NOTE: All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance, and masks are strongly recommended for all guests and required for unvaccinated guests ages 2 and up. Learn more about how you can join us!

The Sustainable Horticulture, Landscape and Garden Design, and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate programs consist of courses that teach best management practices necessary for gardening with minimal ecological impact, design priciples and techniques for creating environmentally responsible landscapes, and essential knowledge on how to best use native plants for habitat and ecosystem preservation.

For more details about our programs, or to receive personalized class recommendations from our helpful staff, please feel free to contact us at edu@phipps.conservatory.org.

Confirmations will be emailed before each class, including a Zoom link for online classes. Please check your spam/junk mail folder, and if you have not received the link, email edu@phipps.conservatory.org.

Virtual classes are recorded and made available to all registered participants for one month after the program.

All times are Eastern Time Zone.

Current Classes

Classes Currently in Progress

  • History of Landscape Design | Joshua Beblo | Mondays: Nov. 15, 22 and 29, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 | 7 – 9 p.m.
  • Landscape Design I: Overview and Design Preparation | Sat., Nov. 20, 9 a.m. – noon (Field work) | Mondays: Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, 7 – 9:30 p.m.

Detailed Listings

Botany for Gardeners | Philip Bauerle

Tuesdays: Jan. 11, 18, 25, and Feb. 1 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

$110 members | $125 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: To begin understanding and appreciating how plants function in the garden.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Why does a seed germinate or fail to germinate? Why are cut flowers collected early in the morning? What happens to plant tissues under attack by insects and fungi? Take a fascinating look at how plants grow. Topics will focus directly on botanical principles that relate to gardening: plants and their importance to people; stems, leaves and roots; factors affecting plant growth; reproduction; and fruits and flowers. Sustainable Horticulture Certificate core course and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate elective.

Three Rivers Urban Soil Symposium

Thurs. Jan. 13, 6 – 8 p.m.

Free, registration required
Virtual program presented through Zoom

Join regional and national experts, professionals and community practitioners for an exploration of urban soils, community and environmental health.

Join us virtually on Thurs.., Jan. 13 from 6 – 8 p.m., for the Three Rivers Urban Soils Symposium (TRUSS) with members of the Pittsburgh Urban Soils Working Group. This year a shorter, online program will allow us to gather and virtually share knowledge around soils and their role in our community. The day will feature expert presentations, project highlights, and an interactive group discussion. Come to learn and discuss the ongoing relationship between soils and the urban environment.

Registration

Registration for TRUSS is free this year but you must reserve your spot to attend the symposium.

Speaker Bios

Raqueeb Ajumu-Osagboro is an urban agriculturalist, community activist for social justice. In 2011, Raqueeb founded Mama Africa's Green Scouts, a youth program that teaches community gardening, green sustainability, African-centered culture and community leadership and responsibility skills. She also founded the Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-Op in June of 2015, where she is the Executive Director. Raqueeb is a board member for NESAWG and in the summer of 2020 she was appointed as a commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh Shade Tree Commission. She is also on the Uptown Partners Art Committee and on the PA Co-op Development Roundtable Committee. To address food justice issues in the Homewood community of Pittsburgh, she started the Homewood Food Access Working Group and the Hill District Food Access Working Groups.

Naim Edwards is an advocate for food sovereignty and strong local food systems. He studied how to manage urban gardens to support biodiversity, specifically ants and other insects. Edwards is the director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Detroit Partnership in Food, Learning and Innovation, more commonly referred to as the MSU Detroit Urban Food Site. Edwards serves the Wayne County community in his role with MSU Extension.

Dr. Fushcia-Ann Hoover is an interdisciplinary researcher specializing in social-ecological urban systems. She employs a range of approaches and perspectives that include environmental justice, green infrastructure performance and urban planning, evaluating the impacts of green infrastructure planning when framed by race, justice and place-making. She is the founder of EcoGreenQueen LLC, a company dedicated to teaching and expanding the knowledge and use of environmental justice frameworks and methods across research and practice, and runs the EcoGreenQueen Blog where she distills important connections between people, place and the environment.

Prior to joining the faculty at UNCC in 2021, Dr. Hoover worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), the Environmental Protection Agency (Cincinnati), and was a postdoctoral affiliate with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability’s Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research site at Arizona State University.

Schedule (more details to come)

6 – 6:15 p.m. | Welcome and Opening Remarks

6:15 – 7:30 p.m. | Presentations and individual Q&A 

7:30 – 7:50 p.m. | Panel Q &A

7:50 – 8 p.m. Closing Remarks 

Gardening for Four Seasons of Interest | Leslie Kaplan

Mondays: Jan. 17, 24 and 31, Feb. 7 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$88 members | $98 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: Learn how to combine elements to create a landscape which will be interesting and attractive throughout the year with an emphasis on plant selection
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Join us for an exciting look at what your landscape can be throughout the seasons. Each week will focus on a different season with all of its possibilities. From bulbs to annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, they’ll all be covered, along with site evaluation, problem solving, and ideas for hardscape. Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Winter Tree Identification | Carya Cornell

Sat., Jan. 22 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

$20 members | $ 25 nonmembers
Botany Hall Kitchen, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Objective: To learn to identify trees in the winter when there are no leaves. To learn patterns of bark and buds to help identify trees.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Join a forest walk and learn how to identify trees by their buds and bark. The class will start at the Botany Hall Kitchen for a presentation on tree identification, then move to Schenley Park for a guided look at trees in the winter. Explore our urban woods and become familiar with the trees growing there. Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Virtual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference

Thursday, January 27, 2022 | 1 – 4 p.m.

Early registration (ends Jan. 7):
Members: $40 | Non-members: $45
Late registration:
Members: $50 | Non-members: $55
Virtual program through Zoom

1 – 1:15 p.m. - Introduction and Welcome

1:15 – 1:45 p.m. - Certified Organic Ornamentals:  The how and why of a new approach to tree production, Steve Black, Owner Raemelton Farm 

In 2015 Raemelton Farm became the first and only nursery in the United States to sell USDA Certified ORGANIC B&B trees. The Organic market is no longer a hippie thing; consumers now put a value on the way in which plants are produced. In addition to a more valuable end product, Organic production also protects and sustains the farm ecosystem. Healthier soil, cleaner water, more beneficial insects (and animals) all make for continuous improvement in tree production and plant health. The presentation will cover Raemelton’s innovative techniques for pest and weed control, soil conservation, and farm management.  

Steve Black is Owner and Operator of Raemelton Farm, Adamstown Md. Raemelton Farm produces landscape-ready B&B trees and shrubs for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern markets. Steve started the farm in 2004 and grows nearly 350 different species and cultivars, including many USDA Certified Organic landscape trees. In addition to farming, Steve is Past-President of the Maryland Nursery, Landscape, Greenhouse Association (MNLGA), he has served on two USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Advisory Boards, and is a member of the board of the University of Maryland’s Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

1:50 – 2:20 p.m. - Spotlight on Native Plants, Jess Horenstein, Phipps Outdoor Foreman

We will spotlight 10 native plants from our collection of Phipps recommended Sustainable Plants. Learn how they grow and where to fit them into your landscape. Then you can pre-order with our Native Plant Pre-Sale and pick up just in time for planting in the spring. 

Jess Horenstein is the Outdoor Foreman at Phipps. She worked for several years for a private landscaper before getting hired at Phipps. Before that she worked for the Audubon Society and several zoological institutions in avian care before getting interested in horticulture. She is an avid birder and native plant enthusiast. 

2:25 – 2:55 p.m. - Sustainable Garden Awards Winners, Juliette Olshock, Phipps Sustainable Landcare

The Sustainable Garden Awards started in 2021 with the goal of inspiring Western Pennsylvania residents to design and maintain gardens that are both environmentally friendly and beautiful. With so many wonderful gardens to choose from this year, it was a challenge to decide on the winners. We are happy to announce the champions from the following categories: Native Plantings and Wildlife Gardens, Micro-Gardens, Abundant Edible Gardens and Gardens for Personal Retreat (large and small!). 

Juliette Olshock is the Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where she organizes trainings and educational opportunities for local landcare professionals and homeowners focusing on sustainable landcare principles and practices. Juliette enjoys growing a variety of plants, learning about local wildlife and creating a backyard oasis at her home in Hazelwood.  

3 – 4 p.m. – The Fundamentals of Garden Layers, Benjamin Vogt, Owner Monarch Gardens 

When designing any garden, there is an opportunity to eschew the norms of beauty as the only priority. With careful planning, we can create a space that works in harmony with nature, expands biodiversity, builds healthy soil, and nurtures pollinators and other wildlife. Let’s learn from natural plant communities to increase ecosystem function and climate resilience at home in our designed gardens. From the fundamentals of seasonal and yearly plant succession, to using plant reproduction and sociability to fill ecological niches, the right native plant communities make all the difference for beautiful gardens both wildlife and people crave. 

Benjamin Vogt owns Monarch Gardens, a prairie-inspired design firm. His landscapes have been featured in Garden Design, Fine Gardening, and The American Gardener. Benjamin speaks nationally on a variety of topics and is the author of A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future and the forthcoming Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design (fall 2022).

Approved for 2.00 PCH CEUs and 2.00 SLC CEUs. Additional CEUs are pending. Please provide your professional license number at registration to receive credit.

Principles for Natural Garden Design | Joshua Beblo

Thursdays: Feb. 3, 10 and 17 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$66 members | $76 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: To begin to be able to design a garden based on the natural ecology of the site and incorporate appropriate native plants and wildlife needs into the landscape
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Prerequisites: None

Let the natural environment dictate the design of the landscape. Starting with a site analysis, become inspired by natural plant communities and structural elements that keep ecology in mind. With an emphasis on sustainability, incorporate native trees, shrubs and wildflowers into your landscapes. Native Plant Landscapes core course; Landscape and Garden Design and Sustainable Horticulture Certificate elective.

Plant Health Care | Braley Burke

Tuesdays: Feb. 15, 22, March 1, 8 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

$110 members | $125 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: To understand the core management techniques and strategies used to keep plants healthy and address plant health issues (pests, diseases, and environmental problems) using the most effective responses with the least negative impact on the environment.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

How do I keep my vegetable garden from getting aphids? What is causing my tomato plant leaves to yellow? Do I need to do anything about the bugs I’m finding on my snapdragons? This course introduces the tools and concepts of integrated pest management (IPM) which focuses on maintaining healthy plants, understanding issues when they arise, and addressing them using environmentally mindful and well thought-out strategies. Sustainable Horticulture Certificate core course.

Landscape Graphics | Michele McCann

Wednesdays: Feb. 16 and 23, March 2, 9 and 16 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

$225 members | $250 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To begin to be able to use acceptable freehand and drafting techniques that will produce legible landscape drawings.
Level: Beginner
Prerequisite: None. This class is the prerequisite for Landscape Design I-IV.

Designers use graphics to develop and communicate ideas that do not yet exist. Working with pencil, learn freehand and mechanical drawing techniques. Topics include lettering, sheet layout and title blocks, concept drawing and presentation plan graphics, and colored renderings. Landscape & Garden Design Certificate core course and Sustainable Horticulture and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate elective.

Tree and Shrub Maintenance | Carya Cornell

Mondays: Feb. 21, 28, March 7, 14 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

$110 members | $125 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom on Feb 21 and 28; Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park on March 7 and 14

Objective: To begin to understand the basics of woody plant care and to use this knowledge to ensure proper selection and maintenance of trees and shrubs personally or by professionals.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Proper tree care requires assessment of the entire tree system from roots to shoots. This course will provide an introduction to the basics of arboriculture. Topics to be covered include tree biology, plant selection, site preparation and planting, pruning, fertilization, and diagnosis and control of insect and disease problems. The class will include hands-on field sessions in Mellon Park. Sustainable Horticulture, Landscape & Garden Design, and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate elective. Approved for 10.00 ISA CEUs.

Pruning Practicum | Carya Cornell

Sat., March 5 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. 

$25 members | $30 nonmembers

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to make effective pruning cuts on shrubs and small trees.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Learn by doing in this Pruning Practicum. Participants will learn the proper pruning techniques for trees and shrubs and practice these skills on plants in Mellon Park. Class will begin with an inside lecture then move outside for a pruning demonstration and guided/supervised practice. Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Sustainable Landcare Book Club: Garden Revolution | facilitated by Juliette Olshock

Thurs., March 17 | 6:30 – 8 p.m.

$5 members | $7 non-members
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Join the Sustainable Landcare book club each semester to read and talk about a book that showcases new research and teachings of sustainable landcare principles and practices. This semester’s book is Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner. Join this discussion, share your thoughts on the book and hear from others also interested in creating environmental change with their own yards! Participants must obtain and read the book prior to the meeting in order to fully share in the discussion.

From the publisher, Workman Publishing, “Larry Weaner is an icon in the world of ecological landscape design, and now his revolutionary approach is available to home gardeners. Garden Revolution shows how an ecological approach to planting can lead to beautiful gardens that buck much of conventional gardening’s counter-productive, time-consuming practices. Instead of picking the wrong plant and then weeding, irrigating, and fertilizing, Weaner advocates for choosing plants that are adapted to the soil and climate of a specific site and letting them naturally evolve over time. This lushly-photographed reference is for anyone looking for a better, smarter way to garden.”

The History of Chinese and Japanese Gardens | Joshua Beblo

Mondays: March 28, April 4 and 11 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$66 members | $76 nonmembers
Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: To be able to appreciate some of the basic concepts and methods of Eastern gardening.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: none

Chinese and Japanese gardens are designed to connect with nature on a spiritual level by providing tranquility and subtle beauty.  This class will examine these two distinct styles of Asian gardens through design theories, religious beliefs, symbolism, and natural building materials.  Many authentic examples will be surveyed through images, plans, and readings, which will then provide examples of various methods and techniques to include these elements into home landscapes. Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Sustainable Landcare Principles and Practices | Meg Graham

Tuesdays: March 29, April 5, 12, 19 | 6:30 – 9 p.m.

$110 members | $125 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To develop an understanding of current horticultural practices that are environmentally friendly and will result in a healthy, attractive landscape.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Current research-based horticultural practices provide a solid foundation for growing successful and sustainable gardens.  This course will cover how to properly select and install native and sustainable plants, ensuring the right plant for the right place. Students will participate in hands-on demonstrations including soil preparation and the use of organic amendments, proper planting and mulching techniques, watering and maintenance practices. Participants will be introduced to proper pruning practices, IPM (integrated pest management), biological controls for pests and diseases, pollinator friendly practices and control of invasive species. Sustainable Horticulture, Landscape and Garden Design, and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate core course.

Spring Garden Care | Meg Graham

Sat., April 23 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. 

$20 members | $25 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to follow best practices for preparing your home landscape in the spring.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Learn techniques for preparing your garden for planting, clean up and care. Proper weeding, sheet mulching, division and other practices will be shared. Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Important Insect Groups to Know (and Love?) | Braley Burke

Mondays: April 25 and May 2 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$44 members | $49 non-members
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to differentiate between commonly found insects in the home and garden.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None.

Don’t know the difference between a hover fly and a honey bee? Or how to tell a termite from an ant? What about a caterpillar and a sawfly? Which will harm your plants? Which are garden helpers? Learn the key characteristics and behavior of common insects you may encounter in your garden. This skill can help you narrow down insect pests for proper identification and control, making the job of pest management much easier. Sustainable Horticulture elective

Plant Propagation | Linda Kramer with John Totten

Tuesdays: April 26, May 3, 10, 17 | 6:30 – 9 p.m.

$110 members | $125 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To master the techniques of plant propagation
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Plant propagation is a valuable skill and one that is easier to master than you may think. An interactive, hands on approach will lead you through the basics of producing new plants via seeds, cuttings and division.  You’ll practice the art of propagating perennials, annuals, woody plants and vegetables and take home the results. Sustainable Horticulture and Native Plant Landscapes Certificate core course.

Landscape Design I: The Design Process | Michele McCann

Mon., April 27, May 11 and 18 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. | Sat., April 30 | 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

$200 members | $230 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to understand and demonstrate the logical process of landscape design.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: Landscape Graphics

Learn practical aspects of developing a landscape including site analysis, surveying and graphics, regulations and restrictions, and soil and natural communities. Using a site specified by the instructor, you will develop a site inventory and landscape plan, practicing skills which can be used for your own landscape. A materials list will be provided by the instructor. Landscape & Garden Design Certificate core course. 

Spring Pest Scouting Practicum | Braley Burke

Sat., April 30 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

$20 members | $25 nonmembers
Botany Hall at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Objective:  To become familiar with common spring landscape pests and diseases.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite:  None

It’s time to start gardening again, and that means it’s time to start looking for pests! To keep a healthy garden it’s important to know what can go wrong and how to address it. The first step is scouting for common pests. Become a plant investigator and learn how to get to the root of your garden’s spring time issues! This class will start out with a presentation on how to search your garden for pests, and the second half will continue as a field trip to scout for spring pests at Phipps. This class is taught by Phipps IPM Specialist and entomologist Braley Burke. Start the gardening season off prepared to find and identify whatever comes your way! Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

Spring Garden Care | Meg Graham

Sat., May 14 | 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. 

$20 members | $25 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to follow best practices for preparing your home landscape in the spring.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Learn techniques for preparing your garden for planting, clean up and care. Proper weeding, sheet mulching, division and other practices will be shared. Sustainable Horticulture and Landscape & Garden Design Certificate elective.

History of Landscape Design | Joshua Beblo

Mondays: Nov. 15, 22 and 29, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 | 7 – 9 p.m. Eastern

$132 members | $152 nonmembers

Presented as a live webinar through Zoom

Objective: To be able to integrate design principles with architectural styles based on landscape history knowledge

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Prerequisite: None

A garden’s form and the sense of place it creates can only fully be understood by studying the culture and individuals who brought it into existence. Learn to apply knowledge of garden history in evaluating today’s materials and spaces. Landscape and Garden Design Certificate core course; Sustainable Horticulture Certificate elective. This course has been approved for 6.0 CEUs by LACES.

Landscape Design I: Overview and Design Preparation | Michele McCann

Sat., Nov. 20, 9 a.m. – noon (Field work)
Mondays: Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, 7 – 9:30 p.m.

$200 members | $230 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park

Objective: To be able to complete a site inventory and analysis and create a conceptual diagram for a preselected site
Level: Beginner
Prerequisite: Landscape Graphics required

Explore practical aspects of the landscape design process, including site documentation, client interviews and program development. Develop a site inventory, analysis and conceptual diagram. Space is limited to eight participants; early registration is encouraged. Landscape and Garden Design Certificate core course and Sustainable Horticulture Certificate elective

Note: The first session on Nov. 20 will take place outdoors and cover field measuring. Please bring a tape measure and dress for the weather.

COVID note: Class sizes will be limited to allow for adequate social distancing during class. Masks are required for all guests attending in-person classes. Phipps closely monitors changing guidelines and may need to make adjustments to this class or our requirements to ensure a safe student experience.