Speaking & Design Services


I can speak casually without A/V, with hands-on demonstration (container gardening), or with PowerPoint presentations. Fees are negotiable. Topics include:

Ten Favorite Plants and Why I Love Them (easily done in a home without A/V)

Deer-Resistant Plants I Love

Travelogues: English Gardens, Quebec City, the Côte d’Azur

Design Characteristics of Native Plants

My Favorite Fall-planted Bulbs for the Southeast (easily done without A/V in Aug/Sept/Oct)

Landscape History: A Whirlwind Tour (must use a PowerPoint)

Container Gardening (can be done as a talk, demonstration, or hands-on class)

Design Tips to Lower Maintenance (without A/V)

Introduction to Social Media for Small Businesses and Busy People


Scheduled Talks:

February 12, 2019, State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Philadelphia and the World’s Largest Indoor Flower Show (with Pat Brusack)

Conservatory Great Room, Visitor Center
7:00 pm talk, 6:30 for a light reception before the talk
$10, free for Friends members

About 250,000 people attend the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. Last year Connie Cottingham and Pat Brusack were two of those people, on two separate trips. They will each show you their favorite exhibits in the show, share tips on how to get the most from the show and what to avoid, and recommend nearby attractions. If you are thinking about a trip to Philadelphia, this would be a great place to gather ideas. If you have been there, add to the conversation – Connie is heading back in a couple months. Light reception before the talk provided by Friends of the Garden.



July 13, 2018, State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Friends First Friday: Learning about Gardening
9:00-10:30 am
Gardenside Room $12

Connie Cottingham not only publicizes events at the botanical garden, she maintains the garden calendar for Georgia Gardening magazine and her own website (www.conniecottingham.com) and has attended many courses and events. She will share some exciting don’t-miss events coming up in several locations, the best ways to discover events happening within a short drive, and apps, local organizations and online resources for learning about gardening and garden history. If gardening is one of your passions, you will leave with plenty of fuel to feed it. Includes a full breakfast.


April 5, State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Rethinking Annuals for Your Garden (with Mike Sikes)

2 – 3:30pm., $12.

Don’t dismiss warm-season annuals, when there are so many great ones to choose from and our growing season stretches from April to November. Horticulturist Mike Sikes and landscape architect Connie Cottingham will tell you about their favorite annuals for sun or shade, deer or drought, massing or containers, and share ideas about using annuals in the landscape.


Friday, December 1, 2017, State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Friends First Friday: Using Greenery from your Garden
9:00-10:30 am
Gardenside Room $12
Staff members Shelly Prescott and Connie Cottingham will demonstrate ways to use greenery and berries from your garden to decorate your home. Includes a full breakfast. Call 706-542-6138 to make reservations by November 22.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friends First Friday: Athens Music Project and Music at the State Botanical Garden
9:00-10:30 am, Gardenside Room $12
The Athens Music Project is a Willson Center Faculty Research Cluster co-directed by Susan Thomas, associate professor of music and women’s studies, and Jean Ngoya Kidula, associate professor of music and African studies. Susan Thomas will explain how the project provides a platform for research, creative development and shared expertise in, about, and for Athens’ diverse musical communities. Staff members Connie Cottingham and William Tonks will also talk about annual and upcoming concerts at the State Botanical Garden. Includes a full breakfast. Call 706-542-6138 to make reservations by Sep. 1.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Garden Travels: Gardens in the Côte d’Azur

November 5, 2016 – Clayton County Garden Symposium XI, Deer Resistant Plants we Love (with Mike Sikes)
The event will feature four sessions, including: 1) Design Elements of Clematis in the Garden by Lyndy Broder; 2) Deer Resistant Plants We Love by Connie Cottingham and Mike Sikes; 3) Trees of our Lives: Small Native Trees for the Landscape by Dawn Hines and 4) Can’t Contain your Love for Gardening? Container Ideas You Can Use by Buddy Lee. 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center in Jonesboro, Georgia. To register, contact Connie McDonald, Master Gardener, at connie@mcdonald-net.com. Registration is $35.00 until October 29, 2016. After that, the registration cost will be $40.00 until November 4, 2016. Space is limited and will not allow for walk-ins, so please register early. http://extension.uga.edu/calendar/event.cfm?pk_id=10432

October 2016 – Southern Gardens 101 Tele-summitSome Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants (with Mike Sikes)

Friday, October 7, 2016, 6:00 p.m. – Barnes & Noble, Athens, Meet a few of Georgia’s Native Plants

Friday, October 7, 2016 – State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Friends First Friday: Spring Bulbs (with Mike Sikes)

Monday, September 12, 2016 – Green Acres Garden Club, Athens
Our Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants (with Mike Sikes)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 – Athens Area Master Gardener Association
Our Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants (with Mike Sikes)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, UGA
Our Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants (with Mike Sikes)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – Bobbin Mill Garden Club
What’s New at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Monday, July 20, 2015
My Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants

March 17, 2015 – OLLI Garden Enthusiast Group
Benefits of Becoming a Friend of the Garden

February 18, 2015 – Rose and Dahlia Garden Club, Athens.

What’s Happening at the State Botanical Garden

Friday, December 5, 2014 – Polo Golf & Country Club, Cumming, GA

Winter Container Gardening demonstration


Join Connie Cottingham and Mike Sikes as they share useful tips on gardening in containers and recommend plants for sun or shade that will add season-long interest to your containers. Learn which shrubs, perennials, herbs, annuals, bulbs, even vegetables can create beautiful containers for your winter garden. This hands-on demonstration will inspire and entertain. 11:00 am. Email polowomensclub@gmail.com for reservations and information.

Friday, November 14, 2014 – The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens

Who were the Olmsteds and what is the Olmsted Legacy?


The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens

Open to the Public, $115 for full-day conference with lunch

Frederick Law Olmsted is the father of landscape architecture, and he is the father of two men who greatly influenced the profession. His adopted son John Charles (who was also a nephew) was 18 years older than Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Who were these three creative minds? Connie will give you short background into their lives, and then a few of today’s speakers will answer questions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Classic City Garden Club, Athens

Winter Container Gardening demonstration

October 3, 2014 – The State Botanical Garden of Georgia

FRIENDS First Friday: Arts in the Garden

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Visitor Center Downstairs, 9:00 – 10:30 am, $12

Open to the Public                            

A botanical garden is a perfect place to celebrate the Arts. Connie Cottingham will talk about many alliances formed that bring concerts, drama, sculpture, classes, exhibits, and our annual Student Art Competition to the Garden and our community. You will also experience a short performance from the Circle Ensemble, who will be performing Romeo and Juliet at the Garden October 3-5, and hear a bit about how they planned the play and set to be performed inside the Conservatory. This monthly event includes a full breakfast and an opportunity to meet new people while learning about the Garden, gardening or garden history.  Please make your reservation by Wednesday, October 1 by calling 706-542-9353 or register online at www.uga.edu/botgarden.

June 19, 2014 – Reynolds Plantation, Our Favorite Deer-Resistant Plants (with Mike Sikes)

March 4, 2014 – Peachtree City Garden Club, Deer Resistant Plants

November 12, 2013 – Piedmont Gardeners, Favorite Spring Bulbs with Mike Sikes

October 22, 2013 with Mike Sikes – Garden Travels, The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Quebec City and Les Quatre Vents

October 10, 2013 – Winder Garden Club, Winder GA – Favorite Spring Bulbs

October 2, 2013 with Mike Sikes – Rose Garden Club, Buckhead, Atlanta – England Gardens

October 1, 2013 with Mike Sikes – Class at The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, Gardening with Deer

Design Services:

I am a landscape architect, registered in Georgia. An hourly landscape consultation involves walking through your garden with you, giving advice on design, plants, circulation, colors, and lowering maintenance. It will be an interactive time that may include a to-do list or design sketches. Together we will discover ways that your outdoor spaces can best fit your life and satisfy you. $100/ hour, one hour minimum. $.50/mile travel compensation outside of Athens/Clarke and surrounding counties.

Landscape consultation with Mike Sikes, horticulturist and great at suggesting and identifying plants and plant maintenance, is $150/hour for the two of us. This truly is a better deal, since we bounce ideas off of each other and generate more options when we work together.

My Background:

I am a garden writer, speaker, landscape architect and a staff member of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia involved in Green Acres Garden Club, Athens Area Master Gardeners Association, and the Garden Writers Association. Other things that light me up are travel, design, art, books and friends. I love to meet new people, share information, and see new gardens. Putting my CV into paragraphs just doesn’t make sense, so here’s a quick outline:

Education, Awards:

Communicator of the Year, Georgia Green Industry Association, 2010.

Certificate in Native Plants, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, 2010.

Master Gardener, Georgia, 2001, Arkansas 1990.

Lifetime Master Gardener, 2011.

Certified Arborist training, 2002.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, University of Arkansas.

Writing Experience:

Published over 700 columns and articles in numerous newspapers and in Georgia EMC, Conifer Quarterly, History, Museum Store, Country Journal, Columbia County, Georgia Family and New South Gardener magazines and Gardeners Confidence website.

Garden Columns:

      Southern Distinction  www.southerndistinction.com

            A bimonthly garden column for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

 Previous Columns:

      Georgia Gardening  www.georgiagardening.com

            Only in Georgia column, plus online blog – through 2014.

LakeLife Magazine  www.msgr.com

Lee Magazine, Opelika, Alabama (2008-2011)

Morris News Service, based in Georgia (syndicated column 2004-2008)

 Athens Banner-Herald, Athens, Georgia (2004-2008)

 The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas (1994-2001)

Speaking Experience:

Presented numerous talks to clubs and organizations or as part of seminars including the 2014 Southern Garden Heritage Conference, 2010 National Conifer Society Annual Meeting, State Botanical Garden of Georgia Native Plant Symposium, Historic Houses Museum Workshop, Garden Club Landscape Design School, Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association Annual Meeting, and classes within University of Georgia Continuing Education Center and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.