Public Speaking

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. Email:

  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) Growing Poisonous Plants

Many of our common garden plants are poisonous and most people do not realize it. This presentation looks at the issue of growing poisonous plants in the garden, and demystifies some misconceptions. It then goes on to present some of the best plants and discusses their culture. We all grow poisonous plants, so why not learn to enjoy them.

 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

Soil – sounds like a boring topics but soil is so important to gardening that you need to understand it. This presentation is slightly technical, but is designed for a general audience. It will explain soil porosity and how water moves through the soil to be available to plants. It will also discuss topics such as what happens when organics are added to soil, what is the role if mychorrizal fungus, are inorganic fertilizers really bad for soil, and what do you do about the wrong pH. It will include a lot of practical tips for taking care of your 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) Ornamental Onions – stars of the perennial garden

There are many types of ornamental onions and with careful planning you can have Alliums (ie onions) flowering continuously in your garden from spring until late fall. These plants are easy to grow, have almost no pests and fit in very well with any perennial garden. This presentation will look at their culture and review some of the author’s favorites.

 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.