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Washington State University

Coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being provided virtually, postponed, or canceled. Effective March 16, 2020, WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers will be closed to the public. We are available via email, phone, and webconference.

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.

Note that during COVID-19 all presentations will be conducted via Zoom.

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

  • Event date(s)
  • Event hours (including set-up and take-down times)
  • 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

We request a minimum of 10 attendees. In most cases there is no charge, however donations to the Master Gardener Foundation of King County (www.mgfkc.org) are appreciated.

Containers

Flowering plants in pots

Creating Beautiful Containers

Learn container basics, design ideas, and planting tips to create containers that have year-round pizzazz. Specific plant ideas for both shade and sun containers as well as soil and watering recommendations are included with photos to inspire you to create your own container!

The History & Art of Bonsai

Is bonsai an art form? Can anyone do it? Are you intrigued as to why some people are excited by a tree growing in a pot?   Would you like to learn a bit about container gardening at a whole different level? This talk is an introduction to this ancient and worldwide gardening art form.

Fruits, Herbs & Vegetables

Assorted vegetables carried by a gardener in a straw hat

Basics of Vegetable Gardening

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.

Eat Your Year: Month-by-Month Actions for Continuous Edibles

Cool Season Gardener author, Bill Thorness, delves into month-by-month cultivating of the vegetable garden. What gets planted in January? How can you be the first to successfully sprout seeds outdoors? How do you juggle the start of winter crops during the busiest spring and summer months? It’s an engaging look at the vegetable gardening year.

Growing Melons in the Pacific Northwest

There is nothing more flavorful than a melon picked at its peak. This lecture discusses how heat and timing can work for you to achieve the best melon harvests ever.

Growing Peas and Beans

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.

Herbs

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.
Red tomatoes on the vine

How to Have the Best Tomato Year Yet

Do you spend a lot of time and money growing tomatoes only to get disappointing results? Tomatoes have a reputation for being one of the most challenging hot-season crops to grow in our short-summer climate. But help is on the way! You’ll learn step-by-step techniques about indoor starts, season extension, fertilizing, pruning and buying the best varieties.

Perennial Vegetables for Western Washington

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 pest identification and prevention.
Colorful beets

Roots & Shoots

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 mesclun mixes. Many can even grow in partial shade. This presentation will focus on some of the most popular greens.

Saving Seeds from Your Edible Garden

Saving the seeds from your edible crops can be a more economical gardening method, as well as a great educational opportunity for children. It is also a rewarding ecological activity. This talk will share the how and why of seed saving, a bit of botany and a bit of history.

Secrets of Winter Edibles: Tap Into the Power of Season Extension

Our mild maritime climate holds a secret: you can grow vegetables year round! The key to success is using cloches, cold frames, floating row covers and other season extension techniques. Learn how to build or find the best winter-growing devices, when to use them and what to grow under them. Discover the many ways you can harvest all year.

Start Edibles Early for Longer Harvests

Our mild winter allows us to sprout the edible garden early. Getting growing now will mean late longer harvests and more use of our garden throughout the year. Learn what can be started now, whether to choose seeds or starts, how to use season extension for better success, and how to plan ahead to make the most of your garden.

Summer & Winter Squash

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.

Veggies Year Round?

Late spring is the perfect time to think about what your garden can feed you in winter…and next spring. With some planning, you can harvest from your garden through the holidays and have a bounty of early-spring vegetables before most gardeners have broken ground. Learn what to plant through the year, and how to fit winter crops into the summer garden.

Why Plant Raspberries and Blackberries?

Because the Northwest is one of the premier berry growing regions in the world, gardeners can enjoy bountiful crops in even small garden plots. Unlike many vegetables, berries are perennials that do not need to be planted every year. This presentation will discuss different types of berries, correct planting and cultivation and dealing with insects and diseases.

Your Best Tomato Year Yet!

Gardeners go to great lengths to grow tomatoes in the maritime Northwest climate, sometimes with disappointing results. Learn how to boost your success with the proper soil and fertilizers, season extension, wise watering, pruning, trellising, and combating common pests and diseases.

Indoor Plants

White orchid

Growing Orchids

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

Ornamentals

Perennials for Year-Round Color

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

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.

Introduction to Pruning

This session will allow you to be more comfortable with shaping your trees and shrubs. Prune first for the health of the tree or shrub, then, to shape it for form and aesthetics. Learn the general pruning precepts you can apply to many plants in your yard, whether you are doing the work or evaluating a contractor’s.

Great Understory Trees for the Pacific Northwest

Laura will talk about her experiences with ten great understory trees for the Pacific Northwest, particularly those on the Great Plant Picks list. Attendees with receive an informative list of great trees to try.

Vines

Clematis – The Queen of Climbers

Discover how to bring the beauty and variety of clematis to your garden—with ease. Using great photos, Laura will provide details about their care and recommendations for easy clematis to try. Attendees will receive an informative handout.

Grow the Heck Up! Embellish your Garden with Vines

Learn how to embellish your garden with the beauty of vines that do well in our area. Using great photos and an engaging presentation, the speaker will provide details about the care and pruning of various vines. Attendees will receive an informative and detailed handout to take home.

Summer Sizzlers: The Clematis of July, August, and Beyond

Learn about the beauty and variety of summer clematis! Laura will discuss Profuse Clematis (aka viticellas), Trumpets and Urns (aka texensis/viorna/crispa), the Late Large-Flowered Clematis, and Non-Climbing Clematis. Attendees will receive an informative and detailed handout.

Soil

Gardener digging in dirt with hand tool

All About Soils & Fertilizers

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

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 organism living it? What methods and equipment are needed to make ‘Black Gold?’ We’ll look at examples of fast methods used at the Bellevue Botanical Garden), slow-low-energy methods (used in my yard) and kitchen scrap use and harvesting.

Water

Introduction to Rain Gardens

Rain gardens may be for home owners 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 and position these beneficial fluctuating water-flow spaces in your yard.

Plants for Your Rain Garden

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.

Water Saving Irrigation

Watering may seem like the simplest thing we do as gardeners. In reality, proper watering of our gardens may be the most complicated, time consuming and expensive part of our garden work. Learn how to think and see differently about watering. Discover how to save time and money.

Other

Cleaning & Sharpening Garden Tools

Is your shovel still caked with last year’s garden soil? Do you wish for an easier way to keep your garden tools sharp? What will you do with that expensive pair of clippers you just rediscovered after two years outside in your flower bed? Find answers to these questions and more in this interesting and practical presentation.

Exploring Japanese Gardens

Using examples from some of the most famous gardens in Japan, we will focus on three types of Japanese gardens – dry landscape, courtyard, and strolling. Intermingling the garden descriptions with that period in Japanese history, you will experience the spirituality and culture that make Japanese gardens so unique.

Opportunistic Propagation Tips

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

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.

Weeds

When does a plant become a weed? A whimsical look at how to identify, prevent, and control weeds.
Feature image by Ella Olsson.  Container plants image by Shirley Hirst; tomato image by Axel Mellin; orchid detail by Anna CA Pictures, summer squash image by Sh2587; and soil image by Lisa Fotios.