The Arboretum’s Blue Ridge EcoGardener (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 that are currently open for registration are listed on the Adult Education course page and updated monthly.  Each class that counts toward certificate credit is priced separately.  All learners are welcome to join our classes, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the BREG program!

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:

    • Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden
    • Botany Basics
    • Winter Plants of Interest
    • Gardening in a Changing Climate
    • Landscape Design Fundamentals
    • Seasonal Plants of Interest (Online Asynchronous Class is offered in Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall; supplemented with a Garden Walk Through)
    • Botanical Latin for Gardeners
    • Ecological Gardening: Principles in Practice
    • Ecology of the Blue Ridge
    • Introduction to Permaculture | Plants of Interest
    • Living Soil

    In Season:

    • Pollinators
    • Wildlife in the Garden
    • Native Tree Identification
    • Native Flora Identification

    Pollinator and Wildlife in the Garden credits can be fulfilled with several different classes and special events throughout the year. Native Tree and Native Flora Identification classes are offered in season.

    Core Reflection Assignment: Instructions for completing a reflection assignment on a core course are detailed here. At the present time, reflections are collected in the Course Folder created for each core class.

  • 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.

    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.

    • New in 2024: Students have an opportunity to attend an Approved Conference or Symposium, provide proof of registration and write a brief reflection on the value of their learning. Up to six hours can be earned for any one opportunity or combination of learning opportunities. Further details are available here.
    • BREG Certification:  New streamlined recommendations for electives include completing 15 hours in categories of your choosing and six hours in Service & Volunteerism.  Please keep reflections for elective courses in your own separate field journal along with your transcript to share with Programs Staff toward the completion of your course of study.
    • EE Certification: These classes vary in the criteria they are eligible for and will be marked as such in their description.
  • Please keep track of the courses you take throughout your journey in the BREG program using this template:

    BREG Transcript (PDF Version)

    BREG Transcript (Editable Excel Version)

Enrollment in the Blue Ridge EcoGardener Certification Program

Enrollment is now open until the end of July. To enroll, first complete the application form below.

Application Form

Then, after completing the application form, use this link below to pay the one-time enrollment fee of $150, which covers student support, graduation, and other costs.

$150 PAYMENT LINK- JUNE 15 – JULY 31, 2024

At the end of July we will reach out to all newly enrolled students with details about the Certificate of Merit Orientation Session that we have planned in August.

Any courses listed as core or elective credit for the BREG program will count toward the student’s course of study if taken within one year of formally enrolling. 

  • For more information: 
    • Read over our FAQs for answers to many questions you may have while considering our certificate of merit programs. 
    • For further information regarding BREG certification:  Contact Adult Education Programs at

We work to keep our course registration fees economical. Revenue received from registration goes toward paying our expert instructors and expanding learning opportunities and stewardship through the Arboretum’s educational mission. If our program fees or the enrollment fee present a hardship for you, please submit a scholarship application and we will do our best to work with you.

submit scholarship application requests here