In the dreary days of winter, a trip to the Mediterranean sounds good.

McLaughlin Garden in South Paris can’t put you on an airplane, but it can give you a couple of hours of Mediterranean flowers at 4 p.m. Feb. 26 as part of the garden’s winter lecture series. The lecture by Harriet Robinson is actually called Mediterranean Plants in Maine Gardens, but that could be enough to give you a midwinter break.

McLaughlin Garden is offering seven programs in its series, which runs at 4 p.m. every Wednesday from Feb. 19 to April 2. Not only are all of the lectures free, if you arrive early, you can have free tea and snacks to go along with the companionship of other gardeners. Walk-ins are welcome.

Stephanie Edwards, garden operations manager, said the talks fulfill several purposes.

“We like to bring in people from local businesses, so we have a connection to them,” she said. “Part of our mission is horticultural education, so it helps with that.”

Judy Florenz, who with Becky Burke is co-chairwoman of the programs committee, said Robinson’s talk was a last-minute addition, to reach seven programs.


“She is a member of the committee and has a doctorate in archaeology, so she spends a lot of time in Greece,” Florenz said. “She said, ‘Oh, I have a lot of photos of plants, so I can put something together.’”

Other programs in the McLaughlin series, co-sponsored by McLaughlin’s affiliated Foothills Garden Club, include beekeeping by Carol Cotrill, president of the Maine Beekeepers Association, Feb. 19; Growing Cut Flowers by Cindy Creps of Meadow Ridge Perennial Farm, March 5; Garden Blogs by Jean Potuchek, March 12; Growing and Using Lavender by Betsey-Ann Golon of Common Folk Farm, March 19; Landscaping and Landscape Design by Eli Goodwin of Goodwin Nursery, March 26; and Not Your Grandmother’s Geraniums by Cindy Tibbetts of Hummingird Farm on April 2.

Merryspring Nature Center in Camden has speakers at noon Tuesdays, but not all of them are about gardening. They are free to members, $5 for non-members. Highlights (for me, anyway) include New Plants for 2014 by Hammon Buck, Feb. 25; Sedges of Maine by Matt Arsenault, March 4; Gardening for Birds with Native Plants by Sharon Turner May, 13; and Tending the Perennial Garden in June by Wendy Andresen. For a complete list go to

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has little going on for public programs until April. Lois Berg Stack, an ornamental horticulture professor at the University of Maine, will teach Soil Science for Gardeners on April 15 and 16 at $120 for members and $150 for non-members; and Brady Barber and Lisa Cowan will teach Shaping a Natural Site into a Landscaped Space on April 24-26 at $150 for members and $180 for nonmembers.

Garden clubs also offer a lot of different programs.

The Belfast Garden Club has an extensive schedule of programs, usually at 2 p.m. Tuesdays, but sometimes later in the day and not every week. Highlights include Bonsai by Aaron Bowden at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and Container Gardening with Liz Stanley at 2 p.m. April 8, both at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 95 Court St., Belfast. For a complete list go to


Longfellow Garden Club in Portland is beginning its 10th decade, so some of its programs will be on club history. Gardening programs include Gardening for Hummingbirds with Anne Murphy of Gnome Landscapes at 11 a.m. April 8 at Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St.

Osewantha Garden Club in South Portland has several programs scheduled, but my favorites for their practicality are Arranging with Flowers from the Supermarket, March 19; and Making Baskets of Spring Flowers for Outdoor Display, April 16, both at 1 p.m. at the South Portland Community Center.

Scarborough Garden Club will have a program on terrariums at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at Hillcrest Retirement Center.

Gorham Garden Club offers Bill Kenny of Allen Sterling & Lothrop on succulents at 7 p.m. Feb. 25, and Sheet Mulching Lasagna beds with Stowell Watters of Wild Folk Farm at 7 p.m. March 25, both at First Parish Church, Gorham.

St. Mary’s Garden Club offers Kaye B. Vosburgh on Ikebana Floral Design at 11 a.m. March 10 at St. Mary’s Parish House, Route 88, Falmouth.

Harpswell Garden Club offers Ellen Shillinglaw on Landscaping for Maine Gardens at 12:30 p.m. March 20 at Kellogg Church, Route 23.


More information about the state’s garden clubs is available at

University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers several programs. At the Cumberland County office at 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth, there will be a course on beginning beekeeping from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays from Feb. 13 to March 13.

The Adult Education Department at Gorham High School offers three courses at Gorham Middle School. Growing Great Berries, Feb. 11 and 25, and Growing Fruit Trees, March 4 and 11, are both by Master Gardener Joel Leek, and “Is There a Root Cellar in Your Future?” by Extension Educator Richard Brzozowski is May 22. For information go to

Some of your larger nurseries and garden centers offer great classes.

Michael Skillin of Skillins in Falmouth, Brunswick and Cumberland said they are especially popular in the winter, when gardeners are getting bored. Free classes include windowsill gardening on Feb. 1, Edible Landscaping on Feb. 8 and Dish Gardens on Feb. 15. A class on fresh floral arranging on Feb. 22 at Falmouth only costs $15 for materials. For details on times at each location, go to

Longfellow’s Greenhouses in Manchester started its lectures Jan. 18, and has its annual Cabin Fever art show Feb. 1 and 2. It returns with Mary Lou Hoskins talking about orchids at 1 p.m. Feb. 10. Check out for any later lectures.


The mother lode of lectures for southern Maine is the Portland Flower Show, March 5-9 at the Portland Company Complex on Fore Street. The show includes four or more lectures a day, and most are excellent.

Kathleen Carr Bailey, who coordinates the show’s lectures, said she has not finished her lineup but was excited to have Kerry Ann Mendez, the author of two gardening books as well as articles for Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and Today’s Garden Center magazines, as well as being co-manager of Estabrook’s Nursery in Kennebunk. She will be speaking at 1:30 p.m. on March 6. As the flower show gets closer, you will find detailed lecture lists at

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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