Wednesday, September 27th

7:15 – 9:00am: Check-in at the Registration Table

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

7:30 – 8:30am: Breakfast

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

8:00 – 9:15am: Tours of the Horticulture and Facilities Departments at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (pre-registration required)

Location: Depart from Wells Barn Main Level

9:30 – 10:00 am: Symposium Welcome & Icebreaker

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

10:00 – 11:00am The State of Horticulture Training in Public Gardens: Findings, Challenges, and Solutions

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Carissa Dougherty, Head of Knowledge Management, Morton Arboretum

Competent, highly engaged staff are at the heart of any successful garden of the future. And providing experiences for learning and professional growth are important ways to engage and empower employees. But as gardens experience more turnover, formal horticulture programs continue to disappear, and supervisors are increasingly pressed for time, it is becoming more and more difficult to hire, onboard, and train people effectively and efficiently. How are different public gardens addressing these challenges at their own organizations? What skills do garden staff need to develop, and what are the best ways to deliver that training? What can gardens do to improve these processes for new hires (and their supervisors)? This presentation will address these questions by sharing the results of the ‘State of Horticulture Training’ survey conducted among American Public Garden Association and ArbNet members in early 2023.

11:15 – 11:45 am Concurrent Sessions

Stormwater Management: A Key Design Principle in the Creation of Houston Botanic Garden

Location: AEP Foundation Education Pavilion Speaker: Brent Moon, Horticulture Manager, Houston Botanic Garden

At Houston Botanic Garden we proudly boast about our Stormwater Wetlands Garden, a roughly 3-acre stretch of land along the Sims Bayou meander located next to our main garden entrance. It consists of three connected stormwater retention basins that have been planted with native aquatic plants. As the primary catch-all for stormwater runoff we have incorporated multiple green infrastructural tools to aid in the collection of stormwater runoff directly into these basins. HBG’s (Houston Botanic Garden) Stormwater Wetlands Garden has become a habitat for a wide range of animals and plants alike, as well as a tool for mitigating climate change and increasing urbanization. With flooding being another major issue in Houston, TX the necessity for man-made Wetlands, a recreation of what this land used to be, is a top priority for a more sustainable future regarding water management.

Cultivating a Fruitful Direction for Short Term Volunteers

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Win Fox, Senior Horticulturist, Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has a solid base of volunteers who help us in keeping the Conservatory looking its best. We had a great working relationship with short-term volunteer groups, helping them accomplish a task that needs more hand than we have on staff. When they volunteer we aim to have them be engaged, interested, as well as feel impactful and connected to each other and the conservatory. Our hope is that through this effort we will build a stronger and larger community of volunteers that help to support the conservatory. For some who volunteer with us it is their first interaction with the conservatory or they haven’t been to the conservatory in a while. This makes our time with them even more important as they could bring in many people and other corporations to support the conservatory in the future.

Insight into Public Garden Integrated Pest Management

Location: Wells Barn Lower Level Speaker: Braley Burke, IPM Specialist, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an important and customizable part of horticulture. Each greenhouse or garden has unique requirements and objectives that they take into consideration when developing an IPM program. In the summer and fall of 2022, I asked members of APGA to answer questions about their IPM objectives and management strategies, including pesticide goals and how pesticides are selected, and how biological control is used at their organizations. This presentation discusses survey results to help public gardens understand how their practices compare with others, and hopefully open discussions on achieving and maintaining common goals. The presentation will also provide a brief overview of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ approach to IPM which focuses on sustainable pest management solutions. This includes a focus on biological control, utilization of volunteers for pest removal, staff education, and coming up with creative solution.

12:00 – 12:30pm: Lunch

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

12:30-1:30pm Public Gardens for All People: A Conversation About Relevance

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Mae Lin Plummer, Director, IDEA Center for Public Gardens

The joy and wonder cultivated by public gardens and the protection of biodiversity must include human connection and a sense of belonging. Our purpose has shifted from exclusivity to inclusivity because we want to connect more people to plants and nature so that everyone can help become part of environmental solutions. We need to explore the relevance and sustainability of public gardens by understanding what it means to create a sense of belonging and what spaces for “all” means. Public gardens are places that intersect with many aspects of society today that extend beyond academic endeavors and pleasure. Yet for many people in the communities where we reside, they do not know we exist, or they do not believe they belong in them. This session will engage the audience in an exploratory and meaningful dialogue about belonging, barriers, opportunities, and solutions, empowering participants to take action.

1:45 – 2:45pm The Leaf: Construction of a New Conservatory

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Gerald Dieleman, Senior Director of Horticulture, Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Since it opened last December, an expansive new horticultural attraction known simply as The Leaf has been inviting Winnipeg visitors to come in from out of the cold to enjoy a tantalizing taste of the tropics. The Leaf is the focal point of the most innovative and significant horticultural development undertaken in Canada in generations. With the Park’s original conservatory at the end of its useful lifespan, there was a desire to replace it with something new, modern, and relevant. Assiniboine Park Conservancy had an opportunity to create an entirely new horticultural-themed attraction, something uniquely Canadian with a modern purpose that celebrates the world’s natural and cultural diversity. Surrounded by over 30 acres of new public gardens and greenspace, The Leaf is visually stunning and authentically unique. The innovative design and materials also optimize solar gain, providing visitors with a transcendent and immersive experience, while creating optimal growing conditions for thousands of plants flourishing in four uniquely beautiful biomes.

3:00 – 4:00pm Staffing Solutions & Best Practices to Support New Staff

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speakers: Lorilin Meyer, Jessica Rodriguez, and Chester Jankowski, Horticulturists, Chicago Botanic Garden and Chase Williams, Horticulture Manager, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

A team of horticulturists at different job levels at the Chicago Botanic Garden will share their experience being hired and promoted, with the goal that their shared experiences will help inform supervisors and managers on how to best orient new and rising staff members. They will highlight positive aspects of the process, as well as offer recommendations for what could be added to make the experience smoother and more successful. Additionally, we will hear how staffing structures have changed and evolved over the years at Franklin Park. This will include discussion on troubleshooting the shifts we are seeing in jobseekers, and how we account for a workforce that is aging out and close to retirement. Survival through master planning major projects is difficult, and also impacts staffing. What is the difference between the lifelong employee and the temporary employee in the Botanical Gardens world, and most importantly, how do you retain them and keep them engaged?

4:15 – 5:00pm Roundtable Discussions

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

Connect with your peers over a guided discussion of current horticulture, greenhouses, and facilities topics.

5:00 – 6:30pm Explore Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on your own

6:00 – 6:30pm Dinner at the Franklin Park Palm House

7:00 – 8:00pm Palm House History and Future Direction

Speakers: Bruce Harkey, President & CEO, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Michael Bongiorno, Managing Principal & Design Director, AECOM

Thursday, September 29th

7:30 – 8:30am Breakfast

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

8:00 – 9:15am Tours of the Horticulture and Facilities Departments at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (pre-registration required)

Location: Depart from Wells Barn Main Level

9:30 – 10:30am Making the Move to Green Equipment

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Robert Graham, Land Steward, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill

New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill began making the move to green equipment in 2019 when we purchased our first commercial grade electric mower. Since that time, we’ve been working to convert our entire fleet of garden maintenance equipment to electric, evaluating equipment for ease of use, availability, power, capability, and ergonomics prior to purchase. This work directly supports the objectives for sustainability outlined in our 2020 strategic plan. In 2022, we were recognized as the first botanic garden in the country to be certified as a Green Zone by the American Green Zone Alliance. This session will outline the challenges and lessons learned in making this operational change.

10:45 – 11:15am Concurrent Sessions

Conservation of Biological Controls

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Maxwell Kotelnicki, Horticulturist, Atlanta Botanical Garden

Pitcher plants (Sarracenia species) are major components of the southeastern wetland flora. As a core collection of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, these species’ ability to elevate a wetland garden into a unique biodiversity hotspot maximizes their display and educational value. Passive predators, pitcher plants have evolved to form modified leaves containing fluid to aid in digestion of captured prey. In turn, these plants become a microhabitat home to a range of bacteria and fungi essential to nutrient absorption, while also hosting a range of parasitic species and opportunistic feeders. Closer observation of these interactions has become an important horticulture tool in understanding the benefits of shifting landscape management procedures to include the conservation of biological controls. Allowing the web of life to unfold around these species helps strengthen their vitality and sustainability simply by working with nature’s proclivity for effective pest management. Our presentation will explore these exciting relationships and encourage an ecological perspective to horticulture while developing and maintaining visually captivating gardens.

Peat in Horticulture: Its Uses, Challenges, and Alternatives

Location: Wells Barn Lower Level Speaker: Dr. Brian Jackson, NC State University Department of Horticulture

Whether you are a home gardener or a professional plant producer, the use of soilless substrates (potting soils) are essential in the production of many ornamental and edible crops. Like all agricultural inputs, there is increased interest and pressure on growing media to be more sustainable and efficient to grow our plants. This presentation will highlight the current state of the growing media industry for professional and hobby markets, discuss the use of peat and other non-peat products, and give a glimpse into some of the new research and scientific innovations that are on the horizon for plant production.

Animal Stories: Animal Management at a Botanic Garden

Location: AEP Foundation Education Pavilion Speaker: Tom Tiddens, Plant Health Care Supervisor, Chicago Botanic Garden

Animal management at a botanic garden is a necessary activity that needs to be performed with great care and sensitivity. Federal, state, and local laws must be followed. Public and staff perceptions must be kept in mind. Even though often carried out quietly, preparedness for transparency is always necessary. Senior management and public relation staff must be aware of all activities and be prepared for questions. Like managing insects and diseases, an IPM approach works best. Animal management at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the responsibility of the Plant Health Care Department. Tom will discuss how the Chicago Botanic Garden manages wildlife and some of the challenges the Garden has encountered over the years; and yes, there have been many. Deer, geese, rabbits, beaver, voles, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, redwing blackbirds, and muskrats round out the top ten list of animal challenges. Tom will share lessons he has learned over the years in resolving animal problems.

11:30am – 12:00pm Concurrent Sessions

15 Minute session: Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Costa Rica cloud forest glasshouse: A case study in collection value scoring for curatorial decision-making

Location: AEP Foundation Education Pavilion Speakers: Alexandra Faidiga, Plant Recorder, and Tom Arbour, Curator of Living Collections, Holden Forests and Gardens

In glasshouses, space comes at a premium and facilities are often costly and labor-intensive to maintain. Thoughtful curatorial decisions are therefore of the utmost importance for managing exceptional plant collections in these unique spaces. While resources are ideally prioritized towards plants of high value, determining what constitutes a “valuable” plant is complex. In recent years, collection value scoring has been increasingly discussed as a potential tool to address this problem and make data-driven decisions on collection curation, resource prioritization, and more. In our talk, we will share methods we used to develop a collections value scoring system for the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Costa Rica cloud forest collection. We will also discuss how the results from applying this scoring system can be used to make future curatorial and horticultural decisions for the collection. We will conclude with a list of recommendations for anyone working with glasshouses who may be interested in evaluating their own collections using value scoring.

15 Minute session: Using Sustainable Horticulture to Connect Forests and Gardens

Location: AEP Foundation Education Pavilion Speakers: Jessica Burns, Gardener and Rob Majanga, Horticulturist, Holden Forests and Gardens

To mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss, humans must change the ways they interact with their landscapes. Public gardens are well positioned to guide communities through this process and have a responsibility to do so. Members of the Horticulture, Collections, and Conservation departments at Holden Forests and Gardens are collaborating to manage ‘Core Natural Areas,’ marginalized forest fragments surrounding the curated gardens on the Arboretum campus. The Core Natural Areas represent an opportunity for experimentation and demonstration of restoration and renewed relationship to landscapes. Invasive species removal has been the primary activity but it is only the beginning. Through explorations of agroforestry, ecosystem restoration and permaculture, as well as indigenous and traditional land management, we are designing innovative stewardship strategies. We aim to demonstrate how curated horticulture can empower communities with the knowledge and skills necessary for conservation.

Building Biocontrol Capacity: Inexpensive and innovative ways to leverage your pests’ natural enemies

Location: Wells Barn Lower Level Speaker: Taylor Marshall, Orchid Horticultural Curator, Atlanta Botanical Garden

As we grapple with changing climate, environmental regulations, and product availability; how can we build resilient systems within our greenhouses to effectively mitigate pest damage? With careful scouting and an opportunistic approach, we can stay one step ahead of our pests. More targeted control measures lead to less collateral damage, both in your collections and the environment.

Get it Right: Plant Sourcing and Installation of FPC’s Children’s Garden

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Barbara Arnold, Garden Designer, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden

Call it crazy, foolish or even impractical- we call it an obsession! In partnership with out of town landscape architects, construction managers, and landscape installation teams, uncover how the horticulture team from Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens worked to ensure all of the plants material for the Children’s Garden would be purchased, primed, and placed correctly…by going against common commercial landscape practices! Dig into how the horticulture team sourced, delivered, sorted, counted, and maintained the garden’s plants prior to installation, See the ways recordkeeping was used to enhance and create cohesion in design, installation, and signage. Discover how a small team kept a watchful eye during installation and by coordinating with construction and install crews, all plants in the Children’s Garden were carefully and correctly placed in the Garden to not only survive but also thrive!

12:00 – 12:30pm Lunch

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

12:30 – 1:30pm Keynote: Plants without Borders: Ex Situ Conservation and Plant Sharing

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Tony Avent, Proprietor, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights Nursery

We will discuss the critical roles that Botanic Gardens play in ex-situ conservation, including the difference between passive and active conservation. The goal of conservation should be using the plants to make a positive impact on people’s lives, not simply being a plant museum.

1:45 – 2:45pm Universal Accessibility in the Garden

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Irene Barber, Adult Education Program Manager, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Employing the setting of a public garden environment, such as the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and a select few BGs, where they demonstrate and inspire visitors about universal access in the garden. The presentation will highlight design concepts, features and materials that enable anyone to enjoy the garden environment, whether actively or passively including ergonomic tools, tips and tricks to gardening with ease, plants that have high impact for the senses and surfaces that are ADA approved.

3:00 – 4:00pm Roundtable Discussions

Location: Wells Barn Main Level

Connect with your peers over a guided discussion of current horticulture, greenhouses, and facilities topics.

4:15 – 5:15pm Keynote: Connect the Dots: Plant Diversity, Pollinators, and Pest Management

Location: Wells Barn Main Level Speaker: Joe Boggs, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County

Protecting plant pollinators is commonly viewed as just an insecticide issue. However, how does the abundance of flowering plants translate into fewer plant pests? How do pollinators themselves play a critical role in the reduced need for insecticides? Pest management and plant pollinators are two sides of the same coin in urban landscape ecosystems. This presentation reveals the multi-layered connections between pollen, nectar, and a parade of unsung insect heroes that can keep pests in check in the gardens of the future.

5:30 – 9pm: Cocktails at the Conservatory

Join us for one of Franklin Park Conservatory’s signature events! Enjoy two complimentary drinks and a summer evening in the garden as we celebrate a successful Symposium.

select speaker bios

Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery and founder of the Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. Mr. Avent is a well-traveled botanical explorer, author, plant breeder and an exceptional plantsman. His travels have included Mexico, China, Korean, Argentina, Taiwan, and Vietnam to name a few along with extensive exploration of the rich floral communities of the Southeast United States.

Joe Boggs has over 31 years of Extension experience specializing in plant problem diagnostics and pest management and has served as a state-wide specialist. He averages over 90 teaching presentations per year. Joe has published articles in numerous trade journals and is a frequent contributor to the Buckeye Yard and Garden Line (BYGL) blog. His weekly radio segment, “Buggy Joe Boggs Report,” runs from April through October on the Saturday morning show, “In the Garden with Ron Wilson,” (iHeartRadio: WKRC, Cincinnati; News Radio 610 WTVN, Columbus). The Cincinnati show is syndicated to 34 radio stations in 12 states.