Annual Whidbey Gardening Workshop grows online this year

The island-wide gardening event is back this year after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

An island-wide gardening event that had to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic is coming back with a virtual flair this year.

Organizers and instructors were gearing up for the 32nd Whidbey Gardening Workshop back in March 2020 when the pandemic started to gain momentum, shuttering nonessential businesses and cancelling events.

Nearly a year later, instructors who were supposed to teach classes at the workshop will be able to do so via online video conferencing, the new format that the Whidbey Gardening Workshop is taking on March 6.

Barbara Schmitt, who coordinates marketing for the event, said this year’s workshop will have 27 online classes to choose from. Instructors will be teaching live with the use of Zoom.

In years past, the workshop has been held at Oak Harbor High School, with 450 to 500 participants in attendance. Field trips and a marketplace were also hallmarks of the event, although those parts will be cancelled this year.

This year, participants will be able to watch recordings of all 27 classes after the event is over. From now until Jan. 20, an “early bird” discount is available for tickets priced at $45. The ticket price is $55 after that date.

For an additional $20, participants will have access to all the recordings of the classes for up to three weeks after the event.

Keynote speaker Richie Steffen, the executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, will speak on vivid combinations of plant selections that enhance the garden during a time of shifting climate and adaptive gardening practices.

Classes range from beginner to expert levels and include garden design, pruning, winter gardening, plant pathology and disease diagnosis and more.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop runs from 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 6, with ample breaks in between classes. Classes are in blocks of one hour and 15 minutes. Lunch break mini-events will include a Master Gardener Plant Clinic and a video about gardening pain-free presented by a physical therapist.

Carole Matthews, the chair of the event, said that between the workshop’s team and its instructors, about 50 people have worked together to make the Whidbey Gardening Workshop 2021 possible.

“It’s really been an extraordinary undertaking this year, because it’s just a new path that we’re kind of forging with these virtual classes,” Matthews said.

Both she and Schmitt agreed that they have seen an increase in the popularity of gardening during the past year. Schmitt said she has heard people are growing more foods, rather than flowers.

To register for the Whidbey Gardening Workshop, visit whidbeygardening.org/

More in Life

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
The town of Coupeville is celebrating Halloween with a tribute to "Practical Magic," the film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sister witches that was filmed in Coupeville in the late 1990s.
Coupeville extras reminisce about a practically magic time on film set

Coupeville celebrates a Halloween tribute to the film with decorations and special showings.

See caption
Farm stand opens at school

Students, staff members and Americorps service members worked together on the self-serve stand.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Laura Foley, left, and Don Meehan locate a grave in Sunnyside Cemetery using Find a Grave's GPS grave locator.
Volunteers adding GPS grave locator to Sunnyside’s website

Two community volunteers took on a project to make it easier to locate graves in Sunnyside Cemetery.

Edited photo - better to use
A green reaping: Whidbey pot farm harvests outdoor bounty

Volunteers approach bushes of kush with shears in hand at the South Whidbey farm owned by Adam Lind.

Photo by Theresa Farage
A photographer captured the Northern Lights over North Whidbey Tuesday night. Theresa Farage went to Dugualla Bay Heights Road looking toward La Conner armed with her Nikon D5200 camera and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Northern Lights over Whidbey

The dazzling northern lights appeared in the skies across the state this week.

Penn Cove employees serve customers during the brewery’s grand opening celebration of its new location in Freeland over Memorial Day weekend. (Tyler Rowe / Cold Pizza Creative)
Drink This: Penn Cove opens its 3rd taproom on Whidbey Island

Brothers Marc and Mitch Aparicio opened a new Freeland taproom at The Barn over Memorial Day weekend.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Will Hawkins and Dawn Smith officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.
Rainshadow Nursery welcomes new owners

Dawn Smith and Will Hawkins of Greenbank officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.

Rob Schouten's "Skyfall" oil painting is inspired by the San Juan Islands.
His etchings and paintings explore the mysteries of nature

You can Rob Schouten’s aquatint etchings and oil paintings at his gallery and art garden in Langley.

Gabrielle Robles at Sunnyside Cemetery in a block house.
Coupeville woman offers haunted history tour

Gabrielle Robles is taking guests on a Haunted History Tour of Whidbey Island on Oct. 29 and 30.

See caption
NBA star Isaiah Thomas travels to South Whidbey

South Whidbey teenager Jacob Ng recently got to live out a hoop dream.

pumpkins
Halloween happens on Whidbey

Spooky season is back in swing and there are plenty of events that promise a ghoulishly good time.

Audubon is holding birding class for beginners Oct. 19

Master birder Whitney Neufeld-Kaiser will be teaching the online Zoom class 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 19.