Susan Appleget Hurst

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1603 Evans St Des Moines, Iowa 50315

Susan is a Midwest-based home gardening expert, specializing in creative solutions for container, herb, vegetable and ornamental design. A warm and engaging presenter, Susan leaves her audience feeling inspired and ready to 'play' with plants.

w: Cake In The Garden, LLC - speaking and writing of gardens

e: view email susan@cakeinthegarden.com

Additional Information

Susan's recent how-to on hardy succulents in up-cycled terra cotta in Fall 2013 Country Gardens.



Susan Appleget Hurst began her garden communications career in 2000 by publishing IowaGardener.com, and The Iowa Gardener’s Guide. Her columns and stories have appeared in The Des Moines Register and Iowa Gardener, and from 2003 through 2010 she wrote and edited for Meredith magazines, notably Country Gardens, Garden Shed, and Better Homes and Gardens. Susan still regularly contributes to Country GardensGarden Ideas, and Easy Garden Projects, both published by Meredith Corporation. She has also served as a judge for the APLD Landscape Design Awards international competition and the American Horticulture Society Book awards. Susan still produces and writes for gardening publications, and she speaks at garden shows and symposia. 


Susan Appleget Hurst is a speaker and freelance producer and writer of location and project stories for national magazines, such as Easy Garden Projects, REFRESH magazine, Garden Ideas magazine and Country Gardens magazine (Meredith Corp.), Flea Market Style and Flea Market Gardens magazines (Harris), and Iowa Gardener (State-by-State Gardening.)

A former garden editor at the Meredith Corporation, she produced, wrote, and edited garden stories for Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens magazine, and was editor of Garden Shed magazine. Susan was also the publisher and editor of IowaGardener.com, the first online subscription-based resource for gardening hobbyists in the state.  A contributor to The Des Moines Register, Susan wrote a weekly garden advice column during 2001-2003, and is a former co-host on the live call-in show, Gardening Today, on Newsradio 1040 WHO in Des Moines.

Susan has made several guest appearances on Living the Country Life on RFD-TV, many guest spots on radio and television stations in the Midwest, and she continues to speak at consumer garden shows and symposia. Speaking engagements include International Master Gardener Conference (2015); Lauritzen Antiques and Garden Show (2015); Omaha Flower and Garden Show (2013); St. Louis Garden Symposium (2009); Memphis Antiques, Garden & Gourmet Show (2008); Columbus Flower and Garden Show (2008); Boise Flower and Garden Show (2006); and many events in Iowa. Susan has enjoyed presenting to audiences of up to 450, and as few as 6.

In January 2013, Susan completed a three-year term on the judging committee of the American Horticulture Society National Book Awards (2 years as chair), and is also a past judge on the APLD International Landscape Design Awards (2009.) Susan served as treasurer on the board of Women, Food and Agriculture Network 2010-2013.

A Certified Master Gardener in Iowa, and a graduate of the Introductory Sommelier Course at the Court of Master Sommeliers, Susan manages to find fun in her work every day. 


From Plate to Plate: Growing and Using Herbs

Herbs are the natural next step for the legion of 'foodies' to become acquainted with growing their own edibles. Easier and less demanding to grow than most vegetables, the flavor of fresh herbs inspires even non-gardeners to learn more about growing food gardens. Susan Appleget Hurst, a Master Gardener in Iowa and former garden editor at Better Homes and Gardens and other magazines, takes you through a crash course on growing culinary herbs. You'll also pick up harvesting and preserving tips and a few basic recipes that make it simple to enjoy herbs every day of the year.


Plants on the Page: Garden Design Lessons From Magazines

Alternative title: Garden Design Without Blueprints

All those pretty pictures in garden magazines are beautifully inspiring, but how do you turn that inspiration into a garden that works for your yard? Hint: you don't start with graph paper or a color wheel! Susan Appleget Hurst, a Master Gardener in Iowa and former garden editor at Better Homes and Gardens and other magazines, shares the lessons she learned about garden design from scouting hundreds of gardens. She’ll break down the elements of all those ‘pretty pictures’ to help you develop your own garden design sense—and you know more than you think you do!

40 Fast and Fabulous Ideas for Outdoor Decor

H​old on to your hats for this one​!​ ​G​et 40 ​great garden and outdoor decor and design ideas ​that you can put together yourself. ​S​ee simple ways to repurpose household and hardware items​,​ cool ways to use plants in pots​,​ and ingenious ideas for expressing your creative side outdoors​.


Presentations with hands-on workshops are also popular:

Little Landscapes (fairy and miniature gardens)

Plant to Plate: Herb Recipes To Use Every Day (butters, vinegars, baking, etc)

Cracked-Pot Succulent Gardens (combining broken terra cotta and succulents)

Fairy Globe Gardens (miniature gardens in a 9" glass globe)

Thimble Gardens (a miniature garden in a 4-inch terra cotta pot with a permanent hardscape)



While Susan served as garden editor at Garden Shed, Country Gardens, and Better Homes & Gardens, she spoke at symposiums all over the country, and is still open to traveling anywhere from her home in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo Gallery

Appleget Hurst

Audience Reviews

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Des Moines County Master Gardeners

Mary Saxton from Burlington , Iowa - 10/25/2016 17:52:05

Susan was the presenter at our Fall Seminar Oct. 22, 2016. The overwhelming response from attendees was positive. Some the comments: Excellent speaker, presenter was knowledgeable, funny and willing to answer questions,please have her back!

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ISU Polk County Master Gardener

Margaret Spikes from Des Moines, Iowa - 09/15/2016 22:22:54

When 90% of my surveys come back with some sort of response about the speaker ("excellent!" "very engaging and informative" "great presentation" "lots of good information" "great speaker!" "I learned a lot"), I know I chose wisely. Thank you not only for taking the time to speak but also for your generosity. The visuals and hands-on reinforced the great information, as noted in two of the comments: "just what I needed to get started" and "I might just have to plant a terrarium". It is always wonderful to hear you speak--you have fun tidbits of advice and humor that make me and others want to be better gardeners.

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Great Presenter

John Sjolinder from Mason City, IA - 08/10/2016 12:11:06

Susan Appleget Hurst did a great job for us for our workshop. We used her as our Keynote Speaker and she did a great job of setting the tone for the day. Engaging and delightful!

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