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Annual Meeting - Program Schedule

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Thursday, August 7

1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Pre-Symposium Presentation ($125) *Limited Availability

Building a Chair the Chanticleer Way
This workshop will allow beginners, as well as those who have never built anything before, the opportunity to construct a garden chair that they will complete in this class. All materials will be provided for the participant, pre-cut with all necessary hardware. (Note: Participants must bring their own charged cordless drill for use during the workshop.) The chair is based on the Gerrit Rietveld designed chair, refined by Lester Collins at Innisfree Garden, popularized at Wave Hill Garden in the Bronx. (Purchasing materials or instructions without attending the session will also be available. For information on how to order materials or instructions, please contact Dan directly at Presenter: Dan Benarcik, Chanticleer Foundation. Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy ( and Chanticleer (

Friday, August 8

8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Trade Show Move-in, The David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA

8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Green Walk of Downtown Pittsburgh
(*Limited Availability; First Come, First Served)
Join the local committee for a green walk of downtown Pittsburgh. Expect to see a green wall, 2 green roofs, a Monarch Butterfly Way station, Mellon Square Park and parklets within the downtown area. Meet in the lobby of the Westin. The first 15 to arrive will be able to attend the event. Not all areas are ADA accessible. Wear comfortable walking shoes, bring your water and be ready for a great pre-symposium walking tour.

11:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Conference Registration Open
Name badge holders sponsored by Osmocote Plant Food (; registration bags sponsored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy ( and water bottles sponsored by Phipps Conservatory (

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Regional Meetings
Join your Regional and National Directors and other regional members to discuss current GWA events and to find out what is happening in your region.

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. First-Timer & Mentor Reception
(1st Time Meeting Attendees Only)
The GWA Annual Symposium is an extremely busy event and having a mentor can be very helpful if this is your 1st time attending. Come meet some long-time GWA symposia attendees who can give you pointers on how to maximize your meeting experience and opportunities. Sponsored by Plant Development Services Inc. (

3:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Garden Products Information Exhibit Opens
The 2014 Garden Products Information Exhibit is the perfect opportunity to learn about new products and to network with new and old friends. Also, stop by the Garden Writers Association Foundation booth to learn more about the spectacular prize drawings. Computer sponsored by Sun Gro Horticulture (; camera sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company ( and iPad sponsored by Oldcastle Lawn & Garden (

6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Reception in Exhibit Hall
The exhibit reception will offer a wine and beer bar.

7:45 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. Night of the Round Tables
Stars will be shining after the trade show closes as topic specialists hold court at this open-ended question-and-answer opportunity. In this first-ever event, attendees get to “speed-date” with industry leaders over the latest technologies, practices, systems and horticulture. Bring business cards, inquiring minds, and willingness to share!
Organic hors d-oeuvres sponsored by .ORGANIC (

Topic Specialists:

A Story Behind Every Tree - Nancy Buley
Cross-Market Garden Writing: How I am Bringing a Garden Book to a Non-Garden Audience —
Shelley S. Cramm
10 Things Gardeners Need to Know about Edibles ­– Rosalind Creasy
In the Eye of the Beholder – Sustainable Gardening Ethics and Aesthetics — Lois deVries
Social Media 101 — Katie Dubow
Promoting Your Book — C.L. Fornari
Social Media Tweet-up — Daniel Gasteiger
Sharing Book Promotion Ideas — Billy Goodnick
What’s New in GWA? — Larry Hodgson
Visit with the GWA Staff — Robert LaGasse
2015 Garden Trends — Susan McCoy
Ten Ideas to Promote Your Book — Thomas Mickey
Stop Ordinary – Dream Extraordinary Gardens! — Brian Minter
Native Plants and Beneficial Insects: A Match Made by Nature — Peggy Anne Montgomery
Funding the Dream — Debra Prinzing
Blogging for Dollars — Cindy Ratzlaff
What’s Happening with the Association Outreach Task Force? — Maria Zampini

8:45 p.m. Dinner on your own

Saturday, August 9

7:00 a.m. - 7:10 a.m. Pittsburgh Welcome
Sponsored by VisitPITTSBURGH (

7:10 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast @ The Westin
Sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Keynote Opening Session
Writing on the Palimpsest: Stories from the Layered Landscape
The landscape is a palimpsest: a surface written on repeatedly, each time the previous writing having been imperfectly erased and therefore remaining partly legible. As garden writers we add to the layers; observing, reporting, reflecting and predicting. Our work informs and it influences. The most influential gardens and garden narratives are true to their times, and our challenge is to become ever more keen observers of the dynamic cultural, biological and temporal layers that are re-defining gardens and garden readership. In this provocative and inspiring opening session, author, photographer and landscape ethicist Rick Darke will draw on nearly 30 years of writing about gardens, people and places to describe techniques for success and continuing relevance. He will take us on a journey through the layers of historic and emerging landscapes to illustrate the art of observation and the insights to be gleaned from embracing flux – the signature of an age in which the only constant is the accelerating pace of change. Presenter: Rick Darke, author, photographer and design consultant. Sponsored by Chanticleer (

9:00 a.m. Coffee Break
Sponsored by All American Daylilies (

Concurrent Sessions  
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Track: Defining Garden Communications
A Year in the Life of a Garden Writer

This multi-media presentation follows three professional garden communicators through an entire year. Using online interviews recorded every few weeks, Jessica Walliser follows the careers of Nan Sterman, Steven Biggs, and Amy Andrychowicz from goal-setting to goal-completion. Learn how they each selected five career goals at the beginning of the year, and then follow along to see how they brought those goals to fruition (or what they learned from the ones they failed to complete). This fascinating and educational glimpse into a year in the life of these three garden writers will help you set your own career-changing goals for the coming year and provide tips and ideas for meeting those goals head-on. Producer: Jessica Walliser, co-host KDKA Radio’s “The Organic Gardeners.” Video Panel: Amy Andrychowicz, freelance; Steven Biggs, freelance; and Nan Sterman, Plant Soup, Inc.

Track: Defining Gardens
Plants for a Successful Garden

Join industry mavens Maria Zampini and Kelly Norris in this lively twist on everyone’s favorite new plant forum. In a dynamic, lively presentation of the latest new plants in all categories, Maria and Kelly will take a spirited romp through what’s hot and trendy, while discussing how great plants make it into the hands of great gardeners. Complete with a top five list by each presenter, you won’t want to miss this exposé of the latest and greatest. Panelists: Kelly Norris, Director of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and Maria Zampini, Upshoot LLC.
PDF Nominate Plants

Track: Defining Technology
Driving Social Media ROI Through Social Influence

Digital marketing and big data is on track to increase 600% by 2020. With potential leads and followers already on information overload, how will brands, organizations and individuals stand out from all the noise? In this session learn how successful brands, organizations and individuals are using social media to establish themselves as leaders in the gardening community by increasing their online influence. This discussion will help ignite your strategy to generate potential leads from subscribers and followers who naturally seek out the authoritative influencers across today’s social networks. Whether you're a recognized brand or your brand is YOU, discover why influence should be the factor that drives your social media ROI. Panelists: Brienne Arthur, Camellia Forest Nursery; Aaron Kinsman, Rodale Institute; and Chris Sabbarese, Corona Tools.

Concurrent Sessions
11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

Track: Defining Garden Communications
Bridging the Divide: From One Profession to Another

The professions of writing and supporting an industry are different, yet we’re all working in the same space. Isn’t it time we formally met? Learn the role trade associations play in supporting horticulture and gardening. We’ll explore how GWA members and the industry can better collaborate to support professional and personal goals. Presenter: Michael V. Geary, CAE, President & CEO, AmericanHort.

Track: Defining Gardens
Addition by Reduction: Editing the New Ecology of Carrie Furnace

Pittsburgh’s Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark is a multi-layered landscape that is blending history, culture and ecology in ways that hint at what many of tomorrow’s public gardens may look like. The Addition by Reduction project presents a model for progressive, conservation-based management of regenerative landscapes by relying primarily on editing instead of planting. Presenter: Rick Darke, author, photographer and design consultant.

Track: Defining Technology
How To Blog Your Brand

Allentown author, writer and Advertising Age Marketing 50 award recipient, Cindy Ratzlaff blogs daily to a subscription-based community of more that 100,000 blog readers and micro-blogs to a highly engaged, passionately loyal Facebook community of more than 250,000. She’ll show you how to uncover and communicate your personal brand identity in four areas; value, vision, voice and variation, and learn to use that brand identity to achieve your blogging goals such as increased readership, advertising income, affiliate marketing, book sales, reviews, contest giveaways and more. You’ll learn how to create a brand-based content marketing strategy for your blog that will bring you the readers, recognition, and financial resources you deserve for the value-driven information you provide. Presenter: Cindy Ratzlaff, Brand New Brand You.

12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Historic Sewickley Valley Tour & Lunch
Join the GWA for a variety of private gardens located in the Sewickley Valley. Join us for an exclusive peek at some of historic Pittsburgh. The Newington Estate, home of Jay and Ellen Brooks, is one of the oldest homes in the region, dating back to 1785. The original property, situated on the Ohio River just west of Pittsburgh, was acquired by the current owner's ancestors as payment for serving in the American Revolution with Gen. George Washington. Now housed on 10 sprawling acres, this two-story brick mansion is framed by a guesthouse, a barn, a springhouse and the family’s original icehouse. Colossal trees such as Katsuras, Beeches, Dawn Redwoods, Apples and Sycamores are amongst the largest specimens of their kind. Newington's manicured gardens and rhododendron and azalea collection are spectacular. Wander through the Yew maze, rest on a bench beneath arched arborvitae and browse the boxwood-framed rose garden. Teardrop-shaped Callery pears line the perennial border while statuary and topiaries are scattered throughout these formal gardens.

Newington Estate, documented for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., by The Garden Club of Allegheny County, is recognized for the importance of its beautiful and historic gardens and has been managed by the same family for many generations. The Formal Garden with its Boxwood-edged beds full of roses and a true English perennial border are just a few of the delights to be found there.

Another stop on tour will include the garden of Peggy Rea Joyner. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Words can't begin to describe Peggy Rea Joyner’s garden in Edgeworth. ... A trip through her garden will knock you on your ear and change your views of what a garden can be.  

What it isn't is full of flowers. Flowers play an understated part in the symphony of plants she has artfully combined. Yes, there are flowers — Siberian iris, Japanese roof iris, Daylilies, Clematis and Nepeta , among others. But they are merely the punctuation. The meat of the garden is the textural display she has wrought using a vast array of conifers, shrubs and trees.

Mrs. Joyner carefully balances color and texture against the brown of the soil, which she feels is a necessary element in the garden needed to make the green of the plant material pop. Every single plant has been deliberately placed by the gardener, who is now in her eighth decade and does much of the work herself."

The Kendall Garden stop on the tour displays a formal design heavily influenced by the symmetry and stature of the French Manor house located there. The inspiration for the house was to have all rooms open out to the garden on one or two sides. This "one-room deep" home does just that. The kitchen opens to a limestone patio with dining table and a lush, multi-season perennial garden. From the formal dining room and living room, a vast open lawn is viewed from one side and a sculpted pool surrounded with a clipped box hedge can be seen from the other. The game room and library doors lead to a vegetable and cutting garden, and the family room connects the kitchen to an exquisitely shaped swimming pool and hot tub that can easily be interpreted as a garden pool and fountain.

The garden has evolved over the past 10 years as the owner, a landscape architect, brought her ideas to life. Her vision of a formal French garden partners well with the family of six who fill the home. The open lawn, now adorned by a lacrosse net, may someday be decorated with French Parterres. The sculpted pool, with its diving board, may someday become a water feature visible from every room in the house. This dynamic garden continues to evolve year after year, pleasing the owners as well as their guests.

The final location on tour is the garden of Ada Davidson. This beautiful home was designed in 1929 by Benno Janssen, the same famed architect responsible for designing Pittsburgh's 40th Street Bridge and the Omni William Penn Hotel, among many other landmark buildings in the city. Sitting on six acres atop a winding drive above the Ohio River, the home boasts multiple steep-sloped, slate-tiled roof peaks and an ivy covered brick facade. Landscape architect Ralph E. Griswold was engaged in 1929 to design and install the original landscaping. Specimen trees from his design remain, though the property has been re-landscaped several times over the past 80 years.

The current owners purchased the home in 1999 and have been working hard to bring the property back to its former glory, repairing stone walls, installing an English Boxwood garden, a gazebo and pergola, and multiple shrub islands mounded with assorted evergreen specimens. Though they are not following Griswold's original plan, preferring to add their own unique touches to the garden, the Davidson's have created a landscape that truly sings with personality.

Immediately behind the house you'll find a colorful three-tiered fountain centered in a small courtyard, reminiscent of a Mediterranean courtyard. The backyard extends up into three tiered levels, each filled with plantings, statuary and other accents (including a very creative T-Rex!). The upper tiers boast a putting green and an area the grandchildren use for lawn bowling. The plantings are an eclectic mix of color, involving both native and exotic plant material. Keep a keen eye out for the espaliered Pyracantha at the top of the driveway, the ornamental grass "maze" centered with a succulent-filled fountain, a patio waterfall and a gnarled Hornbeam allée.

4:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Final Exhibition Period
Don’t miss the final exhibition period to continue to network and learn about new and exciting products.

6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Reception in Exhibit Hall
The exhibit reception will offer a wine and beer bar.

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Riverboat Cruise
Join us for the experience of cruising on the headwaters of the Ohio River and Gateway to the West. This is where Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition and you can too. Ride one of the Gateway Clipper boats which are a traditional paddlewheel style riverboat. You will have a unique view of the Pittsburgh skyline including the famous fountain at the Point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to flow into the Ohio River. If the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a home run or win the game, fireworks illuminate the river and sky. The GWA will board the riverboat from right outside the convention center. After docking take a short walk across the bridge back to the hotel where you can see another view of the Allegheny River. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar to enhance the evening. (Please be advised this event has a .75 mile walk showcasing the Pittsburgh skyline at the end of the boat ride in order to return to the Westin. No transportation will be provided.) Sponsored by VisitPITTSBURGH (

Sunday, August 10

6:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Early Morning Photo Shoot Departs for tour @ Phipps Conservatory (Must Register in Advance) *Limited Availability, please plan to arrive on time for the early bus. A second seat will not be reserved for you on the 8:00a tour bus.

8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Oakland Tour with Breakfast & Lunch
The Oakland Tour encompasses two of Pittsburgh’s public gardens. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a great steel and glass Victorian greenhouse, has been inviting visitors to explore the beauty and mysteries of plants since 1893. Set amidst one of Pittsburgh’s largest greenspaces, Schenley Park, the public garden stands as a cultural and architectural centerpiece of the city’s Oakland neighborhood.
In recent decades, Phipps has evolved into one of the region’s most vibrant, thriving cultural attractions, bringing fresh perspectives and artists into the historic glasshouse environment. The organization has also become a strong advocate for advanced green-building practices, sustainable gardening and a new environmental awareness.
During your visit, experience the conservatory’s 17 distinct garden experiences under glass, and tour its cutting-edge sustainable buildings, including the first LEED® certified visitor center in a public garden; the Tropical Forest Conservatory, the world’s most energy-efficient of its kind; and the new Center for Sustainable Landscapes, one of Earth’s greenest buildings and the first expected to achieve the three highest standards for sustainable building and landscapes. Featured Speaker: Jason Wirick, Director of Facilities and Sustainability, Phipps Conservatory.  Breakfast sponsored by Phipps (

Our second visit on the tour will be Schenley Plaza. When the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy kicked off the grand opening celebration of Schenley Plaza in 2006, it brought to fruition years of planning with extraordinary public and private collaboration. It also honored a promise made more than 100 years ago when its namesake Mary Schenley deeded the land to the city of Pittsburgh on the condition that it always be a public green space. Completion of the $10 million Plaza, a five-acre parcel of land located at the entrance to the 456-acre Schenley Park, marked the transformation of an asphalt parking lot to a vibrant green space with carefully planted flower gardens and an American-made, handcrafted Victorian-style carousel. The carousel features a colorful menagerie of 15 animals, a handicap accessible chariot, and a spinning tub suitable for small children – the consummate way to take in the gardens and green spaces of this perfectly realized urban oasis. 

Gardens in Schenley Plaza include 470 perennials, 14,500 flower bulbs, and 22,000 groundcover plants. Schenley Plaza’s lawn, gardens and landscape are designed to withstand city conditions, complement the regional ecology, and suit the needs of diverse park users. With an underground irrigation system that serves the gardens, while minimizing loss of water to sidewalks and paved areas, the Plaza features a high-performance lawn with engineered soil that was custom designed for maximum absorption of stormwater to prevent pooling and erosion. Structural soils used under sidewalks and in tree plantings enable trees to live significantly longer than trees planted in traditional sidewalk pits – one more feature that makes this exemplary emerald space a wonderful example of the potentials of urban gardening.   

In addition to its inherent design quality and landscaped beauty, Schenley Plaza is an All-America Selection (AAS) Display Garden, and the August dates of the GWA symposium are the perfect time to take in these gorgeous specimens. An AAS Display Garden provides the public an opportunity to view the newest AAS winners in an attractive and well-maintained setting. The All-America Selection signs will be your guide to the featured garden spaces around the plaza’s perimeter. You will also discover a unique, traveling outdoor art exhibit, “Every Tree Tells a Story,” organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation to highlight extraordinary trees of the United States that are living reminders of our heritage. For Schenley Plaza map and more information: Lunch space sponsored by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (

Concurrent Sessions
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Track: Advanced Garden Communications
6 Ways to Boost your Brand Using Advanced Forms of Social Media

The value of social media is a no-brainer. The problem is, some do everything by the books — consistent posts, fulltime staff “experts,” and analytic research — yet still fail to achieve results.

When it comes to social media, “good” is far from good enough. Thousands are vying for the same audience’s attention. People are beaten over the head with product information, promotional offers and branded cat memes.

To stand out, you need to stop fixating on best practices and read between the lines. Katie McCoy-Dubow will present advanced social media tips to help you do that, and in turn, boost your blog or brand. Presenter: Emma Fitzpatrick, Garden Media.

Track: Advancing the Wonders of Gardening
Twenty-Year Retrospective: A to Z Armchair Botanical Exploration

Join Harold Sweetman for a colorful lecture highlighting his trekking adventures. With an eye toward the botanical, you will visit some of the most remote regions in the world. The first expedition was to Yunnan, China, on the border with Tibet in 1993, with trips over the years to Zimbabwe, Panama, Chile, Arunachal Pradesh, India and the U.S. Historically, exotic travel and plant exploration was for the elite and the wealthiest plant collectors. Today, if you are intrepid, you can still discover rare glimpses of our rich global diversity of plants, people and local cultures that have remained largely unchanged for centuries. Presenter: Harold Sweetman, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens.

Track: Growing a Voice for Garden Communicating
P is for Passion, Perseverance and Patience?

Are some plants aphrodisiacs, or is that just a myth? The talk takes you on a romp through history, lore and ethnobotany. Discover which common garden plants and favorite edibles have that "something extra," and why. Presenter: Helen Yoest, Gardening with Confidence.

Concurrent Sessions
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Track: Advanced Garden Communications
The Hero’s Journey –

This Fictional Foundation Advances Nonfiction Interviews
Humans are hard-wired to recognize the Hero’s Journey. It’s the oldest story structure we have. Some form appears in every culture, living or dead. Why not borrow this familiar framework to save time and boost creativity in your nonfiction garden writing interviews? This hands-on lecture/workshop explores the structure and explains how to apply it. Discover the best questions that can move you quickly to the heart of your piece every time you write. Presenter: Mary-Kate Mackey, writer/adjunct professor.

Track: Advancing the Wonders of Gardening
I Heard It Through the Grapevine!!

Pst! I heard about the best plant you  have ever seen! Who is giving you this advice?  Your favorite master gardener, your friend the extension agent, the local newspaper garden columnist, a super blogger, a new gardening book, a GWA member, a PR rep, an unusual nursery, a grower, or a hybridizer is your favorite source. Information comes to us in many different guises. It’s a tough job, but someone has to help the consumer make important decisions. Tim Woods, plant hunter, plant scholar, and Spring Meadow’s top plant expert, is going to help us get a new look at some woody plants. Stephanie Cohen, “The Perennial Diva,” former college professor, former director of an arboretum, and award winning writer for books is going to be our perennial scout. These two are not afraid to speak their mind. If you are easily shocked bring some smelling salts because the dirt is going to fly! Panelists: Stephanie Cohen, freelance and Tim Wood, Spring Meadow Nursery.

Track: Growing a Voice for Garden Communicating
Milking the Tourism Cash Cow

(or are we just herding chickens as a not-for-profit hobby?)
Garden tourism has exploded in Buffalo, N.Y. In one two-day weekend, 55,000 visitors tour 350 urban gardens during Garden Walk Buffalo, the motivator for Buffalo’s National Garden Festival. For five weeks, 80 open gardens host thousands more. Fourteen neighborhoods and nearby towns offer garden walks. A Buffalo Style Garden Art show and sale perpetuates the Buffalo-style garden image. Area landscapers collaborate with Olmsted Parks leaders to produce entire block front yard makeovers. More than 50 national magazines and 70 visiting bloggers have broadcast the story of the horticultural “wow” that is Buffalo.

Based on this innovative and collaborative project, the International Tourism Conference honored Buffalo in 2013 — the only American entry awarded that year. And yet, as 2014 commences, the National Garden Festival has failed to fund itself. Sally Cunningham, co-founder and executive director of the success story — as well as the financial disappointment — will analyze the great opportunities in garden tourism (a cash cow for communities) as well as what’s not such a pretty picture (herding those chickens). Even now the Buffalo partners are re-grouping, and the show will go on — but the project has some take-home lessons for garden writers as well as community leaders looking to market their own region’s horticultural wonders.
As for the bigger picture — garden writing careers…

Most garden writers are not going to pay the mortgage by writing books and articles. Those who make a living without moonlighting in other fields will be the improvisers who piece together a career from many parts. Sally will share how she positioned herself as “the garden lady of Buffalo” and is making a living as writer/speaker/TV and tourism leader, in spite of the bumps along the way. Presenter: Sally Cunningham, columnist.
3:30 p.m. Coffee Break

Concurrent Sessions
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Track: Advanced Garden Communications
Monetizing Your Brand:

Using E-Learning to Create a Market Presence
With writing markets drying up, writers are looking for a new way to use their communications skills and expertise to generate income. One great way is to become an “infopreneur.” In this workshop, Susan Poizner, founder of the e-learning portal, shows you how to create captivating content, set up a portal and use affiliate programs and a business plan to boost your profit. Participants should know how to use PowerPoint and Wordpress as this is an advanced workshop. Presenter: Susan Poizner, Orchard People.

Track: Advancing the Wonders of Gardening
Gardening Beyond the Plants

To really understand gardens and gardening, we need to go beyond garden design and plant selection. To be a better gardener, it helps to have an appreciation for how plants function. By weaving a little basic physiology into stories about plants, we can help our readers, viewers and listeners become more savvy and successful. Ruth Kassinger illustrates the point with stories about giant pumpkins and a Buddha's Hand. Soil is at the heart of all gardening. Over 80 percent of plant pest and diseases can be traced back to poor soil stewardship. Not understanding soil, makes gardening harder than it should be. Cristina da Silva covers common soil problems and what to do about them. Why do we feel the pull to create and work with the land? E.O. Wilson stated that we have “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life” and in essence, need to connect with the others in our world. Debra Knapke works through “why we garden” to “how we garden” in order to be a part of nature… and how leaving nature behind may have caused us to lose a part of ourselves. Panelists: Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Write For You!; Cristina Da Silva, Hawthorn Writing & Landscapes; Ruth Kassinger, Writer and Debra Knapke, The Garden Sage.

Track: Growing a Voice for Garden Communicating
My Life and Seeds: Up Close and Amazing!

The bract of the White Birch looks like a whippoorwill. The microscopic seed of the Redvein Enkianthus looks likes a partly eaten corncob. The seed of our lovely pastel-colored native Rhododendron, the Pinkshell Azalea, has seed so small that 10 can fit on the head of a straight pin! Julie McIntosh Shapiro’s knowledge and groundbreaking work at the Arnold Arboretum on the visual identification of seed illustrates and enlightens through the use of macrography, that is, her photography at extremely close range.
How did this California-grown gal get from Torrance to Princeton to Vermont to Manhattan to LA and then Boston, spending almost 30 years in the entertainment industry as a musician, and voice-over actress, and now a team leader of a global plant project at Harvard University bringing 276 herbaria together from 76 countries?

Julie’s subjects are the stars of the show. Learn the diagnostic traits of seeds. Observe, study and enjoy these sometimes overlooked but ubiquitous bundles of life. This lecture is for all those interested in the plant world –– gardeners, horticulturists, educators, scientists and students. It’s a crazy life, and you’re going to see it up close and amazing! Presenter: Julie Shapiro, Garden PHI.

5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium & Dinner
Join us for an evening of dining under the garden tent at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. On June 14, 1898, the Pittsburgh Zoo opened its gates to the public, providing visitors with a rare glimpse of animals and plants they had never seen before. Fitting in with the paradigm of the day, the zoo resembled more of an animal menagerie than it does today. Through the years, however, the zoo has been transformed, incorporating naturalistic habitats with carefully selected plants to enhance the various animal exhibits, and has become a resource for conservation, education and research.

The Zoo Master Plan for recent renovations began in 1980. The next decade completely transformed the zoo. Exhibits were recreated into naturalistic habitats, enabling the animals to roam among trees and shrubs, often from their native environment, while providing a more pleasant and informative experience for zoo visitors. The Asian Forest, featuring temperate species of trees and shrubs opened in 1983. The African Savanna followed, featuring seven major exhibits in a simulated arid African landscape, opened in 1987. Throughout these exhibits, the plant palette has been carefully selected to simulate the look and feel of the dry savanna of Africa.

In 1991, the zoo opened the Tropical Forest, a five-acre indoor rainforest housing 16 primate species surrounded by over 200 species of plants representing tropical forests from Asia, Africa and South America.

In January 1994, the Pittsburgh Zoo became a private non-profit organization, owned and operated by the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh. This transition from a city-run public zoo to a private institution has been a major reason for the zoo’s successes.
The zoo continues to improve and expand its animal and plant collections to support the conservation education mission while helping to foster a connection and understanding of the natural wild spaces around them. The plant collection is a critical component of this mission and is one of the larger and more diverse public collections in Western Pennsylvania. This collection includes many native species to western Pennsylvania, particularly in the Pollinator Habitats at the front entrance. The Water’s Edge exhibit includes a green roof and a roof garden. The plant collection covers over 70 acres of typically hilly Pittsburgh landscape and immerses the visitor in natural habitats to enhance the sensation of being in a wild place. Co-sponsored by Fiskars (

Monday, August 11

6:45 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast & GWA Annual Business Meeting
Join us for the annual membership meeting to hear the annual report from the Board and dynamic plans for program and organizational changes for GWA as part of our Long-Range Plan.

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Keynote Session
The Future of Horticulture & Public Gardens
The honored profession of horticulture has reached a crossroads. Undergraduate enrollment has decreased resulting in the outright elimination or assimilation of horticulture departments into other plant science programs. Interests and perceptions of horticulture are vastly different today than what they were 10 or 20 years ago. The interesting counterpoint to this downward decline in horticultural college education is that interest in the environment, land conservation, locally grown food and flowers has never been greater and horticultural career opportunities for emerging professionals is stronger than ever. What are the implications of these trends for horticulture and what is the future role of public gardens in our communities? Presenter: Paul Redman, Longwood Gardens.

Concurrent Sessions
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Track: Overcoming Barriers
Public Gardens: Your Most Valuable Resource

Public gardens are certainly beautiful places to visit, but they can also be a valuable resource for garden writers. From cutting-edge research to plant trialing to innovative sustainable practices to creative design, public gardens are a wellspring for story ideas, subject experts, best practices and more. A panel of public garden professionals share how you can engage with public gardens across the country to tap into the rich variety of resources they offer. Hear tips and tricks from a media pro who continually works with public gardens to craft compelling, informative and marketable stories. Panelists: Marnie Conley, Longwood Gardens; Patricia Evans, Longwood Gardens; Doug Oster, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Abigail Spencer, American Public Gardens Association.

Track: Empowering the Business of Garden Communicating
Intellectual Property Law

This session will review the ABCs of copyright law and licensing for authors and photographers, for publishers, and for those who want to borrow and use previously published work. What can be protected by copyright?  How do you secure and enforce a copyright?  How do you share your work yet retain some control over it?  When can you use other people's work without their explicit permission?  What is different (if anything) about digital creation and distribution? Presenter: Michael Madison, University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Track: The Science of Gardening

Salt Tolerance of Herbaceous Perennials

Deicing chemicals can cause significant damage to dormant herbaceous plants. This presentation will discuss research into salt tolerance for plant usage along sidewalks, driveways, freeways, etc. Presenter: Laura Deeter, Ohio State University.

10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Track: The Science of Garden
Nature Nurtures: The Power of Plants

Increasingly, scientific research is proving quantitatively what we intuitively know; we feel better in natural environments. Patients heal faster, require fewer pain medications, and have shorter hospital stays with views or access to greenery. Children allowed to experience unsupervised play in natural (outdoor) environments are better adjusted and have fewer psychological problems. Louise Clarke proposes to review the current scientific literature and interpret it so that garden writers can explain the benefits we all receive from contact with nature. Presenter: Louise Clarke, The Morris Arboretum.

Concurrent Sessions           
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Track: Overcoming Barriers
Reaching Your Garden Audience in an Ever-Changing and Evolving Digital World
Every day another dozen garden-related Facebook groups launch. Three new social media network seems to pop up for each time an old one dies. And what the heck is going on with all those hashtags and multiplying Twitter chats? How do you keep up and where can you find your target audience online? And what about all those gardeners still offline, how do you entice them to join the digital revolution? We'll explore finding and establishing your own niche in the vast online gardening world. Presenter: Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine.

Track: Empowering the Business of Garden Communicating
Your Inner Awesomeness
How can you stand out in a crowd of people trying to provide the same service? You’ve got to show people you’re credible, trustworthy, an expert in the field… in a word, you need to show them you’re awesome. That’s right… awesome. And believe it or not being awesome is much easier now. Showing off your awesomeness is an easy way to make a stand and show potential clients you care. How? It’s pretty easy really.

Being awesome doesn’t mean you only write about the hottest new trends and plants.  It doesn’t mean you emphasize hip, young and happening.  To me, it means you are relevant, current and you know what your clients (and more importantly their customers) want – and that is what inspires. Panelists: Angela Treadwell Palmer, Plants Nouveau LLC and Lloyd Traven, Peace Tree Farm.

11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Track: The Science of Gardening
Recognizing At-Risk Trees

Trees provide numerous benefits to our homes and communities, but they may become liabilities when they fall or break apart, causing property damage, personal injuries and power outages. Some tree failures are unpredictable and cannot be prevented, but others can be avoided with a simple tree inspection. Many potential failures can be corrected before they cause damage or injury. Bob Polomski will address seven common structural tree defects that often result in failures, such as uprooting and trunk and branch breaks. Presenter: Bob Polomski, Ph.D., Clemson University.

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Track: The Science of Gardening
Insect Pollinators – Beyond the Honey Bee

When most folks and gardeners think of pollination, the insect that comes to mind the most is the Honey Bee. It turns out that there is a large number of other insects that are involved in pollination, whether on purpose or accidentally, and this educational presentation of high-magnification, high quality photographs show many more insects (all ID's and species that may or may not be familiar to the gardener) that the gardener should be aware of as to not eliminate them from their gardens, but appreciate their presence. Presenter: Bill Johnson, Bill Johnson Nature Stock Photography, Inc.

12:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. East End Tour & Lunch
The first stop on the East End Tour, the Weiss house takes a look at a green space. How do you make your garden and landscape environmentally green? Ask Amy and Lou Weiss, who have endeavored to build a LEED certified home from plans designed by noted architect Hugh Newell Jacobson.

Use of indigenous plantings that require little care and watering play an important part in certification for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Achieving environmentally green status atop an old slag dump within a tight budget was no easy feat. Joel Le Gall, LA (site layout) and Jonathan Dreher, garden design and implementation were up to the task.

A soil berm along the roadside planted with white pine, American holly, Virginia red cedar, hemlock and bayberry provides year-round screening from the road traffic. Serviceberry trees stand along the driveway and an alée of American hornbeams frame the walk to the front entrance.

The gravel front “yard” allows rainwater to percolate through channels leading to a rock cistern. Water from the cistern and the roof is recycled for use in the home and the vegetable garden — this is the only planting receiving supplemental watering.
The vegetable/flower/herb garden features raised beds made of concrete building lintels, wire fencing and a sewer-pipe composter. The silo adds a whimsical touch and conveniently hides garden tool storage. It’s topped with a windmill that powers exterior lighting.

The grass in the backyard is a mixed fescue known as “No Mow,” because (surprise) it doesn’t need to be mowed. Low-growing sumac and elderberry frame the impressive view. The south edge is marked by a row of viburnum growing over an old concrete parking lot.

The property’s overall aesthetic melds perfectly with the Jacobson architecture. The garden provides the family with fresh flowers, veggies and ample room to relax and entertain. It would be difficult to find a property of this size that required less maintenance.

The next location on tour includes the Buncher and neighboring garden. Have a chance to see the blending formality with a more relaxed “English Garden” approach, the property is an amalgam of many trees, plants and shrubs, among them arborvitae, azalea, boxwood, crab-apple, hemlock, holly, hydrangea, maple, pin oak, rhododendron and viburnum. A primary objective in the use of the larger plants is to provide a natural screen so that you can forget you are in the heart of the city.

Roses climb the trellis behind the garden bench situated in the large, eclectic flowerbed. Trumpet vines and clematis coil around the pergola; across the lawn sits a birdbath. Each summer different annuals attract butterflies and bees, as do the tried and true perennials such as Astilbe, Lavender, Rose-of-Sharon, Sedum and Salvia.

“The garden is a haven; it is an extension of my home. And as such, it is also ‘lived’ in, particularly by my English Setter. Therefore, the grounds are not absolutely perfect. There may be yellow spots on the lawn, a broken iris stalk or a patch of disturbed dirt where the Setter suspected a mole or chipmunk trod.

But the grounds and its gardens are both beautiful and comfortable...just the way I like things to be.”

Next door to the Buncher garden is the second garden in Squirrel Hill that realizes a long time dream of its owner, to transition its once ornamental landscape into a truly Western Pennsylvania native plant garden. LaQuatra Bonci Associates was commissioned to design this new direction for the garden. A master plan for the property was completed in 2010 and since then, two phases have been installed. Phase one provided a new entrance to the house off Beacon Street. Once primarily lawn, the new entrance is a mix of native perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and trees. A wall was also built along Beacon Street to buffer noise and screen views of the street after overgrown plant materials were removed for the new garden. Phase two of the garden provided a much desired rain garden, capturing surface and roof runoff from the front of the house. The wall allows for extra soil volume for the rain garden to capture more intense storms. The stone curb, walls and other features of the rain garden were constructed of recycled flagstone materials. Future phases will include additional native plantings on the side and rear gardens of the house along with additional rain gardens. The garden is a work in progress and retains some existing ornamental trees for screening purposes. These will be phased out as the new plantings take hold and the plantings mature. Collaboration with Sylvania Natives of Pittsburgh proved a valuable resource for planting recommendations and the native plant material.

As the next scheduled stop on tour, one can tell that Reverie was the work of a creative gardener: the yew hedges have been sculpted in a crenellated pattern. A flagstone walkway leads to the house with garden beds on either side containing ferns, ivy, toadflax and pachysandra ground covers, boxwoods and other evergreen shrubs. To one side the driveway is studded with cobblestone patches, and on the other side there is a moss garden with shade-loving perennials and shrubs including hosta and bleeding heart, hydrangeas, hollies and mountain laurel.

Creeping thyme with a pink flower was used extensively as a ground cover in the entry garden, and boulders were placed around the perimeter. The gardens behind the two-story stucco house are entered through a wrought iron gate.

A patio was laid with three large sandstones and randomly placed cobbles. Stone and cobble walkways lead to different parts of the garden and ground covers grow over and around the walkways. Further down in the garden there is a large rectangular koi pond flanked by two pergolas with espaliered fruit trees. A small cobblestone patio was installed next to the garage.

Additional straight line hedges marking off garden beds are clipped in button and cloud patterns. In all the garden areas perennials, ground covers and evergreen and deciduous shrubs are featured.

The previous owners created this garden beginning in the 1970s with the help of landscape architect Burt Morten. In 2009, the owners worked with Joseph Burgess, a horticulturist to make changes and as employed help managing the pond for koi, gold fish, frogs and plants. The owners have made every effort to maintain the symmetry of the garden.

Persons associated with the garden include Jenny Boyle and Marvin F. Scaife (former owners, 1916-1923); John F. and Rachel Mellon Walton (former owners, 1924-1929); Gladys D. Ober (former owner, 1929-1960); James and Edna Gray (former owners, 1960-1970); Karl F. and Janet F. Krieger (former owners, 1970-2007); Burt Morton (landscape designer, 1970s); Everett Sturgeon (designer of lily pond and pergola, 1987); Joseph O. Burgess (horticulturalist, 2002-present). Lindsay Bond-Totten, garden designer (present).

The final stop on tour is also a private residence garden. The purpose of the garden design was to connect a newly constructed pavilion with the house and other areas of the property. The rock outcropping need to be concealed. Courtyard plantings, screening and thresholds to each area had to be considered. The entry from the driveway needed to provide a generous arm-stretched welcome to visitors.

Flanked by hornbeams, the transition from the driveway to the pavilion begins with a dynamic, zigzag path of diamond-shaped pavers. The path cuts through a larger diamond-shaped area outlined by tightly defined geometric boxwood hedges. A golden smoke bush and hydrangea ‘Limelight’ provide both height and a looser form, guiding the way to the grassy area adjoining the pavilion. A mix of tall evergreens, arborvitae, Chamaecyparis and hemlock screen the air conditioning units.

The rock outcrop was planted with a mix of ground cover shrubs that weave around the boulders and trees, reducing the roundness of the regrading required for the new construction. The boulders and trees now provide dimension and height to the area.

Choosing plants for the courtyard proved challenging because the design called for symmetry in the plantings. Creating three tiers, each with a different plant height helped solve the problem. Crab apples in the upper tier are tall enough to catch the sun even in the shady corner. Knock Out roses grow in the middle tier. Although they bloom less in shade, their blooms provide season-long color and can be pruned to maintain symmetry. The ground level tier is planted with a variety of herbs—lavender, thyme and oregano. A woodland path is being developed to circle the property.

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Awards Reception
(Cash Bar)

7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Awards Banquet:
2014 Garden Media Awards Presentations
The Westin is the perfect setting for the 2014 Garden Media Awards presentations and Honors Ceremony. Join us for an evening of networking, friendship and celebration as we congratulate and honor our colleagues. Also, hear about next year’s symposium plans in Pasadena, CA! Banquet wine sponsored by Proven Winners ColorChoice (

9:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. Karaoke
Come sing and dance at the final get-together.

Tuesday, August 12

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  Post-Symposium Workshop
*Limited Availability
Early-bird registration:  $95 member $110 non-member.
Late registration: $110 member $125 non-member     

From Camera to Presentation:
Using Digital Media to Achieve Professional Images
*Lunch on your own
8:15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m Registration and networking

9:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. In this portion of the workshop, Mark shares his insights into garden photography and storytelling techniques. Using examples from his extensive garden stock photo library, he will show the effects of different qualities of light, composition tools, perspective, point of view, juxtaposition, and the elements of a photographic story.

10:20 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. Break

10:35 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Photographing the natural environment surrounding the venue, putting into practice the concepts from the first session.

12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Break and Networking 

1:20 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Prepping your photos for use. Your garden photos do no good sitting on your computer’s hard drive. You need to convert your camera’s original file into a digital file with right size and resolution for each place it’s going to be seen. Digital slideshows, social media, blogs and print publications have different requirements. Learn how to use Adobe Lightroom to adjust, crop, resize, add borders and watermark your photos so they’re ready for any use. Bring your laptop with Lightroom installed to follow along and learn by doing.

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Break

3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Critique of the photographic results of participants, problem solving, mechanics, advance preparation, and questions.

Presenter: Mark Turner, freelance photographer.

*Limited Availability
7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.    Optional Wright Homes Full Day Tour & Lunch ($65)
Take the opportunity to stay in Pittsburgh after the symposium and join us for an incredible opportunity. Fallingwater is the name of a very special house that is built over a waterfall. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Edgar J. Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh, as a mountain retreat. Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

Why is it so famous?  It's a house that doesn’t even appear to stand on solid ground, but instead stretches out over a 30’ waterfall. It captured everyone’s imagination when it was on the cover of Time magazine in 1938.

Fallingwater is the only major Wright-designed house to open to the public with its original furnishings, artwork and setting intact. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has preserved Fallingwater since 1963, with a major structural repair in 2002 strengthening Fallingwater’s cantilevers to prevent collapse and future deflection.

Tour participants should be aware of the unique site challenges that they will face while at Fallingwater. These challenges include a ¼ mile walk to and from the home on uneven gravel paths, a one-hour walking tour, and over 100 steps (not all at once). If the walk to or from the house is difficult for any members, arrangements can be made for a shuttle.

Purses/handbags, backpacks, camera bags, tripods and other cumbersome items are NOT PERMITTED on tour. These items MUST either be left on the bus or checked in the complimentary lockers. Anyone wishing to send a film crew or obtain media photographs should contact Clinton Piper, Media Manager. (

In addition to the tour of the famous Fallingwater, attendees will travel to Kentuck Knob as well. Kentuck Knob represents a refinement of the many principles of organic architecture Mr. Wright explored throughout his long career. Designed on a hexagonal module, Kentuck Knob is a small, one story Usonian house. Usonian, meaning affordable for the common people, was a signature design of Frank Lloyd Wright. Both dramatic and serene, the house, situated just below the crest of the hills, appears almost part of the mountain itself and stands 2,050 feet above sea level.

Kentuck Knob’s construction materials of native sandstone and tidewater red cypress blend naturally with the surroundings. The fully functional kitchen is the architectural core of the home. Its walls of stone not only anchor the two wings of the house but they also rise to penetrate the horizontal line of the copper roof. An open floor plan, cantilevered overhangs, and great expanses of glass effortlessly integrate the inside with the outside. Stretching to the east, just beyond the back terrace, is a breathtaking panorama of the Youghiogheny River Gorge and the beautiful Laurel Highlands mountains that surround it. Today, the interior reflects the taste and personalities of the current owners, Lord and Lady Palumbo, who are committed to preserve and maintain the house for the enjoyment of all those who, like them, share a deep admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius.      

The tour of Kentuck Knob is further enhanced by sculptures located in the garden, the woods and the meadow. Works by contemporary artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Claes Oldenburg, Sir Anthony Caro, and Ray Smith, as well as many others are represented in the collection. Lunch sponsored by The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Quirky City Half-Day Tour ($25)
The half-day tour consists of the gardens of the Mexican War Streets, an area of Pittsburgh that has been restored to its former glory of Victorian homes saved from destruction. The gardens are small, but show off what can be done in small spaces. It includes what is affectionately called "Randyland," a garden of recycled items and plants in a wildly colorful building and lot that is a must see on the city tours. Next, is Choderwood, an oasis sitting at the river's edge but in the most unusual place, right next to the city's asphalt plant. The last stop is the world class Hunt Botanic Institute for Botanical Documentation.

Growth in collections and research projects led to the establishment of four programmatic departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography and the Library. The current collections include approximately 30,150 book and serial titles; 29,000+ portraits; 29,270 watercolors, drawings and prints; and 2,000 autographed letters and manuscripts. While no photography is allowed inside, the visit is worth its weight in plant information. It is the largest collection of its type in the world.


2015 Annual Symposium

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