Collect. Cultivate. Curate.
Excellence in Plant Collections Management Symposium

October 16-18 I Vancouver, Canada
Hosted by: UBC Botanical Garden and VanDusen Botanical Garden in partnership with Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association


Tuesday, Oct 16

Sea-to-Sky Optional Tour FULL

8:00 am – 5:00 pm, meet in hotel lobby at 7:45am
Tour leaders: Laura Caddy and Daniel Mosquin
For more information, click here.
Bus departs/returns to hotel, boxed lunch provided

GIS for Public Gardens: Enterprise Solutions Optional Workshop FULL

UBC Robson Square
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, meet in hotel lobby at 12:30pm

Workshop Leaders: Brian Morgan and Joe Charap
UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver – about a 10 mins walk from the hotel.
This half-day workshop builds on the foundation of our previous offerings to demonstrate how a geographic information system (GIS) can be employed by your entire organization. Participants will learn how to use Esri’s ArcGIS for Parks and Gardens solution to create a cloud-based GIS that works in harmony with your plant records system, and allows you to track operations and share interpretive information with visitors. You will also learn about essential GIS concepts, funding options, staffing strategies, field data collection techniques, support resources, and success stories that will inform the launch or enhancement of your landscape management mapping system.

Welcome Mixer 

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

1227 Granville Street, 4 mins walk from hotel

Dinner on your own.

Wednesday, Oct 17

Full breakfast included with hotel booking, or breakfast on your own

7:30 am Buses depart hotel for UBC


Morning Sessions will be held at Chan Centre Cinema, UBC Campus, 6265 Crescent Road, and live streamed to a virtual audience.
Live Stream Viewing Requirements | CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Welcome & Orientation

8:00 am – 8:30 am 

Adapting a World-Renowned Botanic Garden to Climate Change: Landscape Succession Strategy, Melbourne Gardens 2016 – 2036

8:30 am – 9:30am
Keynote Presenter: Chris Cole
Melbourne Gardens in Australia contains plant collections of 48,000 specimens of 8,000 taxa from across the globe. Melbourne’s climatic predictions for 2070 indicate significantly hotter and drier conditions. In response to these threats, and to manage the risk of diminishing water supplies and an aging tree population, the Gardens have developed a Landscape Succession Strategy. The Strategy will guide transition of the existing landscape towards the projected climate of 2070, while retaining heritage character, species diversity and green space for future generations.

Climate Adaptation, Assisted Migration, and Ex Situ Conservation

9:30 am – 10:15 am
Presenter: Sally Aitken
Leading UBC forest geneticist will discuss latest research using genomics for understanding and improving tree adaptation to climate change. Genome sequencing and analysis can inform conservation strategies employing assisted gene flow and migration. These and other tools are providing methods to accurately measure progress in reaching goals to conserve genetic diversity.

Perspectives on Plant Collecting

10:15 am – 11:45 am
Moderator: Pam Allenstein
Panelists: Andrew Bunting, Holly Forbes, Douglas Justice, Cat Meholic 

Interested in organizing or joining a plant expedition? Gain insights from those with diverse experiences in domestic and international plant collecting. We'll hear how each got involved, and what opportunities and challenges they see ahead. Learn tips on recruiting a cohesive team, finding local partners, researching populations, obtaining permissions and permits, and more.

Lunch and Campus Walk

11:45 am – 1:40 pm
Breakout groups eat box lunch in rose garden or Chan Centre foyer. Meet at flagpole for staggered departures.

Rotating Sessions:

1:45 pm – 3:45 pm
Breakout groups rotate through all four sessions at various campus locations in UBC Botanical Garden:

1) Verification Processes for Wild vs Cultivated Collections

Presenters: Michael Dosmann, Ben Stormes, Boyce Tankersley, Ricky Levy
Verification is a fun and engaging way to get to know your collection. Visit with other professional public gardens leaders to learn first-hand their philosophies, approaches, and tools-of-the-trade to verify both cultivated and wild taxa. Bring your questions and prepare for a group discussion at the end.

2) Improving Your Curator Tour

Presenter: Daniel Mosquin and Yukiko Stranger-Galey
What are the challenges in interpreting plants and collections in an inclusive and sensitive manner? Drawing upon experiences with Botany Photo of the Day and UBC's recent interpretative signage, UBC staff will share stories and tips that may help with a more considered and empathetic approach to sharing information.

3) Vancouver Trees Mobile App

Presenter: Douglas Justice
Try out this educational outreach tool developed by Douglas Justice at UBC Botanical Garden. The app provides images and descriptions of nearly 1,000 trees suitable for the Vancouver Metro area searchable by name and id features. It also includes mapped locations of significant trees in Vancouver.

4) Novel Technologies in Field Collecting

Presenter: Andy Hill
Participants are introduced to new technologies being used in wild plant collecting and other botanical field work. Drone technology recently utilized by UBC, in partnership with international collaborators, will be showcased through lecture, question-and-answer, and multimedia demonstrations. App technology for data capture in the field will also demonstrated and discussed.

Tour UBC Botanical Garden/Free Time

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm
Consult map to locate curatorial stations.

Poster Session & Evening Reception

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Old Barn Community Centre, UBC Campus, 6308 Thunderbird Blvd
Appetizers and drinks will be provided
7:45 pm
Buses depart for Residence Inn Downtown Vancouver

Thursday, Oct 18

Full breakfast included with hotel booking, or breakfast on your own

7:30 am Buses depart hotel for VanDusen


Morning Sessions will be held in Visitor Centre Great Hall

Host Welcome & Orientation

8:15 am – 8:30 am

Curating Through a Different Lens: Biocultural Collections and Traditional Knowledge

8:30 am – 10:00 am
Moderator: Rhoda Maurer
Panelists: Verna Pepeyla Miller, Nancy Turner, Michael DeMotta, Sadafumi Uchiyama

Thinking about plant collections at public gardens through the lens of biocultural diversity requires us to start thinking and practicing curation differently.  It requires us to look at the ethics of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights across a global spectrum.  Deeper still, it requires us to have a more holistic view and collaborative practice around acquisitions, consent, ownership and relationships grounded in context. 

Prioritization for Plant Collection Planning and Utilization

10:00 am – 11:00 am
Moderator: Kristina Aguilar
Panelists: Tony Aiello, Rowan Blaik, Ray Larson, Cindy Newlander, Martin Nicholson

A thorough examination of your institution’s plant collection during a prioritization review allows you to determine its strengths.  These findings can inform planning, programming, disaster preparedness, and PCN accreditation.  A panel of five curatorial professionals will share why prioritization is institutionally beneficial, and how the information can be utilized.

Public Gardens as Sentinels Against Invasive Species

11:00am – 12:00pm
Presenters: Theresa Culley & Kurt Dreisilker
As locations where plants from around the world are displayed, public gardens offer a unique opportunity to identify plants beginning to spread from cultivation, signaling their potential for invasive tendencies.  Gardens should document and share this information to help prevent further plant invasions – you can help in this process.

Lunch Buffet

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Floral Hall, Admin Building

Rotating Sessions:

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Split into groups, rotating through all three sessions in Admin Building & Visitor Centre:

1) Display Labels: Best Practices & Tools

Presenters: Sara Helm Wallace & Jaime Frye
The Plant Nomenclature and Taxonomy Community has created a reference guide of the products and companies that member institutions use to purchase or produce their labels. Community leaders will discuss the findings of this project and field questions on current labeling best practices.

2) Curatorial Ethical Conundrums in Biocultural Collections & Traditional Knowledge

Presenter: Alex Henderson
Small groups will discuss scenarios delving into ethical "gray zones" facing curators. Conflicting resource and land use rights, generating revenue from collections, safeguarding traditional knowledge and intellectual rights, ramifications of opportunistic collecting, collaborating with indigenous peoples, curating sacred objects, and equitable sharing of benefits will be explored.

3) Disaster Preparedness for Living Collections: An Interactive Thinktank

Facilitator: Peter Zale
This interactive think tank will gather ideas used to create a template for institution-specific disaster preparedness plans for living plant collections and associated documentation at public gardens.  We'll discuss and outline issues related to preventative maintenance and real-time decision making before and after a disaster has occurred.

Town Hall 

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm
Reconvene in Visitor Centre Great Hall
Presenters: Cindy Newlander & Sara Helm Wallace

Tour VanDusen Botanical Garden/Free Time

3:45 – 5:00 pm
Guides available to visit curatorial stations

5:00 pm Buses depart for Residence Inn Downtown Vancouver

Dinner on your own

Friday, Oct 19


Advanced Collection Management with IrisBG Optional Workshop FULL

8:00 am – 11:00 am
Residence Inn Vancouver Downtown, Gatehouse East
Workshop Leaders: Havard Ostgaard & Greg Payton

Keeping track of a few plants can be achieved using a simple spreadsheet. However, with a larger collection, the spreadsheet approach quickly becomes cumbersome. Moreover, if you want to keep accurate records and track the constant changes in your collection and record detailed scientific information about your plant material, even a more advanced plant record system can become unwieldy and frustrating. In our workshop, we will introduce you to the basic workings of IrisBG and quickly move to more advanced topics such as changing nomenclature, recording hybrids, tracking propagation, avoiding duplicate data, reorganizing plant beds, etc. We will also try to cover any topics that are requested by the workshop delegates. During the workshop, we will demonstrate how IrisBG provides a number of unique capabilities to deal with the more complex challenges of plant collection management.