Presentations - Home Gardeners

Beauty & Inspiration: Legacy Gardens of Provence and the French Riviera

A tour of gardens in the south of France is every gardener’s dream. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity (or if you have and would like to relive that experience), you’ll love Nan’s illustrated tour of the legacy gardens of Provence and the French Riviera.

This tour takes you to a dozen gardens, starting at La Louve, French designer Nicole de Vesian’s fabulous country home and garden. We stop at La Chaboude, designer Philippe Cottet’s modern interpretation of a 15th century farmhouse and garden. Further south, we visit Jardin Exotic, the 85 year-old succulent gardens on the cliffs overhanging Monaco, and Lawrence Johnston’s Serra de la Madone (where Johnston retreated after selling Hidcote, the garden designed in England). There are more public gardens, private gardens, historic gardens, and iconic gardens, ending at Monet’s Giverny. Though it is not in Provence or the French Riviera, every garden tour to France should include Giverny!

Container Gardening How-To

Not everyone has room for an entire garden but everyone has room for a container garden.

Container gardens are just like gardens in the ground, just smaller. They have exactly the same requirements – light, water, and soil. In this demonstration, Nan discusses the best uses for different types of containers and how to match plants to pots and pots to plants. She’ll demonstrate container-planting methods, how to combine plants, how to find the right spot for container gardens, and so on. She’ll share some of her best tips for making container gardens instant successes. Focus can be on edibles or ornamentals, depending on the audience.

Don’t Plant This! Avoid the Plants You’ll Later Regret

Ever ask a gardener about the plants they wish they’d never planted? Nan talks about a bunch of them that reproduce too freely, swallow up a house in a season, are prone to disease, attract unwanted “visitors” to the garden, invade nearby native habitats, are impossible to train, or will be in the garden forever, whether wanted or not. Be forewarned! Be forearmed! Don’t plant this!

Expand Your Palette: California Gardening with South African Plants

If you were to visit California from the southern tip of South Africa you may not feel a little out of place, but if you were a plant, you would feel right at home. The two region’s climates and terrains are surprisingly similar.

South African plants are a major component of the Mediterranean plant palette; proteas with their odd looking flowers, their cousins the cone bushes, magical aloes, and sunny daisies are mainstays when it comes to low water, low maintenance California gardens.

Optional demonstration with live plants.

Expand Your Palette: Garden Gems from the World’s Mediterranean Climates

The world’s five Mediterranean climates (including California) cover only 2% of the earth’s surface, yet are home to 205 of the world’s plant species. For gardeners, that translates to an enormous palette of low water, low maintenance, and beautiful plants. This talk presents the best of the best of those plants, along with examples of how to use them in a home garden.

Optional demonstration with live plants

Expand Your Palette: Garden Treasures from Arid Mexico and the Southwest

Expand your garden’s palette with colorful and hardy plants from arid Mexico and the southwest deserts. If you think those plants are all cacti, think again. You’ll be amazed at the vast options of plants that don’t resemble cacti in the least! These plants are graceful, have fantastic textures, and add year-round interest to low water gardens.

Optional demonstration with live plants.

Expand Your Palette: Low Water Australian Plants for California Gardens

Imagine a garden filled with colorful flowers, fantastic foliage and hummingbirds. You are imagining a garden with plants from our sister climate down-under. From kangaroo paws to acacias, plants from Australia include some of the most unusual and fascinating low water, low maintenance plants for our gardens.

Optional demonstration with live plants.

Expand Your Palette: Mediterranean and Desert Plants For Low Water Landscapes

So many communities, property owners, even landscape maintenance companies want to swap out existing landscapes for something new, something more waterwise, easier to care for, and simply more up to date. The problem is, they don’t know where to start or what to ask for. In this talk, Nan covers a wealth of plant options that meet these needs. She also talks about the infrastructure necessary to support them, how to make the conversion, and how to manage them over the long term.

Optional demonstration with live plants

Expand Your Palette: Native Plants for California Native Gardens

Native plants began falling out of fashion in the early 1900’s when new and exciting exotics from around the world became available to California gardeners. That trend continued pretty much until today. Now, California gardeners are rediscovering the beauty and diversity of our native flora. And it’s about time. Native plants are the absolute best-suited plants for California gardens. They are low/no water, low maintenance, and are very easy to grow, once you discard everything you thought you knew about keeping a garden. In this talk, Nan discusses what makes a native plant native, the habitats that native plants come from, native plants that are easiest to grow in California gardens, how to grow them, how to use them in the garden, and how to mix them with plants from other Mediterranean climates.

Optional demonstration with live plants

Five Minute Garden Design

On a beautiful Saturday you are ready to replace your thirsty, high maintenance garden. Drive to the nursery, park the car and as step through the entry, you stop. Overwhelmed. Not sure what to look at or what to choose….

In this class, Nan demonstrates how to make beautiful combinations of water-wise plants in five minutes (okay, maybe 10 minutes). Some combos are based on color schemes; others are themes such as native plants, succulents, edibles, and so on. In the process, Nan talks about:

  • How to shop for plants in a nursery
  • Where to look for a nursery’s waterwise selections
  • What to prepare before shopping
  • What low-water plants look like and what makes them low water
  • How to read plant labels

Optional demonstration with live plants. 

From Sticks to Stems: Propagate Plants from Cuttings

Starting new plants from cuttings is truly amazing. Lop off a branch, stick it into some potting soil and soon it’s an entire plant! And truthfully, it is almost that easy after participants know some of the tricks that propagators use. Once they see and understand the process, they can propagate almost anything, from the shrubs coveted in a neighbor’s garden to that new perennial on sale at the nursery (though not if it is a patented variety).

This demonstration covers some of the basics making and potting cuttings, how to care for them, and how to transplant them once they are ready to go!

From Sustainability to Stewardship: New Insights from Old English Gardens

New garden trends still originate in old England! Even in that historic region, resources are becoming more precious. Private gardens and public gardens like Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, RSH Wisley, and Hidcote are among those refocusing on stewardship, far beyond sustainability. They integrate wildflowers and grasses into formal gardens as an acknowledgment that attracting beneficials is as important as beauty. Habitat borders alongside edible gardens attract pollinators to ensure fruit production. Traditional perennial borders now serve double duty – both as beautiful spaces for people to enjoy as well as places for birds and other animals to find food and shelter. They promote home gardens that survive on rainfall in order to conserve precious potable water, and they plant trees to ensure that centuries old forests are sustained for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations – human and otherwise.

Feeding people, feeding animals, using resources wisely while maintaining the beauty, history and legacy of English gardening are elements of a new English stewardship beyond sustainability and lessons for us all.

Plant a Jewish Garden

Planting, growing, and harvesting are fundamental to Judaism. Agriculture ties Jews to the seasons and to the land, through holidays and life cycle events. In this presentation, you’ll learn about connections between Judaism and fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, trees, shrubs, and more.

Nan will talk about traditions and practices that easily translate to home gardens. She will discuss how easy it is to grow most, if not all, of the plants mentioned in the Torah and many more that have come to play a role in the traditions of more modern times. Nan will even talk about some ancient traditions that deserve to be revived.

Optional demonstration with live plants. 

Raise Your Vegetables in Bed

Grow more per square foot, with less water, less back stress, fewer pest problems and an extended growing season, even in the worst soil in the world! How? By growing vegetables in a raised bed. Nan presents different examples of raised beds, including a time-proven method for easy-on-the-back (and easy for small children) wooden raised beds.

The talk includes construction diagrams for building these favorite raised beds, a 90 second time-lapse video demo that shows how to build beds, and some tips and tricks Nan has learned in her years of raised bed gardening.

Spotlight on the Gardens of the Netherlands and Belgium: Much More than Tulips!

Join Nan Sterman on a virtual journey to the gardens and landscapes of the Netherlands. You might think of Dutch landscapes as being all about tulips, and there are tulips for sure, but there is much, much more. We visit fantastic garden vignettes at Appletern, designed by 200 of the best and brightest Dutch designers. Visit a secluded 17th century garden behind a classical canal home in Amsterdam. Watch the goings on at the world’s largest flower auction at Aalsmeer (imagine flower filled bumper cars). Take a side trip to the Keukenhof garden, famous for its over-the-top springtime bulb displays. Visit the operations of a third generation bulb grower, hybridizer, and exporter. And see Floriade, the once-a-decade horticultural and agricultural World’s Fair that celebrates plants and displays from across the globe. Experience this breathtaking tour from the comfort of your chair – and without having to go through airport security!

Sprout! Start your Vegetable Garden from Seeds

Seeds are magical little things – pieces of dried out “wood” that, when watered, suddenly come alive to make tall redwoods, bright red poppies, even delicious tomatoes and eggplant. Starting from seed allows gardeners to try varieties of plants seldom seen in the nursery – especially herbs and vegetables.

This presentation covers everything a hoping-for-green-thumb needs to raise a summer full of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, including seed starting secrets Nan’s developed from years of starting her own garden from seed and testing seeds for Organic Gardening Magazine.

In the hands-on workshop, participants take home hundreds of dollars worth of seeded plants that will produce several hundred dollars more worth of vegetables. They also gain the knowledge to produce that same value every year.

The Path to Sustainability Starts at Home

Sustainability is a path, rather than an endpoint. And, if it follows the pattern of other cultural shifts, sustainability starts at home. From there, it spreads to workplaces, businesses, and our communities at large. So, how do we make our homes – our home landscapes in particular — more sustainable?

This presentation inspires participants with images of residential projects that take a pass on lawns, swimming pools, and other high-resource features. Nan focuses on appropriate plantings, soils, hardscape materials, composting, maintenance, and irrigation approaches that move these gardens along the path towards sustainability.

For professional audiences, Nan discusses ways to communicate the advantages of sustainability to clients as well.