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Master Gardener Speakers Bureau

Need a speaker?

Master Gardener Volunteers are active, knowledgeable Orange County gardeners who give talks on a wide range of gardening subjects. They are trained in horticulture by Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Orange County. These enthusiastic men and women are sure to inspire your audience.

Through the Speakers Bureau program, Master Gardeners offer talks and workshops on a wide range of gardening and environmental issues, which run approximately 1 hour. Many of our Master Gardener speakers use digital images via laptop computers for their presentation. Topics can be tailored to meet the needs of your group.

A fee of $75 per talk/ or $60 per talk for three or more helps support all the work we do for the community. Your check should be made payable to Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County.

To arrange for a Master Gardener talk or workshop, contact Susan Ndiaye, Community Horticulture Educator at 845-344-1234 x250 or
Susan M. D'Egidio, Master Gardener Program Coordinator at 845-344-1234 x240 or

Please give us at least 6 weeks notice prior to your event, so we can best accommodate your needs.

A list of currently available presentations is listed on the attached pdf.  


Speakers Bureau Descriptions

*Children and adult versions


Ask a Master Gardener Table


Children's Gardening Activities


Container Gardening


Flower Arranging


Gardens of the World


Horticulture Therapy





Plants in the Garden


Seasonal Care



Trees and Shrubs




Gifts from Nature

Driftwood, shells, pine cones, grape vines, leaves, and flowers are just a few examples of “gifts” from nature that can be transformed into wreaths, note cards, wall hangings and more.Your will learn how items found in nature can inspire your creativity .

Ask a Master Gardener Table

Our Master Gardeners are at the ready to visit your event to answer any and all questions about gardening, environmental issues and pest problems. We'll set up a table loaded with practical information and opportunities to participate in programs throughout Orange County


Forcing Bulbs and Branches

Be inspired to create indoor color by forcing branches and bulbs into bloom in the middle of winter.

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs offer surprise, color, and drama when you need it most – after a long, gray winter.There are unusual species, and best of all – low maintenance.Learn about these underground miracles!We’ll cover which bulbs will do best in your location, design layout, how to plant and keep them going year after year. 

Children's Gardening Activities

Gardening with Children

Children love to work in the garden and grow plants.Discover techniques for creating child-friendly gardens and activities any child would enjoy.


Leaves come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and textures.They are the food factories of all trees.They accomplish the magic trick of turning sunlight into sugar.Let’s explore how they do this, and why they change color in the fall.



No sane person would throw away riches, right? But we do every time we toss our kitchen scraps into the disposal or blow away and bag fall leaves. Combining these “wastes” with garden clippings, weeds and shredded paper provides the very best “fertilizer.” It not only feeds your soil but also your plants. It's also an invaluable element in growing the most beautiful flowers and the tastiest, most nutritious veggies. Composting is so easy. Learn how.

Lasagna Gardening

Yes! Create new garden beds without backbreaking weeding, turning soil, and unhealthy poisons. By layering natural materials and topping off with good soil, you can plant immediately and then sit back and watch your work pay off. Sound appealing? Join us for the simple know-how.


Vermi = worm; Compost = combining. Putting worms together with food and paper scraps in a small crate creates wonderful fertilizer for your flowers and veggies. Anyone can do it. No effort required. Who knows, you may end up with a new pet.

Vermicomposting (For Adults)

Walking kitchen scraps to your compost heap in the dead of winter turn you off? Can't manage a compost pile? Try vermicomposting! Combine scraps and paper with worms in a small container to produce worm 'castings', one of the best composts known. No smell, no fuss, and by spring you'll have super rich compost to start off your growing season. We'll demonstrate.

Container Gardening

Creating Beautiful Container Gardens

There are a few tricks of the trade to making stunning containers of flowering plants. Knowing the mature size, light and moisture requirements of your chosen plants and an understanding of basic design go a long way to success. It's easy when you know the basic design principles and what plants work best.


Backyard Stewardship

Explore the basic actions we can do to help keep our yards a healthy, sustainable ecosystem. The birds, insects and animals will thank you!

Invasive Insects

Save time, money and prevent or minimize destruction to your garden and your town's beautiful trees by learning how to identify and control invasive insects. Gain insight into the life cycles, feeding habits and vulnerabilities of the worst offenders found in Orange County at this informative presentation.

Invasive Plants

Invasive plants take over and kill our native ones unbalancing and weakening whole ecosystems. Learn how to identify the most common invasives and how you can be effective in controlling their spread.

Organic Gardening

More than a fad, organic gardening harnesses natures' best practices and reaps superior results. Learn how best to enrich your soil, which disease and insect controls are non-toxic, sound gardening practices, as well as which plants require the least maintenance.

Rain Barrels

The Earth's surface is over 77% water, yet less than 1% is fresh and even less is available for use. It is our most precious resource. Installing and efficiently using a rain barrel can maximize what water we have. Soon it could be a necessity. It's easier to do than you think. Join us to learn how.

Rain Gardens

Problem spots and storm water runoff on your property are opportunities for creativity. Capitalize on a “wet” area or redirect storm water runoff by designing a rain garden using plants that thrive in damp soil. We will dispel any mystery to its installation and function. You can see a beautiful example at the Cornell Extension building.

Xeriscaping: Creating a Low Maintenance Water-Wise Landscape

Plants, like humans, each thrive when its' needs are met. If you have restrictions on water use, why not select and plant species that do well in dry conditions? You'll be amazed at how many interesting plants there are to work with.

Flower Arranging

A Flower Arranger’s Garden

If you love to create floral arrangements and would love to learn to grow your own materials, our Master Gardeners will share their secrets and new ideas for raising bodacious blooms. You’ll never look at your garden in the same way again.

Learn and apply basic design principles to several classic looks and flower species. We’ll discuss arranging styles and show you professional tricks of the trade, and materials used to create beautiful and appropriate floral arrangements for many occasions


Fruitful Containers

For those with limited space, growing fruit and vegetables in containers is a wonderful option.Our presentation will discuss the best containers, soil, and fertilizers, as well as which plant varieties to select, and effective maintenance practices for total success.Join us to learn a new way to garden.

Small Fruit for the Home Garden

Careful selection of the best berry varieties for your growing conditions ensures a successful harvest.We’ll provide growing information on the heartiest and tastiest berries that thrive in Orange County, identified through research at Cornell laboratories.

Gardens of the World

The Biblical Garden

There are innumerable references to plants in the bible.Learn fascinating facts about the plants mentioned in specific chapters and verses.

Visiting Local Gardens

There is so much to glean from visiting other’s gardens.It’s a great way to spend time relaxing and getting inspiration for new gardening ideas.Join us for a pictorial journey exploring some fine nearby gardens.


Drying and Storing Herbs

Explore which plants are easy to preserve.Harvesting, drying, preservation and storing techniques of flowers and herbs will be discussed in this informative talk.

Herb Gardening

Learn the cultural requirements for growing herbs, and the best ways to display them in the garden.Culinary uses, harvesting, and preservation will also be covered.

Lovely Lavender

A favorite scent for hundreds of years, lavender has become a classic in the garden.Learn about the varieties of lavender, how to grow them, and the many unusual uses for this lovely herb.

Horticulture Therapy

Essential Oils

Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic essences found in certain plants.This class will explore their history, production methods, countries of origin and some typical usage.

Reminiscence in Bloom

This hands-on interactive program is designed especially for seniors, nursing home residents and handicapped persons.We bring beautiful flowers, fruit and plants for participants to not only look at, but also feel and smell.Plant histories, as they relate to personal gardening stories and meaningful recollections will be explored.


African Violets

African Violets are easier to grow than they look.Of the hundreds of cultivars and varieties, most require similar, simple care.Become an expert and enjoy a window full of exotic blooms all year long.

Care and Selection of Holiday Gift Plants

No one wants to toss out those beautiful poinsettias, cyclamen and potted evergreens.But how does one keep them alive?If you are thinking of buying and keeping holiday plants, join us to learn which plants have the best chance of survival, and what each plant needs to complete its yearly life cycle.You’ll be enjoying them again next season!


Orchids appear formidable, exotic and persnickety to manage.But a plant is a plant, wanting its own specific needs and conditions.Once you learn proper potting soil formulas, watering techniques and light requirements, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

The Secret to Healthy Houseplants

Supplying the correct amounts of sunlight, water and appropriate soil is the best start to keeping healthy houseplants.Knowing which insects may appear on them, and how to prevent or get rid of them, will not be secrets after you learn about them at this informative presentation.


Garden Photography

Have you always longed to capture the beauty of the flowers you grow, but your photos are just not satisfactory?Discover tricks of the experts for capturing flowers, landscapes, and so much more.

The Language of Flowers

In Victorian times, each flower was assigned a particular meaning. Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime, as did sending secret messages expressed through flowers.Learn the quaint customs and rules of the language of flowers.

What is a GMO?

The GMO controversy is a hot topic.Learn exactly what is involved in the GMO industry, the pro’s and con’s, the facts and the fiction.

What Does Organic Mean?

“Organic” is a buzz-word.We see it on labelling, advertising, roadside stands, and grocery aisles.What exactly does “organic” mean?You will learn the facts and the falsehoods in this interesting presentation.


Attracting Butterflies to the Garden

Butterfly Bush is not the only way to lure beautiful butterflies.We’ll talk about which species to look for and their habits, the plants that supply the best food for larvae and the adults, and flower colors that best entice them.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are an ever-growing problem here in Orange County and around the world.Learn all about bed bugs, where you may find them, how to protect yourself from them, and how to safely manage infestations.

Butterflies and Moths of Orange County, and their Host Plants

Based on Dr. Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home, we’ll take a closer look at Orange County’s beautiful and valuable Lepidoptera species, the host plants that nourish their larvae and the nectar plants that sustain the adults.Butterflies are also an important link in the food chain attracting various songbirds and small mammals to our gardens.Appreciate these lovely insect in their total context.

Good Bugs, Bad Bugs

Insects are not all bad!But how do we manage those pesky ones naturally and with little to no toxicity?You may be surprised to learn that certain plant combinations, natural oils and soaps, and specific “good” insects can be beneficial to your garden’s health.

Household Insects

What draws insects into our homes?Before spraying poison, it’s better to understand their biological needs and habits.Knowing the insect can guide us to simple, non-poisonous ways to eliminate and prevent these pests with little potential harm to ourselves and the environment.

Ticks of the Hudson Valley

Ticks can carry several diseases that pose serious health issues.Learn about the different types of ticks in our area, the diseases they carry, where they are likely to be found, and precautions to take to avoid direct contact with them.


Gardening 101: Planning, Building and Maintaining a Garden

The title says it all.Learn the basic steps of garden design and planning, and how to implement your plan.With a good plan, maintenance is easier and less labor intensive.Learn the tricks of the trade in this informative presentation.

Basic Landscape Design

More than anything, good garden design principles teach you to observe andassess your property, soil, architecture, terrain and existing flora.Learn how to “see” your land and focus your fantasies into practical, sustainable ideas.

Common Garden Mistakes

Without the right information, many gardeners make errors in their gardening plans and efforts that can result in wasted labor, and misspent money.Learn about common, but preventable, gardening mistakes.

Gardening on the Rocks

Many Orange County properties are plagued (or gifted) with lots of boulders and field stones.Stop fighting them, and learn how to use them to create gardens of natural beauty.

How to Design a Garden

Starting a new garden can be a daunting experience; however, with an understanding of your site, and how you wish to use your garden, you can explore the best possible layout for paths and beds.Design elements will be explored, and the beautiful photos in this well-crafted presentation will illustrate the design steps.

Renovating your (tired) Garden

Have you ever noticed that a once-beautiful garden bed becomes less than attractive after a number of years?Assessing “the problem” is sometimes mystifying.Implementing a solution can be even more daunting.Learn how to tackle your tired garden bed and transform it once again into an appealing place of beauty.

Plants in the Garden

Beyond the Garden Gate: Moss, Myths & Mystery

An entertaining introduction to moss and gardening with moss. It could be a new lawn alternative, it’s deer resistant, and it’s beautiful!

Dividing Perennials

Perennials are easily propagated by division. Make more plants for your garden or to share with friends. Methods and techniques for success will be discussed.

Fall-Scaping: Plants with Autumn Interest

Planning a garden with autumn interest is easy. Explore the many trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that display autumn beauty.


“A fern is a fern is a fern” is just not true! Learn about the different types of ferns, their growing requirements, and how to create a peaceful fern glade in your landscape.

Flowering Annuals for Summer Color

Annuals are easily changed. Not forever, they are a quick way to try something new, different and endlessly intriguing. If you tend to stick with perennials, let us show you how well-placed annuals can add texture, exciting and long-lived color and that much needed contrasting shape to your garden.

Hardy Cacti and Succulents

Broaden your garden design choices by including winter hardy cacti and succulents that can be grown outdoors in Orange County. This comprehensive overview will open your eyes to these architecturally appealing species.


One of the best “workhorses” for shade gardens, hostas never fail to add structure, freshness and texture – especially when placed among our favorite fragile woodland beauties. New varieties are offered every year and we will discuss their many colors, sizes and shapes.

Hydrangeas: Types and Pruning

Are your hydrangeas no longer blooming? Alive but not thriving? Learn how to identify the 6 species of hydrangeas, their preferred growing conditions, and how and when to prune them. Your hydrangeas will thank you!


This program looks at the beauty and wonder of true lilies. How to select and care for them, plant them, and integrate them into the perennial border. Pest management and winter care are also covered.

Ornamental Grasses

Since grasses arrived in the landscaping arsenal of essential plants over 10 years ago, designer have explored and refined a myriad of uses for them as single specimens, and in combinations and masses. They are deer resistant, drought tolerant, and great as privacy screens. There’s one to suit everyone’s needs and tastes!

Ornamental Native Plants

Don’t be fooled – native plants can contribute much to the health of our garden ecosystems, plus add structure, shape, color and flowers to our gardens. They are often hardier and more disease-resistant than the exotic ornamentals we’ve become used to. Let’s explore the carefree, indigenous plants we could be enjoying in our own backyards.


Perennials are the door-prize for surviving our Orange County winters. They are always there for us come spring. When we understand what makes them tick, we’ll learn to select the best ones for continual blooms, cutting and ease of maintenance.

Plants for Winter Interest in the Garden

Nature provides all sorts of colors, textures and shapes in every season, especially when snow provides the perfect foil for evergreens, bark and seed pods. Get your mind and eyes geared to seeing the possibilities for delights in your winter garden.

Plant Propagation: Making more Plants

Explore the basic methods for making more plants. Leaf cutting, stem cutting, division and more. Learn which method works for different types of plants.


Yes, growing roses means work! But, there are ways to cut down on the spraying and other maintenance. Learn about the different types of roses, pruning, overwintering and growing requirements.

Shade Gardening

Some gardeners think that gardening in the shade is superior to full sun beds. The gentle subtlety of woodland plant combinations can bring you close to natural rhythms of the seasons.

Vines: Vertical Gardening

Vines accomplish what other plant forms can never do … soften and add height in the garden and in the narrowest beds. In addition, they add winter interest, unusual flowers and seed pods, and they can also produce fruits and vegetables. Every garden should grow at least one vine. Come and decide which vines are for you.


Pruning Basics:The Kindest Cut

Pruning is easy when you can identify the purpose for pruning and how a tree or shrub grows.Avoid torturing and misshaping your lovely plants.We’ll make it as easy as 1-2-3.

Seasonal Care

Extending the Gardening Season

Your garden can be productive for a longer period than you think.Learn about the plants and cultural methods that will help you get more out of the growing season.

Putting the Garden to Bed

Preparing a garden for overwintering is an art and a science.Removing dead leaves from some plants is healthy; others require them for winter protection.Many species, though dead, contribute food and form and creature protection; others benefit from wrapping against harsh winds and hungry deer.Learn the basics and apply them to your own garden.


Seed Harvesting and Saving Techniques

Learn the techniques for harvesting and saving seed over winter so they can be planted again next growing season.

Starting from Seed

Let us show you how easy it is to start a seed and have it grow.Join us, get your hands in the soil, and start a seed on its way.


The “Dirt” on Soils

A good garden begins with good soil.This talk will give you a basic understanding of how soils are structured, how to improve your soil, and soil testing.

Trees and Shrubs

Ornamental Shrubs

Ornamental shrubs are the backbone to our garden and bring a much-needed splash of color to the landscape.Shrubs combine year-round presence with seasonal color.Some bring height to the garden, and some provide berries to attract birds.Explore the many beautiful choices available for the home landscape.

Woody Plant Selection

Picking the right tree for your site can be a challenge.Mature size, growing needs, pruning needs, pest resistance and disease resistance are just a few factors that must be considered.We will explore different tree species to use in your landscape.


Cover Crops

Planting a cover crop will suppress weeds, build productive soil, and help control pests and diseases.Plus, they are easy to plant and require only basic care.This class will cover the different types of cover crops and how and when to use them in your vegetable garden.

Growing Tomatoes Successfully

One of the most loved and anticipated “tastes of summer” is a flavorful, fresh tomato.Learn about the types of tomatoes, their growing requirements, pest and disease control, and a few “tricks of the trade” so you can produce a bumper crop of this summer favorite.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

The best gardens start with a good plan.In-ground beds?Raised beds?Paths, mulch, seasonal crops, vegetable varieties, and controlling pests will all be discussed in this informative presentation.

Vegetable Gardening

Learn the best, tried and true methods for selecting the best vegetable varieties, planting, maintaining, harvesting and sustaining a productive vegetable garden.


Attracting Birds to the Garden

Explore the birds in our area and learn how to create a bird-friendly environment that brings nature closer to home.


The lovely bluebird doesn’t often visit feeders, but are a great prospect for nest boxes.We’ll discuss where to look for these beauties, their habits and behaviors and how to attract them to your yard.

Gardening without Deer

Deer are especially troublesome to gardeners. Your best bet as a homeowner is to devise a strategy based on wise plant selection, economic deer sprays and well-constructed fencing to keep these four-legged friends out of the garden.

Last updated November 29, 2021