Great Lakes Regional




presented by: 

Awaken all of your senses while attending this two-day Symposium designed for all perennial lovers - professionals, home gardeners and everyone in between. On Friday, visit two nurseries and a winery while mingling with the speakers and other attendees (Perennials fans just like you!) then on Saturday, prepare to be inspired by four unique speakers with lots to share. This event has been planned with the perfect balance of educational and social development in mind. Registration options include a Friday + Saturday Ticket or Saturday Only Ticket but we highly recommend you attend both days to take advantage of the full experience!

Registration is CLOSED for this event.

Looking for accommodations? Suggested hotels are listed below:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites in St. Joseph, MI (closer to the Tours and Tastes day events): CLICK HERE
Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Niles, MI (near the Talks day event): CLICK HERE

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18 | TOURS AND TASTES | Berrien Springs, Michigan


Transportation between locations is not provided so please plan accordingly.

2:00-5:00PM Twixwood Nursery Open House | 2759 E Shawnee Road 

 Twixwood Nursery is one of the country’s premier wholesale growers of groundcovers, perennials, vines, ornamental grasses, and pre-planted and pre-grown Eco-Roofs Green Roof Modules. Delivering weekly, they pride themselves in providing quality plants, excellent service and timely delivery all for an affordable price.

2:00-5:00PM Stonehouse Nursery Open House | 9319 Lauer Road 

 - Stonehouse Nursery is a wholesale grower of the highest quality perennial plugs. They sell to finish growers, grower retailers and landscapers in the United States. Their mission is to spread their passion for plants by offering a unique collection of perennials, produced in an environmentally responsible manner, that will contribute to their customers’ growing success. 

5:00-7:00PM Wine Tasting at Lemon Creek Winery | 533 E. Lemon Creek Road 

 - Lemon Creek's historic vineyard and winery is nestled on 300 rolling acres of vineyards and orchards. Their award-winning wines are 100% estate-grown and bottled to this day by the Lemon family, keeping a tradition that has lasted for more than 160 years. Enjoy a tasting of five Lemon Creek wines and light appetizers during this exclusive event - Lemon Creek is staying open just for you!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19 | TALKS | Niles, Michigan

Located at 13988 Range Line Road in Niles, Michigan, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is a special place where people, plants, and nature come together. Beautiful gardens surrounded by forest are tucked into a landscape of 105 acres of cultivated and natural areas along the scenic St. Joseph River valley. Please check in at the Visitor's Center to be directed to The Sims Education Center where sessions will take place.

8:15AM Registration Opens

9:00AM Welcome

9:15AM Embracing the Culture in Horticulture Benjamin Futa, Director, Allen Centennial Garden

In a time of climate change and rapid cultural transformation, the horticulturist of the future must embrace the culture of horticulture in tandem with the art and science of growing plants. To stay relevant in a changing world, our gardens – and gardeners – have an opportunity to cultivate spaces that are more than simply the sum of their plants. These spaces also can embrace their potential to cultivate, sustain, and foster diverse elements of healthy and resilient communities. Doors open when we think in terms of “and” rather than “or.”

In this session, discover how one University public garden, the Allen Centennial Garden at UW-Madison, has successfully engaged its campus community of students, staff, and faculty to foster a community of passionate plant lovers and future horticultural leaders. 


About the Speaker: Ben is passionate for connecting people to plants, and one another, through public gardens. Ben is most interested in the potential of urban landscapes to provide meaningful, authentic, and transformative horticultural experiences through community engagement and co-creation of green space. His internship experience with the Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park and Fernwood Botanical Garden in southwest Michigan shaped his outlook that public gardens must create gardens and programs with, rather than for, diverse audiences. Also a passionate planting designer, his particular interest lies in designing mixed perennial gardens that embrace ecology as an essential component.


10:30AM Building a Piet Oudolf Public Garden in Detroit Meredith Simpson, Organizing Volunteer, Oudolf Garden Detroit

Piet Oudolf's public gardens transform people and places, and Oudolf Garden Detroit is working with him to create a living work of art along the Detroit River on Belle Isle. Oudolf's gardens, designed for year-round enjoyment, use an inspired and environmentally conscious mis of hardy perennial plants and grasses. As Piet likes to say, he puts the plants on stage and lets them perform! Each of his gardens is unique and created to be site-specific. Listen in as the plans for this challenging project are reviewed, gain insight into Oudolf's design process, and enjoy as we explore his expansive plant palette.

About the Speaker: Meredith is a marketing professional and business owner, and a longtime perennial gardener with particular interet in modern planting design and environmental stewardship. She is helping to lead the garden construction and plant sourcing efforts for Oudolf Garden Detroit. She recently participated in the large-scale volunteer planting for the Oudolf Meadow at Delaware Botanic Garden, and is working with the team of Chicago's Lurie Garden to plan Belle Isle's future maintenance and public education programs. Meredith's long-term goal is to serve the people of Detroit and SE Michigan by maintaining a world-class public garden with ecological practices, guided by the artistic vision and design direction of Piet Oudolf.

11:30AM Lunch (included)

12:30PM A Designer's Tapestry: Weaving Together Color, Texture and Form in the Garden  Susan Martin, Freelance Horticultural Marketer, Writer, Speaker and Consultant 

When you experience an extraordinary garden, its beauty is obvious and often felt deeply, but the dynamics of what makes it beautiful aren't immediately recognized. How can we intentionally create gorgeous gardens, harmonious spaces and well-designed landscapes? The process begins with mastering the use of color, texture and form. In this presentation, we'll learn from the talented professional designers and passionate self-taught gardeners alike how to artfully combine plants in mixed borders and curate outdoor spaces you'll love to live in.

About the Speaker: Susan Marin is a freelance horticultural marketer, writer, speaker and consultant based in West Michigan. Working in numerous branches of the horticulture industry for the past 20 years, she has gained experience in independent garden center and mass merchant sales, merchandising, landscape and container design and installation, new plant development, branding, and marketing at the trade and consumer levels. Susan currently resides on the board of GardenComm as the Great Lakes regional Director.

1:45PM Discovering Wrightscapes: Nature's Forms as Inspiration  - Tony Gomez-Phillips, Garden Redesign Leader, Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center

Frank Lloyd Wright felt nature was an architect’s school that taught the creative possibilities of form, color, pattern, texture, rhythm, and proportion among other principles.  Those principles are reflected in his designs from furniture, to stained glass, to iconic sites like Taliesin and Fallingwater where his buildings were designed to grow out of the landscape as though they evolved there through millennia.  At Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, these natural lines and forms can be seen on display throughout the site as reflected in the architecture, interior décor, and landscaping.  Using the prairie plant palette as inspiration, learn how these gardens were designed to connect people with what Frank Lloyd Wright envisioned as an inviting and beautiful community destination.  

About the Speaker: Tony Gomez-Phillips is heading up the redesign of the William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison, WI.  Prior to that Tony was a horticulturist for 8 years at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in addition to running his viticulture and landscape design LLC.  His varied experience in highly cultivated spaces like vineyards and formal gardens has served as a nice contrast to exploring new naturalized and ecologically diverse plantings in an urban setting.   He feels a benefit of Frank Lloyd Wright’s strong organic architecture is the ability to pursue the “wildness” of the gardens and their interpretation of the site.  He is grateful to be able to share his story with you.

3:00PM Adjourn

Contact Us