Gardening tutor?

Hello neighbors! We just moved here from Brooklyn NY and I am a gardening novice, but would love to grow a green thumb. We moved into a house in west Berkeley with some beautiful bougainvillea and lilly of the nile . We have only been here a month and they are already looking sad, and definitely thriving! (they were much healthier when we moved in). We have watered a few times ( watered only after they started to fade) but they don’t seem to be perking up.

I was interested in working with someone who could help me save the existing flowers, teach me the ropes on maintenance and possibly help with growing a few more things. 

Do gardening tutors exist? Or anyone know a gardener  who would be interested in teaching a little maintenance to someone who currently has a black thumb? Thanks in advance for any thoughts/suggestions!

julie , mom to S, 3.5 yo 

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RE: Gardening tutor? ()

If you take some photos of your plants and their surroundings, the people at Berkeley Horticulture are really nice and love talking to you about your current plants and their care! You can stop almost staff person and they are very knowledgeable, and if they don't know the answer they will bring you to the person that does!

RE: Gardening tutor? ()

My gardener, Sandra Nevala-Lee, has worked with home-school parents with gardening. She also worked with my grandkids and their parents. Please feel free to call her (I asked her) or email her. She owns a company called Green Thumb Works. She can do in-person or online sessions. 

tel. 510.502.0992

greenthumbworks [at]

RE: Gardening tutor? ()

It might not be exactly what you're looking for, but if you have specific questions and want to chat with someone about them, the Alameda County Master Gardener Program has a free help desk/email ( I've found them to be really helpful, and it's a cool program.

I'm also curious what others have to say about great local gardening help.

RE: Gardening tutor? ()

I will be reading your responses with interest and feel you! I too felt I needed a gardening tutor (and maybe still do) when we moved in to our home with a lovely backyard 7 years ago. Things have gotten much much better and I’ve learned a ton (mostly from my mother in law and also lots of trial and error)

Anyways, I was just writing to say August is a tough month in the garden and the plants may just look less happy because it is deep summer. Especially with the drought setting in deeply. We moved into our home in March six years ago and by August of that year  I thought I had killed everything - only to see it all perk up in late September. Not sure if this will be your situation…

also I have a bougainvillea - they do benefit from being pruned - taking off the dead non flowering branches… mine had a tough year because I think the temps dipped really low in January and they don’t like to be that cold…but it seems to be recovering now…but both the plants you mentioned (bougainvillea and lily of the Nile)should be pretty low water - so that might not be the issue? Not sure, all gardens are different. 

hope this rambling was a little bit helpful!

Good luck!