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.

Our Spring 2024 Open Enrollment period runs December 15th through January 31st, 2024.  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!

  • 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 winter and delight in your gardens in every season. 

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.

  • 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.

    New streamlined recommendations for electives include completing 30 hours in categories of your choosing and six hours in Service & Volunteerism.  Please keep reflections for elective courses in a separate journal that can be submitted toward the completion of your course of study.

    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.

  • 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)

Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Application & Enrollment

  • The Spring 2024 enrollment process for our Certificate of Merit programs has closed. Program onboarding and orientation will begin in early February with program orientation and core classes beginning in February.

    If interested in joining the Fall 2024 Cohort, please complete the following application form, and our staff will contact you during the next open enrollment period.

    Folks eager to begin acquiring credits toward the program can begin taking relevant classes up to one year before enrollment, but will not be formally admitted to the program until Fall.

    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.
  • The Spring 2024 enrollment process for our Certificate of Merit programs has closed.

    In the fall, complete enrollment in the Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Certificate of Merit program by paying the one-time enrollment fee of $150, which covers student support, graduation and other costs. A portion of every enrollment fee also goes to subsidize the scholarship program currently in development.

    Please Note: 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. )

  • Through our programs, we extend an open invitation to grow in mind and grow in your understanding of our place in the Southern Appalachians. We also 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.

    We are actively seeking funding to go toward developing the Blue Ridge Scholars, a work-study program designed to expand access for participants. While the program is currently in the planning stages with our Advisory Council, some informal opportunities for volunteer assistance may be available depending upon staff needs. Look for further announcements in our newsletters or program emails.

    We encourage you to be in touch directly if the enrollment fee would prohibit you from participating.

    submit scholarship application requests here