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 it be for personal or professional growth. Read about our programs below!

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 across New England and beyond will teach courses in several types of botanically-inspired arts, including book and paper arts, botanical and scientific illustration, plein air painting, fabric design, wood block printing, and more. Offerings will be unique and ever-changing, but all will incorporate our stunning gardens and spaces for subject study and inspiration. Students who complete the required classroom and hands-on coursework will earn a Certificate awarded by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The Certificate may be used as a marketable resume item, or simply as a means for enjoyment and personal growth.
The program consists of 11 required courses with at least 120 hours of total course time. There are two core classes required for graduation, Life of a Plant: An Introduction to Botany with Lauren Stockwell and Drawing and Painting with Katie Lee. For the Certificate there will be 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 express ideas and practice of each individual student. There will be a fee associated with this project.
Students may progress through the curriculum at their own pace; a highly-motivated student can complete the program over the course of nineteen months (two growing seasons). Instructors include a combination of on-staff and guest experts with a variety of specialties. Courses are held on the Gardens’ grounds, in the new LEED-Certified Bosarge Education Center, and afield on the beautiful Boothbay Peninsula and beyond.


Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture

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

The 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 would be able to complete the program over the course of 19 months (two growing seasons). Instructors are both on-staff and guest experts with a variety of specialties. Courses are held in the LEED Platinum Bosarge Family Education Center, on the Gardens’ grounds, and afield on the beautiful Boothbay peninsula and beyond.

Students benefit from engaging, hands-on courses describing native plants, how they function and reproduce, their natural habitats, and best garden applications. They discover how plants interact with their growing environment, and they learn to select appropriate native plants for various site conditions. They will become skilled at preparing and maintaining gardens using sustainable methods such as composting, integrated and organic pest management, and low water inputs. 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.

“Whether you’re a horticulture professional, or simply passionate about gardening , if you’re seeking a deeper understanding of Maine’s native plants and ecological gardening, this program is just the thing for you.”
– William Cullina, Executive Director and Certificate Program Faculty


Natural Communities of Maine

with Ted Elliman
Thursday and Friday, July 27 and 28
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Cosponsored with the New England Wild Flower Society

A truly comprehensive understanding of native plant materials must necessarily include an understanding of how native plants behave in their natural habitats. In Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ two-day introduction to the natural communities of Maine ecologist Ted Elliman will introduce students to several of Maine’s characteristic assemblages of plants, their defining physical environments, and the natural processes that affect them. 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. Ted will also cover some of the common plants that occur in each natural community type, and what plant adaptations are a key to competing successfully in the various communities.

The primary reference for this course will be Natural Landscapes of Maine: a Guide to Natural Communities and Ecosystems by Susan Gawler and Andrew Cutko. Bring a lunch, sturdy shoes that can get wet, and your sense of adventure for this not-to-be missed learning experience.

While this is a core course in the Gardens’ Certificate Program in Native Plants & Ecological Horticulture, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Introduction to the Native Flora of Maine

with Melissa Cullina
Tuesday-Thursday, August 8-10
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Interested in gardening with Maine’s native plants? First, come and meet them in their wild habitats! During this intensive three-day course with Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ staff botanist, Melissa Cullina, students will learn how to recognize 50 (or more!) frequent coastal Maine plant species. Beginning with an introduction to basic plant identification skills, terminology, and botanical names, Melissa will then lead you through the Gardens grounds and on forays around the region. Bring a bag lunch, water, and a hand lens if you have one; and be prepared to walk on trails.

While this is one of the core classes for the Certificate Program in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture, it is open to everyone.


Horticultural Ecology

with Bill Cullina
Thursday and Friday, September 7 and 8
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

This Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens class, also part of the Certificate Program in Native Plants & Horticulture, is subtitled “Biological Interactions of Garden Plants and Environment.” In this class you’ll delve into topics of how plants interact with their garden environment. Topics instructor Bill Cullina will cover include specific adaptations to environmental condition and interrelationships between garden plants and their surrounding biotic and abiotic influences. He’ll also discuss concepts such as competition, symbiosis, parasitism, pollination, and dispersal.

While this is a core course in the Certificate program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Sustainable Horticultural Practices

with Irene Barber and Gary Fish
Thursday and Friday, September 21 and 22
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Our landscape practices affect the balance of our ecosystem above and below the soil surface and the quality of our waters. In this two-day intensive course at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens you will 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 techniques that follow low-impact practices to our natural surroundings.

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


Invasive Plants: Issues, Identification, and Ecology

with Ted Elliman
Thursday and Friday, October 5 and 6
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

What’s all the fuss? Invasive plant species have been getting a lot of bad lip service from botany, ecology, horticulture, and conservation professionals alike. Join Ted Elliman, Vegetation Management Coordinator for the New England Wild Flower Society, to find out why. In this two-day course, Ted will introduce you to the basic ecological problems surrounding these aggressive and tenacious plants. He’ll delve into the complicated (and sometimes political) issues surrounding invasive plant species, including the process by which a plant becomes labeled “invasive.” Finally, Ted will introduce you to some of New England’s most common invasive species through images, specimens and short local field visits. Please bring lunch, a hand lens, water, and warm, sturdy clothes to go afield for short forays.
This class is co-sponsored with the New England Wild Flower Society.

While this is a core course in the Certificate program, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


Selecting Native Woody Plants for the Maine Garden

with Justin Nichols
Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The use of native woody plants in a horticultural setting will be the topic of this combination classroom and in-garden course for second-year students in Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ Certificate Program in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture. During this, the final class in this two-year program, staff horticulturist Justin Nichols will introduce students to native trees, shrubs, and vines to use in different horticultural settings based on their habitat preferences in nature. Recommended species, cultivars and sources of materials will be covered. To see authentic examples of woody plants in natural and landscaped settings, Justin will take the class on short forays into the Gardens and locally.

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