Speaker’s Bureau

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


Thyme is a pollinator friendly lawn alternative

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

Flowering Bee Lawns: A bee lawn is a carpet of low growing fescues and flowering plants that resembles a traditional lawn but stays low, seldom requires mowing, handles foot traffic, stays green even during droughts and helps feed our pollinators!
Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Benefits of Designing with Native Grasses and Sedges: Did you know that native grasses and sedges are an important habitat and food source for butterflies and moths? Whether you’re interested increasing biodiversity or simply looking for a beautiful, drought tolerant alternative to high maintenance lawns, native grasses and sedges are wonderful additions to your landscape. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

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

hugelbed 2

Using hugelkultur to prepare a new garden bed

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 Successful 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 – The 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 a Rain Garden: In addition to being a beautiful addition to your yard, rain gardens help solve drainage problems, minimize stormwater runoff, filter pollutants, recharge groundwater and provide a habitat for hummingbirds and butterflies. 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

Creating edible landscapes: vegetables, herbs, berries, fruits and nuts

Starting Small project - Double herb barrel

Beautiful edible container garden by Rosalind Creasy

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

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

Growing Perennial Vegetables: Plant once and harvest edibles forever. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

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

Growing Nut Trees: Imagine harvesting your own walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, heartnuts, or chestnuts. Discover 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


Native Trees of Eastern Ontario: Learn about the trees native to our Great Lakes–St. Lawrence forest ecosystem, how they contribute to the web of life that sustains us and why you should consider planting native trees. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Native Shrubs of Eastern Ontario: Learn about the shrubs native to our Great Lakes–St. Lawrence forest ecosystem, how they contribute to the web of life that sustains us and why you should consider planting native shrubs. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs: Think beyond Norway maples, yews, weeping mulberries, junipers, burning bush and spireas. Learn about the wonderful variety of trees and shrubs you can choose from to increase biodiversity, offer year round interest and beautify your yard. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Tree Maintenance and Pruning Basics: We’ll start by debunking commonly held myths about trees and pruning. Trees are intelligent living beings – most outlive us by many hundreds of years. They can do that because they have evolved techniques to adapt to their environment, including physical stressors such as wind, snow load, injury, loss of limbs and so on. Consequently they know exactly how and where and in what direction to create new branches to optimize light exposure and balance their highly sophisticated structures. They don’t need pruning to “open up the canopy to light,” “balance the scaffold” or “reduce disease susceptibility.” We’ll take a holistic view of tree maintenance and pruning with a view to minimizing damage to a tree. Speakers: Astrid Muschalla, Joyce Hostyn

Increasing biodiversity and attracting wildlife to your yard


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

Designing with Native Plants for Pollinators: Going wild doesn’t mean it has to be messy. Find out which plants and what design criteria are the best for supporting our much needed pollinators while still looking good. Speakers: Pat Haslett, Astrid Muschalla

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden. Speaker: Pat Haslett

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

Native Bees of Eastern Ontario: Did you know your yard might contain as many as 50 species of bees – some nesting and foraging and others visiting for pollen and nectar while nesting on a neighbour’s property. Learn to identify some common bees and how to make your yard more welcoming. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Invasive Plant Species: Not all aliens are toxic to the environment. But invasive plant species need our help to stay in check or they may quickly get out of control, costing us dearly. Learn how invasive plants harm our landscape, the invasive landscapes in our area and the best approaches for controlling them without harming the environment or ourselves. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla

Beneficial Insects of Eastern Ontario: Before reaching for a pesticide, take a closer look at the insects in your garden. While insect pests are attacking your plants, beneficial predator insects are coming to the rescue. Learn to recognize ten beneficial insects and how to welcome them to your garden. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

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

Hedgerows: Grow an Edible Living Fence: Instead of sheared hedges, which are high maintenance, monotonous and susceptible to pests and disease, why not plant a diverse hedgerow full of native and edible shrubs. Hedgerows are a beautiful, low maintenance alternative to fences – giving you privacy and berries to snack as well as providing food, protection from predators, nesting sites and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn