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Washington State University

King County Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau

Would you like to schedule a Washington State University Extension Master Gardener to speak to your gardening club or other group? WSU Master Gardeners do presentations on a variety of gardening topics as part of their mission to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education.

To request a WSU Master Gardener for your event in King County please email the following information to at least 6 weeks before your event date. Please include the following information in your email:

  • Event date(s)
  • The time you want the presenter to arrive (either virtual or in-person) plus the actual presentation start time
  • Event contact name, telephone number and e-mail address
  • Event site and street address, city and zip code if requesting an in-person speaker
  • Number of anticipated guest/attendees
  • The topic you would like to have presented. See options below.

We request a minimum of 10 attendees. Presentations typically range from 30 minutes to one hour. In most cases there is no charge, however donations to the Master Gardener Foundation of King County ( are appreciated.

Once a request is received, we will do our best to provide a speaker, however, our WSU Master Gardeners are volunteers, and we cannot guarantee a Master Gardener will be available for your specific event date/time.


Updated September 2023

Landscape & Garden Design

Brick house with stone walkway and beautiful garden

Basic Landscape Design

Speaker: Andree Hurley

This landscape presentation will help to design your garden and landscape before choosing your trees, shrubs and other plants. Creating a plan helps to identify use areas, hide undesirable views or frame those views. Once this task has been accomplished, the plants can be identified based on conditions such as soil, light and other desired preferences, such as maintenance requirements.

Attracting Hummingbirds to your Garden

Speaker: Molly van der Burch

Discover fun facts about our two Pacific Northwest hummingbirds and learn about flowers and native plants to create a hummingbird-friendly garden or container.

Ornamentals & Indoor Plants

Flowering plants in pots

Creating Beautiful Containers

Speaker: Molly van der Burch

Learn container basics, design ideas, and planting tips to create containers that have year-round pizzazz. Recommendations are included with photos to inspire you to create your own container!

Growing Orchids

Speaker: Jim Olson

Did you get an orchid as a gift, or buy one for its beauty? Learn the basic practices that will keep your orchids thriving and blooming year after year.

Perennials for Year-Round Color

Speaker: Cleo Raulerson

Each month of the year is discussed in this talk and highlights a ‘tried and true,’ ‘new or unusual’ or ‘self-seeders or creepers’ perennial that provides color for the month. Other more colorful perennials are noted which bloom well in our climate in the spring and summer months.

Shrubs That Grow Well in King County Gardens

Speaker: Cleo Raulerson

This talk discusses evergreen and deciduous shrubs that grow well in our Western Washington gardens. Highlighted will be several specific varieties that showcase the breadth of a genus. Some varieties are tried-and-true, others are more unusual.

Fruits & Herbs & Vegetables

Assorted vegetables carried by a gardener in a straw hat

Basics of Vegetable Gardening

Speaker: Jim Olson

There are six keys in successfully growing vegetables in our area of the Pacific Northwest, preparing your planting location, timing of seed starting, key items for caring of plants and how to recognize and treat problems on plants during their path to your plate.

Growing Your Coleslaw and Related Foods

Speaker: Sue Kraemer

In Western Washington, some members of the Cabbage Family (aka Brassicas/Cruciferae) can be grown throughout the year and show-up on your dinner table when needed. These crops include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, mustard, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, collards, bok choi, and Brussels sprouts. These cool weather vegetables are among the first to be planted each year, as early as March for most transplants and April for direct seeding. Let’s make your vegetable beds productive year-round!

Growing Peas and Beans

Speaker: Carole Bartolini

Learn how easy it is to grow peas and beans in your home garden. This class will cover the basics of who is in the legume family, why it is a great idea to grow peas and beans (beyond just the fresh taste), as well as tips on varieties, growing and harvesting techniques and an overview of pests and diseases.


Speaker: Emilie Castle

Fresh herbs can be hard to find in stores and are often extremely expensive. Growing your own can give your cooking extra zip and depth of flavor. Learn about growing a wide variety of herbs, from arugula, basil and chives to rosemary, sage and thyme. Edible flowers such as borage, chamomile, chives, nasturtium and calendula petals also can add beauty and flavor to any salad.

Perennial Vegetables for Western Washington

Speaker: Bruce Bennett

Who wouldn’t like to grow vegetable crops that are planted once and can be harvested for 5, 15, even 25 years? We’ll discuss the most popular long-lived vegetables appropriate for the Pacific Northwest as well as their placement, planting and insect and disease identification and organic prevention methods.

Principles of Gardening in the Pacific Northwest for the Intermediate Gardener

Speaker: Jim Olson

Want to get better results from your veggie gardening efforts? In this class, learn how to better understand and use your gardening space, whether in ground or in containers. Also, learn how key practices such as fertilization, irrigation, integrated pest management, plant selection and planting dates, influence your results.

Roots & Shoots

Speaker: Emilie Castle

Leafy greens can be crisp or tender, bitter or sweet, tangy or pungent. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are full of fiber. Many prefer the cooler weather of spring and early summer, such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, arugula and mesculn mixes. Many can even grow in partial shade. This presentation will focus on some of the most popular greens.

Summer & Winter Squash

Speaker: Emilie Castle

Cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and melons are members of the Cucumber Family, all of which are warm season crops. Cucurbits can sprawl 3 to 5 feet in all directions. Learn how to use vertical applications to enhance productivity in small spaces. Talk topics include varieties selection, cultural requirements, container growing, fertilizer needs, major diseases and pests, and pest management techniques for each crop.

Sustainable Gardening

Introduction To PNW Tomato Sustainable Gardening

Speaker: Joe Jennings  Learn tomato sustainable gardening basics for the PNW including soil preparation, sunlight requirements, plant selection, diagnosing and responding to pests and diseases, irrigation, scaffolding and container gardening. Join Master Gardener Joe Jennings who teaches the class as a refresher course for experienced tomato gardeners and an introduction for gardeners new to growing tomatoes.

Introduction to PNW Fire Resistant Landscape Sustainable Gardening

Speaker: Joe Jennings  Learn how wildfire danger in King County is increasing because of climate change and the human risk. Learn how to get started using Fire-Resistant landscape sustainable gardening at your home. Join Master Gardener Joe Jennings who teaches basic fire-resistant landscape principles and how to apply them to your garden.

Introduction to PNW Vegetable Sustainable Gardening

Speaker: Joe Jennings  Learn vegetable sustainable gardening basics for the PNW including soil preparation, sunlight requirements, plant selection, diagnosing and responding to pests and diseases, irrigation, scaffolding and container gardening. Join Master Gardener Joe Jennings who teaches the class as a refresher course for experienced vegetable gardeners and an introduction for gardeners new to growing vegetables.


Gardener digging in dirt with hand tool

All About Soils & Fertilizers

Speaker: Fred Wemer

Not counting the landscaper, how did you get the soil that lives in your yard? This class will discuss soil formation, how to determine texture and its importance and the best testing methods to use when determining soil properties and for soil testing. From there, soil improvement is easier to control. Nutrient advice, fertilizer tips and calculations and manure(s) will all be evaluated in this 90-minute program.

The Basics of Successful Composting

Speaker: Fred Wemer

What is compost? What materials can you use (or should avoid) in your home piles? What are the impacts it has on soil and the organisms living in it? What methods and equipment are needed to make ‘black gold?’ We’ll look at examples of fast methods (used at the Belevue Botanical Garden, slow-low-energy methods (used in my yard) and kitchen scraps use and harvesting.


Rain garden in residential landscape

Introduction to Rain Gardens

Speaker: Bruce Bennett

Rain gardens may be for homeowners who want to create a unique focal point in the yard, reduce garden maintenance and property flooding while providing space and food sources for birds and pollinators. Rain gardens also help reduce water pollution in area waterways and Puget Sound. Let’s discuss how to develop these fluctuating water-flow spaces in your yard.

Plants for Your Rain Garden

Speaker: Bruce Bennett

The plant selections for your rain garden will be determined by their zonal placement within the planting areas as well as your decision to use only native plants and/or their cousins and what look and feel you want for this renovated part of your yard.

Other Topics

Opportunistic Propagation Tips

Speaker: Fred Wemer

Propagation from cuttings is a fun and money-saving way to create more plants for your garden. Let’s look at the why, the when, the medium and the timing of your next gardening science project. There are new ways to expand what you have in the yard, or, perhaps, want to share with your neighbor. Let’s experiment!

The Zen of Japanese Gardens

Speaker: Molly van der Burch

We will explore three types of Japanese gardens – the dry landscape garden, the courtyard garden, and the strolling garden – and the history and stories behind each of these unique styles. Beautiful photos taken in Japan of each type of garden will inspire you to re-create elements of these gardens here in the Pacific Northwest.


Speaker: Jim Olson

When does a plant become a weed? A whimsical look at how to identify, prevent, and control weeds.

Who Lives in Your Yard?

Speaker: Penny Bolton

Here is your introduction to our region’s birds and how to happily live with them in our shared urban/suburban neighborhoods and, especially, our gardens. Let’s look at how all of us can live together safely. Learn what garden enhancements will encourage birds to make our yards part of their worlds and what you can do to lessen harm to our shared environment.

Note: The audio-visual capabilities need to provide sound for this talk.

The How, What, Who, When, and Where of Pollination

Speaker: Susan Melgaard  Pollination is important for a strong, healthy ecosystem. We all want to support pollinators in our garden. Susan will explain the How, What, Who, When, and Where of pollination and discuss how to protect our native pollinators. She uses live material props, posters, tri-fold, and a PowerPoint presentation in her talk.

Our PNW Gardens and Climate Change

Speakers: Jim Little and Molly van der Burch

We will try to demystify the complex topic of climate change and how it is affecting our PNW gardens. We’ll discuss the causes of climate change and how we can make our gardening more climate-friendly by reducing our gardening greenhouse gas emissions and by storing atmospheric CO2 in plants and soil via photosynthesis. Finally, we’ll encourage gardeners to educate and inspire others to take climate action.

Note: This talk is available only via Zoom.

These presentations can be given live or by Zoom unless specified differently on the topic line. Most of these lectures are one-hour in length, but a few will differ.  Most are supported by PowerPoint presentations.  Remember to discuss the logistics of your gathering directly with the speaker, i.e., in-person vs. virtual, venue, projection screen/surface, length of presentation, etc., to avoid any misunderstandings.

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.

Feature image by Ella Olsson.  Container plants image by Shirley Hirst; tomato image by Axel Mellin; summer squash image by Sh2587; soil image by Lisa Fotios; rain garden from Buncombe County Master Gardeners.