. You will learn about the different classifications of dahlias, how each can support your late summer desire for blooms, and also support the pollinators that frequent them. Bring your questions and your enthusiasm so we can have a conversation, but most of all bring your love for the flower that brightens our gardens from August to October.

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Annika McIntosh

Grow your Own Bouquet

Growing a cut flower garden certainly checks all the boxes of “Beauty, Bounty and Benefit!” This class will present easy plants to grow for blooms and foliage throughout the growing seasons, looking at a variety of “woodies,” perennials, annuals, hardy annuals and biennials, and succulents. We will touch on soil, layout, and environmental requirements but focus more on texture, form, and color schemes. We will also address the nitty gritty of attributes of a good cut flower and tips for cutting, conditioning, and arranging for best vase life.

We will wrap up with a demonstration of a vased arrangement and a spiral hand-tied bouquet, along with a discussion of the many ways to think outside the box with unusual cuts, the local flower movement, wearable flowers, and sustainable floristry.

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Deb Mitchell

Beginner Seed Class

If you can buy a packet of seeds, you'll get the information to ensure sprouts, but what do you do then? This class will cover all the details that the seed packets don't tell you. You can extend the growing season by starting some plants indoors, though timing is essential. Other seeds are better sowed directly in the garden. Light requirements differ, in that some need light while others prefer to sprout in the dark. Size impacts planting depth. Transplanting must be done carefully to avoid ruining those tender sprouts. Moisture, heat and disease control are also essential to maximize your results. This class will provide practical, logic-based instructions for starting your plants from seed to help you achieve better results.

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Lisa Phillips
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Beekeeping and Attracting Pollinators

The basics of beekeeping have not changed since the invention of the Langstroth Hive in 1851. Keeping bees, however, has become more challenging. Get an overview of the life cycle of the honey bee and how these hives work. Also learn about some of our common native pollinator life cycles and why people still call every spring about bumble bees in their houses. The class will equip you with a way of thinking about your gardens that will help all pollinators in your area.

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Tobey Nelson
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Eco-Gardening

Everything we humans do has an impact on the planet, for better or for worse. As gardeners, we are keepers of the earth. In this class you will learn ways that any gardener can help make a positive impact to help the fight against climate change by employing eco-friendly gardening approaches. You will learn strategies for how to make your own garden more resilient to the changes facing all of us.

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Dr. Robert K. Pelant
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Meadowscaping - Enhancing Lawns and Yards with Native Plants

Learn about locally appropriate native plants and how to incorporate them into your garden or lawn. The discussion will include using bare-root plants, plugs, bulbs/corms, rhizomes, and seed. Examples of varying success and failure will be shared. The style of the class will be free-flowing with questions welcome throughout the presentation.

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Christina Pfeiffer
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How to Plant a Prune-Less Garden

This talk will identify how plant choices, placement, and cultivation, along with those famous last words “you can always prune it to keep it smaller,” contribute to creating a prune-a-lot garden. Whether you are starting a whole new landscape or making changes within an established garden, learn how to optimize plant selection and how to design elements that can help set the stage for less pruning over the long-term life of your garden.

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Lore Sampson
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More Peonies, Please! - Propagating Peonies

The current resurgence in peonies is no accident. Until recently, their omission from modern garden design had persisted for nearly half a century, but that’s rapidly changing as gardeners discover the exceptional qualities of newer varieties that have been specifically developed for today’s smaller, low maintenance gardens. These aren’t your grandmother’s peonies!

Join Lore as she shares tips and techniques for propagating peonies including how to grow peonies from seed, hybridize new varieties, and clone peonies using root crown division, tissue culture and grafting of woody tree peonies. Lore will also briefly discuss how hybridizing impacts stamen transformation in peonies to create new flower styles. She will share a brief history of and updates on the ongoing development of the exciting new Itoh intersectional peonies.

Bring your questions and get ready to learn how to successfully propagate and grow more of these incredibly beautiful and majestic landscape aristocrats!

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Sarah Schmidt
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Bats - Why You Want Them, How to Keep Them

Bats are among a gardener’s best friends and they help to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Nine species are found on Whidbey. Learn about these fascinating and useful mammals and how to create an attractive environment for them so they can do their best for you.

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Arjai Allred
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Fermentation with a Side of Pickling

For thousands of years people have used fermentation to make bread, wine, beer, cheese, and other foods. Not only does fermentation enhance food preservation, but eating fermented foods can boost the number of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut.

Arjai Allred will talk about fermentation and show how to prepare different types of vegetables using this process. Leslie Stevens will then give a demonstration on the ease of quick pickling and how you can quick pickle almost anything.

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Marni Swart
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Urban Food Forest

Turn your urban or suburban lot into a magical food producing forest! More than just an annual garden, a food forest incorporates fruit and nut trees, fruiting shrubs and vines, and useful and interesting herbal plants to mimic a forest ecosystem. Whether you are looking to increase the amount of food you produce on your lot or are just thinking about converting a front lawn to a food-producing garden, you will get lots of inspiration as well as practical skills to apply when designing your own food forest.

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Don Ham
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Tool Selection, Use, and Care

Can you imagine gardening without tools? Good tools are your ticket to the garden of your dreams. Learn more about how to select the best tools for yourself and how to properly clean, sharpen, and store them. Good tools pay off in the growth of your garden, the efficient use of your time, energy, and money and in your pleasure while performing even minor garden tasks.

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Lore Sampson
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A Gardener’s Guide to Hosta

Once thought to be a major challenge, shade gardening has come into its own and provides an ideal showcase for Hosta. Join Lore as she provides a comprehensive primer on Hosta including how to select the perfect Hosta based on six key selection criteria. Cultural requirements and detailed propagation techniques will be discussed along with a few new vocabulary words that specifically apply to the Hosta genus. Learn about genetic chimeras and how they affect variegation patterns in Hosta leaves.

The session will conclude with a discussion of pests and disease including recommendations for slug management and an introduction and overview of Hosta Virus X (HVX), including how to identify it and what to do if you find it. Bring your questions and prepare to learn more than just the basics about these magnificent luminaries of the shade garden!

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Diana Wisen
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Gardening for Fragrance

Hand a person a flower and they will instinctively lift it to their nose to smell it. Scent is the most potent and bewitching substance in the gardener's repertory and yet it is the most neglected and least understood. It adds such a pleasurable layer to our garden, yet it often remains an optional extra. This class will suggest ways you can add fragrance to your garden through carefully chosen bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, and trees. An extensive plant list will be provided.

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Dr. Kathleen Wolf
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The Roots of Wellness: Nature and Health Research

People who enjoy gardening and landscaping intuitively understand how nature experiences benefit one's health. Yet the four decades of research that has explored nature and health connections reveal new insights and reinforce our understanding. Analytic tools and statistics also convey the evidence in ways that can inform community policies and programs. Dr. Wolf will review this useful research, with a focus on mental health. She will also translate research findings into practical guidance on how nature can be a part of personal and community wellness programs.

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Practical  Sessions
Friday March 3
Zachary Abbey
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Ananda "Natural" Farm Tour: Philosophy and Methods

Is it possible to have a "production" farm that does not use a tractor and fertilizers, or till the soil? What does a "Natural Farm" even look like, and how does it grow food?

For the last ten years, Ananda Farm on the south end of Camano has run CSAs, farmer's markets, a homestead, and an education center, without using conventional farm methods.

Visit the farm to explore no-till and universal soil-building techniques, companion planting, tree integration and mulching, the role of animals, and a holistic lifestyle and philosophy of community that makes it all possible.

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Barb Faville
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Touring the Trees of Meerkerk

A stroll through Meerkerk Gardens delights the senses with the huge colorful blooms of the rhododendrons, but look closely and you will see the backdrop of trees that show off the shrubs to their best potential. A unique perspective on Meerkerk Gardens will be provided by focusing on the trees in the garden. We will begin in the historic Meerkerk House with a presentation on the types of trees you will see, how to use botanical names to identify them, and facts about their characteristics.

The presentation will be followed by a tour of Meerkerk that highlights the trees and their relationship to the plants around them, including the rhododendrons in bloom at the time.

The Practical Session is co-taught with June Davis.

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Judy Feldman
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Organic Farm School

Becoming a successful organic farmer today takes a wide variety of skills, from soil management and seed production, to marketing and business planning. At the Organic Farm School, we give aspiring farmers a strong foundation in a broad range of skills so they can achieve their unique farm goals. The Organic Farm School (OFS) offers opportunities to participate in an expe­ri­en­tial training pro­gram designed for aspir­ing farm­ers to learn and prac­tice the skills they will need to run a small-scale organic farm.

Working on the OFS student farm, par­tic­i­pants learn to conduct on-farm research through variety trials and group projects. Par­tic­i­pants also develop their prac­ti­cal farm skills includ­ing how to juggle plan­ning, tillage, green­house prop­a­ga­tion, weed­ing, har­vest­ing, mar­ket­ing, and record keep­ing throughout the full intensity of a growing season.

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Karla Matzke
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Tour of Matzke Sculpture Park

This is a tour through the sculpture park on Camano Island. Please wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the day. My goal is to encourage people to incorporate sculptures with their gardens and landscapes while working with the natural plants, shrubs and trees of the Pacific Northwest, creating trails through the woods and being mindful of roots, so as not to disturb the interconnection the trees and plants have with each other. I'm originally from the Adirondacks, so planting for fall colors was very important to me as well as adding plants for various seasons.

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Dr. Robert K. Pelant
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Habitat Restoration in the Maritime Pacific Northwest

The class will focus on best practices for propagating native plants, out-planting and seeding, and collecting seeds/rhizomes/bulbs. All this will be discussed and demonstrated in the context of habitat restoration - enhancing biodiversity. We will visit our Native Plant Center (nursery beds, greenhouse, shade area), an oak savanna, and our rare glacial outwash remnant prairie. We will visit sites where we can observe and discuss techniques we have used for large-scale (1+ acre) habitat enhancement over the past decade.

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Dan Vorhis
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Hardwood Grafting - Hands-On

This class presents the basic science and technique of hardwood grafting, also called bench grafting. A one-hour PowerPoint presentation with your questions is followed by a hands-on lab. You will have the opportunity to graft your own apple tree!

Rootstock, several types of apple scion wood, practice wood, and grafting supplies will be provided. If you own a sharp grafting knife, bring it. We will have a few grafting knives on site, and a small number of knives will be available for sale ($30) at the class.

Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for the child. Grafting knives are extremely sharp and can cause serious injury.

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