Public Speaking Topics for Robert Pavlis

The following topics are available for presentations by Robert Pavlis. Each talk is about 1 hr, but can be shortened or expanded as needed. Presentations are done using a computer, and the author can supply his own projector if none is available.


  1) Plants from around the World

This is a fun program that is not very serious. It consists of a lot of pictures from gardens and natural settings that I have been lucky enough to visit, in the US, Europe, Cuba, and the Canadian Arctic. Most plants are not named, and it will not include a lot of cultural information. A good program for an evening of ‘just enjoying pictures’ – maybe a Christmas special.

 2) Canoe the Canadian Arctic

Robert has made a number of canoeing trips to the Canadian Arctic, and Labrador. This presentation will discuss one of these trips. It can be completely non-horticultural, or it can contain many pictures of the natural fauna and flora encountered on these trips. Not very horticultural – but something different.

 3) Building Natural Looking Ponds and Waterfalls

This talk will present basic how-to information on building ponds and waterfalls. It will then look at design considerations for making them look natural. Too many water features don’t fit the landscape and do not look natural. Some simple tricks will be presented that result in water features that look like they have been designed by Mother Nature and have always been there.

 4) Gardening Tricks

There is no such thing as a maintenance free garden, but there are many tricks that reduce the effort needed to maintain a garden. This presentation will present a number of  ideas that will make garden maintenance easier. Topics include things like edging a bed, keeping your twine from getting tangled, what to do with rocks, propagation drainage and eliminating stakes.

 5) Creating Aspen Grove

Aspen Grove is a 5 acre garden that was started in 2005. The author will present design decisions for converting a property that had no gardens into one that has extensive gardens, including both a dry and a wet waterfall, pond, sunny perennial gardens, shade gardens, rock gardens and shrub gardens. Before and after pictures will be used to discuss the reasons behind the design decisions.

 6) The Lesser Known Spring Bulbs

There is more to life than Crocus, Daffodils and Tulips. The author grows dozens of lesser known spring bulbs. These will be discussed through pictures, providing both cultural information and design information.  The author also has a collection of about 70 different daffodil varieties, and he will present some of the variations available.

This presentation could easily focus just on daffodils or just on the lesser known bulbs if you prefer.

 7) Gardening Myths

Presentation of a number of gardening myths, including myths about planting trees, natural pesticides are safe, hostas don’t grow in sun, and weed barriers prevent weeds from growing. The topics will use plenty of pictures showing gardens and flowers to keep everyone interested.

 8) Lesser known Perennials

Tired of Hostas, Day Lilies, and other common perennials. This presentation will spend a few minutes on each perennial, providing enough information to get people interested in growing some less common perennials. Focus will be on plants that are readily available and grow well in the region. Lots of flower pictures will make it fun and fast paced.

 9) Tackling Shade

What do you do in a shady spot? What about a dry shady spot under maples? What will grow under walnut trees? This presentation presents ideas for shade gardening, while presenting some lesser known shade plants.

 10) Japanese Gardens of North America and Europe

This talk will discuss basic design concepts of Japanese gardens and will use pictures from various Japanese and Chinese gardens in North America and Europe that have been visited by the author.

 11) Flowers of the Canadian Rocky Mountains

This slide presentation features the flora of the Rocky Mountains around Jasper. Emphasis will be on alpine plants and the special growing conditions in the mountains. I will take you on some of the most beautiful hikes in the Rockies while providing insight into how you can provide a suitable home for these plants in your own garden.

 12) Growing Plants from Seed

A How To presentation that takes the user through the whole process of growing plants from seed. It covers topics all the way from collecting seeds to taking care of seedlings. It will explain topics such cleaning seeds, getting them ready for planting, conditioning seed, Winter Sowing, and it will look at the best ways to get them into the garden. The presenter grows several hundred varieties each year and will base the discussion on his own experiences.

 13) Vegetative Propagation

Learn how to make more plants from your perennials and shrubs. I’ll cover basic topic such as dividing plants as well as more advanced topics like taking cuttings. Learn how and when to properly use rooting hormone, the difference between hardwood and softwood cuttings and which soil media is best for cuttings. I’ll also show you how I do all of my cuttings using a very simple system that requires no fancy equipment.

 14) Where are the trees going?

The Elm and the Chestnut once covered North America and were common sites in Ontario. Now they are all but gone. This presentation will discuss the history of these trees and others that have been or are being threatened into extinction. It will investigate the causes for the problem, and look at possible solutions.

 15) Understanding Soil

Discusses the basic components of soil and what makes good soil. The importance of microbes in building soil structure, and how gardeners can improve this. We’ll talk about some common soil myths and ways to add nutrients to the garden. Finally we’ll have a look at a new topic in gardening – the rhizosphere. This is a thin layer around roots that will change the way you think about soil.

 16) Designing your Fall Garden

What can you do to make your fall garden special? This program will discuss garden design topics that will help you create a fall garden that is just as interesting and exciting as it is in spring and summer. It will then go on to discuss specific plants that excel in fall season, including trees, grasses, perennials and bulbs.

 17) Bog Gardens – Good for the Environment

What is a bog garden? How do you build one? Why would you want to build one? Do they attract mosquitoes? What plants grow best in a bog garden? Do they need sun or shade? This presentation will answer these questions and many more. Bog gardens are environmentally friendly, use very little water, and can be created in any kind of garden.

 18) Garden Design Secretes

Professional garden designers use a number of fundamental concepts for designing their gardens. These are easy to learn and apply to any garden. This presentation will discuss these secretes and show you how to apply them to your own garden. We’ll cover topics such as borrowed landscapes, false perspective, creating rooms and much more.

 19) Orchids – they are easier than you think

Unravel the mysteries of the Orchid. Orchids are considered to be hard to grow, and a plant that only an expert should tackle. Nothing is further from the truth – they are some of the easiest house plants to grow and some will flower for 10 months non-stop. This presentation will help you understand these beautiful plants and show you how to take care of them so that they bloom year after year.

20) Art in the Garden

Art is a very important addition to any landscape design. In many ways the addition of art makes the garden, but few people think about this aspect of gardening. This presentation will give you 10 reasons for adding art to the garden and explain how it will enhance your garden design. It will then go and discuss other garden design ideas that you can use to make your garden special.

21) No-maintenance Perennials

Would you like a garden that requires no maintenance? Then this seminar is for you. It will show you how to reduce your work load by selecting the right no-maintenance plants and present other gardening tricks that let you enjoy gardening more. We’ll look at the qualities that make a good perennial and then go on to discuss specific perennials, bulbs, shrubs and grasses. Each of the plants discussed are grown by the speaker in Guelph, on his 6 acre private botanical garden, so you know they will also grow well for you.

22) Designing Front Yard Gardens

This program looks at actual homes in the Guelph area and critiques their front yard designs. Through this process you will gain a good understanding for what makes a good design, and what doesn’t. The speaker will discuss ways to improve each property, giving you ideas for your own gardens. Both new and old neighborhoods are included in the discussion to provide a wide range of ideas.

23) Learn to Make Simple Troughs

Troughs are a great way to grow alpine plants and they make great planters for all kinds of small plants like the new mini hostas. This presentation will introduce the topic of troughs and show you how to use them in the garden. It will then show you how you can quickly make simple troughs out of old Styrofoam fish boxes. These troughs look just like stones troughs, but cost almost nothing to make, and are light to move around.

24) Maximize Vegetable Production

This program discusses ways in which you can maximize productivity out of a small space. It will discuss concepts such as vertical gardening, succession planting, square foot gardening, inter-cropping, raised beds, row covers and much more. It will also look at soil options and show you how to improve your soil to grow the most food in a small space.

25) Pruning Trees and Shrubs

This talk covers everything you need to know to prune woody plants in the garden. It will cover tools, and how to use them properly. How, and when, to make cuts. We’ll discuss how plants react to pruning – once you understand the plant, pruning makes so much more sense. I’ll then present a step-by-step process to make the whole pruning job easier.

26) Selecting the Right Soil and Fertilizer

This talk introduces you to some basic concepts about soil and then reviews the function of various components including sand, clay, air and organic matter. We’ll also look at various soil amendments to understand why you might add them to soil. Then it’s time to select the right soil for various gardening situations. Fertilizer will also be discussed, along with some fertilizer myths and then I’ll help you select the right fertilizer for gardens and containers.

27) Fun Facts About Plants

In this talk I will help you understand plants better by examining why the pH of the soil may not matter, why you have never seen clematis petals and why evergreens don’t make suckers. I’ll also answer important questions like, do oaks really make tap roots, do sunflowers really follow the sun and why do picked dandelions continue to make seed? I’ll even show you a plant in tears.

28) Growing Streptocarpus

Streptocarpus may be the best houseplant you have ever grown. They are easy to grow and flower all year long given the right growing conditions. These beauties from South Africa have now been hybridized in every color imaginable. This talk will introduce you to streps growing both in the wild and in pots and explain how to grow them successfully. I usually bring plants for sale.

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14 thoughts on “Public Speaking Topics for Robert Pavlis”

  1. Hello Robert,
    I am a student living in Paris doing an Internal Assessment of the effect of Anaerobic Compost tea on the growth of red russian kale. You seem to know your stuff when it comes to common misconceptions about compost tea and whether or not it actually works. You probably won’t see this, but I wanted to get some insight into the contents of anaerobic compost tea, and if it will kill my plants. I guess I’ll find out for myself either way, but maybe you can give me a sort of NPK table of what I just made. It smells like complete sh*t to tell you the truth… I essentially filled a bucket with plant scraps and allowed it to decompose over the summer. I very rarely mixed it and I was left with around a liter of brown, smelly liquid. Obviously, I still used it for my experiment, but I also know damn well the contents of my compost tea aren’t even close to well made, aerated compost tea.
    Let me know, Sam
    Sorry if you get like 3 of these messages

  2. Hi Robert,
    My husband and I built a pond (about 18×14) 18 years ago, long before we knew about you or your pond book. It has, for the most part, been trouble free. It has now developed a leak and we are now too old and tired to solve the problem ourselves. We are wondering if you know of any professionals that you could recommend. We live in Paris.
    Anne Saunders

  3. Robert, Thankyou, thankyou for starting this blog. I have some plants that require high humidity. It was recommended to me that I have them in a pebble tray with some water in it so that as the water evaporates, it increases the humidity. I read an interesting article in the Edmonton Journal going agaist this theory. What are your thoughts?

  4. Hi, I love the information here and the topics you debunk related to gardening is important. I am not sure how disinformation really starts but it spreads because we believe what we hear and don’t do our own research. Then when you search a topic its flooded with articles telling you the same garden myth so you think it’s gospel because so many articles confirm it. You have reminded me to think for myself so thanks for the reminder. I know you are about gardening but I didn’t know if you ever addressed houseplants myths? I keep seeing a leaf shine that makes your leaves “glow” but it makes no sense to me. They are telling everyone to wipe your leaves down with egg whites and your leaves will shine. Seems terrible idea to me. What about photosynthesis? Wouldn’t the albumin leave a thin layer on your leaves surface and maybe hamper it? These diy recipes like this bother me but I’m not sure how to research if this is myth or does work. I was wondering where to start? If you had any tips to doing so? I respect what you do here and this is quickly becoming my favorite site for learning gardening truths. Thank you for all you do truly. Oh…I won’t be shining my plant leaves with egg whites for many reasons and the big one is because I’m kitchen ignorant and separating eggs is a real challenge for me 😂😂😂 take care

    • I start by searching for all sites – gives me the popular view.
      Then I search for sites with EDU extension. Just add to the end of your search. This gives me the educated/extension view which may or may not be right.
      Then I use google scholar to look at the science.

  5. You are the only other person that I know who follows Dena. Great books! Read the clematis
    Information. I need to germinate some pseudo alpina (colimbia?) found them today April 3, so maybe they self stratified? Would you like a try? Gloria Mcfarland

    • If they were dry outside, then they are not stratified. Stratification needs to happen after they absorb water.

  6. Hi, I have been using organic bat guano, I wondered if you had a blog on its use? We have good results and I was thinking of adding it to some coffee grounds as a mulch with a little nitrogen top up and making a nice compost to grow once the plant has established

    • Bat guano is a good fertilizer, except that the collection process harms the bats and many of them are endangered. for that reason, I think it is a good idea to use something else if you can.


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