Mary-Kate Mackey

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Eugene, Oregon 97405

Award-winning writer Mary-Kate Mackey offers dynamic talks in two areas of interest—the practical art of gardening and the garden writer’s craft. She has been a contributor to the Sunset Western Garden Book, and an adjunct journalism professor.

w: Hartley-Botanic Greenhouses "Rooting for You"

w: Christian Science Monitor Blog "On Water"

w: Mary-Kate Mackey's Teaching Video

e: view email marykatemackey@gmail.com


Mary-Kate Mackey presents a variety of practical horticultural subjects and she also leads talks and workshops on the garden writer’s craft. She is a popular flower show speaker, including Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the Boise Flower and Garden Show and Atlanta’s Southeastern Flower Show. She presented her Writer’s Workout program for the Garden Writer’s Association (GWA) in conjunction with the regional meeting at the 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show.


Co-author of Sunset’s Secret Gardens—153 Design Tips from the Pros, Mary-Kate has contributed to Sunset’s Gardening in the Northwest and the latest Sunset Western Garden Book. Her one-hundred-plus magazine articles have appeared in national publications such as Fine Gardening and Meredith’s Simply Perfect Perennials, as well as in Sunset and other regional magazines. In her on-going column “Rooting for You” at the Hartley-Botanic Greenhouse website, she covers a wide range of topics, from garden show reviews to why grafted vegetables will be the next big hit. She wrote a blog for the “Diggin’ It” section of the Christian Science Monitor concerning water use in the garden. She is the recipient of the GWA Silver Award of Achievement in magazine writing.


Living in Eugene, Oregon, Mary-Kate is an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication where she teaches feature writing. She is also the senior editor for the student essay magazine, The Back Page—for those who read the last page first. Her writing craft seminars and all-day workshops, have been well-received at GWA meetings and symposiums.



Wow, you made me a rock star in the garden club world! The presentation moved at a great pace with new information and a sense of intimacy. No wonder your bio looks so good. Thank you for your generosity and inspiration.

     Ruby Moon – Coordinator, Corvallis Garden Club


I found Mary-Kate’s workshop helpful not only for the tools she handed out for idea construction, but she also demystified so many steps in the writing process. Over the course of a fast few hours she gave everyone sitting around the table the full benefit of her enthusiasm and experience. Her teaching style is both incredibly efficient and spontaneous. She’s a natural.

     Kristin Green, Interpretive Horticulturist, Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum


Thanks so much for being our guest speaker on “Northwest Garden Styles.” Many of our members talked to me as they were leaving and mentioned how much they enjoyed your presentation. I especially appreciated the handout which helped me follow along and identify the plants you were featuring.

     Chris Johnson, Vice-President, Eugene Garden Club


Thank you so much for your superb presentation to the U of O’s Learning in Retirement-Creative Writing group. You gave us pertinent information we can certainly use. You were wonderful.

     Earl Hain, Coordinator, Learning in Retirement




Button-Down Plants--easy care plants that play well with others

Button-down plants don't flop all over their neighbors or require special care. They contribute to garden design and show interest in more than one season. This talk explores the range of these these tidy players from trees to vegetables and explains why every garden needs them.


Every Garden Tells a Story—behind the scenes with three published gardens

Here are tales and photographs of construction trials and triumphs that never made it to the magazines’ pages. Mary-Kate discusses the seven words horticulture publications never let her write—all dirt must be called soil—and why what’s left out may be the most important horticultural advice you’ll get. Includes tips to make your own garden ready for its close up.

Beauty in Bounds—successful container gardening

Mary-Kate talks about design and staging ideas that will make your next season’s container garden the best yet. From fool-proof formulas to creative problem solving, this slide presentation offers solutions to the conundrums of container gardening. Her plant choices include those that grow in water-filled pots for a lush look with less watering during the hottest time of the year.


Five Elements of Northwest Garden StyleBringing nature’s inspirations into your garden

What identifies a specific garden with a particular place? Just as the French word terroir explains how the taste of wines will vary from region to region, so too your garden should reflect the greater natural world around you. By examining five elements—geologic terrain, dominant plant cultures, agricultural heritage, weather watches and signature plants—you can discover new ways to think about how your backyard fits into the larger landscape. When your garden displays its own terroir, it also becomes more inviting and easier to maintain. Mary-Kate’s slide presentation draws upon examples in nature and shows how they are interpreted in various garden settings.


West Coast

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Audience Reviews

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You are a GREAT speaker.

Shauna Hill from Eugene, OR - 05/23/2013 19:45:13

Mary-Kate Mackey spoke to our Garden Club this month and wow-ed the audience. Most of our garden club members are Master Gardeners, so no an easy group to speak to unless you really know your stuff -- Mary Kate you know it and present it well. Thanks so much for all the useful information!

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Speaking on Transitions

Kristen McLain from FESTUS - 09/21/2011 20:43:55

I attended Mary-Kate's presentation at GWA 2011 on how transitions make articles flow better. She was dynamic, entertaining and I was impressed with her prep work. She had taken short paragraphs from all the articles she had written and printed them individually on our handouts--no two were alike. Then we broke into groups and created a short article using the transition methods she discussed to make coherent articles. It was a lot of fun.

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Carol Michel from Indianapolis, IN - 09/18/2011 14:58:21

I heard Mary Kate speak in Indianapolis about garden writing. She did an excellent job of engaging the audience and answering impromptu questions. I would go hear her speak anytime she was speaking near me.

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