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Your Home | Garden Secrets

Dig in

Classes -- from a session on sustainable lawn care to a summer pruning workshop -- promise to make your thumb a little greener.

By Christie Matheson
May 1, 2011

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Thanks to continually increasing interest in green spaces and ultra-local produce, it’s cooler than ever to coax those plants, flowers, and veggies from the soil with your own two hands. No matter what kind of gardener you are – or aspire to be – there are courses that can teach you a few tricks. (Classes may fill up, so it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure you can get a spot.)

For traditionalists

As the weather – ah, finally – gets warm enough for flowers to grow, brush up on the blooms that do best before summer’s heat hits at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Spring Annuals and Perennials lecture and walking tour (May 11, 7 p.m., Elm Bank Horticulture Center, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, 617-933-4900, http://www.masshort.org). Members $10, nonmembers $15

Create an even more aesthetically pleasing garden by studying how to Design With Plants at Arnold Arboretum (starts June 7, 6:30 p.m., Hunnewell Building, 125 Arborway, Boston, 617-384-5277, http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu). In five two-hour sessions, learn about plant forms and functions and gorgeous garden layouts. Members $140, nonmembers $170

Learn the classic landscape design technique of developing vertical space with vines at Arnold Arboretum’s Woody Vines for the Garden course (June 15, 6 p.m., Dana Greenhouse Classroom, 125 Arborway, Boston, 617-384-5277, http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu). Members $20, nonmembers $25

If you find out-of-control rhododendrons and azaleas unsightly, check out the Trustees of Reservations’ hands-on Summer Pruning Workshop (June 29, 5 p.m., Long Hill, 572 Essex Street, Beverly, 978-921-1944, http://www.thetrustees.org). Members $15, nonmembers $20

For trendsetters

Want to be eco-friendly? Try growing your own food. You can get the dirt on selecting, laying out, and taking care of vegetables at Mass Hort’s how-to on The Great New England Vegetable Garden (May 4, 7 p.m., Elm Bank Horticulture Center, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, 617-933-4900, http://www.masshort.org). Members $10, nonmembers $15

Make your grass the greenest around – and safer and better for the environment, too. Discover the art of Sustainable Lawn Care Basics using organic practices with the help of the Trustees of Reservations (May 7, 10 a.m., Long Hill, 572 Essex Street, Beverly, 978-921-1944, http://www.thetrustees.org). Members $8, nonmembers $12

There’s a lot of (ahem) buzz about bees these days – and about the cool cult hobby of being an urban bee farmer. Delve into the mystery of the disappearing bees, understand why bees are so important, and learn how to choose a location for a hive, set it up, manage the swarm, and harvest your own honey at the Boston Center for Adult Education’s Urban Beekeeping class (July 23, 11 a.m., 122 Arlington Street, Boston, 617-267-4430, http://www.bcae.org). Members $43, nonmembers $50, plus $10 for materials for both groups

Bees are not the only garden-friendly insects. The New England Wild Flower Society’s Butterflies and Other Pollinators in Your Garden (July 12, 9:30 a.m., Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, 508-877-7630, http://www.newenglandwild.org) teaches you how to create backyard habitats for an assortment of at-risk pollinators. Members $68, nonmembers $82

For newbies

Enjoy an easy introduction to the growing life with Boston Natural Areas Network’s Seed, Sow & Grow class Vegetable Garden Basics (May 14, 10 a.m., City Natives, 30 Edgewater Drive, Mattapan, 617-542-7696, http://www.bostonnatural.org). You’ll gain an understanding of soil, plant spacing, watering, and more. Free (registration required)

Have kids who love digging in the dirt? Bring them to the Trustees of Reservations’ Children’s Garden Opening Day (May 18, 3:30 p.m., Long Hill, 572 Essex Street, Beverly, 978-921-1944, http://www.thetrustees.org), and you’ll learn a lot about how plants grow – and get one to take home and grow yourselves. Members free, nonmember children $5 (registration advised; space is limited)

For the space-constrained

Who cares if you don’t have acres of stunningly landscaped lawn? Go for little bursts of high style. Mass Hort’s Gorgeous Container Gardens (May 25, 7 p.m., Elm Bank Horticulture Center, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, 617-933-4900, http://www.masshort.org) can guide you. Members $10, nonmembers $15 (reservations not required)

The New England Wild Flower Society’s Container Gardening with Native Plants (June 9, 10 a.m., Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, 508-877-7630, http://www.newenglandwild.org) brings the from-here ethos to your window boxes. Members $30, nonmembers $36 (registration required)

Even if you’re a city mouse, you can create your own Garden of Eden (a small one, but still). Sign up for the BCAE’s Container Gardening for the Urban Dweller (July 16, 10 a.m., 122 Arlington Street, Boston, 617-267-4430, http://www.bcae.org) and learn how. Members $40, nonmembers $45, plus $10 for materials (registration required)

For the hard-core

Commit to Mass Hort’s once-a-week Master Gardener Training Program for 13 weeks, and you’ll come away with a deep-seeded (ha) knowledge of soil science, plant pathology, pruning, and propagation. (Begins September 8, 9 a.m., applications due by May 31, Elm Bank Horticulture Center, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley, 617-933-4900, http://www.masshort.org) $500, plus $50 for materials

Become a real pro at working with indigenous plants as you earn a Certificate in Native Plant Horticulture and Design from the New England Wild Flower Society (multiple dates, Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, 508-877-7630, http://www.newenglandwild.org). Requirements include six core courses (for example, Wildflowers of New England and Residential Landscape Design), four electives, and 15 hours of plant-related community service.

Christie Matheson is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.