‘Gardening Is Murder’ and other speaking topics


Are you looking for a very different kind of club or library presentation?  Perhaps the kind that you use to attract new attendees, start the club year off, or end the year on a high note?  A great speaker for your annual luncheon?  A library program designed to expand your served audience?

I offer four, 40-to-45 minute illustrated presentations which are described below.  If one of them interests you, please email me for specifics about dates and times.  (Neal02052 (at) Gmail (dot) com).  Please do not leave a message on this website: it will disappear under the avalanche of spam that is the plague of anyone who hosts a website.

The best known of my presentations is ‘Gardening Is Murder’.  This is a ‘husband’s point of view’ of gardening.  It is filled with humor and insight from someone who gardens less from an abiding love of horticulture than for the love of a spouse.  Good horticultural advice is dispensed, bad advice is debunked.  Your members will leave with a better appreciation of what is going on in the mind of their helpmates.  The talk is adapted from my widely read blog, ‘The Principal Undergardener’.

Some of the topics I cover include:

  • Why it is impossible to do just one thing in the garden
  • Why so much gardening information on the internet is awful
  • Why you should never compute the value of your labor in gardening
  •   Evidence that the wildlife in your garden have never seen a Disney film
  •  Why it requires digging three holes to plant something
  • And much more…

Comments from those who have seen my talk are uniformly enthusiastic.  “Our members see themselves” is a consistent theme.  I have presented ‘Gardening Is Murder’ to more than a hundred organizations over the past two years.   You can see a video of the program on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSlrX4XnFIM.

The program’s success has led to a ‘Part II’ program called ‘Gardening Will Kill You’.   It is, frankly, more of the same.  More rules, more observations and more fun.  It also follows the progress of our gardening adventures as my wife and I attempt to create an all-new garden out of what amounts to a quarry at our new home.  The primary audience is organizations that hosted me for ‘Gardening Is Murder’, liked it, and want a second installment.

Attendees will learn why giving a flower show ticket to a gardener can lead to many unintended consequences, why coupons are not dead, and why rock walls will grow until all possible building material is consumed.

My third program is ‘Flower Show Confidential’.  In it, I take an audience from the inception of a major flower show exhibit (ten month before the event), through the planning and design process, and then into the intense, three-and-a-half-day ‘build’.  Not just a dry recitation of facts, it’s an eye-opening look at the months of preparation and meticulous planning that go into every aspect of an exhibit, from forcing plants to be at the peak of perfection on a certain day to pre-constructing exhibits to minimize assembly time on the convention hall floor.

This richly illustrated talk centers on the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s 1100 square foot exhibit at the 2012 Boston Flower & Garden Show, and it is also a story of the people – nearly all volunteers – who give hundreds of hours to ensure every detail is correct, and every plant groomed to perfection. By the end of the presentation, the audience will feel like they helped build the exhibit.

My fourth program is ‘Strong Independent Women’.  Unlike the first three talks, this is not a gardening program.  Rather, it is a talk about my writing and the inspirations for it.  The program is aimed toward libraries and civic organizations.

Where do the ideas for books come from?  How about the source of the characters in those books?  I’ve created murderous suburban Boston housewives and larcenous garden club ladies.  I’ve taken readers back to the golden age of air travel and post-World-War-II occupied Germany.  I’ve shown how an investment banker performs due diligence, how a flower show is staged, and what goes in inside an upscale nursing home.

At the core of all of my stories is my own personal history and experiences, coupled with the family members whose own life stories have been handed down to me.  ‘Strong Independent Women’ weaves that history into a very funny talk that discusses the “aha! moments” when plot ideas land in my lap and the people around me get transformed into characters on the written page.

My fee for the 2017-2018 season is an absurdly low $150 if I have the opportunity to sell books following my presentation. Moreover, I give 10% of sales back to sponsoring non-profit organizations.  There is no travel fee if you are within 40 miles of Medfield; $25 fee up to 100 miles; negotiable thereafter.  If all this seems like there has to be a catch, it’s because my goal is to attract new readers to my writings, not to get wealthy from non-profit organizations.  Please email me for specifics about dates and times.  (Neal02052 (at) Gmail (dot) com.  Please do not leave a message on this website: it will disappear under the avalanche of spam that is the plague of anyone who hosts a website.

If you have a book club, I continue to visit meetings where one of my books is being discussed.  There is no fee except for a well-chilled glass of sauvignon blanc.  I generally limit my book club travel to a 75 mile radius around my home in Medfield.

 Posted by at 4:27 pm