Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture

Our Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture program has have changing topics relevant to landscape professionals and students. Participants can take either one-day seminars in our Green Spotlight Series or to enroll in our in-depth certificate program, which can be completed over two years. Learn more about the program below, or view all classes in our Advanced Studies program at the class listing at the bottom of the page.

Resilient Landscapes in Built Environments

This in-depth program is designed to provide advanced and comprehensive content to support landscape practitioners in reaching the next level in their business. Resilient landscape practices are connected to the evolving environment. Incorporating low-maintenance design, resilient landscapes sustain and regenerate under stressful environmental conditions, rather than falling victim to stressors. They are aesthetic powerhouse systems providing ecological services; as such, they give the landscape professional the opportunity to evolve their business, adapting to the changing environment. Class sizes are deliberately kept small to support discussion and peer-to-peer exchange. Students who wish to enroll must be current professionals in the landscape industry or enrolled in a college-level landscape, agriculture, or horticulture program.

Offered in two sections, students can choose to take both sections in one year or take one section per year (either section may be taken first). Each section consists of four weekly classes. Upon completing the entire course, students receive a certificate from CMBG. Each course counts toward recertification credits with the allied agencies listed below.

    • Maine Landscape and Nursery Association (MELNA)
    • Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA, AOLCP)
    • New Hampshire Landscape Association (NHLA)
    • Association for Professional Landscape Designers (APLD)

After taking both sections of the course, students can request a certificate of completion, if desired.

Section II: Plants and Practice

Mondays, November 28, December 5, 12, and 19th

Continuing the focus of resilient landscapes in built environments, Section II examines New England native plants for function in the landscape, including their biodiversity and beauty, achieving high performance with minimal input. Additionally, in the final two courses, the instructor will: provide step-by-step information on seasonal implementation and land-management practices relating to succession, identify concepts of green infrastructure, and discuss contractor-to-client communication essential for success. Courses are designed to be interactive, supporting students with a working knowledge of native plants to plan for the next level of design and maintenance.

Native Woody Plants
with Andy Brand, Curator of Living Collections, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Andy will take participants on a virtual tour of native woody plants, from the rare to the common to several under-used species. He’ll discuss straight versus cultivated species and how they’re used in designed resilient landscapes. Instruction will include developing plant identification skills; evaluating and selecting woody plants appropriate for specific built landscapes; and recognizing woody plants, individually and communally, that contribute habitat and structure to the year-round landscape.

Native Herbaceous Plants
with Heather McCargo, Founder of Maine’s Wild Seed Project
Students will continue to study a range of native herbaceous plants, such as those thriving in versatile conditions and those preferring specific cultural conditions, all of which lead to healthier ecological landscapes. Class content will cover trends in the native plant nursery trade, wildlife benefits, project testimonials, seasonal planting and management methods according to species’ habit and successional growth, and visual aesthetic for seasonal appeal.

Sustainable Implementation Practices
with Trevor Smith, landscape designer, and Design and Education Manager at Weston Nurseries, and David Homa, Permaculture landscaper of PostCarbon Designs
This class will examine how green infrastructure (GI) sustainably manages the water and drought conditions that impact landscape performance and practices. Just as traditionally implemented landscape designs cannot be left alone, resilient landscapes also need long-term attention as they naturally evolve. Considering environmental factors and available resources, Trevor and David will discuss project timing and execution with regard to year-round practices, as well as how to evaluate timelines while ensuring minimal harm and maximum beneficial impact.

Contractors and Clients in Unison
with Trevor Smith, landscape designer, and Design and Education Manager at Weston Nurseries
The final step between knowing and practicing is often the hardest to take. This final class examines the minutiae of the business, from working with employees and sub-contractors to explaining goals and processes to clients who may not understand ecological systems. Students will leave confident in their ability to accurately communicate their ideas and methods about achieving a beautiful, resilient landscape. Coordinating the goals and the people in a New England climate needs the deep understanding of the project manager who recognizes the importance of the whole system to achieve resilience and sustainability.


Section I: Design and Structural Components

Spring, 2023

Resilient landscape practices are connected to the evolving environment. Incorporating low-maintenance design, resilient landscapes sustain and regenerate under stressful environmental conditions, rather than falling victim to stressors. They are aesthetic, powerhouse systems providing ecological services; as such, they give the landscape professional the opportunity to evolve their business, adapting to the changing environment.

Section I of the course focuses on examining and incorporating ecological design and the influential components of water, soils, design lessons from nature, and sustainable structural materials. Classes will illustrate concepts through case studies and provide evaluation of applications, methods, and materials.

Ecological Design for Resilience
This course is an introduction to the site-based ecological frameworks and design strategies that inform the development and management of resilient landscapes. Whether transitioning from an environmentally degraded urban site or a conventionally managed backyard, every landscape has the potential to contribute to the fight against climate change. Focusing on using site documentation, inventory, and analysis to create an ecological baseline for design proposals, students will consider how soils, topography, and climate shape the growing conditions for different native plant communities and how to develop landforms, drainage networks, circulation patterns and plant palettes that support both human and wildlife habitats. In this interactive class, students will expand on lecture content through discussion and analysis of select case studies.

Applied Soils: Restore and Engineer
From the perspective of low-impact development (LID), this class examines soils according to what a landscape practitioner sees on a jobsite: soil health and fertility, restoration solutions for degraded soils, proper sourcing of any transported or engineered soils, and long-term soil management practices. Through sample lab results and case studies, discussion will include an overview of soil biology and chemistry, carbon sequestration and filtration of urban inputs, specific engineered blends for function, and lessons from sustainable agriculture applied to residential applications.

Systematic Solutions to Water Management
In this class, students will discuss methods and materials that capture and reuse stormwater and other management solutions for stormwater runoff. Class will also identify updated materials and best practices for irrigation that result in water conservation, reduced poly-made materials, and hardier and healthier plants.

Sustainable Materials: Site Specific Features and Applications
This class will examine multiple methods of erosion control, discuss biodegradable materials to apply within and above the soil, explore innovative concepts that utilize locally derived and repurposed materials, and examine what materials are most effective for a variety of settings. Class content will focus on features such as fences, access ways, patios, ponds, swales, stone walls, and terraces.

Advanced Studies in Professional Horticulture Classes

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December 13

Maine’s Soil Carbon: Attention to Landscapers and Gardeners

Soil carbon sequestration, also known as “carbon farming” or “regenerative agriculture,” is a technique valuable to anyone working with soil, no matter the scale. Dr. Ivan Fernandez, Maine soil scientist and researcher focusing on Maine's carbon cycle, will discuss the “good, bad, and ugly” of carbon as well as what can be done to help slow down and reduce Maine's carbon footprint. Join us to hear current statistics and methods contributing to Maine's efforts to mitigate carbon pollution.

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Location: Online

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Instructor: Dr. Ivan Fernandez

Cost: $12–18

January 10

New England Stone Walls: Art and Function

Once-common land management tools for grazing animals, growing vegetables, or marking property, New England stone walls have evolved into masterful pieces of art. In this visually captivating presentation, Vermont stone craftsperson Brian Post of Standing Stone LLC will share the fundamentals of stone wall construction and explore the various aesthetic adaptations that contribute to artful elements in any landscape at any scale. Focusing primarily on dry stack walls, he’ll discuss loose farm walls, retainer walls, double-sided dimensional walls, walls for climbing or sitting, and how to become trained in the craft.

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Location: Online

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Instructor: Brian Post

Cost: $12–18

February 7

Patios, Paths, and Driveways: Permeable Applications

Traditional hardscape surfaces like pavers, asphalt, stone aggregates, and field stone are materials landscapers have long used, some for centuries. Today, these products are being modified and adapted into permeable applications. In this presentation, landscape engineer Robert Roseen will discuss necessary considerations for applying permeable surfaces and installation dos and don'ts. These products and their engineering have come a long way, and they work—even in New England! Join us and conserve and support healthy water hydrology instead of treating it like a waste product.

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Location: Online

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Instructor: Robert Roseen

Cost: $12–18

March 14

Landscape Buffers for the Water’s Edge

Maine’s water resources are among our state’s greatest natural assets, but disturbing soil, working with, and affecting vegetation around shorelines can involve extra care, materials, and understanding of local, state, and federal regulations. John Maclaine of Maine DEP’s Nonpoint Source Training Center will focus on vegetative buffers that include a variety of plant species effective for controlling erosion, protecting water quality, and maintaining high-quality resources for future generations. He’ll share ecological principles that guide regulatory decision-making and up-to-date information on state rules and permits. Whether wetlands, ponds, lakes, rivers, or the seashore, landscapers and gardeners working with the water’s edge will find this this presentation helpful as a refresher or for building awareness.

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Location: Online

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Instructor: John MacLaine

Cost: $12–18

April 4

Tree Pests: The Future of Tree Selection and Resilience

Trees, whether forest or cultivated species, are experiencing major pest problems, most of which have been brought about by human impact. We’re now left wondering what will happen to Maine's forests and what the impact to our landscape will be. Will there be economic implications? Will some species show more resistance and resilience than others? Will pest species’ life cycles persist or lessen over time? How will these pests impact Maine's nursery and landscaping industry? Allison Kanoti, State Entomologist for the Maine Department of Forestry, will dig into these questions and more, offering clarity that will help us become better prepared and informed.

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Location: Online

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Instructor: Allison Kanoti

Cost: $12–18