Grow Your Gardening Skills

Sow your passion for gardening this year with these Coastal Virginia experts, classes and events
People learning to garden, potting plants.

Warmer weather is here. If you are looking to improve your planting, gardening, forestry, landscaping or even beekeeping skills, there are plenty of options locally. Here are a few suggestions.

Norfolk Botanical Garden
What better place to dip your gloves into the soil than Norfolk Botanical Garden? The flora and fauna experts at the sprawling outdoor park are eager to educate budding gardeners. Senior Horitculturalists and Master Gardeners host an array of adult education courses each week. Class offerings range from gardening basics and casual Q&A’s during the perennial Azalea Walk & Talks to advanced floral design, azalea pruning and the fan favorite, Rhododendron 101. Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Adult Education Program is extremely popular, so classes fill up quickly. Keep an eye on course offerings and reserve your spot ASAP. Did we mention that program pricing includes garden admission too?

Poquoson Learning Garden
In 2013, the Poquoson Master Gardeners and the Virginia Cooperative Extension York County joined forces to create a public, multi-use garden. The Poquoson Learning Garden is a sunny, fully accessible space outfitted with cut flowers, perennials, vertical planters and several raised beds perfect for vegetables, herbs and other blooms. The garden is open year round and operates as a hands-on learning and demonstration space for gardeners of all ages and levels of expertise. Central to the educational programs at Poquoson Learning Garden is the outdoor classroom pergola, which serves as the meeting space for many garden workshops. Master Gardeners are also on site every Wednesday morning to demonstrate techniques, answer questions or provide a tour of the space.

Colonial Beekeepers
Gardeners aren’t the only ones who toil away in lush spaces. Pollinators are paramount to the creation and maintenance of colorful, blooming gardens. The mission of the Hampton-based Colonial Beekeepers Association is to educate residents on the ecological roles honey bees play, as well as share their expertise on apiculture and honey harvesting. Colonial Beekeepers’ most popular classes include the Basic Beekeepers Course, an introductory, five-part series, and the Woodenware Workshop which explores building and maintaining frames, boxes and more for the hive. Classes are available to both members and non-members. You can find registration information on the association’s website or Facebook page.

McDonald Garden Center
Virginia Beach
Folks at the McDonald Garden Center have served as Coastal Virginians’ go-to garden pros for over 75 years. Not only do these garden experts sell the highest quality products, gardening tools and outdoor decor, but host dozens of special events each month to teach novice growers the ins and outs of gardening. McDonald Garden Center offers both live stream courses as well as in-store seminars at both the Independence and Great Neck nurseries. Trending offerings include Houseplant Masterclasses, pruning seminars, soil workshops and make-and-take events featuring terrariums, birdhouses and more. Best of all, many of the garden center’s courses are free to attend and welcome walk-ins, so you can pop by whenever you feel inspired to grow.

Williamsburg Botanical Garden
If your gardening niche is native species, look no further than Williamsburg Botanical Garden. The Peninsula garden is nestled inside Freedom Park and is home to 18 different habitats including native grasses, pine woodlands, an arboretum and a rock and succulents garden. The verdant space doubles as a special event venue and education center for nature lovers. On the third Saturday of every month, local Master Gardeners host a free Learn & Grow Program for residents. Topics change with the season, but attendees can generally expect demonstrations, hands-on activities and engaging conversation with local gardeners during the 10 a.m. class. Although admission is free, registration is required.

Chesapeake Arboretum
Knowing which gardening class to attend can be difficult. At Chesapeake Arboretum, you can take advantage of volunteer opportunities that allow you to learn on-the-go without the formalities and structure of a standard course. The 48-acre arboretum is dubbed “Nature’s Classroom” and is home to one of the region’s most celebrated trail systems. The property also boasts a Master Gardener space, greenhouse, Tree Propagation nursery and of course, three miles of tree-lined pathways. The Chesapeake Arboretum has long served as a training ground for Urban Forestry groups too, so you can witness these experts in action as you work to preserve the bounty of Chesapeake’s most beloved outdoor spaces.

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Grace Silipigni
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Grace Silipigni is an elementary school Spanish immersion teacher based in Virginia Beach and a regular contributor to Coastal Virginia Magazine, covering a wide range of topics such as health and wellness, education and learning, food and drink, happenings and events, travel and getaways and more.

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