A year-long online class which helps you connect with the plant world wherever you live. Four times a month (on Wednesday evenings) you will receive a short illustrated lesson sent via email which contains an assignment for you to carry out where you live. Most of the assignments can be completed within 15 minutes or the length of your favorite walk around the block or through the woods, depending on your landscape.
These lessons work well as projects to do with children (except maybe the cocktails in August). They have also inspired knowledgeable plant folks who want to immerse themselves in a new type of flora. I focused on flowers during the two years I spent developing this course but you could also choose to focus on trees, weeds, herbs, grasses, fungus, any flora that you wish to know better.
If you want to deepen the knowledge you gain from the class, I’m establishing a private Facebook group for people enrolled in the class where you can post a brief description of what you learned or a photo of your creation (when we got to the topics of drinking and eating, drawing and arranging).
The topics covered in order by month:
- Naming (January): I always like to begin by learning the names of the plants, a practice which encourages you to identify what you already know and find out the names of the strangers, always leaving room for mystery. This lesson will also help you identify the experts in your neighborhood.
- Phenology (February): the art of tracking changes in nature, and ways to become a citizen scientist, noting the effects of climate change on your home place
- Identifying Plants (March): learning to identify plant families and the things I learned going on keying expeditions with the Native Plant Society and plants walks with master Seattle botanist, Arthur Lee Jacobson
- Foraging (April): how to gather wild (not cultivated) plant materials, both ethically and safely, plus lessons from a professional forager
- Portraits of Plants (May): how drawing can help you learn more about plants, and simple lessons for the art-impaired, based on a class in botanical illustration I took at the Volunteer Park Conservatory; those who are drawing challenged can focus on photos instead
- Capturing Scent (June): my attempts to learn how to capture scents including classes with legendary herbalist Jeanne Rose in distilling and natural perfumery
- A Feast of Flowers (July): edible flowers used in salads, vegetables that are flowers and flowery desserts and a menu for a flower feast prepared one Midsummer for my writing group
- Drinking Flowers (August): favorite recipes for teas, beer, wine, and liqueurs employing plants plus interviews with Seattle bartenders who specialize in making simple syrups and bitters from fresh ingredients
- Healing with Plants (September): herbalists I’ve known and their recipes for salves and lotions, syrups and cordials, elixirs and tinctures and essential oils
- The Art of Arranging (October): lessons from an ikebana class I took plus the way arranging flowers alters your perception of your environment, plus an interview with Slow Flowers advocate Debra Prinzig
- Flowers in Ritual (November): how plants are used in offerings during rites of passage (weddings and funerals) and delivered to the gods (as incense and garlands and alter decorations) plus exploring flower associations with various deities
- Talking to Plants (December): how plants communicate and what happens when we listen to them, lessons from a weekend workshop with Pam Montgomery and reading Stephen Harrod Buhner’s books
For a sample of the very first lesson, go here.
The class begins the first week in January with Naming. If you register later in the year, I’ll send you the lessons for that month and enroll you for the whole year; you’ll get the earlier packets the following year. To register for the class, go here
If you’re not certain you will have enough time to devote to your exploration of the flora in your region for the entire year, you can sign up for a single month here and there, when you have the time and when the topic appeals to you.
Be sure to sign up before the month starts; if you sign up after the first Tuesday of the month, I’ll sign you up for the following month. See the topics listed above. You can also sign up in advance for several months at a time. Just select the quantity of months and indicate in the notes section of the Paypal screen what months you want.
To register for the class, go here