Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau provides your organization or garden club with a 45 minute to one hour presentation by an expert Master Gardener. From a long list, you can select a topic that is appropriate for your group. A fee is charged for this service to help support the many programs that Master Gardeners provide.

Programs are offered on a variety of topics and are generally 45 minutes to 1 hour in length. The program fee is $100 based on your organization's ability to pay. This fee funds our many outreach programs, including Speakers Bureau and our demonstration gardens in North and South Park. After scheduling a program, we will send you a confirmation letter with speaker information and program details. If your group is interested in scheduling a speaker or if you have any questions, please email Philip Bauerle, pjb37@psu.edu.

Basic Gardening Skills

Cool Tools & Other Stuff for the Gardener

This program is a 'Show-n-Tell' style program where tools and their use will be demonstrated. Many topics will be discussed including uncommon gardening tools (for pruning, digging, weeding etc.), accessories (gloves, holsters, light meters, knee pads etc.), environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers, and useful publications. Handouts are provided for each of the items shown and include the name/model, approximate cost, internet source and a summary of features.

Building Closed Terrariums

Terrariums are all the rage! Closed terrariums are mostly airtight and, once built, require minimum maintenance. This presentation will take you through the process of building a closed terrarium. All necessary components will be discussed including the choice of appropriate containers, soil, amendments, plants, and non-plant materials. Design considerations are important and numerous designs will be shown.

Beneficial Insects

One of the avocations which brings people in close contact with insects is gardening.While insects that are garden pests get all of the press, there are many more insects at play in the garden. These beneficial insects can be native pollinators, which help ensure fruit and vegetable crops, or can be predator insects, which eat the more famous pest insects.

Pruning: The Kindest Cut

Pruning is one of the least-understood aspects of gardening, and yet is critical for a healthy and attractive landscape. Knowing when to prune can be just as important as knowing how to prune. When done correctly, pruning can rejuvenate overgrown trees and shrubs, increase plant vigor, and improve appearance. Proper formative pruning also gets young trees and shrubs off to a good start, resulting in healthier and more beautiful assets in the landscape. This class will cover tools, safety, and pruning techniques for trees and shrubs.

Starting Plants from Seed

Starting your own transplants gives you a greater selection of varieties than you are likely to find in your local garden center, especially if you want to grow heirloom or unusual varieties of plants. Learn what you need to do to succeed at starting and growing your own transplants.

Frugal Gardening: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

You can incorporate these three Rs into your garden. Many of us are looking for ways to save money. Others are looking for ways to live more ecologically-friendly lives. Come to this class and learn a host of frugal gardening tips. Following the yearly garden calendar, we will discuss ways to reduce costs and save time (And isn’t time just another form of money?)

Fall Clean Up: Savoring the Last of the Season

(evening only)

Fall is a great time to be in the garden. The weather is cooler, and there is still time to create new beds, divide perennials, and tackle hardscaping projects. We can also enjoy the outdoors as we “put the garden to bed.” Learn tips and techniques for preparing your garden for winter. Not only will you be rewarded with a healthier garden next summer. Also, your garden will be more beautiful all winter long.

Poisonous Plants

Vegetation sustains life. People eat a variety of plants everyday but there are some plants that are toxic to people. This presentation will include the identification of plants that are far from beneficial to humans. Learn about the plants that are toxic when ingested and those that cause dermatitis to sensitive humans merely by touch.

Garden Design

The Peony and the Glories of the June Perennial Garden

Almost all of us grow peonies, or know someone who grows them. But how do we care for these beloved plants? Throughout this presentation we will explore the care of the peony, as well as highlighting companion plants that complement these glorious flowers.

Perennials in the Garden, 3 Seasons of Color

In this presentation we will look closely at an example perennial garden and how it changes throughout the growing season. There will be a discussion of appropriate plants for the 3 season garden as well as care and maintenance of the perennial border.

Designing Your Landscape

(evening only)

Whether you are starting with a bare lot or want to renovate an overgrown yard, there are several principles for turning your property into a beautiful landscape that meets your functional needs. Come and learn the basics that professionals use to create pleasing outdoor spaces. Discover how to devise a master plan for your property, or how to rework just one area of your garden. We will also discuss hardscaping, the elements of form, color, and repetition of plant material, and how you can incorporate these into your overall site design.

Rain Gardens to the Rescue!

Rain gardens are a means to manage water year round.  They function to detain water so that it gradually infiltrates into the soil, rather than flooding areas. When correctly installed, rain gardens serve to link the built environment of paving and buildings with the natural environment.

This program includes information on constructing a rain garden as well as a list of appropriate plants.

Trees of Pennsylvania

An overview of the trees typically found in a Pennsylvania forest. In this presentation the common uses of trees, preferred environments, pests and the interrelation of trees will be discussed.

Landscaping in Deer Country

Is there anything we can do to discourage deer from destroying our gardens? In this presentation the facts about our 'enemy' and how to use these facts to the gardener's advantage will be discussed. Plants highlighted are those recommended as deer resistant in Western Pennsylvania by Master Gardeners. This is a 25 minute presentation.

Ornamental Plants

Plants with Pizazz

With the many new plant introductions each year, how do you know which ones will perform best in your garden? In this presentation a selection of both woody and herbaceous plants that will liven up your garden will be discussed.  Special emphasis will be on plants that provide a fun focal point in your garden, whether it's in the sun or shade.

Just Grow Up! Vertical Gardening

Gardeners the world over have a renewed interest in vertical gardening. Although the concept is thousands of years old, an increase in urban living has created the need for new and efficient ways to grow vertically. Living walls, tuteurs, pergolas and wall pockets can be utilized to maximize space. Come learn what's up in the world of vertical gardening.

Best Plants for a Carefree Garden

Would you love to have a wonderful perennial garden without hours of maintenance? Have your previous attempts at gardening ended in failure? This class will provide you with information on selecting trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs which require little or no maintenance, have long bloom times, multi-season interest and are disease resistant. Let us help you beautify your space and still give you time to enjoy it!

Containers by Design

Container gardening is more popular today than it has ever been. It is a flexible way to garden, allowing even the person with a small urban lot or patio the ability to grow flowers. Learn how to select plants that will complement your containers, as well as provide interesting textural and color variations. Techniques for maintaining healthy plants throughout the season will be provided.

Let’s Try Something New!

Based on the 2011 plant trials at the demonstration gardens in North and South Park, Master Gardeners will share some of the newest and best introductions of annuals and perennials that were grown in the gardens. The demonstration gardens showcase flowering plants that perform well in our climate and soils, and require minimal maintenance. This presentation includes favorites of the Master Gardeners and visitors to the garden, as well as nectar and host plants for bees and other pollinators.  Several varieties of basil and garlic are now grown in the demonstration gardens. Varieties of basil, garlic and tomatoes that received the most votes at the tastings during Garden in the Parks Field Day in August 2011 are also featured.

Pollinator Gardening

Did you know that one out three bites of food that you eat is dependent on pollinators? In addition to honeybees, there are thousands of native bees that are important pollinators. Learn how to create a pollinator-friendly landscape that encourages biodiversity in the environment.

Organic Pest Control

Is your garden out of control? Have you done all the "right things", but are still losing the war against insects and diseases? Are you looking for safe, organic solutions? If so, it is time to take a look at research-based, organic pest control strategies and products.

Bulbs. Bulbs. Bulbs!!

(evening only, except during summer)

Nothing refreshes a gardener’s soul like those first flowering bulbs peeking up through the snow and cold…spring can’t be too far off. Come join us for a look at a variety of bulbs, as well as the proper planting and care of these spring-blooming treasures.

The Garden in Winter

(evening only)

Some say that the test of a true gardener lies in how their garden looks in winter. Come learn how you can make your garden look great and interesting even through this neglected season through the use of form, structure, color, texture, and yes, even flowers!


Growing Small Fruits

It is very satisfying to eat fruit that you have grown and harvested from your own garden. This program explores the requirements of growing small fruits and a limited discussion on varietal choices. For the purpose of this class, small fruit includes berries, currants and rhubarb. These fruits are easily integrated into your garden because they do not require a great deal of space.

Edible Landscaping

With an increased interest in growing your own food, heirloom fruits and vegetables are now mainstream. Seed companies and nurseries are providing homeowners with many more options of attractive edible plants for the landscape. Fruits and vegetables can easily be incorporated into a shrub border providing both beauty and a source of quality food. If space is limited, edibles can be grown in containers or window boxes. Consider planting a flowering fruit tree rather than a purely ornamental specimen. It is fun to experiment with edibles and the rewards are delicious!

Culinary Herb Gardening

Growing and harvesting your own culinary herbs can add wonderful flavor and fragrance to dishes, beauty to your garden, and a touch of nature to your home. This presentation provides an overview of herb growing, propagation and harvesting techniques, followed by details of how to identify, cultivate, and use culinary herbs. Learn how to grow and enjoy these attractive and useful plants in your garden and indoors.

Spices and Herbs Used in Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is as old as its civilization and as diverse as its population. In this class, learn how to identify and use the common as well as unique aromatic spices and herbs in Indian cuisine and the factors (topography, religion, culture and historical influence) that brought about the regional diversity of the cuisine over the centuries.

Vegetable Gardening

Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying forms of gardening. In today’s economy, many are now turning to their backyard vegetable plots to help lessen high grocery bills. Vegetable gardening provides the opportunity to select the varieties you like; plus it provides your family with fresh produce that is free from harmful pesticides. This class will cover the basics of planning your vegetable garden, preparing the soil, selecting plant and seed varieties (including hyb rids and heirlooms), starting plants from seed, planting, tending your plants, troubleshooting problems, harvesting, extending the season, getting the most out of small plots, and putting the garden to bed for the winter.

Preserving the Harvest

How do you choose the right plant varieties if you want to preserve? How do you pick which method to preserve your harvest? Preserving is easy, fun, and satisfying. Come to this class and learn the basics of canning, drying, and freezing. Recipes included.