Programs and Lectures

Programs from the Backyard...


NEW – Crafting Herbal Mocktails – this program will demonstrate how to make simply syrups and herb extractions to craft a myriad of herb flavored and scented alcohol-free mocktails.  We will rethink party punch with herb ingredients, craft martinis, fizzes, and sours you never tried before and discuss the history of herbs in alcoholic beverages.  (Alcohol can be substituted for mocktail ingredients if desired.  However, this no alcohol program is appropriate for Park Districts and Libraries.)

Edible Flowers—A presentation that discusses the edible nature of a wide variety of flowers. Explore tasty flora like Daylillies, Anise Hyssop, and flowerings herbs as well as the useful properties of purslane and mustard. More than 20 flowering plants will be discussed and shown with harvesting, preserving and preparing information for enjoying the edible bounty of flowers. Plant lists will be included with a few recipes. Samples of some recipes will be shared with participants (PowerPoint)

Language of Flowers -- This slide presentation focuses on the Victorian tradition of floriography, or the sending of messages with the arrangement of flowers. Although the practice is much older, in the 19th century gifts of blooms were used to send a coded message to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society. A discussion of the meanings and a guide to interpreting “talking bouquets” will be included in this talk.

Unusual, Exotic and Medicinal -- A PowerPoint presentation that discusses and illustrates more uncommon herbs that can be grown in Zone 5 along with their uses, habits and medicinal or culinary properties.  Unusual herbs like Angelica, Tansy and Pineapple mint, exotic basil and thyme varieties and other plants gardeners need to meet will be shown and discussed.  Detailed Plants lists included.
Herbology 101 / Fun with Herbs - A general program that details a variety of topics including the use, growing and care of herbs with information on using your herbal harvest.  It is perfect general program for those who are curious about herbs but do not know where to start and those wanting to plant to put herbs in their garden.

General Programs

Be an Herbal Gourmet -- By adding even the most basic herbs to your culinary palette, you can make your cooking more interesting, delicious and enjoyable.  Also adding herbs can enhance flavors and allow for more healthful cooking.  It is easy to create herb mixtures to replace salt in food.    This and other tips for using herbs to cook with everyday are included in this lecture.  The discussion includes flavor families, what herbs to use with certain dishes, and how to create herbal vinegars, butters and other items which can add herb flavors to cooking when herbs themselves are not appropriate.

Holding the Harvest:  Harvesting and Preserving Herbs -- Harvesting to preserve herbs takes very little time and requires no special equipment.  Heat, dry air, good air circulation and darkness are all that is needed.  This lecture covers the simple rules of cutting plants for preservation and the various drying methods.  Additional methods of preserving herbal flavors, like freezing, vinegars, sugars, and butters will also be included.

Giving Away Your Bounty -- Making Gifts from Herbs (and version 2) -- Creating special gifts with the fruits of your garden is easy and relatively inexpensive.  This demonstration lecture includes how to make and create various gift items using herbs.  There are culinary blends, vinegars, bath items, and special scented items.  Tips on presentation are also included.  Potpourri is explained, but not demonstrated.  No additional fee is required unless a full demonstration of all steps in creation of items is desired.  There are two different versions of this program available so it can be repeated to the same audience.

Curative Properties of Tea -- Much has been touted recently about the benefits of a good cup of herbal or green tea.  This lecture discusses the difference between black tea and herb tea as well as what herbs make good tea, how to formulate your own teas and the various medicinal properties discovered throughout time of various native plants.  It also includes some information on the benefits of green tea.  If hot water is available we can create our own blend to sample at the end of the program. 

Green Cleaning with Herbs -- This program points out the numerous ways herbs can be used in your household outside cooking.  Learn to create moth repellents that will not repel your nose, find out all the possible cleaning uses for an herbal vinegar, create mixtures to scrub ceramics, disinfect the bowl and give your glass sparkle.  We will also discuss fighting fleas and ants, and making household chores more aromatic with items like iron waxers and carpet deodorizers. Real-time demonstrations will illustrate all the techniques used.

Body Beautiful -- Make your body beautiful with herbal creations for the bath and skin.  With basic ingredients blended with essential oils and natural botanicals, anyone can create custom bath products.  Learn how different scents create and change moods, induce sleep, or enhance awareness.  You will learn how to use everyday materials blended with a few herbs to create bath salts, facial masks, and relaxing massage and aromatherapy items.  All recipes included. 

Infusion -- Herbs can infuse their scent and flavor in many different ways.  This lecture explores how to create herbal sugars and vinegars for cooking and how to infuse herbs into bath salts.  Real-time demonstrations give participants a feel for how easy it is to create items with herbs for everyday use.  Recipes and instructions included.  Special bonus is a discussion of how to package items for gifts or sale. 

Decorating with Marcy -- Winter Holiday Seasons and Springtime Festivities are wonderful times to decorate with the color and fragrance of herbs.  This program shows you how to make simple, yet amazing decorations for doors, mantles, tables and trees to bring natures bounty into your home. Also includes a special section on making favors for guests. 

Historic Herbal Treasures -- Herbs in history are both curious and interesting.  This program discusses historical uses of herbs, several theories historically used to determine the curative properties of herbs and the ageless language of flowers and how it was used by the Victorians.  Overall a show and tell of historical blends, items and recipes.  A small game on the language of flowers makes this a great program for evening groups.

The Herbs of the Cadfael Mysteries -- Both a PBS Mystery program and a series of books by Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael was an herbalist.  The stories featured several herbs and medicinal ointments and treatments.  This program discusses the more prominent herbs and some of the medieval lore that was prevalent about herbs and their uses.

Herbs of the Bible -- Ever wonder about all those references to plants in the Bible?  We will tackle some of the more interesting references to plants and herbs in the Bible, translate the names of the ancient world and discuss growing many of the plants referenced.

Native American Herbs – Explore the various plants of Native origin that have healing, food and religious benefits; their uses, growing habits and other details will be shared in this combination slide and hand-on program.  We focus on the plants of Midwestern Native groups such as the Annishnabe (Ojibwa), HO-Chunk (Winnebago) and others who have a tradition of planting and gathering in the upper Midwest.

Gardening Programs

Growing Herbs Well --The fascinating world of herbs and everything they can be used for begins with growing them well.  As with all plants, their needs are varied, from light and soil conditions to nutrients and water needs.  This discussion lecture includes best practices for growing and harvest herbs with handouts including all the details. 

The triple P - Planning, Propagating & Preserving --Soil preparation and design are not as hard as one would think.  By following a few simple rules, you can have a flourishing herb garden in just one season.  This lecture covers briefly how to propagate herbs, using seeds, cuttings and root division.  It also touches on garden plans, small decorative herb gardens and pot gardens.  The focus is on the soil needs of herbs and how to prepare the beds for optimum growth.  Touching a bit on winterizing an herb garden, there are also tips for cooking and saving the herbs you grow.  

Container Gardening --  Container Gardening is more popular today than ever.  It is a boon for people with little time, small yards or apartments and condos.  This program includes using imaginative containers, soil mixes, supplying nutrients, and basic gardening practices to create a container garden to enjoy all summer.  We also provide a little extra planning so you can have a wintertime windowsill garden as well.  

Perennial and Annual Herbs --  This informative slide program covering how to identify hardy and tender perennial herbs, their growing habits and harvesting times along with the different needs of annual herbs which require good, nutrient-rich soil to do well.  Information will get even a novice gardener excited to grow herbs.  This presentation begins with soil preparation and discusses the various growing habits, uses, and methods for obtaining the best possible harvest.  A special focus on which herbs grow well in containers is also included. A graphic handout will be provided with propagation methods, harvest tips, and uses.  

Elementary Herb Gardening (Elementary my Dear Gardener) --This basic look at how to garden with herbs includes everything a startup gardener should know:  What is an herb, how do herbs differ from other plants, how to choose plants for a garden, how to prepare the soil, and how to keep them alive (basic care and feeding).  

Beginner's Guide to Using Herbs  -- A combination of how to harvest an herb and dry or preserve it with a few simple tips for cooking and gifting with herbs.  We keep it simple to cater to the craft challenged and those with little cooking experience.  

Intermediate Herb Gardening -- For those who have a garden, but want to get more enjoyment from it, this is a great starter.  It includes a more detailed look at soil preparation and improvement, propagation methods, garden planning for certain results, companion planting (what it is and why you should try it) and much more.

Advanced Herb Gardening in the Organic style --  Gardening without chemicals can sometimes be difficult, this program will help viewers to recognize potential problems before they devastate a crop and show simple ways to improve your soil, plant health and harvest potential with totally organic materials available locally.   


CHILDREN'S PROGRAM Let’s Play Native American Games -- Learn to play and create several simple and fun games used by adults and children of several Native American Tribal groups of the Eastern Woodland region.  This interactive class geared to kids (age 7 to 12) and adults, will explore the history and purpose of games in American Indian society while understanding the rules for various games.  Participants will discuss the rules, try out the games and even create one to take home.  Full instructions and rules for all games will be provided for a total of seven (7) different games.  Instructions will be included in a take-home handout. 

CHILDREN'S PROGRAM Let’s Play International Games – Some new, some ancient, all the games we will play have an international origin.  Countries like Africa, the Netherlands and Peru are all featured in this program.  Participants aged 10 to 15 and adults will learn to create each game and then practice the rules of play.  Handouts with instructions will be included.  All the games in this program can be played with a piece of paper and a fist full of pennies.

Fees -- Any lecture listed above can be done for $150.00.  If the group is less than 25 people, a lower fee may be negotiated.  Fees include handout materials for participants. Almost all of the above mentioned lectures can be modified to include hands-on demonstrations and instruction.  Since this requires additional materials, supplies and equipment an additional fee of $2.00 per person or a minimum of $35.00 is needed for a demonstration lecture. 

Travel Boundaries -- At this time I do not travel outside the Chicagoland area. However, this is a generous area that includes southern Wisconsin, western Indiana and anything within a 100 mile radius of Elmhurst, Illinois.

Demonstration Programs

Blending Herbs -- This lecture uses various methods and materials to create several dips, dressings and spreads.  Included is a detailed discussion of flavor families and choosing herbs to prepare the various foods.  Once students are well-versed in herb flavors they will choose and mix herbs for various ingredients like salads, vegetables, fruits, etc.  Methods of blending and melding herb flavors are discussed and recipes are demonstrated and sampled. (The fee for this program is $200)


  1. Hi do you ever come to the Omaha area? I'd like to learn more about herbs, growing and crafting w them. Thanks

  2. I have not been to Omaha Nebraska in many years and I cannot say it is on the list for anytime soon. There is an herb shop called Praireland Herbs in Iowa that you might look into taking a road trip to. They are knowledgeable as well.

  3. Hi Marcy, would love to have you teach with us District 214 Community Education. Teresa


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