Speakers Bureau

What is the Speakers’ Bureau?  It is a group of Massachusetts Master Gardeners who are available to speak to garden clubs, civic organizations, schools and other    groups  on a wide variety of topics from the world of gardening, horticulture, landscaping and the environment.  Speakers choose the topics in which they feel proficient and offer slide or PowerPoint programs to illustrate their talk.  The Speakers’ Bureau also offers a limited number of demonstrations and hands-on workshops.

Who will be my speaker?  All members of the Speakers’ Bureau are Certified Master Gardeners with advanced knowledge and interest in the subjects in which they speak.  When you choose your topic, we will find a speaker who is available on that date.  Once you have a contract with the Speakers’ Bureau we will provide a brief bio of your speaker, sufficiently in advance for use in publicity.

What subjects do you speak on?  Below is a list of titles and areas in which we have speakers.  But don’t hesitate to ask us about topics not included that are of special interest to your club.  Many times we will have someone who can meet your needs.


Chickens in the Garden: Chickens are a wonderful addition to any garden; they provide eggs, wonderful fertilizer, and lots of company! Learn the ins and outs of housing, feeding and tending chickens, and meet a couple of the ladies (hens).

Cold Frames: Cold frames and hoop houses are great season extenders, allowing vegetables to be planted 2-4 weeks earlier than unprotected plants. They also play a key role in the transition of seedlings of all kinds from the sheltered windowsill/greenhouse environment to the outdoors. Learn how, where and when to use these interesting tools in your own garden.


Nothing is easier, cheaper or better for your garden than compost. Composting can be as little or as much work as you want, but the compost produced will improve your garden in more ways than you imagine.

Gardening 101:

Learn about the basic needs of your plants, and how you can most easily meet the needs of your botanical companions, for years of happiness in the garden.

Organic Gardening:

Just what is organic? While there is much talk about the benefits of organic gardening, there is also a great deal of confusion about exactly this means. We’ll go over what is or is not meant by organic gardening, how organic standards apply to the home gardener, and what organic techniques you can most easily employ in your own gardens.

Preparing Soil:

It takes great soil to make a great garden and a great gardener. Improving your soil before you begins, making compost and following good gardening practices to keep your soil healthy and your garden thriving.

Seed Saving:

Discuss the reasons for saving your own seed, and learn some of the basic techniques for ensuring genetic purity. We will include discussions about the easiest home garden plants to save seeds from.

Botany for Gardeners:

Explore the basics of plant physiology, and how gardeners can use that knowledge to best manage their plants. Topics discussed can include sun exposure, pruning, transplanting, disease management and dormant care.

Clematis: Queen of the Climbers:

Easy Care Roses:

Grow beautiful healthy roses in your garden without all the sprays and pesticides, by learning which ones are disease resistant, winter hardy and the most reliable bloomers. Lecture includes a handout with suggested roses and the best places to purchase them.

Ecology in the Garden:

Discuss interactions of plants, humans and other animals, and microbes in our soils and climate. Learn to consider how your actions affect your direct environment and how you can design your garden to be most successful with the least amount of intervention.

Editing the Mature Garden:

Gardens grow and change, not always in the ways we planned. Get them back in shape or more in sync with the way you live by careful editing. Sometimes that’s pruning, sometimes that removing and sometimes it’s re imagining your garden

‘H’ is for Daylilies: A Presentation on the history, horticultural habit, habitat and hoarding of Hemerocallis

How Greenhouse Gardening can change your life:

At one time or another every gardener has thought of owning a greenhouse and being able to garden all year long. This presentation examines what it is like to own a greenhouse based on 30 years of greenhouse gardening,  including types and costs of greenhouses, the essential accessories, the variety of plants you can grow, and dealing with the problems of greenhouse gardening like bugs, diseases and friends.

Hardy Succulents for New England:

This talks starts with a discussion of what is unique about succulents and cacti (and what the difference is between the two). Then we go into dozens of succulents that grow in New England including many that are familiar and many that will surprise you. It includes container advice and design suggestions. Handout included.

Hosta: “The Practically Perfect Perennial”

Hosta collector and Lifetime Master Gardener Mary Arnberg will both entertain and educate with up to date info on Hosta favorites, new and old, as well as tips on how to grow them well and use them to advantage in your garden.  July-September (Only)

Learn a Little Latin:

A slightly serious, slightly irreverent look at the form of Latin used in botanical nomenclature. We will discuss the wacky ways some plants get their names and how to write them correctly, explore the perils of pronunciation, and learn a few dandy words that will help you decipher your garden and bring out your latent Linnaeus. Great for gardeners of all levels, and a great winter program.

Native Trees & Shrubs:

They evolved here, they like hot dry summers and cold winters. And they may be the last frontier in plant exploration for the American gardener. Learn about summer flowering trees & shrubs, fall color beyond maples, plants so exotic you’ll never believe they grow right here.

Orchids Made Simple:

This talk starts with the basics of orchid care simplified so that beginners can easily start this fascinating gardening specialty. It covers the six easiest orchids to grow with specific hints on how to care for them. Handout included.

Perennial Care 101:

Perennials are plants which live “through the years”, and repeatedly give us joy as we anticipate their yearly return. Learn what perennials most need in terms of soil, pruning and nutrition, for many years of continued enjoyment.

Plant Propagation:

An overview of the methods of sexual and asexual plant propagation including a discussion of seed collection, plant breeding and nomenclature and the methods of asexual propagation including division, cuttings, layering (demonstration), grafting, and cell culture. Handouts included.  This subject can also be done as a workshop.

House Plant Success:

This talk operates from the perspective of what goes wrong with house plants in order of importance and how to prevent the problems from occurring. The heaviest concentration is on light, watering and temperature requirements. We also cover pests and diseases and their treatment. Handout included.

Tropical Plants for Beginners:

This talk starts with a discussion of what a tropical plant is and what is unique about them. Tropical plants are house plants in New England but are not the common ones we all grow indoors. I then discuss many specific plants such as: Bougainvillia, Camellia, Oranges, Clivia, Gardenia, Tropical Hibiscus, Banana, and some orchids. Handout included.

Designing a Multi-season Shade Garden:

This talk covers a variety of shade situations and covers the unique problems/opportunities of shade gardening. We then cover the best shade plants and how to select them so that your garden is in bloom spring through fall. Even discusses how to have winter interest. Handout included.

Developing a Bulb Garden:

Landscaping 101: Do you have the feeling that you should have a plan your property, rather than just mowing it or buying whatever is in bloom? Now is the time to get started for this growing year! Enjoy some pretty pictures and practical advice, whether you have a patio or an estate.

Lawn Alternatives:

Grass is an imported garden fixture from places with cool, wet summers. Here it is a major drain on water supplies, a source of pollution, and a lot of work. Look at options for reducing your lawn with plants that won’t demand hundreds of hours of attention and expensive treatments every year.

Pruning 101:

Learn about the science behind when, how and why to prune your woody plants. Learn to make the best use of your money by making good choices about which plants can be pruned by a home gardener, and which require the services of a professional.

Rain Gardens:

Too much water in the wrong places? Rain gardens allow you to capture and use the runoff from roofs, driveways and even the lawn to grow beautiful gardens while preventing damage to your property or sending excess fertilizer or nasty chemicals into street drains lakes, rivers or the ocean. Once created they are just another beautiful garden that happens to prevent problems.

Shade Gardening:

We love trees in New England so we have a lot of shade. But that doesn’t have to mean a garden without color and drama. Explore the world of shade tolerant plants and ideas for a great garden, even under trees

Xeriscaping, Water-wise Gardening:

Hot dry summers, warm dry winters and water bans all add up to the need for water wise gardening techniques including proper watering, drought tolerant plants, rain barrels and even rain gardens. This talk discusses why water conservation has become an important issue, even in New England. It includes discussion on water-wise plants, rain barrels and rain gardens.  Handout included.

The Plant Doctor Is In, What’s Wrong With My Plant:

This talk covers the five basic symptoms that all plants show when they are sick. It gives many causes of each symptom and what to do about them. I encourage each organization to let members know that they can/should bring in plants for me to look at and offer advice. Handout included.

Establishing a Home Herb Garden:

Planning, Preparing and Planting the Vegetable Garden:

Planning, Preparing and Planting the Vegetable Garden–getting a good start is the best path to a good garden. We’ll begin with what you need to do long before you start putting seeds in the ground, but we’ll also offer tips on getting the most from what you plant.

Forcing Bulbs:

Plant Propagation:

An overview of the methods of sexual and asexual plant propagation including a discussion of seed collection, plant breeding and nomenclature and the methods of asexual propagation including division, cuttings, layering (demonstration), grafting, and cell culture. Handouts included.

Belmont Garden Club

Boggestow Garden Club

Burlington Garden Club

Country Lane Garden Club

Crystal Garden Club of Reading & Wakefield

Driftwood Garden Club

Foxboro Garden Club

Gardeners Guild of Braintree

Groton Garden Club

Hamilton-Wenham Garden Club

Holliston Garden Club

Hough’s Neck Garden Club

Maynard Community Gardeners

Methuen Garden Club

Millis Garden Club

Pinefield Garden Club

Powisset Garden Club

Somerville Garden Club

Temple Shalom Garden Club

US Food & Nutrition Service


How much do you charge?  Our fee is $125 for the Master Gardener Speakers’ Bureau plus $50 for the speaker to cover travel and other expenses.   The check for the Speakers’ Bureau should be made out to the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association (MMGA) and given to the speaker or mailed to the address listed on the contract. The speaker fee should be given to the speaker at the conclusion of  his/her presentation. There are additional fees for demonstrations and workshops to cover the actual cost of materials used.  These fees will be determined in advance and mutually agreed upon before the contract is signed.

Help!  My speaker just got sick!  Because we have a number of presenters available, we’ve been able to help clubs with last-minute substitutes for other speakers who become unavailable.  When we receive such a request, we canvass our speakers and get back to you with topics available based on the specialties of the individuals.  There is no premium for making a last-minute request, but program subjects may be limited.

How do I contact you?  Email Cindy Bortman-Boggess at speakers@massmastergardeners.org.