Speaking Engagements2020-10-28T22:40:32-04:00
Kelly Orzel

Speaking Engagements

At heart I’m a teacher (I taught high school math for 6 years), so get ready to sow and grow like a pro! Want to become a master seed-starter and propagator? I’m your girl. Do you have a love affair with show-stopping dahlias and ready to take your flower patch to the next level? I can teach you how. Or are you ready to become a vegetable garden boss and grow a pantry-full of food? Well, then you’re in the right place!

Since 2012, I’ve spoken at over 300 events all over New England to home garden enthusiasts like you. And, as a self-confessed garden geek and bibliophile, I can’t wait to share with you everything I’ve experienced and learned.

Would You Like To…

  • Grow fabulous dahlias that will make your friends drool?
  • Master seed starting and become a plant cutting connoisseur?
  • Discover new (and old) organic garden techniques + practices that will make your garden shine?
  • Grow heaps of vegetables and herbs without yucky pesticides?
  • Design and grow a gorgeous flower garden?
  • Learn how to extend the growing season to maximize your garden production?
  • Feel confident about growing and nurturing plants?

Then you’re in the right place!

What People Are Saying

I wanted to thank you so much for speaking at our URI 2017 Garden Symposium today. It was well attended and you did amazing in your presentation. As I surveyed the attendees, they all really enjoyed your presentations and gleaned something they will try in their own gardens. I call that a job well done and successful!
– Noreen K.

That was something else!!! You blew doors off of anything we’ve had for a presentation lately.  The compositions, the graphics, the botany, the beauty!!

– Katy G.

We loved your lecture on Gardening for the Five Senses! It was packed with a lot of wonderful information and my head is spinning  trying to ingest it all! It would definitely make a wonderful book–just saying.

– Rie S.

I received lots of good feedback from your talk yesterday… Ladies loved your youth and delivery. You moved your program right along and your photography was beautiful!  I know some got some ideas from your suggestions. They seemed energized and quite pleased with their experience!  Thank you so much!

– All my best – Jane S.

What a great presentation yesterday!  It’s not often that our group of ladies are silent for an hour, but you kept their attention and they were mesmerized!  Great job!

– Thanks again, Nancy M.

We thank you for your informative and entertaining presentation on the Secrets of Seed Starting. The two hours just flew by and we all learned so much about starting plants from seeds and cuttings. We appreciate you sharing your knowledge with our garden club members.

– Sincerely, Judy K.

Thank you in advance for sending me you book. I really enjoyed reading excepts on the Heirloom Gardener website. You have a lovely way of making learning about soil and gardening FUN. I look forward to reading the book! Hope you have a great day!

– Sincerely, Barb M.

The Waterville Community Garden Club thanks you greatly for being a speaker at the Kennebec District Annual meeting recently. Your expertise & enthusiasm are infectious! All members enjoyed learning about your farm & scented geraniums. Good luck to you on another successful season!

– Sincerely, Beth W.

Vegetable + Herb Programs

Culinary Herbs

Want to know the secret to a garden bursting with flavor? Loam wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your herb garden. I pack a ton into this class. Heck, I’ll talk about everything from design to plant spotlights. Companion planting with herbs, oh yeah! Interested in themed gardens? Container gardens? Trust me, I’ve got some sage advice for you. I’ll share my secrets on growing the top 12 culinary headliners, as well as a few additional (okay, 11) of the lesser known—but totally incredible—favorites I grow on my little herb farm.

Veggies 101

Lettuce turnip the beet! Growing your own food is incredibly rewarding—plus you cannot beat the flavor of a homegrown tomato! Let me break it down and show you how easy it is to grow your own fruits and veggies. Everything from prepping your soil —which is crucial—to how to organize your garden for optimal crop rotation (and why its important to rotate at all). Then I’ll dive deep into growing all your favorite vegetables. I’ll share the best ways to start, grow, fertilize, generally care for and harvest each veggie. Whether you’re a newbie or experienced gardener there’s something for everyone.


Get sauce-y with me and let’s talk tomatoes! I’ve been growing tomatoes for over 20 years and I’m ready to share all my secrets, tips and tricks. The key to tasty, productive tomatoes is successful seed starting and transplanting. There’s so many sizes, shapes, colors, types, uses and pollination options to explore—and you’re going to learn about them all. Growing juicy, hearty tomatoes starts with the soil. Fertilization, pruning, trellis practices and proper season extension techniques just up the bounty. And if you’re one of those gardeners whose crops fail, I’m going to give you solutions for all your tomato pests and disease problems. By the end of this class you’ll be ready to put this new knowledge to use and realize all your tomato dreams!

Growing an Organic Kitchen Garden

Going organic feels good from your head to-ma-toes. Who doesn’t want a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables, deeply aromatic herbs and bright, beautiful flowers without chemicals? This is not a trick question. All it takes to become a successful organic gardener are some simple growing techniques—and my favorite organic fertilizers—which I’ll totally share! I’ll discuss vegetable patch and plant bed designs, as well as how to prepare your soil (super-duper important), and growing strategies to ensure an abundant, multi-season harvest. Dive deep with me into the kitchen garden and become an organic growing guru!

Flower Programs

All About Dahlias

I’ve grown dahlias for 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 flower classification to propagating, planting, fertilizing and overwintering, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to have your neighbors green- with-dahlia-flower-envy! Who wouldn’t want bigger plants, longer stems and more luscious blooms? By the end of this hour you will be a dahlia growing queen!

Addicted to Scented Geraniums

There’s a reason my little farm grows—and sells out—of all our scented geraniums every season...it’s because pelargoniums (fancy-shamcy, technically-correct term for scented geraniums) are da bomb! Think of a scratch-n-sniff sticker—except with plants. Let me introduce you to the wide variety of scents, leaves and sizes available. Once you’re as obsessed as I am (which usually takes approximately 2 minutes) I’ll share my techniques on how to grow, propagate, prune and overwinter pelargoniums. You’re seriously going to be hooked on growing scented geraniums (if you aren’t already)!

Forcing Bulbs and Branches

Beat the winter blues with one of the gardener’s most-loved autumn rituals—forcing. As you put the garden to bed, think about potting up your favorite bulbs. I’ll tell you which bulbs (and branches) make good specimens for forcing, and why. Then I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of planting and tricking your tulips, daffodils and more to bloom in winter! Once you know the tricks of the trade, you be a seasoned forcer, and your winter blues will be replaced with rich colors and heavenly scents.

Designing Your Cottage Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett made a huge impact on 12-year-old me (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 the cottage garden. I’ll lead you through the essentials of cottage—aka English—garden design. How to choose plants, colors and textures to create romantic, ethereal spaces. The importance of structure—which cannot be overstated. And how to achieve that intangible, whimsical sentimentality the cottage garden is known for. 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.

Growing + Gardening Practices Programs

Digging Deep into Soil

Soil is sexy! Get down to the nitty-gritty with me and let’s talk dirt! There’s so much going on under our feet in the garden—and SURPRISE—it’s also one of the most important things in the garden. An entire ecosystem of organisms, bacteria and fungi is waiting for you to discover and understand it. I’ll share how the “no-dig” philosophy and practice will help you grow your most productive garden yet, arm you with new and exciting organic homegrown (free!) fertilizers and tell you why all the hype around mycorrhizae is spot on!

Secrets to Seed Starting Success

Let the rooting begin! Take the mystery out of seed starting with tried-and-true, fool- proof sowing techniques. Get your garden up and running with everything you need to know from my favorite seed-starting soil recipes, to how-to break seed dormancy and tips to speed up germination. I’m a big believer in pinching—I’m seriously ruthless —plus I’m going to tell you all about the magic of rooting cuttings! Grow anything and everything your gardener’s heart desires!

Growing an Organic Kitchen Garden

Going organic feels good from your head to-ma-toes. Who doesn’t want a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables, deeply aromatic herbs and bright, beautiful flowers without chemicals? This is not a trick question. All it takes to become a successful organic gardener are some simple growing techniques—and my favorite organic fertilizers—which I’ll totally share! I’ll discuss vegetable patch and plant bed designs, as well as how to prepare your soil (super-duper important), and growing strategies to ensure an abundant, multi-season harvest. Dive deep with me into the kitchen garden and become an organic growing guru!

Armchair Locavore Tour

Visit a collection of the most 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. This time though, I’ll 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 gardens with me—and the best part is, you get to do this from your own chair!

Specialty Garden Programs

Gardening for the Five Senses

Want to know how to turn a charming garden into a breathtaking garden? Simple. An extraordinary garden engages all of your senses—not just sight (which is still important!). 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, the woolly comfort of lamb’s ears. Each one elicits a memory while creating a new one. Learn how to create a beautiful and stimulating garden in your own backyard that will tickle ALL FIVE of the senses—sound, sight, smell, taste and touch—sustainably! I’ll share which plants and garden features to incorporate for each of the senses, help you develop a plan that will allow you to experience your own garden more thoroughly, and explain how these will enhance your outdoor space with unusual artistry, regardless of size.

Out of the Box Container Gardening

Hit me with your best pot! Whether you have a patio garden or acres of land, container gardens are flexible while adding a bit of intimacy to your outside space. You can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers in pots and yes, even small trees! New and old container ideas will be showcased. Then I’ll talk about which plants are best suited for this type of life, as well as introduce you to unique plant varieties, topiaries and planting recipes to try. And I’ll tell you my grooming and other maintenance tips to keep your container garden blooming all season long.

Terrariums: Growing Under Glass

From conception to completion, let me show you how design, construct and maintain your “garden in a glass.” We’ll start with the basics: terrarium type, composition, container, media and plant selection. It’s important to pair the right plant with the right media and container—just like in the garden—to ensure your miniature landscape lasts. I’ll guide you through the whole creative process, show you some uncommon, one-of-a-kind designs and highlight different plant choices to make your terrarium the talk of the party!

Native Coastal Plants

Bred to stand up to the salty air, hard winter weather and inhospitable soil, native plants tolerate growing conditions that would make other more delicate plants weep —which is why we love them! I’ll start by discussing the advantages of and how to create a thriving native landscape. Then we’ll play a little “identify the dreaded invasives” game, followed by an exhibition of native alternatives. While profiling a variety of my favorite natives, I’ll reveal what makes each of these plants special.

MISC Program

Become a Garden Photographer

Capture and preserve the beauty of your garden with the press of the shutter. Let me show you how to use the functions of today’s Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras to get the most out of your garden. 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 to take you to a new level. PS—camera phones and instagram- ers are welcome! I’ll throw in and talk about my favorite camera apps as well.

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