Do you need a speaker or workshop facilitator for your club or organization?
Our speakers educate on ecological gardening practices, share their deep horticultural knowledge and inspire with possibilities for what your yard could become.
We’re happy to tailor our presentation topics or offer custom talks with enough advance notice. If you don’t see the topic you’re interested in, let us know – we’re always looking for new ideas!
While our speakers don’t charge for their services, we ask for an honorarium of $50.00 per hour payable to Rideau Thousand Islands Master Gardeners. A negotiated mileage fee is also payable to the speaker.
To request a speaker, contact us.
Caring for your lawn and landscaping with lawn alternatives
Organic lawn care: A healthy lawn is easier and cheaper than you think. Topics include how to support grass feeding needs without synthetic fertilizers, how to convert a neglected lawn back into a lush, healthy grass ecosystem and maintenance tips for preventative care. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Holistic garden fertility management – working with nature: Best practices for taking care of your garden – holistically and organically. It all starts with the soil. You will be taken on a journey through the Soil Food Web which is the basis of a healthy, productive garden. Astrid Muschalla
Ornamental grasses. Speaker: Pat Haslett
Perfectly imperfect lawns (by design): Lawns are no longer just about grass monocultures. You can have a polyculture lawn that’s stunning and ecologically friendly. Less mowing. No watering. No fertilizing. Wildlife friendly. Embrace the imperfection of a flowering lawn! Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Putting your garden to bed for the winter: Fall clean-up and winterproofing your garden. Speaker: Nancy Louwman
Wipe out weeds, the organic way. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Good weed, bad weed: Learn to identify common weeds, understand what they’re telling you about your soil, decide how to control them and why you might even want to love some of them just the way they are. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Nurturing the soil
Soil health approach: Soil secrets are uncovered. Learn how bacteria and fungi, the soil’s structural engineers, create good soil health which in turn grows healthier plants, increase yields, reduces fertilizer needs, prevents leaching and erosion, holds more water and saves money. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Become a worm wrangler through vermi composting: Worm castings (poop) contain 8 times as many microbes as their feeed, no disease pathogens, 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than ordinary soil so a little goes a long way. This is the a-z of how to farm worms successfully. It’s easy and fun too! Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Indoor bokashi composting: An easy DIY method for creating fertility for your garden. Bokashi composting starts the process of decomposing things that would otherwise be harmful in an outdoor aerobic compost pile such as meats, dairy and fats. Another benefit is that less carbon is converted to carbon dioxide and so more available carbon is recycled into the ecosystem with a greater chance of converting into humus. The nutrients are also not as water soluble and therefore less prone to leaching away with watering – and so more for your plants! Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Foundation of healthy gardens: wild soil inhabitants: A healthy garden starts from the ground up. Introducing the Soil Food Web – an interdependent web of life. The plant you see above ground is actually in a complex symbiosis with soil microbes in the root zone. If you don’t know what organisms are present in your soil and on your plants, much of your garden management is being left to chance. This talk is about ways to keep your soil healthy which in turn grows healthier plants. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Making compost tea and other brews: Compost tea and effective microorganism brews are a holistic approach to garden health. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to plant health. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
How to build a hugelkultur bed: Learn to make garden beds from old logs, twigs, and garden waste. Hugelkultur beds build soil fertility, retain moisture, improve drainage, sequester carbon in the soil, maximize growing space and increase soil temperature just enough to boost plant growth. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Designing your garden
Getting started: soil and garden design elements.
Speaker: Don Richardson
ABC’s of garden design: It’s easier than you think – using the macro and micro views – to ensure good garden design criteria are met. Designer Astrid, whose gardens have been featured on numerous garden tours, CTV garden of the month and Doors Open will show you how. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Garden creation and planting: Building a garden from scratch is easier and cheaper than you think. We’ll look at two methods of building your garden: lasagna bed making and double digging. We’ll also talk about what to look for when buying plants and demonstrate the best planting method. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Container planting: Discover how to create the best soil mix for container growing and an easy, low maintenance watering process. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Designing rainscapes: Water brings our gardens and landscapes to life. Rainscapes are about water in all its forms – still and moving, above and below ground – and the rich design possibilities rain offers. Create a simple rain garden or turn your whole landscape into a rainscape that captures, stores and conserves water and creates a beautiful, wildlife friendly garden. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Hardy and tender bulbs: Learn how to distinguish the difference between hardy and tender bulbs with numerous examples of both. Discover how to care for your tender bulbs and learn best planting methods to produce beautiful spring and summer blooms as well as growing indoors and “forcing” techniques.
Speaker: Doris Power
The Netherlands and UK garden tour: Discover The Floriade: The World Horticultural Expo, the Keukenhof and other fabulous gardens of The Netherlands. And be inspired by several English gardens while learning about plantings and some great history.
Speaker: Doris Power
Success with roses in a zone 3-5 garden. Speaker: Nancy Louwman
Creating edible landscapes: vegetables, herbs, berries, fruits and nuts
Gardening organically – best practices: How do you garden successfully without fertilizers and pesticides to keep things healthy? We’ll examine plant needs and how to support them in order to grow the most nutritious and delicious food plants. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Tiered & raised beds. Speaker: Carol Hegadorn
Haskap berries. Speaker: Carol Hegadorn
Growing garlic is easy. Speaker: Carol Hegadorn
Increasing vegetable garden yields by attracting pollinators to your vegetable garden. Speaker: Nancy Louwman
Growing from seed: seed saving and seed starting techniques: Widen your horizons by growing your own plant material from seed. Tips for saving seeds and starting them for your spring garden. Speaker: Nancy Louwman
Recipe for a great herb garden: top 16 picks: Discover Astrid’s top 16 picks for the kitchen garden – which herbs to grow and how to harvest them. The Scent of the Orient; The Aroma of the Mediterranean; The Spice of Mexico. Simplify the world of making great food taste greater! We’ll talk about how to plan your herb garden, growing edible flowers and choosing plants. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Designing an edible landscape: Whether you have a small space or a large lot, you can have a beautiful garden and eat it too! Edible landscapes are a low maintenance, sustainable method of growing food for yourself, providing a habitat for wildlife, and beautifying your home. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Growing native edibles: Did you know that many of our native plants, in addition to feeding pollinators and the birds, can feed us as well? Learn which native plants are good to eat and how to include them in your garden design. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Nuts about nuts: Imagine harvesting your own walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, heartnuts, or chestnuts. Discover the beauty of the surprising number of nut varieties that you can grow in the Thousand Islands. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Forgotten berries of the old world, little known berries of the new world: Discover the wonderful world of berries. Red and black currants, gooseberries, blackberries and elderberries – once common in home gardens – are making a comeback. These, along with our native chokeberries, mulberries, saskatoons, ground cherries, cranberries, black cherries are worth considering for your landscape. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Landscaping with trees and shrubs
Landscaping with native trees & shrubs: Learn about the wonderful variety of native trees and shrubs you can choose from to increase biodiversity, attract birds and beautify your yard. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Why, when and how to prune: Pruning is one of the least understood aspects of gardening and yet knowing when to prune (and more importantly, when not to prune) is critical for growing strong, healthy, attractive trees and shrubs. We’ll take a holistic view of why, when, and how to prune – debunking some common myths along the way.
Speakers: Joyce Hostyn, Astrid Muschalla
Increasing biodiversity and attracting wildlife to your garden
Designing with native plants: Astrid is amongst a growing number of garden designers championing the naturalist approach to garden design. She says “work with nature, not against; move towards a place that allows both nature and human habitation.” A two-time Evergreen nominee for outstanding contributions to urban stewardship in Ontario, a volunteer with stewardship programs which encourages the use of native plants, Astrid also volunteers as a Master Gardener for Rideau 1000 Islands. “Seeing the way plants grow around the world convinced me that the natural balance and beauty there can be reinterpreted to create gardens which are both calming and exciting. There is an inherent grace in the wild which I believe should be encouraged into our gardens. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Pollinator gardens: growing the best plants to attract a wide variety of pollinators. Find out which plants and what design criteria are the best for supporting our much needed pollinators while still looking good.
Speakers: Nancy Louwman, Pat Haslett, Astrid Muschalla
Garden pests: Did you know that only 1% of the pests in your garden are BAD? Learn about the “fearsome 5”, how to recognize them, how they reproduce and how to eradicate them. Information on how to deal with some 4-legged varieties of garden pests is included. This knowledge will equip you for a more productive, enjoyable garden. Speaker: Doris Power
Eradicating Invasive plants: What’s invading next? Alien invasives are proving to be aggressive monocultures destroying native habitats. As a result we are loosing native species which changes the land use, water quality and does not support desireable wildlife and plants. You will learn how to identify, remove and replace alien invasive plants with desireable native species to keep our natural areas functioning as healthy ecosystems. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla
Gardening for the birds: Increase the number and variety of birds in your yard by designing a garden that provides the food niches, nesting sites, shelter, water, and safety that birds need. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Reimagining hedges: designing a native hedge: Why put up a fence when you can create multi-season beauty and provide wildlife habitat by designing a native hedgerow? Use hedges to create garden rooms, provide privacy & screening, grow edible fruits, nuts & berries while also offering shelter to birds and other wildlife. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Embracing ecology, magic and wonder
The life changing magic of gardening: When I first become a gardener, I grew plants. Specimens bursting with vibrant colours, oversize blooms and striking foliage. In becoming a master gardener, I’ve tossed the notion that gardening is about growing plants onto the compost heap. My journey of discovery into new ways of seeing, growing and loving has tumbled me into a new, more magical relationship with my garden and with the earth. One is which I strive to think like a plant, find belonging in the ecosystem that I call home and embrace beautiful mess. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn
Wabi Sabi: seeing the beauty of a naturally imperfect garden: Increase beauty and enchantment in your garden by embracing the ancient Japanese practice of wabi sabi. Loosely translated wabi is simplicity (elegant or rustic) and sabi means the beauty of age, wear or seasons. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn