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. Our Spring Program Guide will be available in early 2023.

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 try  to return emails and phone calls as promptly as we’re able.
  • New students in the certificate program will be contacted with information on joining our program orientation set for late January/early February.
  • For further information regarding BREG certification:  Contact Adult Education Programs at

Wishing you a healthy and happy start to 2023 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 requirements:

    Spring Term:

    • Botany Basics
    • Landscape Design Fundamentals
    • Spring Plants of Interest
    • Spring Gardening Projects

    Summer Term:

    • Botanical Latin for Gardeners
    • Living Soil
    • Summer Plants of Interest
    • Summer Gardening Projects

    Fall Term:

    • Ecological Gardening: Principles in Practice
    • Ecology of the Blue Ridge
    • Gardening in a Changing Climate
    • Introduction to Permaculture | Plants of Interest
    • Fall Plants of Interest
    • Fall Gardening Projects

    Winter Term:

    • Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden
    • Winter Plants of Interest
    • Winter Gardening Projects

    In Season:

    • Pollinators
    • Wildlife in the Garden
  • 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

  • Enrollment for our Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Certificate of Merit program  is open from December 16, 2022 through January 31, 2023 for our upcoming Spring session. Program onboarding will begin in early February with classes beginning mid-February.

    Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Registration

    • (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 agree to enroll in the certificate program and complete payment online through the Enrollment Fee link.