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Email anytime for more information on our services and gardening classes -

Evelyn @ GardenPossibilities. com

 

 

  

Highlights of helpful gardening articles here to explore -

Coping with the 
dastardly Lily beetle.

Shrub Pruning Tips

Black Walnut allelopathy
and the toxin, Juglone

Winter Garden Protection

Seed starting 

Correct planting of 
new trees & shrubs

Increasing Drought Tolerance.

"Low"maintenance gardening?

 

 

 

 Gardening classes, workshops, and seminars with a difference!
                        ... teaching not just the when and how, but WHY.
 

Gardening is an endlessly rewarding craft that brings together old and young, rich and poor, philosopher and farmer, old world and new.  Few leisure pursuits bridge as many divides or has the potential for richer pleasures.  A gardener's education never ends - there are new curiosities and creative possibilities to explore with each turn of the season and year.   

Since 1995 I've developed lessons with the goal of helping gardeners integrate the art of garden design with the science at work in the plants and the soil that supports them, without forgetting that gardening can, and should be, tons of inspiring and creative fun, not "work"!       Using a common-sense,  un-sponsored, creative, and no-dummies approach,  I strive to help gardeners finish each lesson with a "now-I-get-it" moment that leads to confident practical decisions and inspired design ideas to take home to your own garden.        The underlying fact that even the smallest garden should be a private playground, where endless creative possibilities and natural curiosities can be explored in real time, is the overall spirit of my gardening philosophy and informs all of my gardening lessons. 
 

Gardening isn't just about an
end goal, but is an on-going process that -

                             - feeds the creative spirit,
                                                 - engages a curious mind,
                                                                         - and nurtures the soul.
 
           
     
      
The possibilities and rewards are endless!  Join us for 2017 classes.   
                                                                
Evelyn Wolf      

 

 

Gardening classes and seminars since 1995, where my passion for plants, gardens, and the joy they can bring to our lives is always evident.

Evelyn Wolf
Garden Consultant

see below for details on either our Beginner Gardening Course,
 or
for those with a bit of experience already, our thorough
"Think Like a Plant" course. 
Dates for Spring 2017 will be posted shortly.

All classes take place at our display garden and home base in Queensville (East Gwillimbury), on the corner of Leslie St & Queensville Sdrd, just north of Newmarket.

Gardening Instruction Format Options ~
 

COURSES
 
integrated series of 2½ hr lessons combining - instruction, discussion, demos, slide show, outdoor hands-on experience when possible, and detailed lesson notes to take home.  Maximum 10 participants. 
some basic tree anatomy & pruning talk for a local Horticultural Club
WORKSHOPS
 in-depth 3 hr demo, lesson, take-home notes, & hands-on learning.  Maximum 6 participants.  Workshops run through the active gardening season May to Oct, outdoors, at my display garden in Queensville, just N of Newmarket. 
   
SEMINARS
 slide show presentation, lesson, Q&A, with take-home notes.  Designed for presentation to larger audiences in public venues like Horticultural clubs or municipal leisure programs, or in private homes and businesses for customized lessons or summer landscape crew training situations.  Seminar length is adjustable from 1 to 2 hr to suit the situation.     
   

Questions, or to inquire about customized topics, email anytime. 
Cheers!
Evelyn

 

 Courses - a series of integrated 2½ hr lessons combining - instruction, discussion, demos, and slide show, plus a detailed printed lesson handout with further information to take home.    Lessons are designed to build on each other rather than stand alone.  The result is a more in-depth learning experience that ties together the many elements constantly working together to create a happy healthy garden and gardener.     

THINK LIKE A PLANT!  A comprehensive course on Perennial and Shrub gardening that will get you gardening with confidence!  
7 lesson course.    
 
Gardening involves thousands of details and choices but there are basic rules in the natural world which everything follows from. This course covers these essentials thoroughly, with an entire lesson devoted to each important topic, and lots of out-in-the-garden demonstrations.  This is our comprehensive course we've been running for many years that takes participants from soil preparation to garden design through an integrated series of lessons, complete with hand out notes and follow up.  
FULL DETAILS

GET GROWING!  Gardening Basics for complete beginners.
3 lesson course. 
If you're a complete newcomer to gardening, perennial garden plants, and the language of gardening, you may find our main Essentials course just too hard to follow.  By popular demand, we've now developed a beginner's course to get you started down the exciting and creative path of gardening with perennials.  The cost of the course will be quickly recouped by avoiding even just one of the many common beginner's mistakes.  FULL DETAILS

 

SUMMER MAINTENANCE CREW CRASH COURSE TRAINING.  3 lesson course.  (time and dates customized to suit, and can take place at my location or yours. Price negotiated.).  Similar to my course "Gardening for Beginners" above, but focusing less on learning the horticultural details and more on general rules of thumb on what to do when for plants to look their best through the season, and general garden care.  The emphasis is on learning about the different types of plants and how/where/when to  - pinch for fullness and height control;  deadhead for continuing bloom;  basics of correct shrub pruning;  types of mulch and applying correctly;  identifying different types of weeds and which ones pose the worst control problems;  when and if fertilizer is needed;  etc.  The focus will be on learning the basic how-to skills necessary to care for a mixed perennial and shrub garden with some annuals and containers.   

Workshops  - 3hr in-depth lessons & hands-on learning, with demos & take home notes - your location or ours.  Designed for a maximum of 6 participants, and run outdoors through the active gardening season.   

STOP THE TORTURE! 
Shrub & Young Tree Pruning
.                          
3hr slide show / demo / hands-on.  
How to prune completely depends on why you’re pruning, and why you’re pruning leads to when to prune.   All these how’s, why’s and when’s are covered in this essential workshop.  One of the true arts of gardening, correct pruning is a rewarding and creative investment in time with results that can't be bought at any price - beautiful, healthy, mature plants strutting their very best stuff. 
Pruning is probably the most misunderstood, and usually incorrectly executed garden task. The haircut trim that all too often passes for pruning is exactly the wrong way to prune and leads to weak, twiggy, non-flowering, plants with “bare legs”, and often a long slow diseased death.  AND, For most shrubs the traditional fall timing of this haircut trim is exactly the worst time for any pruning - correctly done or not!  The “haircut” is literally plant torture!  Through hands-on demos and a 24pg lesson manual, you’ll learn how to prevent structural tree defects, maintain a shrub's blooming power, rejuvenate an old hedge, maintain a large plant at a small size, or even create your own topiary or outdoor bonsai. 
 MORE DETAILS

Creating GREAT PLANT COMBINATIONS  Designing complimentary plant partnerships for fabulous all season interest and a "wow" factor whether plants are in bloom or not. 
3hr slide show / demo / hands-on.
The huge assortment of plants available today is overwhelming and it's easy to end up with a cluttered mess instead of the beautiful spring-to-fall garden you envisioned.   Designing a planting that has something of interest happening in all seasons, including winter, while balancing your favourite's list and your site conditions, can be a brain numbing exercise, but there's a formula to follow that will help you to create partnerships that work.  
In this workshop you'll learn how to think of your plants in complimentary partnerships through a hands-on mix 'n match demo, a slide show of  plant combinations that work well, and a fun bit of audience participation!  Most importantly, you'll learn WHY particular partnerships work so you can duplicate the ideas using your own favourite plants, in your own sun/shade, dry/wet, clay/sand, site conditions by applying a few rules. 
After an initial design theory lesson and slide show of the many possibilities, we'll get out into the garden and put into action the learned rules of thumb and create complimentary groups using potted perennials.   I'll have a wide assortment of plants on hand for each participant to join in and put the learned design rules into a practical exercise.  We'll then critique each, and learn together just how widely these plant partnership rules can stretch. Should be tons of fun!
 

Email anytime to get on the waiting list for the next run date. 

Space is always limited to 6 people and "first come, first served" is my operating rule!

Rules of Thumb for A WELL DESIGNED GARDEN
This workshop will give you the creative tools for outside the box thinking to apply to the development of your own unique landscape design and garden beds.

We’ll go step-by-step through the process of learning, and then applying, some fundamental rules that go into the creation of a landscape that comes together as a unified whole instead of individual attractive elements.  Through a slide show and lesson on themes and styles we’ll talk about each element that goes into the planning of any good design and see how it was applied, then “create” a garden design plan of your own. 

How to go about sketching a rough plan and refining it;
understanding the role of mass, balance, scale, line.; 
structure and hardscape choices; and more. 

Bring your pictures and basic yard measurements to use in a hands-on landscape design exercise as we work together on applying design rules to shape and expand on your own ideas and style.  

LIFTING & DIVIDING PERENNIALS
2012 dates Saturday April 28th, 2:00 - 5:00 $65.00 
3hr, hands-on demo, with lots of take home starter bits!  Whether you’re rejuvenating an old Iris or simply want to multiply favourite plants to spread around a larger area or share with friends, dividing perennials gives them renewed vigor and is an inexpensive way to expand your garden.
In this workshop we’ll go through an overview of the different types of root systems and where to look for new growth points, how to determine the best timing for particular plants, and a hands-on demonstrations of different perennials to show exactly what you’re looking for when dividing their roots. You’d be amazed at just how many divisions can be made from just one overgrown patch of daylily, hosta, coral bell, Iris, Dahlia, or ornamental grass!   You’ll take home dozens of new starter sized plants from the plant divisions I'll be creating in the demonstrations, and gain the know-how you need to create hundreds of dollars worth of new plants from the ones you already have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seminars - slide show, Q&A, and lesson presentation, with detailed take-home notes for each person.   Limited only by the size of the venue, my seminars are designed for groups of any size, from private in-home friends groups of just 8 or so, to public venues for horticultural societies or municipal water conservation programs with over 100 people in attendance.  Time length is adjustable from 1 - 2 hours to suit the situation and skill level.   
A long list of topics are available so I've organized them into theme groups for browsing here  -
                     
  Plants   /   Practical Skills   /   Design  /  General Interest

 

Plant profile seminars   
Showcasing choices within the plant group,  how to grow them well, and how their design merits can be best put to use.   .

Ornamental Grasses.    
From adorable 8 inch tufts of steely blue fine textured leaves to giant 8 foot stands of massive plumes, ornamental grasses offer so much dramatic impact towards a truly unique garden design that it's hard to imagine a garden without them.  We’ll take a close look at the many sizes and choices to suit various garden situations and debunk some of the common myths about their best uses and long term care. 

Hemerocallis, aka Daylilies.   
It always surprises me when I discover gardeners who are only familiar with our weedy orange roadside Daylily.  There are over 20,000 named cultivars registered with Hemerocallis Society!  From bold deep purples to soft ruffled pinks, daylilies come in all sizes and colours and are the mainstay of the early July garden.  It’s simply an added bonus that they are possibly THE easiest perennial to grow.  This seminar showcases the many colour and size choices and offers hints on keeping them looking good all season. 

Focus on Autumn  
Here's a seminar that looks directly at my favourite season in a garden's design - Autumn.  Beyond Chrysanthemums and ornamental kale, we'll look at plants that come into their best in Autumn, plus look at working with the subtle tones of tan, gold and the flaming colours of autumn leaves in a planting design.  This seminar will focus on showcasing particular plants that are best bets for a beautiful autumn garden, from flowers to ornamental grasses. 

  The Good, the Bad, and the Weedy.    What exactly is a "weed"?  In my experience the worst "weeds" are among the plants I've purchased over the years at the garden center!    I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a new gardener say "well, they wouldn't sell it if it wasn't an OK plant, would they?"  Well, yes  - they would, and they do!  The marketplace is full of plants that will quickly be out of control under most garden conditions, leading to years of weeding out stray roots or thousands of seedlings.  This seminar is a hit-list of the “be careful what you wish for” plants that are too aggressive for most gardens.  But we'll also talk about having your cake and eating it too -  keeping aggressive plants in control, or where their aggressive nature can be put to good use. Heuchera - the Coral Bell family of stunning foliage plants.    Hybridizers have outdone themselves with this multipurpose family of gorgeous perennials.  The old fashioned Coral Bell is as charming and hard-working as ever, but we now have dozens of foliage colours from deep burgundy to peachy copper, and flower colours from lipstick red to lacey white, to liven up any garden from spring through to frost.  From both a design and low-maintenance point of view, this family of plants can't be beat.  We'll showcase the many choices as well as discuss how to use them creatively in your design. Spring Bloomers    When designing an interesting all season garden many gardeners think only about tulips and daffodils for spring.  There are many less common perennials that could help these garden favourites not look so lonely!  This seminar will review the different groups of spring bulbs that can take your garden from early April through to June, and introduce you to the dozens of other perennials that contribute to a rich and lovely spring garden bed - colourful emerging foliage;  some evergreen perennials;  and lesser known early bloomers.
 

 

Practical Skills seminars.         Focused & detailed presentations on topics from soil care to shrub pruning, presented in layman's terms but with an in-depth, no-dummies approach..

The Living Earth
Most garden problems start with incorrect soil preparation, neglected soil health, or lack of attention to the effects of the garden products we routinely apply. Learn more about the fascinating world underground, and how to build and maintain soil health.
- Starting a new bed; 
- understanding pH; 
- different mulches and when to choose which; 
- weed/pest control;  
- fertilizing; 
- compost, triple mix, top soil or loam ... what's the 
difference and why it matters to choose correctly; 
- determining your soil type and how to improve it;
- building plant disease resistance.
The Language of Gardening: A capital "G" Gardener starts here!   This is a lesson that will surprise you with information that you thought you knew, but didn't.  Like any topic, only when you really understand gardening's terminology, can you have any chance to build on your knowledge through experience and research.  What exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Shrub, etc., and why does it matter to know?   What do the terms "Hardy" or "Tender" on the plant labels mean when you're considering a purchase and how to handle the plant?  What exactly is a "Hardiness Zone" and how does this determine what you can grow in YOUR garden?  Botanical Latin plant names - not just snobbery - there's often lots of useful information about a plant built into the name. 

Gardening for Drought Tolerance
There's much more to creating a drought tolerant garden than just selecting plants from a drought tolerant list.  And what does "tolerant" actually mean?  The word implies that the plant would prefer more water but will do OK with less.  This seminar will discuss how to go beyond "tolerant" and showcases the plants that NEED dry conditions, not just tolerate them, and how to create the conditions they need.  We'll also discuss the many ways you can increase the drought tolerance of a standard mixed perennial garden and how to grow your plants to be tougher and hardier. There's no need to completely give up your water needy plants - learn how to toughen them up so they'll be able to endure drought conditions when they hit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Like a Plant!
Lots of fascinating yet practical plant science to help you know instinctively what to do when in a perennial garden.  Understanding the seasonal cycles of perennial plant life is the only way to develop an effective garden maintenance plan for an attractive garden through all the seasons. Learn to "think like a plant" and details on how to manipulate plants for best performance will become instinctive.  
-
tip-prune for height control & fullness;  
- how to manipulate bloom time;  
- protecting against pest attack; 
- when to divide; 
- preventing flopping and foliage decline;
- How deadheading works to encourage multiple periods of blooming; 
- when or if to fertilize; ...

EVERYTHING you do in a garden must be first reflected against what your plants are doing at each phase of their cycle.  This seminar will give you invaluable insight that will be useful in virtually all gardening decisions and tasks from when to prune shrubs to starting vegetable seeds.
Lawn Care the Natural Way   How to build and maintain a healthy and beautiful lawn without chemicals and excess water.   Lawn products have reached the level of precision science by now, making the promise of drop dead gorgeous, golf green perfection, sound easily achievable. It's great to want a nice lawn of course, but it's this quest for "perfect" that comes at a high cost to the environment.  We'll first discuss how some of our traditional habits actually ENCOURAGE problems, then lay out a sensible, fully organic, routine to follow for a healthy lawn you can feel good about wiggling your toes in.

- corn gluten for long term weed control
- thatch - a nature amount is healthy but existing poor habits lead to excess amounts that cause problems.
- understanding the grub cycle and how to intervene for control.
- natural growth patterns of cool season vs warm season grasses
- alternatives to traditional turf.

Shrub Pruning Basics   (this is a condensed version of "Stop the Torture" 3hr workshop).   Pruning is perhaps the #1 most misunderstood gardening task, and is also the most important one to get right if you'd like your plants to bloom and grow well.    When? How?  Why?  Where?   None of these questions have the same answer from one shrub to the next, but this workshop will arm you with the knowledge you need to customize your pruning schedule accurately.   Each plant has their very own perfect pruning regimen depending on how and when they bloom, the age of the plant, and your desired goals.  The rules of thumb taught in this seminar will guide you through 95% of your pruning decisions.  We'll discuss details of how to prune for general health;  train a topiary;  establish a new plant;  rejuvenate a tangled old shrub;  control size & shape; how to make healthy cuts;  correct tools, etc.  When you learn how prune well you'll be in complete control of how your woody plants look and a whole new creative element to gardening is unleashed.
 
 

Garden Design seminars.   Here's a group of seminars focusing on building your creative instincts.  Whether you're working together with a garden professional or designing your own space, these seminars will bring confidence to your design decisions.

 

 

My Top 25 All-Season, Low-Maintenance Plants.   
Here’s a show and tell of my favourite hard-working plants to design any planting around.   After more than 25 years of being near obsessive about collecting and testing new perennials, I always come back to a core group that have never failed to serve as a solid and reliable backbone in most of the gardens I've designed.  Some are flowering perennials, some have foliage as their main design contribution, others are sculptural for winter interest, and then there's a few unusual small shrubs that work beautifully in a mixed garden.     Some of the choices even surprised me!  (You know how it goes - taking some of the best things in life for granted!)  They're not necessarily the flashy new things on the market, but plants that perform my #1 rule well - plants that have at least 2 major features to contribute towards a creative all-season planting design.

  

Great Plant Combinations : Designing complimentary plant partnerships for a "wow" factor whether plants are in bloom or not.  (This is a scaled down version of the 3hr workshop listed above.)      With so many plants to choose from it's easy to end up with a cluttered mess instead of the beautiful garden envisioned.  Even the most beautiful plants just fade into the background or become part of a jumble if not positioned with a complimentary partner.  This seminar will showcase examples of how even the plainest of plants can become gorgeous participants in a larger picture, and how to find the right partner or setting to highlight the features of a showpiece plant.  You'll learn how to think of your plants in complimentary partnerships based on the principle of taking foliage, not flower, into the main consideration.  Instinctively finding just the right spot for that new plant, or developing a full planting plan that incorporates all of your individual favourites into a coordinated whole will be possible once the partnership design rules we'll cover, are applied.   Fitting the Pieces Together   "a pond ... perhaps a shed ... lots of flowering perennials ... a patio big enough for entertaining ... I really want a big shade tree ... a cozy nook for relaxed reading ... oh, and a fire pit would be nice.
When it's time to plan a new garden, most turn to magazines, books and the web for inspiration and are quickly overwhelmed with the possibilities!   But how will it all fit into your space without looking crowded?  The key to good design is creating an integrated whole picture where everything fits in, but no one particular thing dominates.  It's easy to loose sight of that though when selecting the elements you want..  Good garden design isn't about individual WOW elements, it's about how to integrate and customize them to your particular space.  This seminar will discuss how to apply basic rules of good design to your ideas, and how to manipulate the space itself to accommodate the elements you want.  Using a few of my real life design projects as examples, we'll discuss different ways of handling the same space, and just how important it is to create, and stick to, a well thought out design plan.  

Rethinking the Front Lawn  
Instead of fighting with the never-ending, tedious and costly maintenance grind of tending turf, why not reduce or eliminate that high cost green carpet and catch the popular wave of establishing a full front garden instead!  Think outside the garden box and learn the basic design rules to make your front garden stand out from the rest, and how to prepare a full front garden that virtually looks after itself compared to turf!  
FULL DETAILS 

 
The Framework Elements   
Fences ... moon gates ... water features ... stone placement ... patios ... fire pits ... walkways ... arbours ... pergolas ... lattice screens ... potting sheds ... creative lawn/garden edging ideas ...
A garden is, of course, all about plants, but the setting for the plants is what can bring sophistication and magic to a group of either the most unique or common plants.  We'll look at lots of  backyard garden ideas that go beyond the ordinary, and how to modify and manipulate various non-plant elements in your garden to suit the space and budget.  Design rules that will lead you to lots of fresh, out-of-the-box thinking for a garden with personality and flair is the goal of this seminar.  For each element, I've put together some unique ideas to expand the imagination, and we'll also discuss how to scale down or up particular elements and tie them into eachother for a unified look.
Mystery, Magic and Drama – the Autumn and Winter Garden.   Designing gardens that are at their peak of drama and beauty September to snow-fall is my specialty.  When meeting with clients, I most often face a wish list of summer blooming perennials with only a nod to Autumn and winter with a Burning Bush and evergreen or two on the list.  This seminar details and showcases choosing plants specifically for their fall beauty and winter holding power, and how to design a mixed planting that takes all 12 months of the year into consideration.  Working with the intensity of the low lying sun; grasses to catch the wind for drama and movement;  tans, golds, yellows, reds, burgundy, as well as green – making the most of small shrubs and perennials that have great foliage colour too;  choosing plants for their winter standing power;  detailing the different timing of leaf colouring on various shrubs and grasses and designing good combinations based on fall leaf colour just as we would design complimentary flower colours in summer.  This seminar showcases the huge possibilities of the season we all too often just throw away as a garden’s down-time.      Small Trees for Urban Gardens.   All too often it is only a standard dozen or so different trees that are considered options when home owners choose lawn or garden trees - and most of them mature to huge trees that only need to be cut down just when they're reaching their prime!    This seminar is a showcase of some unique and underused plants that are perfect for smaller garden spaces or difficult positions.  Learn more about how to choose the right tree for your garden conditions and setting;  which trees to avoid and why;  the large number of lesser known trees that are perfect for smaller settings or for something out of the ordinary.
 
 

General Interest seminars. 

The gardening world is full of unique people and a fascinating history that we tend to take for granted.  Here's a few "other" seminars that focus on the passionate world of gardens and gardeners, past and present.

History of Gardening
When looked at in a historical sense, it wasn't all that long ago that gardening as we know it today was "born".   That plants could be used as an artistic media and grown for the sole purpose of pleasure was something embraced by common folk as recently as the early years of the 20th century. 
This is, of course, a broad ranging topic, but in this seminar we'll take a stroll through the major events, trends, and the designers of the last two hundred years that still have influence in the way we garden today.
  From the beginnings of ornamental gardening in the herb gardens of monasteries, thru the Victorian era of "bedding out" and the Arts and Crafts movement launched by William Robinson and popularized by Gertrude Jekyll, then into the WWII era of lawns and "foundation" plantings, you'll be delighted at this glimpse into the history of our gardening craft.
Plants and Their People
An unabashedly sentimental look at why we garden.  This seminar puts into words and pictures what many gardeners know in their heart - that gardening brings out the best in all of us and speaks straight to the soul.  With deep links to our past and planet, the act of tending a piece of ground and growing plants engages us in a very direct way that is profound in it's simplicity.

There are few leisure pursuits that embrace as many different types of people and has so many different elements of curiosity, creativity, and interest to offer, as gardening does.  As we play in our own little patch of ground we are all at once amateur botanists, entymologists, artists, craftspeople, historians, farmers, ecologists, chemists, and more.  There's truly something for everybody in even the smallest garden, and this seminar celebrates the many joys and pleasures of gardening.

 

The Naming of Plants
Many gardeners try hard to hang onto conversing in the common names of plants, but that's becoming increasingly difficult with the fast expanding list of perennials on the marketplace today.  This seminar is a mixture of demystifying and embracing botanical Latin pronunciation and finding the useful information often built into a plant's name.  It isn't about snobbery! Understanding that, for example, the proper botanical species name of a given genera holds the key to extremely useful information, is what this seminar is about.  Another example is how knowing that a new cultivar is an hybrid of two different species helps you understand better how to grow it well.  I realize however that this topic is akin to trying to get a child to eat broccoli, so there'll be lots of just for fun information on the naming of plants included to keep this seminar interesting!
   

There's always lots more in the works! 
Check here now and again for interesting and unique topics to bring to your horticultural group's monthly
meetings or gardening education program schedule.

 
 

More thorough descriptions of some of the seminars.  Hope you find something that interests you! Evelyn


 


Think Like a Plant: A Perennial Garden's Seasonal Cycles"
An essential class, suitable for all skill levels, for anyone who wants to start gardening with more confidence.  A look at the unchangeable forces of nature in the garden and each plant’s growth cycle through the seasons. 
 
Rules of Thumb for a Well-Designed Garden
This is a topic that could take many evenings of study, but we'll discuss some basic design rules to guide your creative explorations.  We all have design skills of one level or another.  This class will help you tap into your own creativity and, with the help of some design rules-of-thumb, show you how to apply it to your garden. 
 

The Living Earth: Creating and Maintaining Good Garden Soil

A thorough look at what goes into the making of good gardening soil and its essential role in creating a trouble free garden.  


Gardening Basics for Complete Beginners  (note change from originally announced date.)
At least 85% of garden problems are the end result of incorrect start-up planning and misconceptions about what plants need to do well.  This class will save you a ton of money and aggravation in the future and make your entrance into the exciting world of gardening a pleasure rather than an uphill battle.  We'll take the core bits from many of the other classes here and pare them down to beginner basics to get you started right.  Understanding enough plant language to choose the right plants;  tried & true plants for sure success;  the dangers of well-intentioned plant gifts;  starting a new garden bed;  understanding basic terminology;  correct soil preparation;  weed prevention;  mulching;  etc. 

 
Rethinking the Front Lawn:  A Fresh Look at Front Yard Design
Keeping a nice lawn means engaging in a costly, tedious, and environmentally un-friendly battle with grubs, fertilizers, lawnmowers, noise, and a weekly maintenance grind.  Why not reduce or eliminate that high cost green carpet and catch the popular wave of establishing a full front garden instead!  Think outside the garden box and learn how to apply basic design rules to redesigning your front garden into something that's far lower-maintenance.   In step-by-step lessons we’ll first showcase the many possibilities through a slide show and deconstruction of different looks and styles;  review some of the reasons a full front garden is a desirable option over turf;  and cover the practical matters of creating your full front yard garden such as soil & site analysis, bed preparation, design rules to follow, planning for reduced water needs, low-maintenance / low water plant choices, etc. - all with earth friendly methods as a focus.
 
 
Stop the Torture!  Shrub & Young Tree Pruning, a 3hr Workshop* 
Pruning is perhaps the #1 most misunderstood gardening task, and is also the most important one to get right if you'd like your plantssome basic tree anatomy & pruning talk for a local Horticultural Clubto bloom and grow well.  When? How?  Why?  Where?   None of these questions have the same answer from one shrub or situation to the next.  Each plant has their very own perfect pruning regimen, but there are rules that will guide you through 95% of your pruning decisions.  In this seminar we'll discuss the details of how to prune for general health;  train a topiary;  establish a new plant;  rejuvenate any tangled old shrub;  control size and shape;  train a young tree for future strength;  etc.   This is THE most important gardening art to learn - bar none - for a beautiful and healthy garden that lasts for decades and only gets better with age rather than needing renovation or replacement.  Plants are the only think in our lives that can become MORE valuable with age.  Prune them correctly and they will become priceless living art rather than worn out blobs.  *NOTE:  Price: $55.00. This is a 3hr workshop, with a maximum of 6 participants, that will take place, indoors & outdoors, at my display garden at 18825 Leslie St.

Earth-Friendly, Common-Sense Lawn Care

Routine maintenance using organic and common-sense methods for weed control and general good lawn health.  Maintaining a healthy lawn is perhaps the #1 outdoor priority for most home owners and has contributed a tremendous amount of damage to our waterways and environment.  Most of us would like to use more earth-friendly methods but don't know where or how to start.  The class will first discuss how some of our traditional lawn maintenance habits actually ENCOURAGE problems;  next, demystify the huge array of "green" products being pitched in the marketplace;  then, layout a sensible, fully organic, routine to follow for a healthy lawn you can feel good about wiggling your toes in.  Even just changing one or two harmful habits can make a large contribution to conservation.

 

Ornamental Grasses: Tough, Versatile, All-Season Perennials 
From adorable 8 inch tufts of steely blue fine textured leaves to giant 8 foot stands of massive plumes - ornamental grasses offer so much dramatic impact for a truly unique garden design that it's hard to imagine any garden without at least a few.  We’ll take a close look at the many colours, sizes, and texture choices to suit various styles, highlight which ones are good for dry situations and which ones need more moisture to do well, debunk some of the myths about their best uses, and show some slide show examples of some great plant combinations that feature grasses.  Also, some of the grasses on the market can be worse than any weed that may hit your garden, so we'll look just as closely at the ones to avoid! 

The Good, The Bad, and the Weedy: Plants to Avoid for a Low-Maintenance Garden
What exactly is a "weed"?.  The definition changes with each gardener.  In my experience the worst "weeds" were among the plants I've purchased over the years at the garden center.  I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a new gardener say "well, they wouldn't sell it if it wasn't an OK plant, would they?"  Well, yes  - they would, and they do!  No one is trying to trick you though - aggressive plants have there place in particular situations, and some gardeners simply don't mind the extra work to keep aggressive plants in control.  But under common garden conditions, in the hands of an inexperienced gardener, some plants in the marketplace will quickly be out of control, leading to years of weeding out stray roots or thousands of seedlings.  This seminar is a hit-list of the many “be careful what you wish for” plants that are too aggressive for most gardens.  But we'll also talk about having your cake and eating it too!  That is, how to use aggressive plants wisely.
 
                            
                                                           Cheers! 
                                                                Evelyn

DETAILS on all our courses and workshops
offered throughout the year, in no particular order.
   
If you'd like to receive notice when new dates are scheduled, email and
ask to be included in our
newsletter sent out monthly.

 

RETHINKING THE FRONT LAWN  3 week course.

Keeping a nice lawn means engaging in a costly, tedious, and environmentally un-friendly battle with grubs, fertilizers, lawnmowers, noise, and a weekly maintenance grind.  Why not reduce or eliminate that high cost green carpet and catch the popular wave of establishing a full front garden instead!  Think outside the garden box and learn how to apply basic design rules and how to prepare a garden that's lower-maintenance with lower water needs.   In step-by-step lessons we’ll first showcase the many possibilities through a slide show and deconstruction of different looks and styles;  review some of the reasons a full front garden is a desirable option over turf;  and cover all the practical matters of creating your full front yard garden such as soil & site analysis, bed preparation, design rules to follow, planning for reduced water needs, low-maintenance / low water plant choices, etc. - all with earth friendly methods as a focus. 

This short course is the first step down the path of a garden that virtually looks after itself in comparison to turf! 


 

 

PERENNIAL GARDENING BASICS for COMPLETE beginners!   4 lesson course, 2 1/2hrs each, that will be a combination of information lessons and outdoor hands-on experience. . 
If you're completely new to gardening, perennial garden plants, and the language of gardening, you may find our full ESSENTIALS course just too much to follow.  Here's a beginner class to get you started right!   We'll get you started with tried and true plants, basic design skills, and proper soil preparation, and plants to avoid.  A focus on explaining the terminology and learning the language of gardening will make it possible for you to build on what you've learned and make better sense of product and plant labels.  This isn't a "...for dummies" course, but in-depth lessons to help you fully understand the fundamentals of how plants and gardens tick, with lessons on learning the language of gardening integrated throughout the course so you can build on what you've learned through magazines and books, and make better sense of product information and plant labels.  

Course Lessons - each complete with take home notes -

The Language of Plants. What exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Bulb, Shrub, etc. and why it matters to know.  Without a thorough understanding of terminology no one would ever be able to build on their knowledge, so this is the lesson that starts us off.  Understanding how the plant groups differ determines their best care, what to expect from them, how far you can push them, when and how to propagate, essential maintenance, etc.

Analyzing and preparing your soil. step-by-step instruction on creating your first perennial garden bed.  What type of soil do you have?  Fixing what ails it.  Top soil, triple mix, compost, etc. - what's the difference?  Mulching - different types.  Gardening success starts here with understanding how healthy, weed free soil is created and maintained.

Pest & Diseases.   many simple organic and sensible control methods.  How to avoid problems to begin with!  Choosing trouble free plants.

Basics of Design. Basic rules of design to determine where your garden should be, how big to make it, choosing and positioning trees and other main plants, designing fabulous all-season plant combinations,  grouping plants that bloom at different times of the season,  planting for fall & winter interest ...

Buying Plants.  How to select a healthy plant at the garden center - what to watch out for and doing some plant homework first!  High maintenance plants to avoid and tried and true plants that can't fail.

Now what!  Pulling together all the pieces and learning how to apply the information learned to some real world scenarios through exercises and lots of Q & A.   Your questions, photos, and particular problems addressed.  General discussion where I’ll follow where your questions lead with detailed explanations, and additional take home notes.

 



SHRUB PRUNING -  STOP THE TORTURE! 
3 hour hands-on workshop, lesson, & take-home 24pg lesson manual. 

From essential pruning in youth to establish a strong framework, to rejuvenating that overgrown lilac or sculpting a topiary, all pruning situations are covered in this in-depth workshop.

Pruning is probably the most misunderstood and usually incorrectly executed garden task. The haircut trim that often passes for “pruning” is the best example I can think of exactly how NOT to prune.  At best it leads to weak, twiggy, non-flowering plants with “bare legs” and, at worst leads to a long slow diseased death. The “haircut” trim method is literally plant torture!  After this workshop you'll clearly see why.

Most of the damage bad pruning leads to, stems from a misunderstanding about what happens inside the branch that has been cut.  Pruning stimulates growth in the exact spot where the pruning cut is made, when most often the gardener is attempting to reduce growth.  The more you prune the stronger the plant will respond at the pruned spot, most often at the expense of growth elsewhere on the plant.  The result?  Weak twiggy tips with bare worn out branches at the base.

Quality trees and shrubs can cost a lot of money, but it's skillful training and knowledgeable pruning that makes the investment worthwhile by keeping them strong, healthy, and sculpted. Only with either a stroke of very good luck or through proper pruning, will ordinary trees and shrubs become beautiful specimens.  An expensive Japanese Maple will be a pretty, red leaved, addition to your garden but with skillful pruning it can become that gorgeous layered sculpture you see in pictures. 

This workshop helps gardeners understand what is going on when woody plants are pruned.  Learning to work together with the plants' predictable natural response is key.  Anything is then possible - espalier, topiary, a trained rather than grafted standard, maximum blooming each season, healthy full hedges without bare legs, trees with billowing grace rather than a dense mop top, a rejuvenated old shrub with dignity and maturity rather than having to rip it out for something new. 

The workshop focuses on shrubs but also covers the training of a young trees, and basic do's and don'ts when pruning larger trees.  Hands-on demonstrations and training videos are used whether we're indoors or out and a detailed 24 page lesson manual to take home will ensure that you'll have the information to review when you need it. 

P.S.  Last year I had a beautiful large Maple cut down for a client.  A split had developed, caused by a major branch that had been allowed to develop with very poor structure ("included" bark) and it was now threatening to break off and crash into the house.  If early in the tree’s life the owner had known what to look for and made just one small pruning snip, the tree could have lived a long life. What is “included” bark you ask? Just one of the valuable details you’ll learn in this workshop.                                                                



LIFTING AND DIVIDING PERENNIALS
A 3 hour workshop

Whether you’re rejuvenating an overgrown Iris or want to multiply what you have to spread around a larger area or share with a friend, dividing perennials gives them renewed vigor and is an inexpensive way to expand your garden. In this workshop we’ll go through an overview of the different types of root systems, how to determine the best times for particular plants, and hands-on demonstrations of different perennials to show exactly what you’re looking for when dividing their roots. You’d be amazed at just how many divisions can be made from just one overgrown patch of daylily, hosta, coral bell, Iris, Dahlia, or ornamental grass. You’ll take home a few starter plants of your own from the demonstration plants, and gain the know-how you need to create hundreds of dollars worth of new plants from the ones you already have.

  Current dates


 

 
 

 

THE LIVING EARTH
a 3 hour workshop

Most garden problems are rooted in incorrect soil preparation, neglected soil health, or lack of attention to the effects of many garden products we routinely apply. Learn more about the fascinating world that is life underground in your garden, and how to maintain soil health in both the short and long term.  

Various approaches to starting a new bed; 
understanding pH; 
different mulches and when to choose which; 
weed/pest control;   fertilizing; 
compost, triple mix, top soil, loam ... what's the 
difference and why it matters to choose correctly; 
determining your soil type and how to improve it;

If you have time for no other class, this one is a must.  Everything starts with the soil and mistakes or neglect here can at best cause a garden to be much higher maintenance than necessary, and at worst cause costly plant stress and death.    


 

GREAT PLANT COMBINATIONS
A 3 hour workshop on designing complimentary plant 
partners and trios for all seasons.

The huge assortment of plants available today is overwhelming and its easy to end up with a cluttered mess instead of the beautiful garden you envisioned. In this workshop we’ll talk about how to think of your plants in partnerships or trios and demonstrate some classic examples of plant combinations that work well in any setting.   Learn how to take your garden from spring to autumn with something blooming or contributing at all times through creating good partnerships.  

Seeing a plant’s shape and form, not just flower colour; 
staging on slopes; 
colour combinations that sing;
foliage contrasts; 
creating vignettes with something for each season;


 

OUR ORIGINAL COMPREHENSIVE COURSE -
 

PERENNIAL GARDENING ESSENTIALS
A 7 lesson course (2 1/2 hrs each lesson) that takes us through a complete season out in the garden -
April to October,
with in-depth integrated lessons on all the elements necessary to build a successful garden.

Gardening involves thousands of details and choices but there are basic rules in the natural world which everything follows from. This class covers these essentials thoroughly, with an entire lesson devoted to each important topic.  By the end of the course you’ll understand why such and such is done in the garden, not just when and how.  Armed with this background knowledge you'll have the confidence to make the thousands of individual decisions on products, plants, and methods, that go into creating a healthy beautiful garden that satisfies both the eye and soul.  Everything you do in a garden is interconnected and once you've completed this comprehensive course you'll understand more about how one action leads to another, and how one choice dictates next. 

We'll focus on the basic natural science behind how the plant & underground world ticks and then pull that knowledge into the context of garden design and maintenance.   This is our comprehensive course we've been running for many years.   In-depth lessons, hands-on demos, take-home lesson notes, interactive teaching, and fully integrated lessons.  Lessons include  - understanding plants' seasonal  life cycles, developing maintenance routines, designing great plant combinations, tweaking zone hardiness, shrub pruning, dividing perennials, lowering maintenance and water, soil care, starting a new garden, organic lawn care, site analysis, appropriate plant selection, organic pest control, landscape design rules, mulching, weeds, and more.  We’ve received many accolades over the years on this course – beginners learn how to avoid common mistakes, average skilled gardeners leap to a whole new level of expertise and interest, and even veteran gardeners report they’ve filled in many knowledge gaps.

The integrated lessons included in the course, each complete with detailed take-home notes -

The Language of Plants. What exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Bulb, Shrub, etc. and why it matters to know.  Without a thorough understanding of terminology no one would ever be able to build on their knowledge, so this is the lesson that starts us off.  Understanding how the plant groups differ determines their best care, what to expect from them, how far you can push them, when and how to propagate, essential maintenance, etc..

Hardiness Zones Hardiness zones and what determines a plant's hardiness ... what it means to plant selection, handling and how to push the boundaries.

Thinking Like a Plant.
Plant life cycles and how each plant’s personal growth/dormancy routine dictates the ebb and flow of energy, nutrition needs, and maintenance.  This lesson provides many "ah ha" moments where participants begin to understand what's behind some of the occurrences in their garden.   Successful gardening is 100% about advance planning and this lesson makes clear all the natural forces we're working together with to achieve our end goal. 

The Living Earth.  A thorough look at the underground ecosystem and it's importance to a healthy garden ... repairing or working with the soil you have ... long term soil care that offers plants what they need, when they need it ... compost, organic matter and composting ... understanding pH (soil acidity or alkalinity) and what it means to the availability of nutrients ... mulching choices ... fertilizers.

Lawn Care.
Routine maintenance, and organic methods for weed control and general health. 

No Haircuts Please! Shrub pruning.  A lesson in the botany of woody plants and how they react to pruning ... how to make healthy cuts ... working together with their instinctive response to pruning to achieve particular goals such as size reduction or topiary ... when and how to prune a shrub completely depends on why it is being done in the first place ...

Basic Principles of Design and Creating Great Plant Combinations.
This is a topic that could take all 6 evenings in itself, but we'll discuss some basic design rules to guide your creative explorations.  Working with your site conditions ... form & texture ... balance and scale in overall landscape design ... creating fabulous all-season plant combinations ...

Pests & Diseases. Good guys and bad guys—achieving pest control, not elimination is the goal. Organic protection and prevention techniques.

Early Spring / Late Fall to-do list.   ... freeze/thaw protection... when and how to keep a garden clean of debris ... when, why and how to use mulch ... realities of our climate ...

General Garden Maintenance. Identifying wish-list factors that determine how much work you need to do—low-maintenance/natural? manicured perfection? ... different types of care and their goals or end results ...  manipulating perennials - shorten floppy plants,  deadheading, stagger or delay bloom, prompt repeat bloom, preventing late summer foliage decline, weed control, lawn maintenance.

Now what!  Pulling together all the pieces and learning how to apply the information learned to some real world scenarios through exercises, lots of Q & A, and some hands-on work out in the garden.   Your questions, photos, and particular problems addressed.  General discussion where I’ll follow where your questions lead with detailed explanations and take home notes.

Moving, Dividing, or buying Plants. Different types of root systems, how they’re best divided, and when ... demonstrations of a few different types ... new perennials can cost anywhere from $5.00 to $20.00 or more—which ones are worth it and why such a difference ... how to select a healthy plant at the garden center ... best moving or dividing time... 


 


PERENNIAL GARDEN MAINTENANCE    

7 Monthly, out in the garden, 2 1/2hr lessons.
 May thru October (two in June), learning the how-to's and when-to's of tending 
a successful perennial garden.  (A basic familiarity with perennial plants and shrubs is assumed.)

Achieving maximum blooming performance and long term health of perennial and shrub gardens. The seasonal maintenance routine of the pros to achieve a garden that’s healthy and beautiful from the first snow melt to the first snow fall. 

Perennial gardens can be many things depending on how much work a gardener wants to put in. A low-maintenance and natural look with the plants more or less looking after themselves is possible, but a particular type of preparation and care is necessary to prevent problems and a messy look. If the desire is for a garden that looks neater and blooms more vigorously and longer into the fall, then routine care of a different sort is necessary. It’s all about advance planning and working together with the plant’s natural life cycle of growth, bloom and seed set and a plant’s instinctive response to particular actions - manipulating them into doing a bit of what you want and less of what they want.   ...

pruning, pinching, training, and other bloom 
extending manipulation techniques of the pros.
early spring and late fall bloomers to extend the season.
planning & planting for winter interest.
creating great plant combinations.
.
when and how to use mulch and what type to choose.
preparing for winter and taming the ravages of freeze/thaw.
lifting and dividing perennials to renew vigor.
earth friendly weed control.
pest patrol and when to act.
shrub pruning for different purposes.
details on many great performance plants.

... It isn’t completely that simple though—if you want your plants to work harder, more effort must be put into keeping the soil in peak condition, as well as paying more attention to planting design to make sure you have plants that bring beauty in all parts of the season.

Learning the finer details of gardening always leads to the same fact—that everything is intertwined. Nothing is ever an isolated choice—one action or decision inevitably leads to another and the whole picture always needs to be considered.

The first class will be an indoor lesson for a condensed overview* of perennial plant life cycles, principles of shrub pruning, and understanding soil life, so that what we then actually go out in the garden and do in the following lessons will make sense. 

                                                                                   


 

 
 

 

 

 

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consultations - design & planting - expert shrub pruning - garden maintenance - workshops and classes. 
Over 25 years experience designing, creating, maintaining, talking about, teaching, and writing about, perennial plants and gardens!

This type of loose topiary, or bonsai-like pruning is the best thing to do with an old overgrown evergreen, instead of ripping it out.Email:   Evelyn@GardenPossibilities.com

GARDEN POSSIBILITIES  Perennial Garden Services
Evelyn Wolf, garden consultant,  905 478-7395 or cell 289-716-1408
                               your perennial garden expert

20507 Leslie St.  (NE corner of Leslie & Queensville Sdrd.  By appt. only please.). 
Queensville (East Gwillimbury), Ontario, L0G 1R0  

All photos and articles © Evelyn Wolf, 2017.