The Arboretum’s Blue Ridge Eco Gardener (BREG) Certificate of Merit program is designed to empower you with an understanding of the complex ecological principles underpinning healthy, self-sustaining landscapes and how to apply them in your garden. Participants complete core and elective courses in ecology, botany, permaculture, landscape design and more.

Classes are ongoing year round and are offered online and onsite, with new courses announced regularly! Current courses being offered for certificate credit are listed on Adult Education Classes and in the Arboretum’s Learn & Grow monthly newsletter.

  • For more information: 
    • Read over our FAQs for answers to many questions you may have while considering our certificate of merit programs. 
    • Please Note: Adult & Continuing Education Programs staff operate on a flexible schedule to provide coverage for our variety of online and in-person classes. We appreciate your understanding that we may not be available during standard business hours. We receive a high volume of emails and phone messages and we’re a small staff. We try  to respond to messages promptly as we’re able. 
    • For further information regarding BREG certification:  Contact Adult Education Programs at


Wishing you a healthy and happy spring and delight in planning your gardens. (Those seed catalogs are dangerous!)

Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Curriculum

  • Here are some answers. Please read this first to possibly spare an email.

  • The following courses are program core requirements and suggested electives:


    SpringTerm (February through June 2023):

    • Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden
    • Botany Basics
    • Winter Plants of Interest
    • Gardening in a Changing Climate
    • Landscape Design Fundamentals
    • Spring Plants of Interest
    • Botanical Latin for Gardeners

    Fall Term (July through December 2023):

    • Ecological Gardening: Principles in Practice
    • Summer Plants of Interest
    • Ecology of the Blue Ridge
    • Introduction to Permaculture | Plants of Interest
    • Fall Plants of Interest
    • Winter Plants of Interest

    In Season:

    • Pollinators
    • Wildlife in the Garden
    • Native Tree Identification
  • Elective studies are selected from the following categories: Pollinators; Wildlife in the Garden; Plant Studies; Design and Botanical Illustration; Climate and Conservation Studies; and Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener Round Table Discussions.

    Students should elect to take at least one class from each category above and then may opt to take classes in any combination, with a concentration on the area of eco-gardening students find most interesting, such as hardscape, edibles, seed saving, grasses, green infrastructure, ergonomics, selected plant groups and more. Electives may be taken in any combination and used to concentrate on the area of interest. Classes that satisfy elective credits are identified by category within each course description.

Blue Ridge EcoGardener Application & Enrollment

  • The next enrollment period for our Blue Ridge Eco Gardener (BREG) Certificate of Merit program will open on June 16, 2023 through July 31, 2023 in preparation for our fall term. Program onboarding and orientation will begin in early August with fall classes beginning later in August.

    You may indicate your interest by completing the application form and you will be contacted by Adult & Continuing Education Programs staff. 


    Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Application

    • (If applicable)
      By checking the box above, I certify that I have read the Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Curriculum Overview and understand the program policies.
      The application fee of $150 covers Student Support, Access to Online Course Management and Graduation. The member discount does not apply for this one-time fee; however, classes are priced separately and carry the member benefit of a 10% discount. By checking the box above, I indicate my agreement to the enrollment fee and can be contacted regarding the next open enrollment period.
  • Enrollment is currently closed until June of 2023. Any courses listed as core or elective credit for the BREG program can still count toward your course of study if taken within one year of formally enrolling. 

    The payment function will be open June 16, 2023 through July 31, 2023.