Talks & Workshops

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 do ask for an honorarium  payable to Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners. The honorarium supports our educational work. A mileage fee is also payable to the speaker.

To request a speaker, contact us.

Wildscaping: Landscaping with lawn alternatives

A clump of thyme in bloom
Thyme is a pollinator friendly lawn alternative

Natives and nativars: Do our plant choices at the nursery matter?  The number of dramatic, native cultivars has exploded with garden centres offering selections like red yarrow, double coneflowers, and red leaved shrubs like elderberries. How do we choose between them to provide the maximum benefit to local wildlife? Speaker: Nancy Louwman

Wildscaping: a new approach to gardening in a changing climate: With climate change, our perspective on what a garden should be and what we like to grow in it has to change. Our weather is becoming more variable with wetter springs, drier summers, colder winters and more extreme storms. Learn how to adapt your gardening style for a changing climate, drawing inspiration from our local landscapes and indigenous flora to create naturalistic and sustainable gardens. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

My front yard Little Forest: My front yard Little Forest is an ever changing conversation with the land. I designed a little. Squirrels and birds designed a lot. I negotiated with the land. Serendipity brings in something new. A harsh winter brings death. Wild plants otherwise known as weeds are often welcomed when they show up on their own. Nursery plants that turn out to be misfits are weeded out. I’ve altered my perspective over time on what a garden is and what it means to be a gardener. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

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

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

Sedgscaping: Think of the sedge or carex family as an early-season grass that looks good all summer. Not only do carex look good, they’re durable, adaptable plants that enhance the health of an entire plant community. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Meadowscaping: convert your lawn into a meadowscape even bylaw officers will love: A meadowscape is a wildish garden designed using primarily native plants (though you can mix in a few companionable non-natives) leveraging the power of systems and managed ecologically. 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

Designing with layered plant communities: Deepen your understanding plants, how they grow together in community and how they relate to their surroundings. Layered plant communities replicate the layered structure of wild forests, meadows and shrublands to maximize biodiversity, habitat, resilience & beauty. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Nurturing the soil

hugelbed 2
Using hugelkultur to prepare a new garden bed

Save our soil: What foods need to go back to the garden so our soil doesn’t get depleted?  Not all compost and mulches are created equal. We’ll discuss the science and techniques that work best for each type of garden area. Learn more about an often overlooked, yet essential part of gardening: quality composting and eco-mulching.

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.

Become a worm wrangler through vermi-composting: Worm castings (poop) contain 8 times as many microbes as their feed, 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!

Bokashi composting: From all kitchen scraps, including meats and bones, to soil, this closed system composting is great for small spaces and starts indoors….so composting all year round.

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.

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.

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


Garden creation and planning: 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.

Container planting: Discover how to create the best soil mix for container growing and an easy, low maintenance watering process.

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. 

Success with roses in a zone 3-5 garden
Speaker: Nancy Louwman

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

Starting Small project - Double herb barrel
Beautiful edible container garden by Rosalind Creasy

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. 

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 and how to preserve your herbs. Speaker: Astrid Muschalla

Foodscaping: 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

Landscaping with trees and shrubs


Forestscaping: Forests are a powerful ally in mitigating the impact of climate change. We can help reforest our city by forestscaping our yards. Forestscapes are naturally layered plant communities of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that support each other. Speaker: Joyce Hostyn

Designing a food forest: A food forest is an edible plant community centred around fruit (or nut) trees. Learn how to combine multi-functional plant species in layers to create a beautiful plant community that not only provides you with food, but supports pollinators and birds, stores water, improves soil fertility, increases pest resistance and captures carbon. 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.

Increasing biodiversity and attracting wildlife to your garden


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.

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.

Birdscaping: 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

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

Cultivating beauty, 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 gardens: 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