Winter Symposium

"On the Edge and in the Box: Gardening in Unusual Spaces"

  • Saturday, February 20, 2016 – 8:00 am12:00 pm

She gardens for tigers, elephants, and half a million humans a year. He gardens in shipping containers where edible crops are controlled by smart phones. While our third guest created and maintained award winning green spaces dozens of feet in the air.

The environments, challenges, and goals of these three gardeners couldn't be more different. But they are all united by their willingness to use plants in unexpected ways.

Join the JCRA as we push the boundaries of the word "garden" with three speakers who think outside the box.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

8:00 am   Registration, continental breakfast, and silent auction begins
8:30 am   Marie Butler
9:30 am   Break and auction
9:45 am   Ben Greene
10:45 am   Break and auction
11:00 am   Thomas Smarr
12:00 pm   Conclusion and auction checkout


Virginia Zoo

I Have Elephants in My Garden, So What's Your Problem?

The challenges of zoo horticulture can provide practical techniques and tips that can work for gardeners who don't have elephants in their garden … or 500,000 guests a year, either. When visitors come to the Virginia Zoo, plants are not usually the first thing on their minds, but plants are the first thing they see. From the brightly planted front entrance at Granby Street to the naturalistic African and Asian exhibits, zoo horticulturists use earth friendly techniques to set the stage for our animals and our public. Thirteen theme gardens add beauty and practical ideas for the home gardener, too. Come share insights into gardening with elephants and other wild animals (spring field trips?) at the Virginia Zoo.


Growing and Selling at the Same Site

What if you could visit the farm as easily as you visit the grocery store? Ben Greene of the Farmery is making that happen with a unique growing system that brings farming into densely populated urban areas via modified shipping containers. Producing field-fresh produce in a fraction of the space, Ben's super-smart, super-efficient Crop Boxes have the potential to change the way we shop, eat, and feed the hungry.

High Line

The Future of Urban Parks: The Challenges of Managing Modern Urban Parks

It is predicted that our urban spaces will expand over the next several decades with greater population densities. How do we preserve greenspaces while providing opportunities for rest and play within urban development pressures? How do we manage the unique challenges of types of extraordinary spaces with substantial public use?

Tom will speak about innovative ways to provide healthy and engaging new greenspaces through the discussion of several cutting edge places that have been built with a perspective towards modern public use. Places like the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in Boston, the High Line in New York City, and the newest project, Parklands at Floyds Fork to answer the ways we are developing and managing the challenges to provide desirable greenspaces.


Marie Butler, Ben Greene, and Thomas Smarr

Marie Butler

Marie Mims Butler has a degree in landscape horticulture from NC State University (the University in North Carolina). She taught horticulture at the NC School for the Blind, designed landscapes in Virginia Beach, studied and taught ikebana in Asia, participated in the Master Gardener Program for 24 years, and was deemed worthy to be the tigers' personal gardener at the Virginia Zoological Park. Now she has the enviable position of Landscape Coordinator at the Zoo. She's paid to shop for plants!

Named "Horticulturist of the Year" by the Hampton Roads Nursery and Landscape Association, Marie has presented programs for the Virginia Flower and Garden Show, the Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Short Course for professional horticulturists, the Landscape Design School for the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs, The Herbal Forum at Round Top, Texas, and training sessions for more than eight counties of Master Gardeners. She is a member of the Association of Zoological Horticulture, the American Horticultural Society, the Royal Horticultural Society, and the Garden Writers Association.

Ben Greene

Ben grew up in western North Carolina on an organic farm where he got his first taste of the challenges small farmers face. He joined the military and served as a combat engineer in Iraq. He then graduated from Clemson with a degree in sculpture in 2005. He started the Farmery as part of his graduate thesis in industrial design at NC State University in 2009. He then developed the prototypes for the Farmery's growing systems at night and weekends while working as product designer for a power sports company from 2009–2013. In January, 2015, the Farmery partnered with Williamson Greenhouses to introduce the CropBox, a farm in a shipping container controllable from a smartphone. The Farmery is now focused on opening their first location in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Thomas Smarr

Tom is a seasoned professional with two decades of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation, and organic landscaping. He holds a master 's degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle. He has worked for established institutions such as the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle and the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Massachusetts. But Tom 's most notable work has been leading the management of horticulture at newly urban designed parks starting with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston, built on top of the infamous "Big Dig" and the High Line in New York City as the director of horticulture. He has recently joined 21st Century Parks in Louisville, Kentucky, to work on design and management of horticulture for another modern model park. He is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture practices, and public education.


Fund-raising efforts for the JC Raulston Arboretum operate under the auspices of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 (tax ID #56-6049304).

Continuing Education Credit

The North Carolina Board of Landscape Architects Continuing Education Credits

The North Carolina Board of Landscape Architects has approved this seminar for three hours of continuing education credit. The course number is 11385.

The North Carolina Landscape Contractors' Licensing Board

The NC Landscape Contractors' Licensing Board approved this program for one continuing education unit (course #314). Sign in sheets will be available at the end of the program.
Early registration (ends February 7, 2016): $50.00 for members, $65.00 for nonmembers; late registration (begins February 8, 2016): $65.00 for members, $80.00 for nonmembers.
Advance registration is required. Please register online using our registration e-store. Registration is limited and is considered complete when payment is received.
Program cancellations can be made up to two weeks before the program's start date. A 15% cancellation fee applies.
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Need directions? Click here.
Free parking is available at the JC Raulston Arboretum and along Beryl Road.
Please call (919) 513-7005 for more information about this symposium.