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


Certificate in Native Plants & Ecological Horticulture Enrollment and Orientation Session

Orientation on Saturday, April 15
10 - 11:30 a.m.

“The expert instruction and stimulating field and classroom studies have energized me to pursue more sustainable gardening methods and continue to be an active environmental steward.”
- Jean Rosenberg, Certificate Graduate

We enthusiastically welcome both new and continuing students into the Certificate in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture program. In addition, classes are also open to individuals who are not pursuing the certificate, though priority will be given to those enrolled in the program.

To enroll in the certificate program (a $25 fee), click the button below. For additional information, call Director of Education Melissa Cullina at (207) 633-8030.


Ecological Landscape Design

with Lisa Cowan and Irene Brady Barber
Wednesday-Friday, May 3-5
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

This course is focused on environmentally sound landscape design practices using plants and materials appropriate for Maine. Landscape architect Lisa Cowan will show you how design principles are effectively applied in an ecological landscape design. Landscape designer Irene B. Barber will train you to plot and analyze a site, determine priorities according to usage, and create and install an eco-friendly design featuring Maine natives and locally sourced materials. Sustainable design considerations such as understanding and anticipating runoff in Maine’s frequently shallow-to-bedrock soils, minimizing erosion and siltation, and conserving and protecting the site’s natural features (such as existing trees) during construction will be emphasized. Suggestions for low-input designs, such as how to incorporate drought-tolerant and nitrogen-fixing native plant selections will be offered. Instruction will take place both in the classroom and out on the grounds using the ecological designs surrounding the Bosarge Family Education Center as a living example of low-impact landscape design using native plants.

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


Soil Science for Gardeners

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

Learn the basic properties and functions of soils in this class for the ecologically-minded grower. 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 community conditions needed by suites of native plants. Lois will explain soil texture, chemistry, water-holding capacity and why they are important for plants.

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


Selecting Native Herbaceous Plants for the Maine Garden

with Bill Cullina
Friday, May 12 and Friday, July 21
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The use of native herbaceous plants in a horticultural setting will be the topic of this combination classroom and in-garden course for second-year certificate students at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. On one day in the spring season (May 12) and one day later in the season (July 21) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day, native plant expert Bill Cullina will introduce students to native plants species 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 to dry substrate will be considered. Selecting plants for aesthetic factors such as color and texture, as well as broader ecosystem considerations, will be introduced. Finally, Bill will explain the use of native plants in niche garden types, such as woodland or meadow gardens, and in ecological restoration.

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


The Life of a Plant: An Introduction to Botany

with Lauren Stockwell
Tuesday-Thursday, June 13-15
10 am - 3 p.m.

In this course with Lauren Stockwell at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens you'll explore the biology of a flowering plant through its life, from seed germination and seedling establishment through fruiting and dispersal. Along the way, we'll review the parts of the plant and see how they work together to sustain it through processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, and water and mineral uptake.
In the gardens and in the classroom, Lauren will give you a whole new perspective on what goes on in the life of a plant! The required textbook will be Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon, available for purchase from the Gardens on the first day of class.

While this is a core course in the Gardens' Certificate Programs in Native Plants & Ecological Horticulture and Botanical Arts, it is open to everyone, subject to availability.


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.