fbpx 2020 Midwest Tree and Shrub Conference (Online): Diverse Plantings for a Resilient Future | The Morton Arboretum

2020 Midwest Tree and Shrub Conference (Online): Diverse Plantings for a Resilient Future

Schedule and location

Two Thursdays, September 17 and 24, 2020, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Fees and registration

  • Two day registration (S176) $55 member/$62 nonmember  Contact Registrar-ed@mortonarb.org or call 630-719-2468 (M-F, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.) to register for live access 9/24 and both days of recordings.
  • One day registration 9/17 (S176-A) $30 member/$37 nonmember   Closed
  • One day registration 9/24 (S176-B) $30 member/$37 nonmember   Register Now

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


Course description

Rethink the way you choose and manage trees and shrubs in this virtual conference with leading designers and plant experts. Spread over two Thursday mornings, the program includes lively presentations of the best new information on the selection and care of hardy, versatile trees and shrubs.  Anyone interested in trees and shrubs, from avid home gardeners and landowners to green-industry professionals (like nursery practitioners, arborists, estate gardeners, land managers, landscape designers, landscape architects, landscape contractors, parks and recreation professionals, and municipal foresters), will find valuable information and networking opportunities in this online conference from The Morton Arboretum.


Day 1: Thursday, September 17

8:30  a.m. Welcome and Introductions

8:45 a.m. Tree Breeding, Selection, and Evaluation for Cold Climate Conditions

Todd P. West, Ph.D., Professor of Horticulture and Director of the Woody Plant Improvement Program, North Dakota State University 

North Dakota State University has been evaluating and selecting ornamental woody plants for over 60 years and has introduced over 50 ornamental woody plants with increased disease tolerance and winter hardiness for landscape focusing on environmental (hardiness and pH tolerance) conditions. This presentation will give insights on the NDSU woody plant improvement program with discussing research and ornamental releases.

9:45 a.m. Break

10:00 a.m. EAB and the Rear-View Mirror.  What is Next for Our Ash Resource?

Fredric Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Horticulture, Joliet Junior College and Senior Scientist-Entomology, The Morton Arboretum 

Now that EAB has moved through most of Illinois, the next question is: what now? Here we will discuss how ash is bouncing back, how will we manage ash in the future, and how long do we need to keep protecting our ash trees?  Management topics will cover on-going efforts with biological control, species diversity, and developments in host plant resistance. 

11:00 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. Back to Basics: Health Care of Trees and Woody Shrubs in Urban Landscapes

Chad M. Rigsby, Ph.D. Research Scientist and Technical Support Specialist, Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories

Urban landscapes present some of the most challenging environments for growing woody plants. This talk will provide an overview for caring for woody plants in these stressful environments, from planting young plants and soil management to pruning and integrated pest management for arthropods and diseases.

12:00 p.m. Closing remarks and virtual networking

Day 2: Thursday, September 24

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introduction

8:45  a.m. Why Woodies: What, Where, & When? 

Craig Bergmann, RLA, ASLA President Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Inc. 

The structural importance of woody plants in the landscape is undeniable. Incorporating them to be successful over time in a mixed garden setting can be the challenge. Craig will share some of his innovative solutions that have proven to be aesthetically and horticulturally sound. 

9:45 a.m. Break

10:00 a.m. Planning for a Healthy, Diverse, Urban Forest in the Chicago Region

Lydia Scott, M.S., Director, Chicago Region Trees Initiative

Trees improve the quality of life where we live, work, and play. Trees also face ever-increasing threats from pests, pathogens, and invasive species. The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) works with communities to inspire people to plant and value trees, expand the forest in our communities,  and the need to ensure trees receive adequate care so they can grow bigger and live longer. Lydia Scott, Director of CRTI, will describe efforts and a collaborative master plan based on Chicago tree survey data to improve the health of the urban forest so it may continue to serve future generations and the role each person and landscape can play.  

11:00 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. Healthy Roots for Healthy Trees

Allyson Salisbury, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Arboriculture, The Morton Arboretum

It's easy to spend a lot of time admiring the aboveground half of a tree, but we can't forget about what is happening belowground. There's a lot happening under our feet that is critical for tree growth and health. In this session, participants will learn about the fundamentals of tree root biology - how they grow, where they grow, and why. We'll also learn about how principles of root biology inform and guide best management practices for planting and caring for trees in the built environment. 

12:00 p.m. Closing remarks and virtual networking


Limit 300 participants/registrants

Course Number: S176 (2-day), S176-A (Sept 17 only), S176-B (Sept 24 only)


Two Thursdays, September 17 and 24, 2020, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. entirely online. Registration closes 5 hours before the event begins. Information for accessing the meeting using Zoom web conferencing will be sent to registrants the morning of the event.


Registration fee includes receiving access to recordings of the talks for six months following the program.

Two day registration (S176) $55 member/$62 guest

One day registration (S176-A) $30 member/$37 guest

One day registration (S176-B) $30 member/$37 guest



Course number


Headshot of Craig Bergmann

Craig Bergmann is a Registered Landscape Architect, garden designer, plantsman, and lecturer. He founded Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Inc. in 1982. All design is done under his supervision. Craig is uniquely self-taught, gardening since he was five years old with a gift of his own garden plot from his father. His company provides garden design through installation, and continued maintenance in the metropolitan Chicago area. Nationally, current design projects range from the desert and hills of southern California, the beach communities of Central Florida and along the Hudson River in New York. With the help of 70+ staff members, including a nursery facility, he is able to collaborate with a great atelier of talent & dedication.

Headshot of Fred Miller

Dr. Fredric Miller is a professor of horticulture at Joliet Junior College, and a Senior Scientist Entomology at The Morton Arboretum. He received a bachelor’s degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri, a M.Sc. in entomology from the University of Arkansas, and a Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University. His research efforts focus on host plant resistance of ornamental woody plants, biological control of EAB, and ash regeneration. He is an active member of the ISA and IAA, and is a Board Certified Master Arborist.

Headshot of Chad Rigsby

Chad Rigsby received his Ph.D. from Wright State University in 2016 and spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Rhode Island. Chad joined The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories in 2018 as a Research Scientist and Technical Support Specialist, where he conducts arboriculture research and interacts with arborists, urban foresters, and others in the green industry to promote proper tree management in the urban landscape. Chad has authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications, given numerous talks at society meetings, workshops, and community meetings and was awarded the Postdoctoral Fellow Research & Scholarship Excellence Award at The University of Rhode Island.

Headshot of Lydia Scott

Lydia Scott is the Director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI). Founded by The Morton Arboretum, the CRTI is a coalition of ~200 organizations working together to improve the health of the urban forest resulting in improved quality of life. The CRTI provides training, education, and outreach to communities, landowners, and managers; works to improve policies, local and regional plans; and promotes the preservation and protection of trees and their ecosystems. The CRTI has the most in depth and extensive urban forestry dataset in the U.S. This dataset informs the action and direction of CRTI. Lydia holds a Master's of Science degree from the University of Illinois in Environmental Science and has 25 years experience in conservation and urban forestry.

Headshot of Allyson Salisbury

As the postdoctoral researcher on the Illinois Tollway Project, Allyson Salisbury is responsible for implementing a multi-year research project aimed at improving management practices for growing trees in highway settings. She is an environmental scientist who is broadly interested in how we use plants and ecological knowledge to help plants grow better in highly disturbed environments and manage pollution. To do this she uses techniques from plant physiology and soil science to examine relationships between plants and urban soils. She is also very interested in heavy metal pollution as well as urban biodiversity.

Headshot of Todd West

Dr. Todd P. West is a Professor of Horticulture at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and director of the NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program. This program focuses on the development of new woody cultivars suited for USDA hardiness zone 3 and 4. The purpose of this project is to increase the breeding efforts and germplasm collections for ornamental woody plants suited for cold continental climates. This program has released 59 ornamental woody plants to the nursery industry, many of which have been shown to be the hardiest selections of their type in the commercial nursery industry.