Certificate Program
Certificates Program

Certificate Programs

Our two certificate programs, Botanical Arts and Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture, are a great opportunity to learn new skills and nourish passions, whether for personal or professional growth. Graduates of the program(s) will earn a certificate awarded by the Gardens, which may be used as a marketable resume item, or simply as a statement of personal growth celebrating learning for learning’s sake.

Each program consists of 11 required courses and several elective workshops or trips. Students may progress through the curriculum at their own pace; a highly-motivated student can complete the program(s) over the course of nineteen months (two growing seasons). Instructors include a combination of on-staff and expert guest instructors with a variety of specialties. Courses are held on Gardens’ grounds in our LEED-Certified Bosarge Education Center, and in the field on the beautiful Boothbay Peninsula and beyond.

For more information, and for a full list of required courses, please see our informational fliers. If you have further questions, or to enroll, please contact Daniel Ungier, Director of Education, at (207) 633-8038 or dungier@mainegardens.org.

“I have so enjoyed all of the classes in the certificate program as well as the interesting and helpful electives… These classes have been not only enjoyable but life-changing for me. I still have sooo much to learn even though I’ve been gardening since I was three. CMBG is truly a botanical gem!” – 2017 Certificate Program graduate

Certificate in Botanical Arts

The beauty of gardens and plants inspire artistic expression in many forms. CMBG celebrates this broad palette of expression in our Certificate in the Botanical Arts program. Instructors from New England and beyond teach courses in several varieties of botanically-inspired arts, including book and paper arts, botanical and scientific illustration, plein air painting, fabric design, wood block printing, and more. Offerings are unique and ever-changing, but all incorporate our stunning gardens for subject study and inspiration.

There are two core classes required for graduation: Fundamentals of Botany, and Drawing and Painting with Katie Lee. Completion of the program depends on a final independent project overseen by a mentor. Final projects can be in any media with the approval from the Education Department. Development of a body of work and a thesis will consolidate the ideas and practices of each individual student. There is a fee associated with this project.
For more information about our Botanical Arts program, please see our informational flier.


Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture

The field-based Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program instructs both amateur and professional gardeners about Maine’s diverse flora and its uses in ecologically responsible horticulture. The program is tailored to Maine gardeners by featuring the climate conditions, specific challenges, plants, and natural communities found right here in the Pine Tree State.

Students benefit from engaging, hands-on courses describing native plants, how they function and reproduce, their natural habitats, and best garden applications. Optional workshops and field trips focusing on specific skills, such as seed collection and propagation, identification of wild plants, creating green roofs, methods of composting, etc., allow students to customize the program to suit their own interests.

To ensure a top-quality experience for participants, admission to the program is limited to only 15 new students per year. The full schedule of courses for the year is typically posted in January.
For more information about our Native Plants & Ecological Horticulture program, please see our informational flier.


Soil Science for Gardeners

with Dr. Lois Berg Stack
Tuesday and Wednesday, May 8 and 9
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

In this class for the ecologically-minded grower, students will learn the basic properties and functions of soil. A fundamental understanding of soil is critical to selecting well-adapted native plants for different situations, or choosing soil amendments that will mimic the natural conditions needed by various communities of native plants. Students will gain an understanding of soil texture, chemistry, water-holding capacity and why these factors are important for a plant’s health and vitality.

While this is a core course in the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Selecting Native Herbaceous Plants for the Maine Garden

with Bill Cullina
Wednesday, May 23 and Wednesday, July 11
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The use of native herbaceous plants in a horticultural setting will be the topic of this combination classroom and in-garden workshop. Taking place over two days—once in the spring season (May 23) and then later in the growing season (July 11)—native plant expert Bill Cullina will introduce students to native plants to use in different horticultural settings, based on their habitat preferences in nature. Native plant selections for different combinations of soil pH, sun and shade, and wet and dry substrate will be considered. Selecting plants for aesthetic qualities such as color and texture as well as for broader ecosystem considerations will be discussed. Finally, learn about the use of native plants in niche garden communities, such as woodland or meadow gardens, and their role in ecological restoration.

Although this course is part of the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Fundamentals of Botany

with Kyle Martin
Wednesday-Thursday, June 13-14
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In this course you’ll learn the core concepts of plant biology to help ground your appreciation for working with plants. We’ll cover the basic parts of a plant and how they work together to sustain the processes of photosynthesis, respiration, and water and mineral uptake. We’ll follow the biology of a flowering plant through its life cycle, from germination and seedling establishment to flowering, fruiting, and seed dispersal.

Through both explorations in the Gardens and in the classroom, students will achieve a whole new perspective on what goes on during the course of a plant’s life. The textbook required, Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon, will be available for purchase from the Gardens on the first day of class.

While this is a core class for both the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture and the Certificate in Botanical Arts programs, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Gardening for Wildlife

with Doug Tallamy
Friday, July 6
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Habitat loss is the number one cause of declining wildlife populations. In this class, learn why gardening for wildlife is as important as it is rewarding. Join biologist Doug Tallamy as he explains how, by incorporating certain native plants and gardening practices into your own landscape, you can create a welcoming habitat that attracts wildlife, conserves natural resources and encourages biodiversity. Both in-classroom instruction and forays into the Gardens will provide numerous examples for creating a lively (and lived-in) garden habitat.


Natural Communities of Maine

with Ted Elliman
Thursday and Friday, July 26 and 27
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

A truly comprehensive understanding of Maine’s native plants necessitates an understanding of how native plants behave in their natural habitats. In this two-day introduction to the natural communities of Maine, ecologist Ted Elliman will acquaint students with several of Maine’s characteristic plant communities, their defining physical environments and the natural processes affecting them. Both in the classroom and in the field, students will learn the differences between community types such as salt marshes, red maple swamps, northern hardwood forests, bogs and floodplain forests. Discover some of the common plants occurring in these communities as well as what plant adaptations are key to competing successfully in each.

The primary reference for this course is Natural Landscapes of Maine: a Guide to Natural Communities and Ecosystems by Susan Gawler and Andrew Cutko. Bring a lunch, sturdy waterproof shoes and your sense of adventure.

While this is a core course in the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Introduction to the Native Flora of Maine

with Melissa Cullina
Tuesday-Thursday, August 14-16
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Interested in gardening with Maine’s native plants? First, come meet them in their wild habitats. During this intensive, three-day course with CMBG Research Botanist, Melissa Cullina, students will learn how to recognize at least 50 frequent coastal Maine plant species. Beginning with an introduction to basic plant identification skills, terminology, and botanical names, you’ll then experience guided forays both through the Gardens’ grounds and around the region. Bring a bag lunch, water, and a hand lens if you have one. Be prepared to walk on trails

While this is a core class for the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Horticultural Ecology

with Bill Cullina
Tuesday and Wednesday, September 4 and 5
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Explore the ways in which plants interact with their garden environment. Join instructor Bill Cullina as he covers such topics as specific adaptations to environmental conditions; interrelationships between garden plants and their surrounding biotic and abiotic influences; and concepts such as competition, symbiosis, parasitism, pollination and dispersal.

While this is a core course in the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Sustainable Horticultural Practices

with Irene Brady Barber and Gary Fish
Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Our landscape practices affect the balance of our ecosystem both above and below the soil surface and in the quality of our waters. In this intensive two-day course, learn how to apply ecologically safe gardening practices to existing landscapes and garden beds. Topics covered will include different methods of composting and other eco-friendly soil amendment techniques, alternatives to pesticides and herbicides, responsible acquisition of native plant materials and other low-impact sustainable horticultural practices.

This course is part of the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program but is open to all, subject to availability.


Invasive Plants: Issues, Identification, and Ecology

with Ted Elliman
Thursday and Friday, October 4 and 5
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Wondering what all the fuss is about? Join ecologist Ted Elliman to find out why invasive plant species have been getting such bad lip service from botany, ecology, horticulture and conservation professionals alike. In this two-day course, students will be introduced to the basic ecological problems surrounding these aggressive and tenacious plants, the complicated (and sometimes political) issues surrounding invasive plant species and the process by which a plant becomes labeled “invasive” in the first place. Finally, through images, specimens and short local field visits, students will familiarize themselves with some of New England’s most common invasive species. Please bring water, a lunch, hand lens, and warm, sturdy clothing in which to go afield for short forays.


Selecting Native Woody Plants for the Maine Garden

with Justin Nichols
Thursday and Friday, October 11 and 12
9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The aim of this class is to increase participants’ knowledge and appreciation of North American woody plants useful in northeastern landscapes. We’ll cover the motivations and philosophy behind using these plants in the garden as well as recommended species, cultivars and sources for materials. Horticulturist Justin Nicholas will introduce students to native trees and shrubs to use in different horticultural settings, based on their habitat preferences in nature. During forays into the field, students will encounter and discuss caring for native plants, soil considerations, invasive plants and more.