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


Virtual Gardening Fundamentals

Robert Pavlis

Mondays, February 5, 12, 26, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2024 
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 sign up for all 7 and get one free ($60 instead of $70) Please note: You must sign up for all 7 at once in a single transaction to receive the discount.

click here to register for a workshop




Virtual Travels with a Nature Geek: Six Continents of Life


Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, February 26, 28, March 1, 4, 6 and 8, 2024
12 noon - 1 PM

Format: Online via Zoom
Instructor: Chris Earley

Since 1999, The Arboretum's Interpretive Biologist, Chris Earley has traveled the world as a nature tour leader for Worldwide Quest. Each of his six talks focus on a different continent and showcase the amazing life that is found there. You'll meet wildlife you know such as whales, leopards and penguins, and wildlife you may not know, such as lorises, mobulas, silvereyes and geladas. Join Chris and his enthusiasm for these informative and entertaining forays into the nature of our planet.

Fee: $10 (plus HST) per person, per session or book all 6 at once and pay $55 ($5 off the series).

Hyacinth MacawSouth America: Birds and Beasts Abound (Brazil and the Galapagos) - Monday, February 26, 2024, 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Today we look at the wildlife of two different places on this incredibly biodiverse continent. In Brazil, see the elusive (Jaguar) and the stranger-than-strange (Giant Anteater). We will meet the world's longest parrot and visit a church that has befriended a wolf taller than a Great Dane. The Galapagos hosts a wide variety of inhabitants than are both accepting and entertaining. $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax)


Purple-faced Leaf MonkeyAsia: The Land where the Leopard is King (Sri Lanka) - Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

If you like safaris, Sri Lanka is the place for you. With some of the world's largest Leopards, a variety of habitats and beautiful birdlife, this "drop in the ocean" off the coast of India is an entrancing place for wildlife watching. Dancing daddylonglegs, displaying peacocks and inquisitive monkeys are ready to grab your attention. $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax)


Grey Whale calfNorth America: Friendly Whales (Mexico's Baja California) - Friday, March 1, 2024 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Picture this: You are in a small boat in a shallow bay. You hear a puff of air behind you and turn to see a whale..but not just any whale, one of the world's friendliest whales. And this whale lifts her baby up to the surface to meet you. For no reward and for no reason other than that she seems to want you to meet her baby as much as you want to meet her baby. These are Baja's Grey Whales. Oh, did we mention that there are a myriad of other whales to see here, too, as well as sea lions, whale sharks, elephant seals, hummingbirds, shorebirds, gulls... $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax)


Green Sea TurtleAustralia: Research on the Reef and more - Monday, March 4, 2024, 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Imagine literally living on the Great Barrier Reef. As an undergrad student, I did just that while I was studying a small bird called the Silvereye. Learn about the life of a coral cay island sitting on one of the planet's most diverse ecosystems. Egg-laying sea turtles, 60 000 nesting noddy terns, 40 000 howling shearwaters, giant spider roommates, shark faceoffs, sandwich-stealing rails and more, all on an island less than 1 km long. $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax).


Chinstrap PenguinAntarctica: Amazing Animals of the Last Continent - Wednesday, March 6, 2024, 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

There be penguins! Visit the vastness that is Antarctica. Incredible vistas and frozen seas where seals, whales and seabirds converge on a food chain based on algae and krill. A stop at South Georgia reveals a Serengeti-like congregation of mammals and birds...including hundreds of thousands of King Penguins. Was that a massive Wandering Albatross that just flew by? $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax)


African Lion CubAfrica: The Ultimate Wildlife Safari (Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia and Botswana) - Friday, March 8, 2024, 12 noon – 1:00 p.m.

A trip to Africa is like stepping into a wildlife literally don't know which way to look or what animal to focus your attention on. The intricate patterns on the zebras and giraffes. The sounds of the hippos and hyenas. Size of the eagles and storks. Meet the largest, noisiest and jaw-droppingest collection of creatures you could ever hope to see. $10.00 (plus HST) per session or register for all 6 for $55.00 (plus tax).

click here to register for a workshop









Constellations, Milky Way and Telescopes

Trevor using Telescope

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
7 PM - 8 PM OR 8:45 - 9:45 PM*

Format: In-Person
Instructor: Trevor Chandler

This in-person hour-long session will have a little bit for everyone. First, we’ll learn a few of the prominent winter constellations and how to find them (maps provided). Then we will look at photographs of several fascinating objects inside these constellations, with photographs taken by talented local astrophotographers. Then we’ll cap off the evening by observing a few of these objects with telescopes. In the event of cloudy weather, the telescopes will be set up inside to allow participants to look at a nearby target and compare the different views.

*The 7 PM and 8:45 PM session will be identical. You only need to register for one of them.

Fee: $12 (plus HST) per person.

click here to register for a workshop






Virtual Bird Sounds Series

collage of 8 birds representing bird groups in workshop series

Mondays and Wednesdays, March 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, 27, April 3 and 8, 2024
12 noon - 1 PM

Format: Online on Zoom
Instructor: Chris Earley, Arboretum Interpretive Biologist

Learn more about our Virtual Bird Song Programs

Into birding but the songs have you stumped?  Whether you are new to learning bird sounds or you want a good refresher, 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!

click here to register for a workshop

saw-whet owl Owls and Wetland Birds - Day 1 - Monday, March 11, 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 - Day 2 - Wednesday, March 13, 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 - Day 3 - Monday, March 18, 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 - Day 4 - Wednesday, March 20, 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 - Day 5 - Monday, March 25, 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 - Day 6 - Wednesday, March 27, 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 - Day 7 - Wednesday, April 3, 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 - Day 8 - Monday, April 8, 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?

click here to register for a workshop





The Art and Practice of Pruning

Pruning Secateurs

Monday, March 18, 2024, 1:00 - 4:30 PM
Instructor: Polly Samland and Kellen Wood

This half-day workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals of pruning and aims to provide you with basic skills to confidently approach pruning in your own landscape. We begin with how to form pruning strategies, including choosing and maintaining equipment and understanding plant growth and timing. Pruning cuts and techniques will be discussed, demonstrated, and practiced together outdoors.

Fee: $65 (plus HST) per person if booked before the early bird deadline of Sunday, March 10, 2024. After the early bird deadline the fee is $75 (plus HST).

click here to register for a workshop




Virtual Garden Design Course

ariel photo of the English Garden

Mondays, April 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2024 
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Format: Online via Zoom
Instructor: Robert Pavlis

This course will guide you through the process of creating an exciting garden design for yourself. You will watch me go through the process with a sample garden, step by step, and then repeat the process with your garden.

I am a big believer in learning the "WHY" and not just the "HOW". I'll not only show you what I do, but also explain why I am doing it. Once you understand the why, the how becomes so much easier to learn and understand.

• Evaluating your current garden and creating a site survey for it.
• The Landscape Design Workbook will help you develop the all important wants and needs list
• You will learn how to use the internet to get great design ideas.
• How to use shapes to create innovative designs
• I'll show you how to create a final landscape design

At the end of the course you will have a garden design that is ready to implement.

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

click here to register for a workshop




Terrific Turtles of Ontario

a head on shot of a blandings turtle. photo by Kayley Kirk

Friday, April 19, 2024
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Format: In-Person
Instructor: Jenny Pearce, Owner / Operator of Sciensational Sssnakes!!

We have 8 different amazing species of turtles in Ontario, but a frightening fact is that all 8 of these species are listed as ‘at risk’ in our province. Come and take advantage of the opportunity to meet live specimens of many of these species and learn about their individual habits and skills for surviving in nature.

At this workshop we will also cover how to identify turtle species, their habitats and ranges in Ontario. Most importantly we will teach you how to help turtles and hopefully preserve these adorable creatures for future generations to enjoy. Each registrant that attends the workshop will receive a copy of our Reptile Identification Sheet.

*Maximum 18 adults.

Fee: $64 (plus HST) per person if you register by the early bird deadline of April 11, 2024. After April 11 the fee is $74 plus HST.

click here to register for a workshop





Pond Workshop

Caddisfly Larva

Saturday, April 20, 2024 
1 - 4 PM

Instructor: Don Scallen

Ponds teem with a diversity of organisms that conduct their lives largely unseen below the surface. This workshop will kick off with a slide show that will dive beneath the surface to reveal some of these fascinating creatures including frogs, fairy shrimp and salamanders. The importance of vernal pools will be highlighted. These temporary ponds are crucial to the reproductive success of various creatures including wood frogs, fairy shrimp and spotted salamanders.

A variety of live pond animals will be on hand as well. The outdoor investigation will follow. We’ll visit both permanent and vernal ponds found at the Arboretum, equipped with dip nets. We’ll catch and identify organisms, discuss their unique ecologies, and then release them back into their watery worlds. Each participant that attends the workshop will receive a copy of our Pond Life Biodiversity Identification Sheet.

Fee: $64 (plus HST) per person, per session if booked prior to the early bird deadline of April 12, 2024. After the early bird date the fee is $74 plus HST per person.

click here to register for a workshop





Sensational Snakes of Ontario

Blue Racer Snake

Friday, May 3, 2024
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Format: In-Person
Instructor: Jenny Pearce, Owner / Operator of Sciensational Sssnakes!!

Snakes are often misunderstood and maligned. We would love to change the negative perception of these animals by teaching the truth about them. Please join us at this workshop and learn to identify and understand our native Ontario species of snakes. We will cover their habits, ranges and habitats.

Live specimens will be available to provide opportunities to interact with some of our native snake species. This hands-on experience is a safe and fun way to get up close and personal with types of snakes that could be encountered in the wild in our province. Our captive bred specimens are lovely ambassadors for their kind. Each registrant that attends the workshop will receive a copy of our Reptile Identification Sheet.

*Maximum 18 adults.

Fee: $64 (plus HST) per person if you register by the early bird deadline of April 25, 2024. After April 25 the fee is $74 plus HST.

click here to register for a workshop





Nature Throughout the Seasons for International Students and New Canadians Series

aerial of Arboretum

Facilitated quarterly (12 NOON - 1:00 PM)
Online via Zoom 
Instructors:  Arboretum Interpretive Interns

This program is offered to specifc groups. If you would like more information please contact us.
Fee: FREE!
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!
Visit the Nature Throughout the Seasons for International Students and New Canadians Series program page to learn more and register for upcoming dates. Please note that at this time this program is being offered to special group instead of as a public program. If you are part of a group that is interersted please contact us for further information.