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2019 Midwest Perennial Plant Association Symposium: Back to Basics

Schedule and Location

Saturday, February 2, 2019, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Thornhill Education Center

Fees and Registration

$96.00 member
$120.00 nonmember

Members of the Perennial Plant Association should call the Arboretum Registrar’s Office at 630-719-2468 to receive the member rate.

Fee includes light morning refreshments, a buffet lunch, and all program materials.
Nonmember: Fee includes admission to the Arboretum.

BY PHONE: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course Description

The Perennial Plant Association and The Morton Arboretum are teaming up to offer a day-long symposium entitled, ‘Back to Basics.’ Some of the best writers and most knowledgeable experts in the business will be here, and you’re invited to listen, learn, and ask questions. Horticulture professionals and garden enthusiasts can meet well-known authors, discover great plants, and get ideas and inspiration for the 2019 growing season.



8:30 to 8:45 a.m.   Welcome and Introduction

8:45 to 9:45 a.m.  A Landscape Artist’s Perspective on Perennial Garden Design
Bobbie Schwartz, FAPLD, Bobbie’s Green Thumb, Shaker Heights, Ohio

For years, perennial gardens were designed as side by side blocks of color. Over the past ten to fifteen years, these designs, with European influences, have become more impressionistic. In addition, more importance is being given to foliage, deadheads, and lengthening the seasons of interest. The degree of maintenance is also affected by these changes in design and by plant selection

9:45 to 10:15 a.m.  BREAK

10:15 to 11:15 a.m.   Intriguing Woody Bones for the Perennial Border
Todd Jacobson, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois

Although perennial borders can offer beautiful sweeps of colorful blooms complemented by a wide array of interesting foliage textures, neglecting to add woody accents to the border is a missed opportunity to provide the much needed structure a garden yearns for!  Explore intriguing tree and shrub selections that make for captivating accents in the perennial garden, whether it's their ability to provide complementary blooms, extend the season of interest, create focal points, or even provide a backdrop for seasonal perennial color.

11:15 a.m.to 12:15 a.m. Lessons Learned Under the Trees
Susan Martin, Gardener Sue’s News, Holland, Michigan

Shade. Most of us have it, but many of us are unsure what to do with it. Over a decade of experience gardening in every degree of shade near the Lake Michigan shoreline has taught Susan many lessons and ignited her passion for shade gardening. Much of what she has learned, you’ll never find in books about shade gardening, and she’s ready to share the inside scoop. Learn how to take advantage of the conditions you have, not those you wish you had, and discover life beyond hostas in the shade garden.  

12:15 to 1:15 p.m.  LUNCH

1:15 to 2:15 p.m.  Time-Time: Perennial Plant Breeding and Development at Chicago Botanic Garden
Jim Ault, Ph.D., Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

Jim Ault has been breeding new garden perennials for 23-plus years at Chicago Botanic Garden, using North American native taxa such as Aster, Baptisia, Echinacea, Phlox, Panicum, Vernonia, and other genera, as well as some nonnative taxa (Veronica).  To date, 32 of his selections have been introduced to the horticultural trade and to the gardening public, including the first-ever orange coneflower, Echinacea Orange Meadowbrite®.  Jim will present how he selects his breeding stock using both commercial cultivars and wild-collected plants; conducts the breeding and selection; and finally, propagates and introduces his plants through the collaborative Chicagoland Grows ® plant introduction program.

2:15 to 2:30 p.m.  BREAK

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.  All Gardens Great and Small
Laura Deeter, Ph.D., Ohio State ATI, Wooster, Ohio

A lighthearted romp through landscape design, discussing the follies, foibles, fun, and fantastic things we all do in our gardens!

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Jim Ault
Jim Ault, Ph.D., has been the Director of Ornamental Plant Research at Chicago Botanic Garden for 23-plus years.  As the Garden’s plant breeder he develops new perennial plants for garden use in the upper Midwest and in comparative climates elsewhere.  Jim hybridizes mostly with North American native taxa such as Aster, Baptisia, Echinacea, Phlox, and Vernonia.  He also manages the Chicagoland Grows plant introduction program; participates in plant exploration; manages the Garden’s tissue culture lab; and will be curating the Garden’s nascent orchid collection.  Not getting enough of plants at work, he is also an avid gardener with a greenhouse full of orchids and a backyard full of lilies (Lilium).

Laura Deeter
Laura Deeter received her PhD in horticulture from Ohio State University after studying road-salt tolerance in herbaceous perennials under Dr. Steve Still. She is currently a Full Professor of Horticulture at Ohio State ATI in Wooster, OH teaching a multitude of horticulture classes. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her teaching and service to gardening, and travels extensively around the country speaking on a variety of gardening topics. At home she gardens on her tenth of an acre with her hubby, three dogs, 100 pink flamingos and counts her 300+ species of perennials as dear friends.

Todd Jacobson
Todd is currently Head of Horticulture at The Morton Arboretum, where he has worked since 2003.  He oversees the Arboretum’s horticultural displays, arborists, lawn care, and snow removal operations, and is actively involved in perennial evaluation. He has been in the field of horticulture since graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in ornamental horticulture.  Since then he has gained experience in a number of different green sectors, including interiorscape maintenance, park maintenance, landscape/hardscape installation, municipal landscape design & planning, and public garden grounds management.  He's been an ISA Certified Arborist since 1997.

Susan Martin
Susan Martin is an avid gardener, writer, marketer and speaker for gardening audiences across the U.S. She has spent nearly two decades in the Horticulture Industry working in new plant development, garden design, communications, sales and marketing, including over a decade in management at the largest wholesale grower of bare root perennials in the United States. Susan finds her calling in spreading the joy of gardening to her fellow gardeners, a love which was instilled in her by her parents. She is a native of Michigan where she has been digging in the dirt since age four. Follow her on Facebook at Gardener Sue’s News.

Bobbie Schwartz
Bobbie Schwartz is a certified landscape designer in Shaker Heights, Ohio. A life-long obsessed gardener and a landscape designer for 40 years, she is the owner of Bobbie's Green Thumb, a full-time business focusing on landscape design, consultation, installation and maintenance of residential properties. Since 1988, she has been lecturing locally and nationally on various aspects of garden design and gardening with perennials and grasses.  She writes extensively for various associations and magazines and is the author of Garden Renovation: Transform Your Yard into the Garden of Your Dreams.


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