Lecture Descriptions

The Organic Kitchen Garden

kichen-garden Impressive as they may be, traditional walled, British gardens  do not lend themselves to the modern garden girl (or guy) on the go. While Kitchen Gardens, or potagers, not only look lovely, but also provide tasty fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the season. It is a practice that combines old-fashioned, organic growing techniques with the artistry of the cottage garden. Learn how simple it is to be a successful organic, kitchen gardener! We’ll discuss vegetable patch and plant bed designs, how to prepare your soil, and stagger your crops to ensure a multi-season harvest! Kelly will share the secrets to growing beefy, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers perfect for pickling, delicious herbs to enhance any meal and more.

Additionally, Kelly’s first book, The Backyard Gardener, on organic kitchen gardening was just published by Lyons Press and is available here or at Amazon or Barnes+Noble.



Learn the secrets to successful seed starting, transplanting and growing tasty, productive tomatoes! We’ll start by exploring various sizes, shapes, colors, types, uses and pollination options. Then we’ll examine soil, fertilization, pruning, trellis practices and season extension techniques and how to identify the perfect time to harvester a bountiful harvest! Throughout this talk Kelly will share lots of tips and tricks to grow these delicious fruits, solutions for pests and disease problems as well as some of her favorite varieties. By the end of this class you’ll be ready to put all your new knowledge and skills to use in the garden and realize all your tomato dreams!


Unlock the Secrets to Seed Starting

Take the mystery out of seed starting with tried-and-true, fool-proof techniques. Get your garden up and running with everything you nee to know from Kelly’s favorite soil recipes for seed starting, to how-to break seed dormancy and tips to speed up germination! Advice on growing various vegetables, herbs and flowers from seed as well as how to root an array of cuttings. After this presentation you will be an expert seed sower and ready to grow anything your gardener’s heart desires.


All About Dahlias

Cafe Au Lait Dahlia | Bowery Beach FarmI’ve grown dahlias almost as long as I can remember. They were a staple in my mother’s garden, and now in mine. Dahlias are such showstoppers that I have to pinch myself to remember that all they need is a little TLC to get them to produce like mad! Covering everything from flower classification to propagating, planting, fertilizing and overwintering, you will learn everything you need to know to have your neighbors green with flower envy. Who wouldn’t want bigger plants, longer stems and more luscious  blooms?! Well, in this talk Kelly will share all her tips and tricks she’s learned over the years so you too can become a dahlia growing queen!


Get Addicted to Scented Geraniums

There’s a reason my little farm grows and sells out of all our scented geraniums … and its because pelargoniums are the bomb! It’s like a scratch-n-sniff stick, except with live plants. Whether you prune them to keep them small in a pot, trailing over hanging baskets or planted as lush borders in the garden you will fall in love with these plants. Many gardeners aren’t familiar with these productive little pelargoniums, or haven’t heard of them at all, don’t realize just how much variation there is beyond their scents. So come and learn all about the diverse scents & forms, how to propagate, grow, prune and overwinter scented geraniums. You’ll be amazed at the wide array of uses and scents!


Native Coastal Plants

castal-plantsLearn about growing plants native to the New England Coast. Bred to stand up to the salty air, hard winter weather and inhospitable soil, these plants tolerate growing conditions that would make other more delicate plants weep, and that’s why we love them! In this lecture Kelly will discuss the advantages of growing natives, spotlight specific native plants that will thrive, and how to use them in your garden. She’ll also cover a number of invasive species, and how to identify and eradicate them.


Designing your Cottage Garden

designing-gardenAs a young girl I fell in love with The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (if you’ve never read it yourself, I highly recommend it). In addition to the story, I fell in love with the beauty and magic of cottage gardens, as well as their healing properties. In this lecture I will cover the essentials of cottage and English garden design, including how to choose plants, colors and textures to create romantic, ethereal spaces and how to introduce structure into the garden using fences, arbors and obelisks. For some whimsical sentimentality, which the cottage garden is known for, add curves, paths and alcoves. Whether looking for a formal space to entertain or an intimate, informal place for your own enjoyment, you’ll learn how to achieve both while keeping that charming, nostalgic quality of a cottage garden.


Essential Culinary Herbs and Knot Gardens

kant-gardensGrowing herbs can be as simple as a pot of basil on your windowsill or as complicated as an old English knot garden. Your herb garden can be whatever you what it be, whether you prefer the comfort tastes of rosemary or a little zing from cilantro. In this lecture we will discuss how to design and plan your herb garden to suit your kitchen needs while composing a beautiful garden space. I will share some of my favorite herbs, how I grow and maintain them and how they are used in cooking. Container and companion herb plantings will also be discussed, as well as how to create gardens for Italian, French and other cooking styles. We’ll also talk about the ‘rules’ of design and when and why to break them, while cooking with fresh herbs from the garden all year long. Once you leave, you will be ready to begin your own herb garden as well as how to use them in delicious and fresh recipes.


Container Gardening

container-gardeningPotted plants are wonderful in urban as well as rural garden settings. Whether you only have a balcony garden or acres of space, container gardens will always add a bit of drama. In this lecture we’ll talk about how to choose a container, plants, planting combinations and maintenance. Containers can be so much more than your grandmother’s window boxes. You can grow fruits and vegetables, herbs and flowers and yes, even small trees. We’ll discuss which plants are best suited for this type of life, how to pot them up and maintain them, and which pests and diseases to be on the look out for.  I will also cover some niche areas of container gardening including topiaries and fruit trees. Container gardening is as beautiful as it is rewarding, full of edible and flowering plants that can be enjoyed throughout the year.


Veggies 101

Growing your own food is incredibly rewarding. Not only its it comforting to know where your food is coming from and what has been used on it (hopefully only organic), but you cannot beat the flavor of a homegrown tomato-or anything else! In this talk Kelly will break down how to organize your garden for optimal crop rotation, then go over how to grow all your favorite vegetables. She’ll discuss the best ways to start, grow, fertilize, generally care for and harvest each veggie. Also, which pests and disease can be a problem and how to attack the problem without the use of chemicals. Whether you’re a newbie or experienced gardener there is something for everyone.

Additionally, Kelly’s first book, The Backyard Gardener, on organic kitchen gardening was just published by Lyons Press and is available here or at Amazon or Barnes+Noble.


The ArmChair Locavore Tour

Visit a collection of incredible, productive gardens of passionate, everyday gardeners and learn what they’re doing in their yards! Nearly all gardeners learn most by digging in the dirt and talking with other gardeners, well with this presentation Kelly will be bringing these Maine gardens to you to peak through and study the various growing practices they implement in their own backyards. You’ll see small and large spaces, some along the woodland, others gardening on ledge or even in their front yards! Many innovative growing methods and season extension techniques are demonstrated, as well as tips on growing your own food and flowers. So, come and visit these incredible garden, and the best part is, you get to do this from your own chair!


Forcing Bulbs and Branches

bulbs-andForcing bulbs is one of the gardener’s most-loved autumn rituals. As the garden is put to bed, it is time to think about potting up your favorite bulbs to guarantee your winter is not so dull. The good news is you don’t need a greenhouse. You can enjoy growing almost all your favorite bulbs from tulips to daffodils inside. In this lecture I will share which bulbs make good specimens for forcing, and why. We’ll discuss both water and soil forcing methods, and which bulbs are more suited to each while addressing the potential challenges. And it doesn’t end there – there are a plethora of blooming branches right in your backyard that can be forced to bloom in winter as well. We will examine which branches are best for forcing, and how you can fill your home with blooms. Once you know the tricks of the forcing trade, you will find yourself a seasoned forcer, and your winter blues will be replaces with rich colors and heavenly scents


Gardening for the 5 Senses

gardening-for-sensesWant to know the difference between a charming garden a breathtaking garden? Simple. An extraordinary garden engages all of your senses, not just sight. The smallest of things can transport us back to another place and time: the scent of lilac in the evening, the unmistakable taste of basil in a summer salad, the wooly comfort of lamb’s ears. Each one elicits a memory while creating a new one.   In this talk Kelly teaches you how to create a beautiful and stimulating garden in your backyard that will tickle all five senses – sound, sight, smell, taste and touch – sustainably! She’ll show you how to incorporate each of the senses and help you develop a plan that will allow you to experience your own garden more thoroughly. Kelly will also discuss which plants and garden features to include and explain how around the senses will enhance your outdoor space with unusual artistry, regardless of size.


Terrariums – Growing Under Glass

under-glassWhile the garden is hibernating and storing it’s energy for spring, it is a good time to think about the finer points of constructing terrariums. From conception to completion, Kelly will show you how to maintain your “garden in a glass.” Before learning about the various terrarium designs, Kelly will go over the basic components of a terrarium such as composition, container, media and plant selection. It is important to pair the right plant with the right media and container to ensure your miniature landscape will last beyond a few months. Kelly will guide you through creating the proper substrate mixes for plants and discuss container options as well as how to introduce the right plant into your terrarium.


Garden Photography

garden-photographyCapture and preserve the beauty of your garden with the press of the shutter. This lecture will cover how to use the functions of today’s Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras. Learn how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed interact to create the perfect exposure. Then we’ll discuss some garden composure guidelines, observational skills and some basic photography techniques that will improve your garden photography and take it to a new level.

Kelly Orzel is a horticulturist, garden speaker and grower of green things.

If you want to know more about Kelly, her garden programs and rates, or to schedule a garden talk for your group, you can reach her using the information on the Contact page or emailing her at kelly@kellyorzel.com.

Check out some Testimonials from people who have attended Kelly’s Garden Talks.

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