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Atlantic Master Gardeners Education Program

Message from Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture, Extended Learning

Quick program facts:

  • Courses start three times per year: October 1, November 15, and February 1.

  • Program caters to participants who have a passion for gardening, wanting to expand their knowledge in the horticulture field, or wanting to become a Master Gardener in their respective region.

  • Program is comprised of four independent study courses: Science of Gardening, Maintaining the Garden, Plant ID & Use, and Art of Gardening.

  • Participants have the opportunity to take one course or all courses with 6-months to complete each course.

  • Registration for the October 1 intake of courses is now open and can be completed online at

  • Registration for the November 15 intake opens on October 9th.


Our team is here to help anyone with registration and can be contacted by emailing or by calling 1-902-893-6666.

Dalhousie University, Atlantic Master Gardener Education Program

1. Plant ID and Use

This class is an introduction to 100 plants grown in Canadian gardens focusing on their identification and use. It includes a guide to botanical nomenclature, the hierarchy of the plant kingdom and plant morphology. You will learn the use of a simple dichotomous key to aid in plant identification. Topic include nomenclature, plant anatomy, plant identification and use, and dichotomous keys.


2. The Science of Gardening

This class will give you a comprehensive understanding of a plant's basic functions, its interaction with its surroundings and its responses to changes in its environment. It will lead to an understanding of the scientific basis for many of the principles and practices of gardening. Topics include: soil systems, plant physiology, plant nutrition, and plant propagation.


3. Maintaining the Garden

This class will give you the upper hand in getting the garden that you want. You will examine common gardening practices - looking at what they are, how they are done and why. You will develop environmentally sound strategies to manage weeds, insects and diseases in your garden. Topics include: gardening techniques and tools, weeds and weed control, plant health, pests, and pruning.


4. The Art of Gardening

In this class, you will merge your gardening experience with the knowledge you have acquired throughout the program. You will begin your journey into areas of specialist expertise and explore the most classic of garden compositions - container plantings. We will then learn about that green backdrop to garden art, the lawn and examine the cultivation of 'food from the heart' - fruits and vegetables. Topics include: container gardening, lawn care, fruit gardens, and vegetable gardens


Summer School (Dalhousie University, Truro Campus)

Can be completed at any time during the Program

Summer School is a 5 day course that allows students the opportunity for hands on activities. This summer school encompasses a week of great learning activities for the classroom and outdoors and is open to anyone with an interest in expanding his or her gardening knowledge and skills. Topics include: plant propagation, planting techniques, pruning, garden maintenance, pests and diseases, troubleshooting plants and gardens, fertilizing, liming, mulching and composting, garden tool selection, use and maintenance.

Ecological Gardening

Optional Master Gardener Course

This course will help you understand the ecology and creation of a landscape influenced by the prairie biome, and supportive of wildlife. Learn about natural succession and its management in naturalistic meadow landscapes. Explore the use of plant associations in garden design, and why they are important, and how to use native plants in sophisticated ways. Learn to create a modern garden that provides freedom, ease and harmony.

Course Outline

Module 1: Plant Identification

  • Identification and use of plants suited for creation of gardens in the New Prairie Landscape style.

  • Perennials

  • Bulbs 

  • Ornamental Grasses

  • Trees and Shrubs

Module 2: Creating Gardens in a New Way

  • Introduction

  • Garden innovation and History

  • Garden ecology

  • Designing in the Prairie Landscape Style

  • Planning the Garden Layout

  • Grade Changes

  • Plant associations

  • Creating structure in landscapes 

  • Block planting v/s filtered planting

  • Architectural plants

  • Covering ground 


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