Perennial Plant Conference

Friday, October 14, 2016

Lang Performing Arts Center, Swarthmore College



7:45 – 8:45

Early Risers Tours of Scott Arboretum

7:30 – 9:00

Registration and Coffee

9:00 – 9:15


Claire Sawyers, Director, The Scott Arboretum

9:15 – 10:15

New Perspectives in Design and Maintenance of Habitat-based Perennial Plantings

Cassian schmidt

German gardens have attracted quite a lot of attention over the last few years for their innovative nature-inspired planting design that highlights perennials and grasses. Contemporary German plantings are ecologically based and aim to match habitat with plants. At Hermannshof Garden, most nature inspired plantings, like plantings of stylized North American prairie and Eastern European steppe vegetation, have been modified and enhanced for aesthetic and practical demands. In this talk Cassian will show us how he has taken garden management one step further, developing effective maintenance systems that suit the planting and drastically reduce the labor input, while retaining the gardens’ ornamental character.

10:15 – 10:45

Break: Book and Raffle Ticket Sales

10:45 – 11:30

Making the Most of Shade

Larry Hodgson

Gardening in the shade is not nearly as difficult as it is made out to be. By combining the right techniques with the right plants, it becomes possible to create a flourishing, beautiful garden with plenty of color throughout the season. From spring ephemerals to fall bloomers, there are a surprising number of perennials that flourish in the shade. This group includes old standbys like ferns and hostas, but also a host of lesser-known plants, from anemones to trilliums, that will bring those shady nooks to life. In this talk, not only will you discover dozens of fascinating plants, you’ll learn how to deal with that old bugbear, dry shade, and finally claim that abandoned shady nook as your own.

11:30 – 12:15

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden

Jessica Walliser

How and why should you invite insects to your garden and try to keep them there? Understanding the cycle of predator and prey and harnessing that natural cycle to benefit plant health is key to successful organic gardening. Jessica Walliser, horticulturist, author, and bug aficionado, will give you an entirely new appreciation for bugs! She will present ground-breaking research regarding the intricate connection between plants and insects, and tell you which plants are the best for attracting and supporting beneficial insects in your garden.

12:15– 1:15



1:15– 2:00

Three Case Studies of Modern Plant Exploration

Peter Zale

To the casually interested person, the mention of plant exploration typically invokes romantic images of famous plant explorers in faraway lands, species new to science, exotic (sometimes questionable) foods, and the thrill of discovery. These same images serve as the primary inspiration for new generations of plant explorers, and are the same images that fostered Peter’s personal interest in the field. Now, after designing and implementing over 20 domestic and international collection expeditions, these romanticized images are replaced by cherished memories, compelling stories, interesting plants, and the realities of life in the field. To illustrate the ‘where, how, and why’ of plant exploration, Peter will describe three case studies of plant exploration, each with a different focus, purpose, and outcome.

2:00 - 2:30

Break: Book and Raffle Ticket Sales


BIG Perennials for a Shinking World

Jared Barnes

The world is getting smaller! With more globalization, more efficient technology, and more people, small is now the big thing. Gardening is following the trend as breeders and plant companies select miniature models of plants and pixies for the patio. But, in an ever-shrinking world, we horticulturists shouldn’t forget the friendly giants of the landscape. Jared will share perennials that are huge both in size and in personality and show how to incorporate them into gardens both big and small.

3:15 –3:25

Raffle Winner Announcement

3:25 – 4:25

The Authentic Garden: Celebrating the Exceptional Planting Design in America

Richard Hartlage

Richard will give an overview of trends in planting design used by the most accomplished landscape architects, garden designers and public garden professionals in the US. Based on Richard’s book, The Authentic Garden, this talk will explore the meadow and matrix planting styles prevalent in Germany, the Netherlands, England and Belgium since World War I. These styles are emerging as a significant component of contemporary American landscape architecture. Project examples include private estate gardens as well as public projects, such as Citygarden in St. Louis, Chihuly Gardens and Glass in Seattle, The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and Tongva Park in Santa Monica.

4:25 - 4:30

Closing Remarks

4:30 - 5:30

Happy Hour


Mix and mingle with colleagues and speakers. Enjoy beer, wine, beverages, snacks, and conversation. $20 registration fee. Held in Teaching Garden and Wister Center.


Last shuttle leaves for Springfield Mall.


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