Organic Gardening

2019 Gardening Class Schedule (+ Sunday classes)


Happy New Year! And indeed what a wonderful one 2019 should be!  My new house is DONE, the driveway and parking areas are paved, my gardens are planted and I am ready to host another year of sharing my love of gardening.

The advantage of teaching at my own place again is that I have all the tools, soil amendments, seeds, plants and a smart TV right here (no more fuzzy slides!) to make learning easier. Three classes will be held in other wonderful gardens where you will experience different plant palettes, designs and garden styles. Of course, we will have Tommy Cowett of GrowinGreen Inc. back again to discuss the mind-blowing science of soils and organic lawn care.

All the details are below.  Please come and join me! 

Waiting for those baby plantings to mature…

Anyone for a swim after class?

The meadow in bloom last June.

My gardening program is still a bargain at $295 for the whole season of 8 classes (plus Tommy)!  Classes start March 12! Click for a printable schedule: 2019 Course Schedule

    • Each of the 8 gardening courses are offered on your choice of 2 different dates. Classes are approximately 2-hours. 
    • Research-based course materials will be provided for each course.
    • Maximum 15 students per class.
    • Classes will be held at my home and garden at 8140 Witty Road in Summerfield, and at 3 other unique gardens.
    • Classes are offered as a complete program for $295 per student.

    Course #1 – Greensboro Arboretum, 401 Ashland Drive, Greensboro, NC
    Thursday, March 14 & Sunday March 17 at 2-3:30pm.


    Pruning guidelines & demonstration: (90 minutes) Bad pruning is the #1 mistake of homeowners and landscapers alike. Good pruning can transform your landscape into a thing of beauty. Improper pruning, including pruning at the wrong time, can destroy bloom buds, disfigure plants, invite disease, and do permanent damage to an otherwise healthy plant. Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, it is important to know what to do!

    Instruction will be held outside and include an overview of essential tools, and pruning demonstrations of roses, nandina, conifers, azaleas, camellias, spirea, weigelia, clematis, grasses, and more. (If you don’t know what plants you have, you may recognize them when you see them in the landscape.) 

    Course #2 – Ellen’s house: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC
    Thursday, March 28 & Sunday, March 31 at 2-4pm


    Soil Science and Why Organics Matter:  Organic gardening is a process, not a product, and it all starts with the soil. You will learn the importance of soil, why pH matters, how to take a soil test, how to create new planting beds and rejuvenate existing ones, organic soil amendments, nutrient balance, and the role of microorganisms.

    You will receive Soil Test Kits from the NCSU Extension Service and instruction in how to use them.

    This will be mostly an indoor class, but there will be an outside “show and tell” of the most cost-effective organic soil amendments, where to buy them and how to use them.

    Deterring furry pests in the garden:  (30 min) Deer, rabbits, moles & voles – if you plant it they will come! Gardening can be an exercise in futility if you do not have the “varmints” under control.  I will have organic Deer & Rabbit repellent available for sale at this class.

    Course #3 – Ellen’s house: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC
    Thursday, April 11 & Sunday, April 14 at 2-4pm

    Organic Vegetable Gardening: What to grow and When to plant. There are beautiful ways to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in your home landscape. You will learn about:

    • Spring veggies, herbs and flowers including asparagus (a beautiful, edible perennial), potatoes, onions, lettuce, arugula, beets, peas, spinach, parsley, cilantro, dill and edible flowers.
    • Edibles that make a beautiful addition to your flower border.
    • How to grow your own vegetable and flowers from seed.
    • Planting schedules for spring, summer, fall.
    • When and how to sow seeds vs planting seedlings.
    • Where to buy seed, transplants, plant supports and fertilizers.
    • How to read a seed catalog and a seed packet.
    • Various types of organic fertilizers and the real meaning of those N-P-K numbers on the bag.
    • Essential tools that make gardening easier.
    • How to plan for your summer garden, including veggies and flowers from seed.

    Course #4 – The private garden of Dr. Graham Ray, 1100 Rustic Road, Greensboro, NC 27410.
    Thursday, April 25 & Sunday, April 28 at 2-4pm

    Shade gardening is not for sissies! It means trying to grow things in a challenging environment. There are usually trees providing the shade so the ground is often root bound and dry as a bone. Then of course there is the lack of sun, an essential ingredient for photosynthesis!  You will spend 2 hours in the amazing garden of Dr. Graham Ray, possibly the most gorgeous shade garden in the Triad!  We will show you plants that thrive in this environment and discuss how to grow them successfully.  You will receive plant lists for future reference.

    Course #5 – Ellen’s house: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC
    Sunday, May 5 & Thursday, May 9 at 2-4:30pm

    How improve the success of new plantings:  The costly demise of most garden plantings are a direct result of improper planting. We will address an array of misconceptions about planting techniques. You may be very surprised!  This class will demonstrate:

    • Proper planting techniques for planting shrubs and trees for successful growth, even those sometimes fussy azalea and rhododendron.
    • How to prepare a new planting bed.
    • How to interpret your soil test reports.

    This will be a “hands-on” outdoor class held at the site of my brand new home and landscape. It will be the perfect demonstration of how to deal with hard packed red clay, the problem that most intimidates would-be gardeners in the Triad.

    We will also tour my property with a particular focus on plants for screening and “evergreening” your property.

    Easy-to-grow Fruits for your urban garden.  How cool would it be to walk outside to snack on delicious ripe berries, kiwis, and figs right outside your back door?

    You will learn about the easiest, low maintenance fruits that are beautiful in your home landscape and small enough to fit anywhere. And the specific varieties that are proven winners for the Piedmont Triad.

    Course #6 – The private garden of Cindy Jones and Craig Wagoner, owners of Edgefield Plant and Stone. http://www.edgefieldplantstone.com/
    Home address: 8423 Mears Fork Road, Summerfield, NC 27358

    Thursday, May 16 and Sunday, May 19 at 2-4pm.

    Learn about the best varieties of shrubs and trees that take you far beyond the 20 common plants you find in the average landscape. You will also learn a lot about garden design and the use of stone and hardscape in this amazing garden!

    This Interactive outdoor walk will focus on how different trees & shrubs can be used to create a low-maintenance landscape with beauty and color. You will see how plants look at maturity (vs. in a nursery pot) so you understand their size and features. We will discuss individual plants and various cultivars you may want in your own garden!

    Choosing “the best” plant depends on its requirements for light, water, and soil (including pH), and whether it will grow to be the right size, shape and color to fit your landscape design.  Shade lovers will wilt and burn in the sun and require lots more water. Sun lovers get leggy and lose their color in shade, attract bugs and disease.

    You will learn:

    • How to read a nursery plant tag.
    • Plants that deer don’t like.
    • Shrubs for sun and shade.
    • Shrubs that flower in different seasons
    • Choosing plants for year-round interest (bark, structure, leaf color, texture…)
    • Plants as “structure” in the landscape

    —– June & July Summer Break! —–

    BONUS COURSE Organic Lawn Care, taught by Tommy Cowett, “GrowinGreen” of Kernersville.
    Saturday, August 18 at 10am-11:30. (One class only.)

  • Tommy Cowett will discuss the mind-blowing science of soil organics and why it matters for a beautiful lawn. Spouses & significant others welcome provided that you reserve your space ahead.  Tommy is an exciting speaker. Hold on to your seats!

    Course #7 – Ellen’s house: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC
    Thursday, August 22 & Saturday, August 24 at 9-11:30am
    (This is an outdoor class scheduled for morning to avoid the summer heat.)

    The Best Flowers for Summer Color

    Annuals, perennials, biennials, bulbs and corms– what’s the difference?

    The most reliable summer bloomers and when to plant them.
    Spend your money wisely on deer proof, heat/cold tolerant, disease resistant, long blooming, and long-lived perennials. You may also want to know which ones are magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds. Many of these look bold and tropical, but are amazingly cold tolerant in the Triad.

    Unique Ornamental Grasses that add color, texture and motion to the landscape.

    Garden maintenance, Seed Saving & Bug Identification

    Garden Maintenance – This class will cover pruning and deadheading of spring and summer blooming shrubs and perennials, weed and disease control, bug identification and discussion of what to do about the bad guys & how to attract more good ones!   We will also discuss “preemptive pruning” of perennials to control size and help them hold up their heavy summer blooms.

    Experienced gardeners rarely walk into the garden without gloves and pruners in hand. There are entire books written on caring for perennial gardens because plants are just different. You will learn how to rejuvenate your plants to keep your garden blooming beautifully through fall.

    Seed Saving – Late summer is time to collect seeds from spring bloomers to sow now or save for next year.  Your garden is producing much more seed than you will find in 100 ordinary seed packets! I will show you how to collect seeds, dry them, and plant them for more blooms next year.

    Course #8 – Ellen’s house: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC
    Thursday, September 19 & Sunday, September 22 at 2-4:30pm.

    Garden Design Principles.   Fall is the perfect time to look around your garden with a critical eye. The ‘bones’ of your garden can be seen when the leaves have fallen and the perennials disappear for the winter. We will examine WHY a garden scene is pleasing to the eye.  Looking at specific components of the scene will uncover ideas that you can use in your own landscape design.

    Learn how to add excitement to your Fall & Winter Gardens.  The Piedmont Triad is blessed with wonderful autumn leaf color. Make sure your garden has even more with fabulous Japanese maples, fall blooming camellias, asters, 6 foot tall ginger, helianthus, grasses, sedum and more. You will learn about keeping your winter garden beautiful with evergreens, berries, colorful bark, bulbs, stone and interesting textures.

    Little tasks to do in fall: Harvesting the last of your herbs before frost, planting garlic & spinach, what seeds to sow in fall for spring flowers, and what to do with leaves.  Learn about frost protection to make the last of your fall vegetables hold weeks longer through the cold. All about the what, when and how much of “mulching”.

    To Register

    1. Choose your class dates and mark your calendars.
    2. Email me with your preferred class dates for each of the 8 gardening courses.
    3. Send your check for $295 made payable to “Ellen Ashley”.
    4. Mail to: 8140 Witty Road, Summerfield, NC 27358
    5. Don’t hesitate to call me with any questions!

      That’s it!  I can’t wait to see you in March! Ellen

    Ellen Ashley
    Gardening Enthusiast, Educator, Speaker, Blogger
    Garden Happy!
    336-541-5699 cell

16′ wide roof overhangs on the refurbished tobacco barn are a cool place for outdoor classes!


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