Annual Meeting - Program Schedule

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Friday, October 12

8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Trade Show Move-in,
The Westin La Paloma, Tucson

11:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Conference Registration Opens
Lapel pins sponsored by Sun Gro Horticulture (; name badge holders sponsored by Osmocote Plant Food (; refreshments sponsored by Direct Gardening Association (; registration bags sponsored by All American Daylily Selections (; water bottles sponsored by Plant Development Services Inc. (; visors sponsored by Briggs Plant Propagators (

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 The Espoma company (

3:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Garden Products Information
Exhibit Opens
With over 80 booths, the 2012 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 Fafard ( and camera sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company (

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. Exhibit Closes; Dinner on your own

Saturday, October 13

7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast @ The Westin La Paloma

Sustainability: ScottsMiracle-Gro Corporate Responsibility Report
Progress and Priorities. A discussion with Scotts Miracle-Gro’s chief environmental officer Rich Shank about the company’s ongoing efforts in the areas of corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. Presenter: Rich Shank, Ph.D., Chief Environmental Officer, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. Sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (

8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Keynote Presentation
How I Got Rich Growing Native Plants
Join us for the keynote presentation as our speaker tells his stories of gardening on the wild borderlands of Southeastern Arizona. Using pictures, poems and song, Peter Gierlach (AKA Petey Mesquitey) describes his horticultural experiences as well as his encounters with native flora and fauna in the grasslands and sky islands of Cochise County, Arizona.

Peter Gierlach was born and raised in Kentucky and came West to attend the University of Arizona. In the midst of obtaining a degree in Wildlife Biology he helped form a country band and left college to pursue a career in country music. After 10 years, countless nights in honky tonks, and a couple of nationally released albums, Peter left music and started working as a laborer in a wholesale nursery. For over 32 years, horticulture has been his life.    

As Petey Mesquitey, he hosts a 5-minute radio show about native plants and animals, which airs several times a week on KXCI Community Radio in Tucson. “Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey” is in its 21st year. Peter and his librarian wife, Marian, live on a small farm and nursery in rural Cochise County. Their lives are full of plants, animals and books.

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

Let’s Talk Plants
Join Melinda and Nicholas as they interview a series of guests about new plant introductions. This lively presentation will be quick-paced in order to showcase as many plants as possible. Learn about the hottest new plants you’ll be able to write about this season and next. The guests will discuss regional appropriateness, best attributes, and commercial viability of each plant. You’ll love this marathon of exciting new plants. Panelists: Melinda Myers, freelance; and Nicholas Staddon, Monrovia.

Predicting the Future of Sustainability for the Consumer
This presentation attempts to hold a “crystal ball” up to the future of what consumers will be reading on the topic of sustainable gardening.  Panelists will predict that future evolution of where they see their particular specialty going 5 and then 10 years down the road, based on trends they’re seeing now. Moderator: Kirk Brown, Joanne Kostecky Garden Design, Inc.; Panelists: Ros Creasy, Edible Landscapes; Casey Sclar, director of APGA; and Scott Aker, USDA.

How to be Your Editor’s Dream Freelancer
With the media world currently experiencing an ever-growing yet ever-changing way of doing business, it’s even more important to re-evaluate how you’re pitching to editors. Learn why editors are looking for “bonus” content these days (blog posts, videos, sidebars, photos, etc.) and learn how to create it. Presenter: Stacy Tornio, Birds & Blooms Magazine/Reader’s Digest.

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

The Hot Garden: An Introduction to Southwest Horticulture
Join acclaimed author and garden designer Scott Calhoun in this introduction to the bold plants and design techniques that make the desert Southwest a truly unique gardening climate. Scott demonstrates how the natural beauty of the region can translate into rugged water-thrifty landscape designs. Presenter: Scott Calhoun, Zona Gardens, LLC.

Predicting the  Future of Sustainability for the Green Industry
This second hour speaks to the future of the horticulture industry and the need to connect it with the topic of sustainable gardening.  Panelists will predict future trends using their knowledge of the industry. Moderator: Kirk Brown, Joanne Kostecky Garden Design, Inc.; Panelists: Randy Schultz, Schultz Marketing Company; Rose Marie Nichols-McGee, nursery owner; Margie Grace, Grace Design Associates, Inc.

From Talking to Teaching
You’ve established yourself as an expert in your niche and are being called on to teach classes. Also, you’ve been thinking about creating your own on-line courses. But how do you get started? This talk introduces you to the basic process of developing a curriculum in your specialty. Presenter: Nan Sterman, Plant Soup Inc.

12:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.         Central Story Tour & Lunch
We start our story tours with a round robin tour of central Tucson sites. At the Benedictine Sisters Monastery, we will park in the shade under the solar array that provides nearly all the power the monastery needs. Stroll the grounds to see date and citrus orchards, a newly renovated meditation garden, and the sheltered courtyards where herbs and tropicals such as loquat and avocado flourish and bear fruit.  

While at the monastery, stop in at one of the 27 gardens of the Tucson Community Gardens. In the greater Tucson area there are over 500 individual plots under cultivation. This particular site offers a number of challenges to the gardeners, and they have come up with some unique solutions. Alan Richards could have made adobe blocks from his soil, but instead he has created an exuberant oasis of native and non-native low-water plants. He calls it his own private botanical garden. Unique sculptures, many by Alan himself, are situated along the curving paths leading to cozy seating areas and outdoor rooms. Tucson would not be complete for gardeners without a stop at Native Seeds/SEARCH. Begun 30 years ago, they are now a leader in the heirloom seed movement. Seeds are stored in a state-of-the-art seed bank that includes over 1,800 varieties of arid-land adapted agricultural crops, many of them rare or endangered.

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. Exhibit closes; Dinner on your own

Sunday, October 14

6:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Early Morning Photo Shoot Departs for the
Tucson Botanical Gardens
(Must Register in Advance)

8:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Central & West Story Tour with Breakfast & Lunch
Botanical Gardens. This former gardener’s home in central Tucson was elected by Reader’s Digest as “The Central and West Tucson are our focus today, starting with an early morning photo shoot at the Tucson Best Secret Garden in America.” For visitors and residents alike, the gardens are a lovely place to visit and get away from it all for a while. Set in the heart of an urban area, the gardens name is plural because there are 16 uniquely different gardens hidden away on the five-acre site. Breakfast sponsored by Fiskars (    

Desert Survivors Native Plant Nursery is a non-profit nursery and a well functioning example of horticulture therapy at work. The nursery provides training and jobs for adults with disabilities while they organically grow over 400 species of plants that are native to Tucson bioregion. They are also growing heritage trees and plants for the Mission Gardens.     

A hop, skip and jump away from Desert Survivors is where Tucson began. The O’odham village of Chuk Son (O’odham for “base of the black hill”) once stood where Tucson Origins Heritage Park is now being created. In 1692, Father Kino was invited by the natives to build a mission in their village. A tracery of the original San Agustin Mission walls can be seen beside the recreated Mission Gardens. These gardens feature heirloom plants from the early Mission Era and the Timeline Gardens, interpreting 4,000 years of Tucson gardening. Breakfast sponsored by Fiskars (

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

Youth Gardening Programs
Don't let children suffer from "Nature Deficit Disorder"! Learn about gardening with children and using your backyard, local park or forest to get to know some of the most common plants that you will see in your area. Did you know dirt made your lunch?! Specialist Patrick Ryan uses music and poetry to teach gardening concepts. From basic garden layout to harvesting a row for the hungry, this session will include successful activities from the JMG program and Agriculture in the Classroom, as well as poems and songs that can be used to teach horticultural concepts. Presenter: Patrick R. Ryan, Alaska Botanical Garden.

The Internet: Get In or Age Out
Get In or Age Out explores the rapid and dramatic changes in publishing, emphasizing why every garden communicator needs to build an Internet presence. The discussion segues into a practical overview of specific steps to build a web presence. Attendees emerge with a solid understanding of the types of activities that build authority in any discipline, and with a list of online resources to help them get started. If you prefer a description full of buzz words, Get In or Age Out provides an overview of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Blogging, and Social Media Marketing with a nod to self-publishing, eBooks, and print-on-demand. Presenter: Daniel Gasteiger, Cityslipper.

The Fine Art of Juggling for Relevance
What public speakers have relevance with today’s online information overload? How much value can be added to a live event that is impossible to achieve online? Why should the job of professional speakers be to invigorate the flagging strengths and declining finances of aging organizations? What makes a conference/garden club/dinner meeting pay for speaker’s travel, all expenses and the unique knowledge that we owe to any audience? Who of us will change the face of live presentations to the worlds most endangered species the horticulturally informed?  Join Pat and Kirk to confront the real issues of "Crowd Control, Educational Entertainment, and Topic Immediacy" as they evolve into a new force for the GWA Symposium attendees to use in the development of their careers and the improvement of their deliveries. Panelists: Kirk Brown, Joanne Kostecky Garden Design, Inc.; and Pat Lanza, Lasagna Gardening.

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

New Plants: Reality and Promise: Why Doesn’t My Plant Look Like the Catalog Picture?
Why doesn’t my plant look like it does in the catalog! Ed Lyon will discuss marketing issues and the results of a record setting plant releases without adequate trialing. Discussions of how plants are marketed will be followed by the importance of recognizing regionality. Presenter: Edward Lyon, director, Allen Centennial Gardens and proprietor, Spellbound Garden Writing & Consultation.

Video Production for the Web II: Putting It Together and Getting It Online
Kevin Gragg will show how to effectively tell your story, organize your footage, edit, create graphical elements, upload and archive your videos. His goal is to provide practical information that the attendee can instantly implement in their own work. Presenter: Kevin Gragg, OSU Agricultural Communications.

Under Cover Stories: Information Needed to Report on Four-Season Growing.
Four-season gardening is one of the hottest trends. Panelists will present information needed for delivering authentic in-depth stories on this latest trend. Moderator: Mary-Kate Mackey, writer/adjunct professor. Panelists: Brent Heath, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs; Johnny Mobasher, CEO, Hartley-Botanic, Inc.; Denise Schreiber, Allegheny County Parks and Nellie Neal, GardenMama, Inc.

3:30 p.m. Coffee Break

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

Global Gardening Trends and What They Mean for Our Industry
Today’s world is changing faster than we have seen at any time in our history. What people want, has changed their perceptions of gardening and its impact on individuals and society. Weather patterns and plant pallets change, but unfortunately not overnight, they need guidance. Gardening can be fickle, but a lot of fun too! Presenter: Anthony Tesselaar, Tesselaar Plants.

Good Garden Photography
This presentation begins with a basic primer on the technical side of photographic quality such as lens selection and composition. The second section develops techniques for communicating with photographs to tell the story. The third section culminates in the importance of taking photos that truly communicate good quality information. Presenter: Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic.

Successful Content for Your Garden & Horticulture Business: Taking the Mystery Out of Writing
This presentation covers the necessities of writing content for your business, whether it be online or offline: audience, emotion, call to action, follow-through and follow-up. Points will be explained using humorous stories from Kristen’s experiences as a writer. Presenter: Kristen McLain, Kris the Scribbler.

5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Contra Dancing
At the request of a number of GWA members, get ready for some fun with Tucson’s own Out of Kilters.  Noted for their enthusiastic renditions of classic Irish ballads, jigs, and reels, this band plays both Celtic and traditional American music for pubs, parties and special events, like GWA coming to town!  The Out of Kilters will be joined by members of  Tucson Friends of Traditional Music who will call out the dances and demonstrate how it is done.  Join in the dance or rest your feet and enjoy music that has been heard across the Southwest for decades. Cash bar will be available.

Monday, October 15

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. - 1:00 p.m. North Story Tour & Lunch
A morning of round robin tours will take us to four sites,  with all of us at Tohono Chul Park for lunch.

Lorien and Dale Tersey’s land includes both home and business gardens. The decades old adobe house is surrounded by a typically Southwestern walled yard, the space used as a year-round outdoor room of the home. Behind their private yard, Lorien’s DreamFlower Garden produces vegetables and herbs as well as potted and landscape plants for market, all on less than one acre, and in the middle of urban Tucson.

Keith & Helga Zwickl have been nurturing their garden for close to 30 years, and it now showcases a number of mature specimens of native and exotic succulents set out in beds reached by enchanting paths. Splashed of color abound in this shady, lush and inviting, back yard -- an oasis of tranquillity in the Catalina foothills. Rainfall of 0.1 inch will fill their water harvest system.

The Desert Legume Program (DELEP) recognizes that legumes are the most important group of plants in human nutrition after the cereal grains, and they are dedicated to conserving the biodiversity of legumes of arid lands. That said, a number of legumes make wonderful drought-tolerant landscape plants. Since 1989, over 600 species have been evaluated and over a dozen legumes have been introduced into the landscape nursery trade. 

Tohono Chul (O’odham for “desert corner”) Park may be the only botanical garden in the world that began life as the landscape around a bookstore. The bookstore owners carved trails through their desert corner, labeled the native plants, and welcomed visitors. In 1988 it became a non-profit park, and since then numerous gardens and interpretive exhibits have been added.

Concurrent Sessions
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Grafted Vegetables: Changing the Way Americans Grow Veggies
Already a mainstay of vegetable gardens in Asia, Australia and parts of Europe, grafted vegetables are promising bountiful harvests and presenting a natural and safe alternative to GMO’s and pesticides. Grafted tomatoes are already making an impact for home gardeners as now anyone can grow heirloom varieties that aren’t disease resistant. Presenter: John Bagnasco, SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables, LLC.

Chanticleer-the Photographer’s Cut
Rob Cardillo was the sole photographer for the acclaimed book, Chanticleer - a Pleasure Garden. Using extensive unpublished material, Rob will take a look at the project’s genesis and the key relationships he established with the writer, funder and publisher. He’ll shine a light on the underlying technical and aesthetic decisions that lead to each successful image. Presenter: Rob Cardillo, Rob Cardillo Photography.

In Search of Inspiration
I’m heading out to capture an image of something beautiful. I’m not looking for the grand or exotic, just everyday items. The smartphone in your pocket can do a pretty good job of capturing an image on the fly – with a simple app to process the image, you’ll get a decent picture. Jot down a few simple thoughts and this journal will keep track of your ideas. Presenter: Theresa Forte, freelance garden columnist & photographer.

Concurrent Sessions
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Heirloom Gardening Movement
American gardeners are falling in love with rare heirloom varieties of plants. As co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), Diane has seen the organization grow from a handful of seeds into one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in North America. Whealy’s presentation provides an intimate and critical understanding of the heirloom gardening movement. Presenter: Diane Ott Whealy, co-founder, Seed Savers Exchange.

Gardeners Guide to Collaborative Food Systems: Linking Gardens with Food Alliance Initiatives
This session will provide information related to the role of gardeners as members of community food alliance groups. Learn about emerging local food alliances and the role community gardens play in sustainable food systems. A case study of Tucson’s Food Systems Planning Alliance will be reviewed. Presenter: Gene Zonge, executive director of the Community Gardens of Tucson.

Speaking Can Be Enjoyable for You and Your Audience
There are techniques and practices that you can develop that make public speaking both lucrative and enjoyable. Your speaking presentation needs a story arc. It also needs to be you. Understand how to engage your audience so they feel a part of your presentation. Learn the role of visual aids, handouts, etc. in making your presentation engaging. Presenter: Kenneth C. Brown,

4:00 p.m. Coffee Break

Concurrent Sessions
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Vertical Gardening on the Rise
As gardens get smaller, so are the plants, but not the plant choices! Learn about new space saving trees, shrubs and perennials that offer height and texture for small landscapes, rooftops and container gardens. Presenter: Steve Dobbs, Oklahoma State University

Unclutter Your Cranium with Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a far-reaching brainstorming technique used for organizing a story quickly and intuitively, using a sheet of paper or computer software. It’s a simple process that’s perfectly suited to graphically oriented thinkers – those who need to see the big picture before mining down into the details. Basic mind mapping can be done on the back of a bar napkin, it is most flexible, powerful, and creative as computer software. Dozens of ideas can be randomly generated on the screen, and then endlessly rearranged to form the skeleton of an article. Secondary details get dragged and dropped onto the main branches – perfect for how-to, step-by-step guides, or classic storytelling articles. Presenter: Billy Goodnick, Fine Gardening Magazine.

Wisdom Sits in Places: A Talk for Writers and Photographers
Writing and photography are ways of being in love with the world. Gardens and landscapes are very particular kinds of places; it’s the inner richness of the writer or photographer that makes words and images come alive to the reader or viewer. But how do we continue to build this complexity within ourselves to bring to our work? This is what this talk is about. Be prepared to reflect on your home ground, and own sense of place. The title of this talk is taken from a book by the same name by anthropologist Keith Basso. Presenter: Paula Panich, writer; instructor, UCLA Ext. Landscape Architecture Program

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Awards Reception and Banquet:
2012 Garden Media Awards Presentations
The Westin is the perfect setting for the 2012 Garden Media Awards presentation 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 Quebec City, Canada! 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, October 16

*Limited Availability

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Optional Tour A & Lunch ($50)
Tour A- The day starts at the most visited attraction in Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Covering almost 100 acres, ASDM is a living museum focusing on the unique plants, animals and geology of the Sonoran Desert. Don’t miss the pollinator path, with exhibits devoted to native bees (over 200 species), moths, butterflies, and a walk-in hummingbird aviary. Many different Sonoran habitats are showcased. Tour ASDM on your own or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Plant Department. Limited to the first 30 who opt for it.

Mission San Xavier del Bac was founded in 1692 by Father Kino at the request of the O’odham villagers of Bac (O’odham for “place where the water appears”). There were once natural springs in the area, but with the growth of Tucson, the springs dried up. Water is now provided by wells and the Central Arizona Project, which brings water from the Colorado River.   

The San Xavier Cooperative Farm is a farm committed to sustainable farming practices consistent with O’odham culture. One emphasis is on the traditional food crops to encourage the return to a healthy diet for the O’odham. Other field and cash crops currently help fund the farm operations. Produce is sold at a store onsite as well as in local Farmers Markets.

8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Optional Tour B ($30)
Tour B- Two private gardens designed by GWA members are featured on this post-conference tour. The final stop of the day is the Environmental Research Laboratory, a leader of environmental research and education in arid regions with a focus on the application of appropriate and sustainable technologies. The ERL began life in 1968 as a think-tank that spawned shrimp farms in Mexico, a display at EPCOT Center, and the agriculture system inside Biosphere 2.

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Post-Symposium Photography Workshop ($80)
*Limited Availability

Know Your Way Around the Trickiest Business Issues in Photography
Join Andrew Buchanan, for a five-part, all-day seminar covering some of the most important business topics for photographers from beginners to working pros.       
     Andrew Buchanan is an active professional garden and architectural photographer in Seattle. For the past nine years, he has been a director of the Board of Editorial Photographers. Andrew has co-authored an educational seminar series covering photo journalists’ best management practices from copyright and licensing, to pricing and negotiating contracts. He has taught and guest lectured on the business and craft of photography topics to photographers’ groups, garden designers, and photography students since 2003. His photos have appeared in a variety of publications including Fine Gardening, Sunset, Country Living Gardens, and more.

Workshop Topics:
•The DAM Truth- the nuts and bolts of shooting, processing, editing, organizing,
        cataloging, and archiving images. (Digital Asset Management)
•Don’t Sell Yet!- the importance of registering copyrights, how to do so, and what it means.
•Now you’re ready to make some money, how do you get your images seen?
•License, and license again- the proper way to make money (and more money) by licensing, not selling
•Go forth and photograph!
*Check online for a more detailed program.

What you should bring:
*Questions, curiosity, and a pen!

Program subject to change.


2016 Annual Convention & Expo

2015 Annual Symposium

Symposium Recordings

Regional Meetings

Workshops & Seminars

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