Workshops

The Arboretum offers workshops all year round covering a wide variety of topics from birds to mushrooms to gardening to art. Virtual programs are offered live on Zoom, and recordings are made available for registrants to access for a limited time. Details on registration policies can be found on our Registration Information page.
View a complete list of The Arboretum's programs on our Workshop Descriptions page.

Upcoming & Current Workshops


Nature Throughout the Seasons for International Students and New Canadians Series

aerial of Arboretum

Future dates to be announced (12 noon - 1:00 PM)
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Kitty and Jenny Lin, Arboretum Interpretive Interns

This online series is catered to University of Guelph international students and other community members new to Canada. New to the area? Come with us to explore The Arboretum and learn about what you can find in nature throughout the winter, spring, summer, and fall! Please keep checking this website for the announcement of programs in the later seasons.

Fee: FREE!

juncoWinter Survival - Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM

Canadian winters are often filled with ice and snow. We put on warm coats and boots, but plants and animals need other ways to deal with the cold. Join us to learn about how different species survive outside here in The Arboretum!

moth on flowerSigns of Spring - Date to be announced, 12 noon – 1:00 PM

Spring is the season for new beginnings. Here in Canada, that means warmer weather, flowers blooming, and bird singing. It's a great time to get outdoors, so join us at The Arboretum as we explore some different signs of spring!

dragonflyLife in Summer - Date to be announced, 12 noon – 1:00 PM

The summer is an amazing hub of activity out in nature here in Canada. From birds to insects to plants, everything is taking advantage of the warm weather to grow! In this program, we will be looking at some of this exciting summer activity.

tree with orange leavesFall Changes - Date to be announced, 12 noon – 1:00 PM
Fall is a transitional season for a lot of things in Canada - everything is starting to prepare for the winter! And with all of these changes, there is a lot to see. In this program, we will be exploring some notable signs of fall!


Winter Tree Identification

decorative graphic if garden planning

Tuesdays, February 16, 23, and March 2, 2021, 12 noon - 1:30 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Shelley Hunt

No leaves? No problem! In this workshop you will learn about the variety of features that are useful for winter identification of trees. From buds to bark to leaf scars, we will take an in-depth look at the surprisingly distinctive characteristics that let us unlock the identities of trees in their dormant season. We will focus on deciduous tree species native to Ontario, and we will make time for some evergreens as well. Optional 'homework' assignments will encourage you to get outside and observe trees in between sessions.

Fee: $50 (plus HST) per person (includes all 3 sessions).


Tips for Heightening Your Winter Nature Walks

Ben Porchuk and friend

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12 noon - 1:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Ben Porchuk, Certified Forest Therapy Guide

Ben, Canada's first Certified Forest Therapy Guide will guide you through some meaningful and fun invitations to ease you out of your mind and into full body senses. The founder and now Executive Director of the Global Institute of Forest Therapy, Ben now travels the world training forest therapy guides.

Fee: $15 (plus HST) per person.


My First Vegetable Garden

Robert Pavlis

Tuesdays from February 23 to March 16, 2021, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Robert Pavlis

This course is designed for the new gardener or the gardener that has only been growing vegetables for a couple of years. We’ll start at the very beginning, with ordering seeds and end with a detailed discussion of the 10 best vegetables for new gardeners. Focus is on hardiness zones 4 – 6.
The following topics are covered:

  • Creating a new bed and different systems; in the ground, raised beds and growing in containers
  • Best soil selection and how to get it ready for the growing season
  • When to use seed vs transplants, and starting early indoors
  • Dealing with weeds and other gardening tricks
  • Watering, sun and fertilizer – keep them growing for a maximum yield
  • Harvesting and fall crops
  • Common vegetables myths

Robert is a Master Gardener and garden writer who publishes two popular gardening blogs and has published several gardening books.  He owns and operates a private botanical garden where he grows over 3,000 different varieties of plants.

Fee: $40 (plus HST) per person (includes all 4 sessions).


Virtual Bird Sounds Series

collage of 8 birds representing bird groups in workshop series

Thursdays, March 18, 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and May 6, 2021, 12 noon - 1:00 PM
Format: Online on Zoom
Instructors: Chris Earley, Arboretum Interpretive Naturalist 

Learn more

Into birding but the songs have you stumped?  Whether you are new to learning bird sounds or you want a good refresher before the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas starts this spring, this course is for you. Join Chris Earley, Arboretum Interpretive Biologist and author of 5 bird field guides, for a series of eight virtual noon-hour lectures that cover over 150 bird species!  We will focus on songs and some common, distinctive calls and will apply different methods to remember them. Each course will start with a short intro topic about birding by ear before we dive into the bird species. Learn how to make your own calls, read a sonogram, make up your own memorable bird song sayings, and more!  Each class will finish with a 10-15 minute discussion period so you can ask all your bird-related questions.  

See the descriptions below to find out which bird groups are covered in each class. Each workshop is recorded and made available for a limited time after the series has ended for registered participants.

Fee: $8.00 (plus HST) per session, or register for all 8 workshops at once and get one free (pay $56 instead of $64!) Register early to ensure your spot!

saw-whet owl Owls and Wetland Birds - Week 1 - Thursday, March 18, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM 
Whooooooo was that? Owls always grab our nightly attention but many wetland birds are also evening singers. We will cover a selection of rails, coots, bitterns, loons, grebes, and more. And don't forget a couple of glorious goatsuckers (whip-poor-wills and nighthawks)! This course will include teaching you how to speak "owl."

GrackleBlackbirds and Hawks - Week 2 - Thursday, March 25, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM
These two groups include some early migrants and now is the time we get to see them after a long absence! We will cover the whole blackbird family including meadowlarks, bobolinks, and orioles. We will also study some raptor calls so you can figure out who might be flying through or maybe nesting in your local forest.

Black-throated Blue WarblerWarblers I - Phrasers and Buzzers - Week 3 - Thursday, April 1, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM 
Knowing warbler song is a key element for finding these tiny trinkets of the treetops. The males will even sing during migration so knowing their voices is important. In this course we will start with the species that sing distinctive phrases or use a buzzy texture in their songs.

Pine WarblerWarblers II - Trillers and Thrillers - Week 4 - Thursday, April 8, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM
So, this time things might be a bit more, um, difficult. Trilling birds are tricky but we will go through them and study the differences in these similar songs. We will also cover some other warblers that are a bit more musical and easier to figure out!

Savannah SparrowSparrows - Week 5 - Thursday, April 15, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM 
They may be a lot duller to look at than warblers but most sparrows are much better singers! Sometimes it is easier to tell them apart by song than by sight. We will study who says "Home Sweet, Canada, Canada, Canada", "I gotta go wee wee now!" and "Won't you come sit down besiiiiiide meeeee?"

Rose-breasted GrosbeakFinches and Thrushes - Week 6 - Thursday, April 22, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM 
Finches, including grosbeaks, redpolls, and crossbills, can be sparrow-like but are even better songsters. But some of them sound the same so we will figure out ways to tell them apart. Their call notes can be important during bird surveys so we will cover some of them, too. Thrushes have lovely voices and one was once voted as the best singing bird in North America! Find out which one at this workshop.

Pileated WoodpeckerWoodpeckers and Flycatchers - Trillers and Thrillers - Week 7 - Thursday, April 29, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM
Sometimes you have to know mechanical sounds to figure out a nearby territorial bird - woodpecker drumming is a prime example. They also make some distinctive calls. And speaking of distinctive, some flycatchers can only really be identified by their songs, not by sight! We will listen to these and get a handle on this confusing group.

House Wren Wrens and Friends - Week 8 - Thursday, May 6, 2021, 12 noon – 1:00 PM 
We will finish off with a hodge podge of species such as wrens, vireos, jays, nuthatches, kinglets, and more! Many of these live in forest habitats and could all be singing or calling at the same time so learning to differentiate them is an important skill. Are you ready for the challenge?


Spring Watercolour Landscapes at The Arboretum - Beginner

Watercolour painting of Japanese Garden

Monday, March 22, 2021, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Candice Leyland

Join Watercolour Artist Candice Leyland and capture Spring at the Arboretum in Watercolour. You will learn several simple techniques in watercolour and put them together to create a lovely Spring landscape.            

This class is great for Beginners! Reference Photos will be provided.

Fee: $30 (plus HST) per person.


Virtual Constellation "Walk"

colour image of stars in the night sky

Thursday, March 25, 2021, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Thursday, April 29, 2021, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Thursday, May 27, 2021, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Trevor Chandler

Learning the night sky is like getting to know a new neighborhood. At first, it may seem big and confusing, but as you strike out and become more and more familiar with prominent landmarks, the day comes when you realize that the neighborhood is no longer new. It’s home.

Join us for monthly sessions as we get to know the night sky a little better. Participants will be introduced to prominent stars and constellations, where to look for them and how the motions of planet Earth cause them to appear to shift from hour to hour and month to month. You will receive a downloadable star map to help you make your way through the stars. We’ll learn a half dozen or so constellations every month and you will be invited to discuss your observations with the group as we each get to know the neighborhood a little better.        

Fee: $10 (plus HST) per person, per session (evening).


Spring Watercolour Landscapes at The Arboretum - Intermediate

Watercolour painting of grounds

Monday, March 29, 2021, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Candice Leyland

Join Watercolour Artist Candice Leyland and capture Spring in the Arboretum in Watercolour. You will learn tips on mixing your own vibrant greens and how to create a light tilled expressive landscape.

This class is great for those with a bit of experience in watercolour. Reference Photos will be provided.

Fee: $30 (plus HST) per person.


Garden Fundamentals

Robert Pavlis

Tuesdays from March 23 to May 4, 2021, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Robert Pavlis

Garden Fundamentals will focus on ornamental gardens including trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and grasses. You will gain a good understanding of how these plants grow and their relationship with the soil. We’ll cover lots of practical topics such as planting, maintenance,  plant selection, sun/shade requirements, and I’ll give you some of my top picks. This course is suitable for the beginner and intermediate gardener.

  • Week 1: Understanding soil
  • Week 2: Selecting the right soil for gardens, raised beds and containers
  • Week 3: Perennials
  • Week 4: Trees and shrubs
  • Week 5: Spring and summer bulbs
  • Week 6: Ornamental grasses and garden myths
  • Week 7: Weeds, pests and diseases

Robert is a Master Gardener and garden writer who publishes two popular gardening blogs and has published several gardening books. He owns and operates a private botanical garden where he grows over 3,000 different varieties of plants.

Fee: $10 (plus HST) per person per session, or register for all 7 sessions and get one free (i.e. $60 for all 7 instead of $70. You must sign up for all of them at once in a single transaction, not at different times to qualify for the discount). Register early to ensure your spot!



Ask the Gardener

Cael Wishart

Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 12:00 noon - 1:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Cael Wishart, Arboretum Gardener

Do you have a gardening question that you would love to ask our gardening staff? Join Cael Wishart, The Arboretum’s Gardener, for a free virtual session to get the answers about everything green and growing!  Pre-registration is required.

Fee: This program is free. Register early to ensure your spot!



Spring Break Series

Bee on purple flower

Monday - Friday, April 12 - 16, 2021 (4:00 PM - 5:00 PM)
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Kitty and Jenny Lin, Arboretum Interpretive Interns

The Arboretum is hosting a series of online workshops throughout March Break! Children will learn about plants, animals, nature, and the importance of conservation with The Arboretum.

Fee: $10.00 (plus HST) per session, or register for all 5 sessions for $45.00 (plus HST). Registration closes 8 days before the program begins, so be sure to register early to ensure your spot! The list of topics and presentation dates are below.

bee on a purple flowerNature and the Senses

Nature is spectacular, and it can be even more amazing when we use our different sense to explore it! What do birds sing about? Why do flowers smell so sweet? Learn more about our amazing world using our sense of hearing, smell, touch, sight, and taste!

ginkgo treeA Land Before Time

Many plants and animals have roamed the Earth for much longer than we've been around. From trees that lived with mammoths to animals that walked alongside dinosaurs, join us on a journey to a land before time!

a brown snake on a rockThings We Love to Hate

We love to hate a good villain in the movies, but some creatures have unfairly earned this title in real life! Snakes, spiders, bugs, and more. They're important parts of the ecosystem and all heroes in our story. Learn why you should love them just as much as we do!

porcupine Animal Adaptations

Animals have different adaptations to help them survive in the wild. Why do owls have such big eyes? What does a turtle use its shell for? Join us in exploring some weird and wonderful animal adaptations!

A green field with the sun nestled behind a treeGreener Footprints

It's important to protect our environment for future generations to come! That's why conservation of our biodiversity is something that we work hard to do here at The Arboretum. Learn more about what we do and what you can also do at home to leave greener footprints on our Earth!

 


Ecosychology

sun shining through trees

Tuesdays, May 25 - July 13, 2021, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Format:
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Memona Hossain

Ecopsychology is the area of study that explores the connective, holistic relationship of humans and the Earth. Amidst social distancing and physical isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic has invaded our lives in an unprecedented way.  Experts have highlighted the complex toll this can take on our mental health.  This programme is aimed at providing an experience where you will interact with an online community and share nature-based experiences to help bring hope, resilience, and positivity in your life right now.  Participants will have the opportunity to engage in this 8-week course that explores hands-on components of Ecopsychology as well as some elements of Eco-Art Therapy.  Participants will be introduced to some key concepts of Ecopsychology and then participate in some reflective and nature-connective activities.  This course is completely conducive to all levels of social distancing and isolation. 

BIO - Memona Hossain is a mother and wife.  She is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Ecopsychology program through Project Nature Connect, which is affiliated with Akamai University. Memona has also completed her Master’s in Education at the University of Toronto. Memona is working to complete her certification in Art Therapy. Memona has been working in the field of Mental Health, Addictions, and Developmental Disabilities for over 15 years. Memona has taught Ecopsychology at the University of Guelph Arboretum and Riverwood Conservancy.  Memona is involved in Eco-diverse conversations, engaging with individuals and groups of diverse background as it pertains to climate action. Memona is currently involved in a global research project exploring women from around the world and their connection to the Earth and environmental activism. 

Fee: $120 (plus HST) per person.