Ann-Marie Powell speaking at Suffolk County Spring Gardening School
Doug Tallamy key note speaker Suffolk County Spring Gardening School
Suffolk County Gardening online in Newsday
Designer Ann-Marie Powell from Petersfield, Hampshire garden features in Newsday.

If you’d have told me this time last year that I’d have new horticulturist friends from New Zealand, America and even Ghana, I would have smiled politely and carried on sowing seed thinking where on earth would I find the time for that!

And yet, an unexpected silver lining of the necessary cancellations of garden shows, talks and events has been the move to virtual gardening, with keen gardeners desperate to avoid cabin fever reaching for their keyboards and searching the internet for zoom classes, workshops and talks.

It has been a lifeline for many of us finding kindred spirits to share and celebrate gardens, plants and growing in a way that I don’t think any of us expected.

Gardenistas are the kindest, most friendly of people, and no matter your age, culture, horticultural interest or experience, gardening virtually has allowed access to experts, friends and conversation globally, creating networks that just wouldn’t be possible ‘IRL’ (the abbreviation my children use for In Real Life!).

I first experienced this technological (yet still horticultural) miracle for myself with my own foray into broadcasting into the ether live on Instagram via my personal gardening diary @MyRealGarden. When Jac and Shane joined me from Detroit, USA, I nearly fell off my (garden) chair. I realised that though our worlds had shrunk immeasurably, the internet was a new way to connect, feel and share the magical experience of gardening. Suddenly I wasn’t alone.

Since then I have delighted in sharing gardening knowledge, tips and favourite plants with an international community of new friends. When I was contacted to be part of CCE Suffolk County’s 2021 Spring Gardening School, (to be held on the first day of Spring Saturday, March 20th 2021) via Cornell University’s zoom in the USA I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ll be joining an eminent list of American speakers throughout the day including keynote speaker Doug Tallamy, the professor at the University of Delaware’s Entomology and Wildlife Ecology who has been encouraging Americans to go native and natural in their gardens to invite biodiversity and diverse ecosystems into their back yards. I’ll certainly be tuning in for his talk titled ‘Nature’s Best Hope’, where he will be discussing how you can make a difference by what you plant – the key ideas explored with his books Bringing Nature Home (2007) and Nature’s Best Hope (2020), both New York Times Best Sellers.

The day promises an array of interesting speakers including Jessica Damiano, who I happily chatted to on zoom for an article she was writing up celebrating the event for Newsday, the Long Island and New York City daily newspaper. Jessica herself is a seasoned horticulturalist who has been solving Newsday’s horticultural problems for years, (we seriously could have talked for hours), and her Tomatomania session is firmly in my diary.


Noah Wilson-Rich, an expert on honeybees and pollinators and co-founder of The Best Bees Company who supply professionally managed beehives to homes and workplaces in the USA is talking about the ‘Benefits of Bees’, noted landscape photographer Larry Lederman is taking us on a trip through gardens of the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons and Connecticut, and Dennis Schrader a plantsman whose company Landcraft Environments supplies and designs plantscapes to garden centres, landscape designers, botanical gardens and public parks throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is bound to be mesmerising.

I’m extremely excited to be joining the programme, opening up my notebook and discussing ‘Plants, People, Place’ at 11:00 am USA time (which translates to  15:00 UK Time). I’ll be sharing how our studio strives to design extraordinary plantscapes in every garden we design.

In between, I’ll be glued to the event, gaining inspiration and discovering a whole new world of gardening that has opened up to me in a completely unexpected way.

For more information on an incredible line-up of speakers on native gardening, landscape design, bees, herbs and much more, click here.

And if you’d like to join me at the event, then you can register by clicking here.

And if you’d like to read Jessica’s article about the event in Newsday, then please visit our Media Gallery.