Member Education (NGC Schools)

learning graphic
Are you interested in sponsoring or attending a school?   Go to the “Sponsoring a School” tab below for details.
CGCI offers gardening-related courses developed by National Garden Clubs, Inc. The curriculum for these courses has been tested around the country and perfected & refined to impart the most important information in the least amount of time.   The courses are open to anyone.  
  • For information on schools and refreshers currently scheduled in California go to the CGCI Calendar and click on the CGCI Official Calendar view. For additional information go to NGC Schools
  • As an accredited consultant, you are encouraged to join the California Consultants Council and flower show judges may join a local Judges Council.
Chairman:   Cynthia Jackson,

global clip artA series of four (4) Courses, eleven hours each.   Each course is divided into learning units designed to be interesting, informative and to outline positive actions we can all pursue to be good stewards of The Living Earth.   Courses are open to all interested people who may attend any or all of them for personal growth.   Objective is to further the awareness and understanding of the environment and to promote environmental literacy, through outreach programs, for citizens of every age.   Only NGC members may take the exam (open book) for credit toward the nationally accredited designation, NGC Environmental Consultant.

The mission statement of the Environmental Schools is to teach environmental literacy to cherish, protect and conserve the living earth. The courses teach participants environmental literacy, appreciation of the natural world encourages action for sustainable development and appreciation for the interrelation of all-natural things. Particular emphasis is presently placed on land conservation, water conservation and air quality.

The Living Earth Environmental Schools are composed of a minimum of forty hours of study of specific units divided into four Courses of ten hours, each of which includes a two-hour field trip. The Courses investigate AIR, LAND and WATER. The units are divided into Ecology and Environmental Science, Life on Earth and Earth Stewardship. Environmental Studies Schools are open to everyone, whether or not they are garden club members. A member of NGC, Inc. may take the exams to be an Environmental Consultant and may become a member of the Environmental Consultants Council in his/her home state. However, the Consultant Card is only issued to members of NGC. A non-member student who has successfully completed the four Courses may apply for a Consultant Card upon joining a NGC member garden club within one year after completing the four Courses. Certificates of Achievement may be awarded to non-NGC students attending the four Courses.

Chairman:   Jennifer Waite,
A general course of study for members, exhibitors and judges.   Come and join us for Flower Show School!   It’s not only for prospective flower show exhibitors and judges, but also for all garden club members and all persons interested in flower design and horticulture. While the primary purpose of these courses is to train those wishing to become flower show judges, many people attend for information only and those people do not have to take the examinations!
A series of four intensive courses (approx. two days each in length) that cover the principles of horticulture and floral design.plant in ground
Horticulture Curriculum:   The horticulture curriculum consists of basic general information on proper gardening techniques from seed / plant selection to plant culture and control of problems. Information is also presented on cultural needs of specific perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, as well as fruits, vegetables and nuts and how to grow superior container plants.
lady creating flower arrangement
Design Instruction:   Design instruction covers traditional floral arrangements through contemporary styles and even designs incorporating lights and motors. Many attendees are particularly interested in table setting designs showing coordination of floral centerpiece, linens and dishes. Vignettes, small segments of rooms, also give ideas on interior decorating.   After successful completion of the four courses and after   passing the reading exam, a member may become an accredited judge.
Advanced Study for Judges:   Symposium is an in-depth course of design, horticulture and allied subjects pertaining to flower shows that is more advanced than presented in Flower Show Schools.  
  • These courses are primarily intended for Flower Show Judges to maintain their credentials, but all garden club members interested in learning more about flower shows, floral design and horticulture are encouraged to attend.
  • All NGC Accredited Flower Show Judges are required to attend NGC Symposiums in order to remain in Good Standing. Good Standing is necessary if a judge wishes to continue judging and evaluating flower shows.
  • By attending and passing all Point Scoring Examinations, a judge advances from Accredited Judge to Accredited Life Judge and finally Accredited Master Judge.

Flower Show Judges Councils

Once you become an accredited Flower Show Judge you may join a JUDGES COUNCIL.

  • California has seven councils whose members are dedicated to upholding the judging standards and policies of NGC.
  • The Councils are organized by local areas that may be geographically different than CGCI Districts
  • Each Council elects a chairman and may have individual bylaws, dues or other organizational rules.
  • Individual judges may belong to more than one Council.
  • Combined meetings of all the judges’ councils may be held at symposium and CGCI conventions.
  • To locate a Council in your area, contact the Judges Council Liaison

Chairman: Greg Pokorski –

Learn about horticulture and the art of gardening: garden toolsA series of 4 courses may be sponsored by a member club, a group of member clubs, a district or CGCI.

After successful completion of four courses a member may become an accredited gardening consultant. Objectives are to stimulate an interest in horticulture and to further the art of gardening. Check the CGCI Calendar for Schools and Refreshers. In each of the four courses there are six different classes for a total of ten hours of instruction developed by National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC).

These courses are designed to:

  • Stimulate interest in the growth of plant materials to their peak of perfection.
  • Give the students an understanding of how and why a plant grows.
  • Teach soil structure and methods for making the soil more productive.
  • Lend an understanding as to why plants react to certain weather conditions and how to modify these conditions to encourage optimum growth.
  • Provide an understanding of commercial and natural pest and disease control agents, growth regulators and other substances used in general horticultural practices.
  • Illustrate methods of plant propagation.
  • Offer methods and instruction in plant identification.
  • Explore growing techniques for garden plants, vegetables, fruits, houseplants, trees and shrubs and specialized styles of gardening.
  • Develop a respect for and appreciation of plants and their roles in our human lives and activities.

Requirements for Course Credit:

  • A Series of Courses must be approved by the State Federation or Garden Club Board (CGCI) and the State Gardening Schools Chairman, in accordance with National Garden Clubs requirements, before any courses are given.
  • All Courses must be registered with and approved by the NGC Accrediting Chairman for Gardening Study Schools.
  • At least two accredited instructors are required for each course.

Requirements to become a NGC Gardening Consultant:

  • Complete all four Gardening Study School courses (and pass all required exams).
  • Be a member of an NGC-affiliated garden club. All CGCI garden clubs are members of National Garden Clubs!
Chairman:   Alexis Slafer –
welcome gateA series of four (4) Landscape Design Study Courses with a Landscape Design Critics card issued upon successful completion of the series.   Objectives are to promote awareness and understanding of the principles and theories of landscape design, site planning and landscaping, as well as the ordinances, zoning restrictions and codes developed by government agencies for good land use development.   The public is welcome at any or all of the courses.
“Newscape” –   a bi-annual publication of National Garden Clubs, Inc. Landscape Design Schools & Councils. The publication communicates objectives of the Landscape Design Study Program along with relevant information from School Chairmen, region and state reports and stories about related subjects such as pollinators and winter drought.    Go to NGC Publications to view/download the back issues

Landscape design is the planned modification of the land for the use and enjoyment of people. Good designs are the result of the design process, incorporating the principles and elements of design. Landscape design is primarily concerned with the allocation and design of outdoor space; where good solutions provide adequate and well-defined spaces for all of the intended uses.   Remember, every design a designer creates is unique. Using the basic principles of landscape design will ensure the creation of a functional and beautiful garden and landscape.

When evaluating the gardens, consider the following:

      • First Impression: An emotional & personal response to a new scene or familiar place seen in an unexpected way.
      • Purpose: There are 2 broad categories within the design: function & aesthetics. The function is the use or service a design provides.
      • Aesthetics is based upon the user’s response to the garden in relation to the principles of design. A successful design simultaneously meets functional requirements & satisfies aesthetic concerns.
      • Function: To meet the functional requirements, the site must be suitable for the purpose of the landscape design. This evaluation takes into consideration natural, cultural, and economic factors.
      • Design: Aesthetic: The aesthetic aspect is evaluated on the basis of the elements & principles of design.
      • Execution of the Design: The success of a garden design is dependent on the quality of its execution; that includes grading, drainage, construction, and planting.
      • Maintenance: The long-term success of all landscape designs (hardscape & softscape) is the quality of the maintenance it receives, in response to changes over time.
      • Final Impression: This impression and the first impression may be similar or completely different. In either case, while the final impression is still an emotional and/or personal response, it is likely to be the more valid opinion because it is based upon comparison, evaluation, and knowledge.

Elements of Design:

  • Line: defines edges and divides areas
  • Form: the shape or silhouette of an object
  • Texture: the surface quality of an object
  • Color “ created by light; have characteristics of brightness and opacity
  • Pattern “ the arrangement of forms (often the repetition of a 2-dimensional motif across a surface)
  • Mass & Void “
    Mass = 3-dimensional object in space
    Void = space that surrounds a mass or space surrounded by a mass
  • Light & Shadow “
    Light = creates the bright & shining parts of a design
    Shadow = parts untouched by light, create the dark parts of a design

Principles of Design:

  • Proportion “ the relative amount of one element to one or more of the other elements
  • Harmony “ (also known as unity) results from the repetition of form, shape, color, texture, or like elements within a composition.
  • Scale “ the size of the design in proportion to its surroundings and the relationship to the viewer or user.
  • Contrast “ introduction of an unlike element, serving to emphasize the similarity of the other elements.
  • Balance “ (symmetrical or asymmetrical — may be bilateral or radial symmetry) requires the manipulation and distribution of mass and space so that a visual effect of equilibrium and stability is achieved.
  • Rhythm “ (associated with harmony) a break in the regular repetition of form, shape, color, or texture.
  • Composition “ A combination of visual balance, emphasis, and continuity to create the whole.
  • Spatial Definition “ application of the principles and elements of design to create volumes and articulate and enrich outdoor space and manipulate the emotions of the viewer and/or user.
  • Context “ the set of existing conditions in which a landscape design is situated.



For Schools currently scheduled go to the CGCI Official Calendar
Groups wishing to sponsor one of the four NGC schools may apply to the Educational Schools Finance Chairman for a grant.  
Submit with proposed budget for the course to the Chairman listed on the form
Grants are available for all courses of a school.
Each course requires a separate application and proposed budget.
After assessment and processing the Treasurer will mail a check to the applicant.
A financial report must be submitted after the event.
If the event is profitable, repayment or partial repayment, of the grant is appreciated.   Grants for ensuing courses of the school will not be considered until the financial statement from the previous course has been received by the Educational Schools Finance Chairman with copies to the President, Financial Secretary and appropriate CGCI School Chairman.