Keeping Soil Healthy. The Living
full list of classes & workshops
Email to get on the alert list when dates are set. Lots planned for 2019!.
Gardening classes 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 every turn of the season and year.
The gardening lessons I've developed over the years have the goal of helping gardeners to integrate the art of garden design with the science at work in the plants and the soil that supports them, without forgetting that gardening should be, and can be, tons of creative fun, not "work"!
Using a common-sense, but no-dummies approach, each lesson usually ends with a "now-I-get-it" moment that leads you to confident practical decisions and inspired design ideas to take home to your own gardening adventures. The underlying fact that even the smallest garden can be your own private playground where endless creative possibilities and natural curiosities can be explored in real time, is the overall spirit of my gardening philosophy, and guides all of the lessons.
The possibilities and rewards are
Join us for 2019 classes! Evelyn
Gardening isn't about an end goal, but is
an on-going process that...
...feeds the creative spirit
...engages a curious mind
...and nurtures the soul.
lesson COURSES. Integrated series of lessons,
combining - instruction, discussion, demos, slide show, outdoor
hands-on experience when possible, and detailed lesson notes to take
home. Maximum 8 participants. Courses usually run in late winter /
early spring, before the active gardening season. (course options, below.)
WORKSHOPS. In-depth 2 or 3 hour lessons
focused on digging deep into individual topics for a thorough
understanding. Slide presentation, hands-on learning when
possible, lots of Q&A, plus detailed take-home notes with further
information on the topic. Some workshops are limited to just
6 participants to allow for uncrowded hands-on learning. Workshops
run through the active gardening season at my display garden in
Queensville, just North of Newmarket. (topic
Courses - a series of integrated lessons, combining - instruction, demos, lots of Q&A, a slide show, and detailed lesson sheets to take home. Lessons are designed to build on each other rather than stand alone, for a more thorough learning experience that ties together the many elements working together in your garden. Look for the orange highlighted text for spring offerings and their dates and times. Evelyn
PERENNIAL GARDEN ESSENTIALS or "Think
Like a Plant!" A comprehensive course on
Perennial and Shrub gardening. 6 lesson course, 1 per week.
$365.00 (+hst) maximum 8 participants. 2019
Dates - starts May - date to be announced.
Gardening involves thousands of details and choices, but there are basic facts in the natural world which everything follows from. This course covers these essentials thoroughly, with an entire detailed lesson devoted to each important topic from soil care and shrub pruning to creating a personalized design.
This is our comprehensive course we've been running for many years, that takes participants through all the important topics to design and manage a successful perennial garden. An integrated series of 3hr lessons is designed to help gardeners understand that there are no hard and fast rules to follow, but instead facts to juggle as you come up with your own solutions to problems or right way of doing things that match available maintenance time, site conditions, and design tastes. Lessons echo and overlap with each other, so it becomes clear how all garden choices and decisions are connected.
Complete with thorough hand-out notes to take home, this course will help you sort through all the conflicting advice out there and have you gardening with common-sense and confidence!
Understanding plants' seasonal life cycles ... soil care & mulching ... starting a new garden ... developing maintenance routines ... designing great plant combinations ... working with your own garden site's limitations and strengths ... tweaking zone hardiness ... correct shrub pruning ... dividing perennials for either health or sharing ... lowering maintenance and water input ... appropriate to course agenda ... pest control ... weed control ... (...to course agenda.)
GET GROWING! Your
A course for complete BEGINNERS. 3 lesson course, 1 per wk. $155.00 (+hst) max 10 participants. 2019 dates - starts May - date to be announced.
If you're a complete newcomer to perennial gardening, you may find our main "...Essentials" course just too much to follow. Here's the course for you! A thorough beginner's course to get you started down the exciting and creative path of gardening with perennials and shrubs. The cost of the course will be quickly recouped by avoiding even just one of the many common beginner's mistakes!
From the basics of soil preparation and site Evelyn Wolf appropriate plant choices, to creative design ideas to get your first garden going successfully, will be covered. Starting right helps you avoid many years of problem fixing. Lots of Q&A opportunities will address your particular garden issues, questions, or design challenges. (to more details/agenda)
THE FRONT LAWN
3 week course. Fall 2019
Keeping a nice lawn means engaging in a costly, tedious, environmentally un-friendly, and on-going battle with grubs, fertilizers, lawnmowers, noisey machines, and a weekly maintenance grind. Why not reduce or eliminate that high cost and high maintenance 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 establishing a much more interesting and lower-maintenance than lawn. In step-by-step lessons we'll first showcase the many design 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, lower-maintenance, low-water plant choices; etc.
This short course is the first step down the path of establishing a truly unique front garden that virtually looks after itself compared to turf!
In-depth 3 hour lessons, focused on hands-on learning supported by slide presentations, live demonstrations, plus detailed take-home notes. Maximum 6 - 8 participants allows for lots of Q&A. Workshops run through the active gardening season at my display garden in Queensville, just North of Newmarket, both indoors and out.
Look for the orange highlighted text for offerings and their dates and times. If the one you're interested in doesn't have a current date listed, email to get on the waiting list and receive an update notice when it's added to the calendar. Evelyn
& Small Tree Pruning. STOP THE TORTURE!
3hr demo / hands-on / slide show / plus 24 page booklet hand-out to take home.
2019 Dates - October - date to come. $85.00 (+hst) maximum 6 particpants
A thorough lesson on shrub and small tree pruning. Limited to 6 people.
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.
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 skill workshop.
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! In other words, the "haircut" trim is literally plant torture! Through hands-on demos, you'll learn how to prevent tree defects; maintain a shrub's blooming power and natural shape; rejuvenate an old hedge; restrict a large plant to a small size; or even create your own unique topiary. MORE DETAILS BELOW
Designing GREAT PLANT COMBINATION.
Designing plant partnerships for an all season garden "wow" factor. 3hr slide show / demo / hands-on workshop. 2019 Dates - June - date to be announced. $55.00 (+hst) max 8 participants.
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, while balancing your favourite's list and your site conditions, can be a brain numbing exercise!
But there are design formulas to follow that will help you to create partnerships that "wow", to make any garden bed's beauty greater than the sum of its parts. Learn how to take your garden from spring to autumn with something blooming or contributing at all times through creating good partnerships.
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 learn about hard-working plants for any design. Most importantly, you'll learn WHY particular partnerships work so you can duplicate the ideas using your own favourite plants. I'll have a wide assortment of potted plants on hand to demonstrate the design rules-of-thumb.
We'll cover - seeing a plant's shape and form, not just flower colour ... staging on slopes ... colour combinations that sing ... foliage contrasts of shape, colour and plant form ... "see through" plant placement ... creating vignettes with something for each season.
LIFTING & DIVIDING
3hr, hands-on demo, with take home lesson sheets - PLUS, at least 6 different plant division pieces to take home to your garden. Limited to 6 people.
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 different types of root systems, and how to determine the best timing for dividing particular plants. A hands-on demonstration of different perennials to show exactly what you're looking for when dividing their roots, and how each is correctly re-planted. How to purchase healthy potted plants and their correct planting is also covered.
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! Ornamental Grasses in particular are very tricky to divide, and we'll be demonstrating at least one type. You'll take home dozens of new starter sized plants from the plant divisions we'll be creating, and gain the know-how you need to create hundreds of dollars worth of new plants from the ones you already have.
EARTH. Garden Soil Health
a 3 hour workshop on the amazing web of life underground.
2019 Dates - June - dates to come $65.00 (+hst) max 8 participants
Most garden problems are rooted in incorrect soil preparation, neglected soil health, or lack of attention to the effects on a garden's soil of the many garden products we routinely apply.
Learn more about the fascinating world that is the life cycle underground in your garden, and how to maintain soil health. The role of organic matter and choices ... various approaches to starting a new bed ... understanding pH ... different mulches and deciding which is best ... 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.
ORNAMENTAL GRASSES. Choices,
Designing with, and Care.
A 2 1/2 hr workshop.
From adorable 8" tufts of steely blue fine textured leaves, to giant 12 foot stands of massive plumes that stand tall over the snows of winter, ornamental grasses offer tons of dramatic impact in any garden. Their contribution to a good planting design through their distinct texture is unrivaled. Essential for winter interest in any type of design or garden size, it's hard to imagine any garden without at least a few!
They have very different design roles and care needs than flowering plants though, and it's difficult to judge their potential beauty from a pot at the garden center in spring. So this workshop first goes through the unique design attributes of different grasses with a slide show of the many photos I've taken over the years, and then we'll do some hands-on work to learn how to care for them and divide their roots for renewal or sharing.
Not all grasses will work in all sun/soil conditions, so we'll also talk about the best choices for different site conditions - shade/dry/moist/etc, and debunk some of the common myths about their care. I'll also have live potted samples on hand to show you, and you'll go home with a few starter pieces that will result from a demonstration on how to divide them.
The GOOD, the BAD, and the
WEEDY. What exactly is a "weed"? 2hr workshop.
In my experience the worst "weeds" are among the plants I've purchased over the years at the garden center! This workshop offers a hit-list of the "be careful what you wish for" plants that are too aggressive for average garden conditions. But we'll also talk about having your cake and eating it too! - that is, how to keep aggressive plants under control, or highlight where their aggressive nature can be put to good use.
I wish I had a dime for every time I've heard a new gardeners 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 ull the wool over your eye though. What is an aggressive "weedy" plant for one person is an excellent groundcover or erosion control plant for another. 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 workshop covers not only the plants to avoid, but of course, or common garden weeds and how to control them too.
LAWN CARE THE NATURAL WAY.
A 2 hr workshop. 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 and your available maintenance time.
We'll first discuss how some of our traditional lawn maintenance 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 natural amount is healthy but excessive fertilizing and some of our other bad habits lead to thatch build up that cause problems.
- understanding insect control and how to prevent problem outbreaks. Grubs in particular can devastate a lawn but there are easy things you can do to prevent damage.
- natural growth patterns of cool season vs warm season grasses.
- alternatives to traditional turf.
Creating a DROUGHT TOLERANT GARDEN.
A 2hr workshop. There's 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 instead of installing expensive watering systems, 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.
details on the Courses -
Perennial Garden Essentials, or "Think Like a Plant!"
6 lessons, 1 per week. (current dates and times, above.)
Our comprehensive course that will lead you to growing with confidence. Through 6 detailed, 3hr lessons, I'll take us through all of the what's, why's and how's of establishing and caring for a mixed perennials & shrubs garden. While each lesson is designed to be a thorough coverage of each topic, they are designed to overlap and integrate with eachother so it becomes clear how everything works together. Plenty of time is worked in for lots of Q&A, and take home info sheets will give deeper detail. Whether you're gardening with perennials, shrubs, trees, or just a fresh planting of annuals each spring this course will give you lots of fresh insight to make your gardening experience more successful and enjoyable.
Gardening involves thousands of details and choices, but there are basic rules in the natural world which everything follows from. By the end of the course you'll understand why such and such is done in the garden, not just when and how. You'll understand how one action leads to another, and how to make decisions that make sense for your particular garden goals. Without getting bogged down in technical jargon, we'll go through ... ABOUT ME: I've been running this course for over 15 years, and have received many accolades on my unique approach to teaching what can sometime seem like a complicated topic. Underlying each lesson is not just standard horticultural knowledge, but my own decades of experience and enjoyment. I caught the gardening bug while in my 20's and, (at the risk of dating myself), it's now a few decades later, yet my enthusiasm for the possibilities of plants and gardens continues. There is no formal horticultural training under my tool belt, but over the years my incessantly curious nature led me to research every success and failure to learn from it and grow my gardening knowledge. Then came operating a garden specialty bookstore where each curiosity could be thoroughly explored. More hands on experience came my way over the past 12 years through my garden design and maintenance service launched in 2006, where I've been exposed to different garden conditions and design tastes that helped me learn more about all the variables of sun, soil, and plant choices, balanced with different garden styles. In a nutshell, I've been a garden nerd for most of my life! That's really the only way to say it. To this day, I still get a rush of excitement when meeting a new plant to play with, or a new garden to play in. My approach to teaching is just as much about instilling an excitement over the gardening experience as it is about teaching common-sense how-tos.
... ABOUT THE COURSE: A non-dummies approach through lessons that focus on helping you really understand some of the basic plant science at work. I've developed each lesson to result in common-sense decisions falling into place, rather than giving you a bunch of rules to follow. There's lots of conflicting advice and information out there in the gardening marketplace and this course is focused on helping you cut through the jargon and arms you with what you need to know to make the right choices for you, your own garden's site conditions, and your available maintenance time. Once you're at the end of the course and out in your own garden this season, you'll be able to juggle all the facts and variables yourself and have all the ammunition you need to feel confident about what to do and the choices you make. An agenda of topics covered is below.
(Email anytime if you have questions about whether this course is right for you. I cover a lot of ground in it, (pun intended!) but I do my best to avoid getting bogged down in technical information you're unlikely to need.) Cheers! Evelyn Wolfthe basic science at work so it will all start to make sense. 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. (... and the budget too!). EVERYTHING you do in a garden is interconnected.
... COURSE AGENDA
The Language of Plants. What exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Bulb, Shrub, etc. and why it matters to know. This may sound like a somewhat irrelevant and boring topic, but without at least a basic understanding of plant and gardening terminology, no one would ever be able to build on their knowledge. Understanding how the plant groups differ determines everything that follows for their best care. So this is the lesson that starts us off right!
Hardiness Zones and what determines a plant's hardiness ... what it means to your plant selection and positioning in your garden, it's care and handling, and how to push its zone hardiness boundaries.
Thinking Like a Plant. This lesson is at the heart of course. ... walking through what is happening when in a plant's seasonal cycles.
Plant life cycles and how each plant's personal growth/dormancy routine dictates the ebb and flow of energy, nutrition needs, and why they grow differently at different points of the season. What a plant is doing, when, is critial to knowing what you should be doing, when. This lesson provides many "ah ha" moments where participants begin to understand what's behind some of the occurrences in their garden and how to customize a maintenance routine to get the most blooming performance and all-season beauty out of their plants. Successful gardening is 100% about advance planning, not reacting to events, and this lesson makes clear all the natural forces we're working together with and how to plan accordingly.
The Living Earth. A thorough look at the underground soil 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.
Stop the Torture! 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. Here's all the How's, Why's and When's that you need for beautiful, healthy shrubs.
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 pest management techniques.
Early Spring / Late Fall to-do list. A walk through the season detailing all the different things that should be on your to-do list regularly to keep ahead of problems.
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 explanations and help you connect the dots.
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...etc. (You'll go home with a few starter sized plants resulting from the clumps we'll be dividing.)
Your New Garden - a course for BEGINNERS.
3 lesson course, 1 per week. 2 1/2 hour lessons.
A thorough beginner's course to get you started down the exciting and creative path of gardening with perennials and shrubs to establish your first permanent garden. The cost of this course will be quickly recouped by avoiding even just one common beginners' mistake!
There's tons of details to learn before you can dig-in with confidence, but first things first. As with any learning curve, there are basic skills to thoroughly understand before anything else will stick. This course is designed to thoroughly cover all the basics you'll need to know to grow your knowledge and successfully start your first garden. As much as weather allows for, we'll be out in the garden for hands-on demos, and there will be lots of Q&A time available to address your own garden concerns. Here's the main topics covered -
The Language of Gardening. What exactly is a Perennial, Annual, Bulb, Shrub, etc. and why it matters to know. Without a thorough understanding of how the types of plants differ, its hard to decide which to choose for your first garden. So this is the lesson that starts us off right. ... types of plants ... plant "hardiness" ... winter protection ... mulches, soil, pH, tools ... full sun/partial shade/ ... products on the market and when/how to use them ...
The Living Earth. Sandy loam? Hard clay? Beach-like Sand? Good-enough drainage? Analyzing the soil type you have and how to improve it to grow the plants you want or to choose plants accordingly. What's the difference between "triple mix" ... "top soil ... compost ... how your mulch choices matter ... when to add organic matter ... using fertilizers ...
Step by Step through starting your first garden. Pulling together what you've learned so far into a common-sense approach to starting a new garden. ... preparing your soil ... where to put your garden ... choosing and spacing plants correctly ... planting design rules-of-thumb ... growing vegetables for your dinner table ...
General Garden Maintenance. Choosing the right type of garden and plants that work well with your available maintenance time ... tips to lessen necessary maintenance ... weeding and identifying your enemies ... deadheading ... lawn maintenance ... the best plants for success as a beginner ...
Shrub & small tree pruning. Not as straightforward a topic as most beginners realize! Correct shrub pruning is the main topic to get right for a beautiful and healthy garden for the long term. We'll cover the main do's and don't's to get your started down the right path.
Email to reserve your spot!
Class size is limited to 10. evelyn@GardenPossibilities.com Cheers! Evelyn
more details on a few of our most popular workshops -
Shrub and Small Tree 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 causes stems from a misunderstanding about what happens within the plant when a branch is 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, non-flowering tips, with old, bare, and 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, sculpted and growing in a way you want. 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 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 (small tree form); maximum blooming each season; accentuated natural shape; 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.
We'll focus on shrubs but also cover the training of a young trees, plus the 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.
Hope to see you at this workshop this year! Evelyn
P.S. Last year I had to have 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 branch joint 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!