Annual Whidbey Gardening Workshop grows online this year

The island-wide gardening event is back this year after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

An island-wide gardening event that had to be cancelled last year because of the pandemic is coming back with a virtual flair this year.

Organizers and instructors were gearing up for the 32nd Whidbey Gardening Workshop back in March 2020 when the pandemic started to gain momentum, shuttering nonessential businesses and cancelling events.

Nearly a year later, instructors who were supposed to teach classes at the workshop will be able to do so via online video conferencing, the new format that the Whidbey Gardening Workshop is taking on March 6.

Barbara Schmitt, who coordinates marketing for the event, said this year’s workshop will have 27 online classes to choose from. Instructors will be teaching live with the use of Zoom.

In years past, the workshop has been held at Oak Harbor High School, with 450 to 500 participants in attendance. Field trips and a marketplace were also hallmarks of the event, although those parts will be cancelled this year.

This year, participants will be able to watch recordings of all 27 classes after the event is over. From now until Jan. 20, an “early bird” discount is available for tickets priced at $45. The ticket price is $55 after that date.

For an additional $20, participants will have access to all the recordings of the classes for up to three weeks after the event.

Keynote speaker Richie Steffen, the executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle, will speak on vivid combinations of plant selections that enhance the garden during a time of shifting climate and adaptive gardening practices.

Classes range from beginner to expert levels and include garden design, pruning, winter gardening, plant pathology and disease diagnosis and more.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop runs from 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 6, with ample breaks in between classes. Classes are in blocks of one hour and 15 minutes. Lunch break mini-events will include a Master Gardener Plant Clinic and a video about gardening pain-free presented by a physical therapist.

Carole Matthews, the chair of the event, said that between the workshop’s team and its instructors, about 50 people have worked together to make the Whidbey Gardening Workshop 2021 possible.

“It’s really been an extraordinary undertaking this year, because it’s just a new path that we’re kind of forging with these virtual classes,” Matthews said.

Both she and Schmitt agreed that they have seen an increase in the popularity of gardening during the past year. Schmitt said she has heard people are growing more foods, rather than flowers.

To register for the Whidbey Gardening Workshop, visit whidbeygardening.org/

More in Life

Some libraries open for limited in-building services

Sno-Isle Libraries is now offering limited in-building services at select community libraries.… Continue reading

Lions Garage sale adapts to pandemic; resumes donation pickups

The Coupeville Lions Club has resumed pick-ups of garage sale donations after… Continue reading

Debbie Jackson photo of European starlings at home in Penn Cove.
Winged creatures take flight during snow

A Penn Cove photographer was graced by the presence of several species of birds.

Oak Harbor resident earns PLU $30,000 scholarship

CAITLIN DENNEN, a student at Oak Harbor High School, has been named… Continue reading

Germaine Kornegay, left, and Allenda Jenkins star in Whidbey Playhouse’s virtual production of ‘Having our Say: The Delany sisters’ first 100 years’ available to view online on Feb. 26-27. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
‘Having our Say’ brings history to life through two sisters’ memories

Whidbey Playhouse’s virtual production can be viewed online Feb. 26-27.

After her story went viral, April DiDonna was honored as a HOWL’s Hero by an organization that writes children’s books about organ donation. Photo provided
Oak Harbor woman now known worldwide for saying ‘I love you’

After the News-Times interveiwed her, April DiDonna’s story has gone around the world.

Summit Assistance Dogs breeds and trains dogs to become mobility service dogs. Each litter is named with a specific letter — the most recent litter includes Nelson, Nugget, Neela and Nali. Three of the puppies are seen here with founder Sue Meinzinger. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Dog training campus being built on North Whidbey

Facility will train mobility service dogs for people who need them

The woman inside the unicorn suit says she dons the outfit just to bring people a smile. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Big pink unicorn follows in chicken’s footsteps

Whidbey Island is home to all sorts of characters - including inflatable ones.

Capt. Robert Miles, retired U.S. Navy, served in active duty for more than two decades before teaching Oak Harbor High School students leadership, confidence and practical skills through Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. Here he is pictured throughout his career. Photo courtesy Jason Lamont
Oak Harbor NJROTC alums come together to honor mentor

Capt. Robert Miles had a lasting impact on his NJROTC students at Oak Harbor High School.

Jason McFadyen, left, organized about a dozen friends to shave their heads in support of Annie Cash as she goes through breast cancer treatment. Cash was voted top real estate agent, business person and community leader in the Whidbey News-Times’ Best of Whidbey 2020 contest. Photos by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Shaving locks to support one of Whidbey’s best

Annie Cash’s friends shaved their heads in a show of support.

John and Rebecca Roberts have been trail angels for the Pacific Northwest Trail since 2012.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Wandering the rugged Pacific Northwest Trail

The trail snakes down the island on its often-confounding route from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Elizabeth Johnson and rescue dog Wilbur
Island a haven for practitioners of holistic treatments

Some holistic healers on Whidbey have seen a dramatic increase in demand this past year.