Dig It owner Ryan Jerrell leads a workshop at the Phoenix nursery.; photo by Angelina Aragon

Garden Variety

Written by Savanah Yaghsezian Category: Lifestyle Issue: December 2017
Group Free

The grass can be greener on your side of the fence with these gardening workshops.

Urban Farm
Price: Donation-based, $10 suggested amount
Sign up: urbanfarm.org
Urban Farm owner Greg Peterson has been offering classes for 18 years. He’d been gardening since 1975 and quickly realized how different it was growing food in the desert compared to other areas. “When you take an Urban Farm class, you’re getting a good baseline of what the rules are here,” Peterson says. Urban Farm offers fruit tree classes from September to December, posts online lectures year-round and hosts several other workshops at Valleywide locations throughout the year. Fruit tree classes are limited to about 60 people, but Peterson says most other classes typically don’t have a limit.

Dig It Gardens
Price: Free-$50
Sign up: digphx.com/events-classes
Married couple Jessica and Ryan Jerrell opened Dig It Gardens just two years ago, but have already cultivated a wide range of classes and plants. “We pride ourselves on having the most diverse plant selection in Phoenix,” Jessica says. In December, Dig It hosts a “Give the Gift of Green” class that teaches participants how to make a holiday-themed plant arrangement. This one-time class is capped at 15 people but don’t fret: Dig It hosts a free herb class with unlimited participants on the last Saturday of every month at Phoenix Public Market.

Maricopa County SmartScape
Price: $95 for 8 workshops
Sign up: extension.arizona.edu/maricopa-county-smartscape
First developed in 1994 as a way to encourage landscape professionals to become more water-conservative, SmartScape is a series of lectures designed to encourage eco-friendly practices. Although it’s still geared toward professionals, homeowners are welcome to attend. This is a lecture-based workshop, so come prepared to take notes. “We really hope that people participating in our course are learning good practices to use in desert landscape,” program coordinator Kirti Mathura says.

Desert Botanical Garden
Price: $38-$75 for gardening classes; $324 for desert landscaping school; member discounts available
Sign up: dbg.org/classes-workshops
At Desert Botanical Garden, you can become a desert flora expert. In January, DBG will offer classes on low-water-use vegetable gardens, herbal tea gardens and desert landscape classes on cultivating an eco-friendly garden. Be prepared to get your hands dirty, literally, because DBG’s workshops are hands-on. “We really strongly encourage (instructors) to provide time in the classroom to have activities or to have demonstrations,” says Angelica Elliott, DBG landscape and gardening education coordinator. Classes are typically designed for 15-30 people, so be sure to reserve your spot in advance.