Garden Day-Cultivate Your Green Thumb


2024 Garden Day-Cultivate Your Green Thumb

  • Saturday, April 6, 2024, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

The Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension will present an all-day gardening extravaganza, featuring 16 classes taught by our dedicated Master Gardener Volunteers. These classes cover a range of topics to prepare you for the upcoming gardening season. 

This year, we are thrilled to announce that the Keynote Address will be delivered by Marc Wolf, Director of Horticulture and Environmental Stewardship at Mountain Top Arboretum. Marc’s address, titled “Catskills Native Plants: Inspiration for Design at Mountain Top Arboretum,” will delve into the unique location of the Arboretum at the top of the Catskill Watershed. He will illustrate how the geologic and human history of the site shapes the natural plant communities thriving there today, showcasing how the Arboretum creates gardens and landscapes that celebrate native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants of the region, providing habitat to support local wildlife populations. 

THE MARKETPLACE, with many local garden vendors, will be open during the lunch break. Please note, some vendors aren’t able to accept credit cards at Garden Day (cash or checks OK). Master Gardener volunteers will also be on hand to answer gardening questions, perform free soil tests and plant diagnosis.


You may bring your own lunch or you can purchase Registration with lunch for $67. Be sure to indicate your preference on the online registration form. Lunch is prepared by Stone Soup, Kingston, and contains one ½ wrap, a side salad and dessert. One-half wrap filling choices are: portobello, tomato, spinach and fresh mozzarella, or curried chicken salad, or turkey, cheddar cheese and cranberry chutney. All lunches come with a small green salad and cookie. We cannot accommodate special dietary needs. You must PRE-ORDER  with your online registration.

Registration is $55.00 per person, Registration With Lunch is $67 per person and closes March 28th.

When you register please select your first and second choice for each workshop. We do our best to accommodate everyone but classes do fill up fast. Your final schedule will be presented to you at check in the day of the event.

16 Classes to choose from:

Session 1

Color Theory for Gardeners– David Thiergartner, MGV- THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED

“In a garden, every gardener may be his own artist without apology or explanation.” —Louise Beebe Wilder

The art of gardening includes the visual impact of color.  Color in all its forms - including the endless color spectrum of flowers, the subtle shades and textures of leaves and the importance of shrubs and trees in providing necessary background and depth of field. This program will explore principles and strategies to make compelling color design choices by delving into color wheel theory, exploring color combinations, enhancing vibrant seasonal changes and discovering the beauty of the cold color contrast of winter.

David Thiergartner is an award winning Interior Designer and owner of an architectural interior design firm.  He is recognized for his understated elegant interiors.  David has designed luxurious interiors throughout the country and his work has appeared in the New York Times, House Beautiful and numerous publications.  He is an avid gardener and lives with his husband in West Hurley.

Plant Propagation for the Home Gardener – Katherine Chansky, MGV

Every spring gardeners head to the local nursery to purchase plants they could easily start at home for little or no cost. This class is about trying out some frugal garden practices to create new annuals and shrubs from plants you already have in the ground. With a focus on flowering, fruiting and ornamentals that grow well in Ulster County, NY, we will review the many ways gardeners can propagate their own plants – stem cuttings, seed collecting, dividing plants, softwood and hardwood cuttings, grafting, and layering. 

Katherine Chansky has worked in a perennial nursery and on a family fruit orchard. Over the years she has created gardens to feed her family in the lower Adirondack region, the Hudson Valley and in Rhode Island. She completed the training for Master Gardener certification in Saratoga County in the 1990s and returned to CCE in 2022 to update her knowledge base by completing the training with CCE Ulster County.

Landscaping with Edibles – Sarah Holsted, MGV-THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED

Expand the variety of color, texture - and taste! - in your landscape by bringing veggies, herbs, and edible flowers into your yard. Learn how to match edible and ornamental plants with similar needs, improve soil health, mitigate pests, and plan for garden hygiene. There will be lots of design ideas and suggestions for fun things to make or do with your expanded edible landscape.

Sarah Holsted has been a Master Gardener Volunteer since 2018. She grew up in the South watering her mother’s gardenias, and expanded her love of plants as she learned to cook. She believes that every yard has the potential to nurture an ecosystem and that we can all be good stewards of the food web.

Hardscaping: The Foundation of Good Garden Design– George Volpe, MGV

Whether you have acres of space or a small city yard, this presentation will give you the tools to understand what hardscaping is and how to use it in your own garden. We will cover both the practical and aesthetic function of hardscaping, a variety of small and large projects, as well as DIY versus professional installation.

George Volpe started gardening on the roof of his Queens apartment over 40 years ago, and increased his garden space and knowledge every time he moved. Today he tends more than a half-acre of gardens on land that once grew little more than poison ivy.

Session 2

Tips, Tricks and Time Savers Discovered through a Lifetime of Gardening – Cecily Frazier, MGV

Learn from my mistakes as well as my good fortune and lucky breaks. This class is a personal list of ideas to use in your garden as well as things that aren’t worth the bother. Every level of gardener can benefit — from those just starting out to the very skilled gardener.  Join us and pick up some ideas to help save effort, time and money. 

Cecily Frazier has been an organic gardener for more than 50 years. As she became more and more focused on helping to restore a renewed balance in our gardens, she learned about using beneficial insect’s to help control pest insects, and how she could establish and maintain them.

The Ins and Outs of Planting Summer Bulbs, Tubers and Corms -Dawn Hubbell and Gary Marder, MGVs

Would you like to grow flowers the size of dinner plates? Or ones with layers upon layers of fluffy petals? Then join us as we share tips for growing some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow by planting summer bulbs, tubers, and corms. We’ll cover calla lilies, gladiolus, ranunculus, anemones, and more! And, of course, the queen of the garden herself, the dahlia.

Dawn Hubbell has been a CCE MGV since 2020. She has lovingly tended her edible and ornamental gardens at her current home for over 20 years. Dawn is also an author and currently writes a garden blog called Thistle Be the Day. In 2022, she turned her passion for growing into a career and became a Farmer-Florist, opening her cut flower business, Whistling Bee Farm & Florals.

Gary Marder is a lighting designer who has lived in the Hudson Valley for over 20 years. He has been a MGV for over four years and is a dedicated grower of vegetables, fruits and ornamentals many of which he starts from seed.

From Bird Baths to Waterfalls– MikePiedmonte, MGV

Water adds a dimension of life and serenity to a garden. In this presentation you will be introduced to ideas and shared experiences for incorporating water into a backyard garden.

Mike Piedmonte, a retired teacher, has been feeding fish and mosquitoes in his Quarryville garden for the last 30 years.

Getting the Most from your Landscape– Susan Trager, MGV

Landscaping your property can have Mystery, drama and surprises. Sight observation, utility location, soil evaluation and more are addressed before creating “secret rooms”, addingcolor or texture or even choosing the right plants.  Learn some landscape basics on how to create your dream garden or stylize theone you have!

Susan Trager has a passion for “all things gardening”, it led her to become a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2015.  She is an accredited Flower Show Judge as well as Gardening, Environmental and Landscape Consultant through National Garden Clubs. Susan has worked for Westchester County Parks as well as a volunteer for The Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College

Session 3

Ground Covers - Better Than Mulch – Barbara Bravo, MGV

Ground covers are a versatile group of perennials that spread into a beautiful carpet of color and texture. Beauty aside, we will discuss their use as a replacement for mulch and other beneficial uses such as protecting the soil surface from erosion, suppressing weeds and use on slopes where grass is not an option. We’ll be taking a look at the plants and options for every garden situation.

Barbara Bravo is a dedicated gardener with more than 30 years’ experience reclaiming neglected gardens as well as establishing new beds and an enclosed vegetable garden at her home in Quarryville, Saugerties. She has been a MGV since 2005 and has lectured on many gardening topics.

Good Bug/Bad Bug – Dona Crawford, MGV

Predators, pollinators or parasitic wasps, are important to our gardens, all play a role to keep our gardens healthy and inbalance. Then there are the pests: aphids, flea beetles, slugs, tomato hornworms, Japanese beetles, etc. Learn how to distinguish them from each other and how to use IPM to control these destructive pests.

Dona Crawford is a retired Cornell Extension Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator. She has a longtime outreach background in invasive plants and pests and has lectured extensively about them.

Gardening and Climate Change – Diane Carson, MGV

Have you seen your lettuce shrivel up due to unexpected heat? Or cooler spring plants bolt before you’ve had a chance to harvest? Weeds taking over spots in the garden due to increased rain, so much so, that you’ve had to begin again? Climate change is affecting us all. I’ll share gardening tips, we’ve done on a small scale on our little farm that has helped us avoid disappointment and still enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Diane Carlson was raised in the south and has gardened and saved the harvest since 1979. First in Brooklyn, central New Jersey, Florida, and finally in Palenville, NY. Currently, she has a market garden and sells at a local farmers’ market, specializing in shiitake mushrooms, blueberries and heirloom tomatoes.

Achieving Color in the Garden all Season Long – Diane Backus, MGV-THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED

Watching your garden come to life in the spring is so rewarding. Keeping your garden blooming through October is a challenge. From early blooming bulbs to fall mums and asters, learn what to plant so that each month something is flowering. A guide to bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees will be presented. Plant choices will be tailored to those that feed our native pollinators and thrive in zones 5 and 6.

Diane Backus. Diane became a MGV to share her love of gardening, particularly perennial gardens. When a friend showed her a catalog with preplanned garden mats, she began with 32 plants and was immediately obsessed.

Session 4

Tools – A Gardener’s Best Friend – Diane Goetz and Richard Kilberg

Gardeners often develop a particularly close relationship with their tools. This session will delve into tools, principally hand tools - most of them basic, some less so - their use and care. What tools are particularly useful or particularly satisfying to use and why? How should tools be maintained - proper care and sharpening. While the focus is on hand tools – we will also cover some basic power tools.

Diane Goetz has been a weekend gardener in Milan, NY, for more than 40 years and is looking forward to this spring as the first season she will be full time in the Hudson Valley.

Richard Kilberg gardens in Red Hook, NY, trying to keep up with two pretty substantial kitchen gardens, a small orchard, numerous flower beds – pond-side, terraced, arbored, etc. – and a woodlot

Boost your garden’s bounty with Raised Beds– Rose Unes, MGV

Rocky soil? Compacted soil from construction? Contaminants discovered in your soil? Raised bed gardens are an excellent solution to overcome these soil difficulties and enable you to have productive and beautiful gardens that meet your needs. This class will take you from planning to planting in order to create your own garden by using one or more of the raised beds that will be discussed in this class.

Rose Unes has been gardening organically for many years. A Master Gardener volunteer with a Certificate in Horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Rose has used several different types of raised beds over the years and will be able to share the pros and cons of each. You will also be shown other types of raised beds and how to make them.

Composting– “Black Gold” for your Garden. John McCormick, MGV

This is an introduction into composting for the home gardener. Learn why we compost, what goes into the pile, and how to keep it hot and productive so that your garden can benefit from this valuable soil conditioner. Please be prepared to spend some time outdoors in the garden.

John McCormick has been a CCE Master Gardener since 2008. As a boy, his informal education in gardening and landscaping started on a small Westchester farm market and later working summers for Accocella’s Landscaping while attending SUNY New Paltz. Over the years and through experience John has become an expert at pruning. In addition to spending many hours in the garden he has his own business, H&R McCormick Tax Preparation.

Starting from Seed: The Basics – Skip Carlson-THIS WORKSHOP IS CLOSED

This course will introduce you to the basics of starting plants from seed. We’ll cover the needed supplies – soil, lights, heating mats, seed trays; selecting seeds from catalogues; how to understand seed packet information when to start seeds indoors and how to care for them.  Other topics include: starting seeds outdoors – in cold frames, cool season vegetables, and succession planting. 

Skip Carlson. Skip and his wife Diane own a small market farm in Palenville, NY. They grow berries, vegetables, shitake mushrooms and, of course, heirloom tomatoes. They are also a supplier of tomato seeds for Fedco-Seeds.


Registration $55, Registration with lunch $67



Courtney Churchill
Master Gardener Coordinator/ Agriculture Program Assistant
845-340-3990 ext. 335


SUNY Ulster
491 Cottekill Road
Stone Ridge, New York 12484

Last updated April 2, 2024