top of page

Great Lakes, Great Plants Symposium
The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park, Traverse City, MI


Thursday, July 20

9:00am-12:00pm     Morning tours 



Join local botanists on a botany blitz in a wide range of ecosystems. Get acquainted with the flora of the Great Lakes during tours of the landscapes of Northwestern Michigan, designed to help landscapers and nursery professionals deepen their appreciation for native plants by  getting a chance to experience plant communities in the wild. Destinations include the natural lands around The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park, the Historic State Hospital Arboretum, and the abundance of beauty surrounding the Boardman River. 


12:00pm-1:30pm      Lunch at The Gardens                                  

1:30pm-4:00pm       Afternoon tours 


Friday, July 21

8:30am-9:00am       Welcome & light breakfast

9:00am-9:45am       Opening and Welcome

                                       Tera Johns, Member of the Grand Traverse Band of

                                       Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Matthew Ross, Director of 

                                       The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park 

9:45am-11:30am       Speaker Panel 1: Innovative Use of Native Plants 

  • 9:45am-9:55am EMCEE: Brian Zimmerman, Four Seasons Nursery 

  • 9:55am-10:25am Use of Native Plants in Formal Landscapes & The Story of Stoneleigh – Ethan Kauffman

    • Follow the journey of one of the most exciting and inspiring emerging public gardens, Stoneleigh: a natural garden. A former private estate, the landscape was originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers and has recently been transformed into a haven for easter North American native plants and the wildlife that depends upon them. Ethan Kauffman and Stoneleigh's team of horticulturists have been using cutting edge techniques, planting lesser-known species, and creating formality with an exclusively native plant palette that has elevated this garden to a must-see destimation for all garden enthusiasts.  ​

  • 10:30am-11:00am Natives in Context – Tom Smarr 

    • Tom Smarr, Executive Director of the Jenkins Arboretum will share a lecture focused on some of his favorite native plants used in the landscape. Join him as he shares how to create living plant communities that are both aesthetically pleasing but functional in a cohesive landscape. With his extensive knowledge of integrating native plants into a wide array of public gardens from NYC's Highline to the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Tom is a national leader in cultivating outstanding and functional gardens.​

  • 11:00am-11:30am Panel Discussion led by Brian Zimmerman

11:30am-1:00pm       Lunch served at pavilion (provided with registration)

1:00pm-2:45pm        Speaker Panel 2: Plant Palette Expansion


  • 1:00pm-1:40pm The Foodscape Revolution – Brie Arthur

    • Brie Arthur, the leader of the foodscape revolution, will be sharing her favorite edible ornamental plants and complimentary plants to use in the garden. Be inspired to rethink your landscape with innovative ideas and plant selections from growing great grains to integrating herbs and vegetables into your seasonal displays. She will be sharing some of her favorite plants that are not only stunning in the landscape but a welcome addition to your kitchen too!​

  • 1:40-2:20pm  Extending the Seasons – David Culp

    • Brandywine Cottage is one of the nation's premiere private gardens, with a dynamic progression of blooms. Each month brings new excitement and new interest with plants blooming during every month throughout the year. Author and famed plantsman, David Culp will share the secret to creating an array of interest throughout the fall and into spring as he focuses our attention on plants which can extend the seasons.​

  • 2:20pm-2:45pm Panel Discussion led by Matthew Ross

  • 3:00pm-3:10pm Matthew Ross

  • 3:10pm-3:45pm Belvidere: Evolution of a Plantsman's Garden – Andrew Bunting

    • ​Dive into the 25-year evolutionary process of famed plantsman and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s VP of Horticulture, Andrew Bunting as he transforms his suburban Philadelphia property into a renowned private garden consisting of multiple unique small spaces including his newly established gravel garden that was featured in The New York Times. Learn about how a professional designs container for the summer, herbaceous borders, and woodland gardens with a pond. Be inspired by how a joint project with a neighbor helped to create a 4,000 square foot fruit and vegetable garden, providing the best of each season’s bounty. In this lecture, Andrew covers his approach to garden design, plant choice, seasonal displays, and his maintenance regime. This lecture tells the story of one person’s ongoing trials and tribulations to creating a home garden that will inspire all.

  • 3:45pm-4:20pm A Vision of Beauty: Reflecting Mission in Living Collections Displays – Caroline Tait

    • ​As Botanical Gardens & Arboreta seek deep connection & relevance with communities in a time of change and uncertainty, how can our gardens go beyond the hook of beauty to tell meaningful stories with deeper purpose? Hear how Holden Forests & Gardens are redefining what intention, growth and consolidation within living collections means for not just horticulturists, but for avid gardeners and the broader industry too. Through process upgrading & automation, including living collections in broad conversations, and empowerment & skills development, different plant choices are made, and more integrated designs defined. For HF&G Living Collections: Wonder & Value = Beauty.

  • 4:20pm-4:45pm Panel Discussion led by Matthew Ross

2:45pm-3:00pm        Break

3:00pm-4:45pm       Speaker Panel 3: Elevating Landscape Design





















4:30pm-4:45pm        Closing commentary 

                                     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5:30pm                       Doors open for dinner and silent auction 

6:00pm-8:00pm       Dinner with silent and live auctions

Saturday, July 22

9:00am-10:30am      Keynote presentation by Jack Barnwell

                                      Jack will share some of his favorite designs, plants, and techniques that

                                         have made him one of America's most recognized faces in horticulture.

                                         From tried-and-true stalwarts to the next wave of new plants, Jack is

                                         sure to captivate you.

10:30am-11:00am     Break

11:00am-2:00pm      Off-site landscape tours

                                         We'll take a bus tour to some of the most awe-inspiring residential   

                                          landscapes in Michigan on a trip around East and West Bay. Learn

                                          from award-winning designers and their teams as we are inspired by

                                          the  mastery of their hardscape designs and the breadth of plant                                                        material. Boxed lunches will be enjoyed by the bus, and are included in

                                          your registration. 

Sponsored by 

bottom of page