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Garden Dreaming

February 10, 2022

Native Plant Trust catalogWinter, when my dormant garden is safely tucked in under its insulating blanket of snow, is a time for garden dreaming. In recent years, as I focused on creating my new front garden, my winter garden dreaming has often taken the form of browsing plant catalogs or working on the design for a new flower bed. This year, however, with all areas of the front garden finally completed, I needed a different focus for my garden dreaming.

I recently became a paid member of the Native Plant Trust (formerly the New England Wildflower Society). This was probably something I should have done years ago, given how much I use their online resources, especially the plant identification tools of Go Botany. When I received my membership package in the mail, it included a magazine with several interesting articles and a catalog of educational programs.

I love learning new things, and going to school puts me in my happy place, so I eagerly perused the education catalog. There were self-paced online courses, live virtual classes, and in-person classes. Even better, there were basic and advanced certificate programs, with structured sets of required and elective courses. I reveled in the learning experience of my Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and I have missed the structure, intensity, and the human interactions of that program since I graduated. The idea of enrolling in another such program was very appealing.

As I looked more closely at the in-person courses I was most interested in, however, I saw two problems. First, the classes typically meet one or two (non-consecutive) days a week at Native Plant Trust facilities in either eastern or western Massachusetts, which means that each class session would require a long round-trip drive and an overnight stay. Second, the catalog I was looking at was for Fall-Winter, which meant that most of the classes had already occurred. I would need to wait for the Spring-Summer catalog to see if I could make these courses work for me.

But waiting did not satisfy my immediate garden dreaming needs – which led me back to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s website to see if they are offering any classes of interest to me this year.  They are! I very quickly identified and registered for seven classes I wanted to take – a short online class on “native plant guilds” in early March, a half-day in-person class on “pruning during dormancy” later in March, an early April in-person class on “backyard amphibians,” and – most exciting for me – a series of four five-hour classes on garden design. The garden design classes will take place at the garden on Saturdays in April and early May, and like the pruning and amphibian classes, they will get me out into the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens before the garden is officially opened for the season. The garden design classes will require an individual project, and my plan is to take advantage of the opportunity to begin the process of redesigning and renovating several flower beds in my back garden.

With winter days noticeably lengthening now that we are more than halfway from the winter solstice to the spring equinox and with these plans to enhance my garden knowledge and skills, I find myself unfazed by icy winter weather as I eagerly look forward to spring.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat Webster permalink
    February 10, 2022 12:42 pm

    I’m like you, Jean, continuing education is a joy. Lucky you, to find so many good programs so close to home.

    • February 16, 2022 11:57 am

      Pat, The educational programs at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens have been a precious resource for me. I’m still on the fence about whether I’ll try to travel to Massachusetts for any of the Native Plant Trust courses.

  2. February 10, 2022 3:31 pm

    That sounds like it’s right up your alley, Jean. Enjoy the classes! My local botanic garden just hired a “Direct of Living Collections.” As he’s a botanist/horticulturist, I’m hoping to see a vast improvement in future plant-related classes in the future.

    • February 16, 2022 12:01 pm

      Kris, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens also has a “Director of Living Collections,” and he sometimes teaches classes — but they also have a whole Education department.

  3. Donna Donabella permalink
    February 14, 2022 5:50 pm

    Those classes seem perfect. Can’t wait to hear more and see your final project.

    • February 16, 2022 12:02 pm

      Thanks, Donna. I’m looking forward to these. I’ve also signed up for a self-paced online course on entomology offered by Oregon State University.

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