A Chat with a Garden Expert


see video below for a peek
inside our gardening workshop!

We were fortunate to have master gardener, Peter Coppola, as our guest speaker again this year for our spring garden workshop. Afterwards, I had a chance to ask him about his story. Read on for details about his journey towards Master Gardener, and some gardening tips from the expert.


How and when did you get into gardening? What inspired you to start gardening?
I grew up in a neighborhood of Revere where greenhouses and market farms were still in operation, and all of our neighbors had vegetable gardens; so the activity has always been in my resume.

How long does it take to become a Master Gardener? What are the requirements?
Becoming a master gardener consists of formal classroom training and passing a final exam. There are also volunteer work and continuing education requirements. Candidates must apply to attend classes Program specifics vary depending on where the course is taken.

Before you were a Master Gardener, what was your profession?
I have a degree in mechanical engineering and have earned several U.S. patents for security devices, sensors and water filtration systems. I previously worked in the government business sector which provided me with many opportunities to travel and visit gardens throughout the country and abroad. In 1999, I began producing gardening articles and videos for Gate House Media and local television.

I have been able to apply my engineering and business problem solving skills to gardening and share this unique perspective in my lectures and classes.

I am an active member of the community in Burlington as a Planning Board member, Recreation Commissioner, Historical Commissioner, youth sport coach, volunteer and member of the Historical Society and garden club.

Is it true you had your own cable show about gardening?
That was the motivation for becoming a master gardener! It was called “The Wannabe” and on each episode, I wanted to be like well-known gardening, woodworking and cooking experts. It was well received and people were asking so many questions that I felt I needed to pursue a qualification; hence the master gardening course.

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What is your advice for anyone who would like to start their own garden?
Grow what you know, grow what you like. Your will have better success working with plants you are familiar with and success breeds confidence. Before you plant anything incorporate as much organic matter, (compost, cow manure, peat) into the soil.

What would be your top gardening tips?

  • Feed the soil microbes and they will feed the plants

  • Avoid pesticides - there are more good insects than bad in the garden

  • Keep planting beds and walkways clean of plant debris that provide a haven for insects and disease

What types of plants do you recommend for first-time gardeners?
Keep it simple and select plants that everyone else is growing. Those plants have proven themselves to be capable of surviving our gardening mistakes.


Look for more spring gardening tips and floral workshops on our website.
Happy spring!

xoxo, Sandra

Grow what you know, grow what you like.
— Peter Coppola, Master Gardener