Inspiring and motivating audiences to build skills, beauty, and wisdom through gardening.

“In four years of booking garden speakers for our Master Gardener monthly lecture series, I have had the pleasure of hearing many first-rate presentations, but Marianne’s recent talk on her new book was the best ever. Marianne is so knowledgeable and yet so warm and engaging. Her column and her book showcase her considerable writing skills, and she brings the same witty turns of phrase to her public speaking. Her enthusiasm for all things horticultural is contagious .”

– Jill J., Virginia

Marianne Willburn


“I believe strongly that engaging and energizing an audience is the number one priority for a speaker. Groups are diverse, and individuals may feel discouraged by the realities of their landscape even when their skill level is high. I enjoy putting them at ease while providing an encouraging and educational talk that approaches difficult questions with humor, empathy, and experience.”              –Marianne Willburn

Symposium Audience with Marianne Willburn

Please contact Marianne using the form below for availability and fees.

Please allow up to two business days for response.

    Marianne Willburn, Bio

    Marianne Willburn is an opinion columnist for the American Horticultural Society’s The American Gardener, and the author of Tropical Plants and How to Love Them (2021) and Big Dreams, Small Garden (2017).  She is a contributing editor at, and has spent her gardening life in places as diverse as California, the United Kingdom, and the Mid-Atlantic.

    A regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens and other national gardening magazines, Marianne has been a newspaper columnist for over a decade, and is the recipient of several Gold and Silver Media Awards from Garden Communicators International for her column and books. She is a University College London graduate and a member of GardenComm International, The Garden Media Guild, and the National Association of Newspaper Columnists.

    She now gardens intensively on ten acres in a rural corner of Northern Virginia and shares her expertise each week with readers online and in print.

    For more information:


    Presentation Topics

    *Custom presentations may also be available for your group.

    Tropical Fusion:
    Working and Designing with Tropical Plants in Temperate Gardens

    If you’re searching for plants that will add exciting accents to a tired summer garden, last right up through the first hard freeze, and make you look like a horticultural rock star, look no further than tropicals. Using five memorable categories and a host of strategic design tips from her award-winning book Tropical Plants and How To Love Them, Marianne will focus on some spectacular examples that are easy to grow and much easier than you think to overwinter. Small garden? In Tropical Accents for Inspiring Containers, Marianne will share plants, tips, and techniques specific to containers to get your decks, patios, and balconies ready for a fabulous summer season.

    Storing Tropical Plants in Temperate Climates:
    Decisions, Tips & Techniques

    Used strategically, tropical and subtropical plants can create incredible energy and excitement in the temperate landscape; but many gardeners unfamiliar with the genre are hesitant to dabble, unsure of the work involved. Using unique storage categories from her book Tropical Plants and How to Love Them, Marianne will help audience members discern what they can easily store, which plants may take more effort, and where to draw the line; providing tips and techniques for  successful storage in cold climates.

    Daring & Delicious:
    Tropical Edibles for The Temperate Garden

    Ginger, Hibiscus, Taro, Turmeric…Whether you harvest the stem, leaf, root, or flower, adding tropical edibles to the garden allows the temperate gardener-cook to work with the freshest flavors  possible in an adventurous kitchen. Learn which tropical and subtropical plants make the most of a temperate climate, and how they can revolutionize your garden and your table.

    Big Dreams, Small Garden:
    Creating Something Extraordinary in Your Ordinary Space

    Tiny balcony, lack of privacy, HOA restrictions, tough neighborhood…if you’re struggling with a difficult outside space you are not alone.  Very few of us have ideal conditions outside, but by breaking down the process into manageable sections, shifting our perspective and cultivating a sense of contentment and peace in the process – we can create the garden that lives inside of us. Marianne will go over this process and share a few tips and real-life gardens from her book Big Dreams, Small Garden to help you get excited about your outside space – no matter what it is.

    Plants, Placement, Perfect!
    Creating Inspiring Containers

    If you’re staring at that cluttered jumble of pots in the basement and wondering what you can do with them this year that won’t have you yawning before you even start, let Marianne help you create something that goes beyond the tired and traditional annual combos and boring, predictable placement.  Utilize edibles and perennials, discover tropical treasures, consider adding the magical element of water, and learn what to look for when grouping plants for a successful container that thrives.

    Keep Calm and Garden On:
    Gardening in the Midst of Climate Change

    While world leaders argue over the threat of climate change and its causes, gardeners find ourselves stuck in the literal and figurative trenches making the best of the challenges that face us. How can we best adapt to what is, right now, and make our gardens more resilient throughout the seasons? This talk focuses on key points we should consider when we design our gardens, and provides positive, productive measures for our soils, wildlife, and plants to help ease our concerns over the unknown.

    The Recycled Garden:
    Solving Problems Through Creative Repurposing

    Repurposing materials in your garden saves money and is an environmentally sound practice; but used carefully, those materials can also add whimsey and make your garden unique.  Marianne will help you train your eyes to see the ‘treasure’ in ‘trash’ by utilizing a series of steps designed to help you figure out what you need and what you have.  From cast off chairs to the remnants of a building project to natural materials gathered along a roadside, salvaged finds have the power to put an individual stamp on your garden without costing you a fortune.

    Garden Maintenance for Real Life

    Even though we know our gardens don’t have to be perfect, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling behind. How do we determine if we need to work smarter for better results, or if the garden is in need of some serious surgery? By asking the right questions and providing smart maintenance tips, Marianne will guide the  audience to re-balance their garden lives and once again find joy in the process.