Southeastern Plant Symposium

Presented by Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs

  • Friday, June 10, 2022 – 9:00 am4:30 pm
  • Friday, June 10, 2022 – 6:00 pm8:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 11, 2022 – 9:00 am4:45 pm

Hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Presenting Sponsor

Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs logo

Calling all plantaholics, plant nerds, nurserymen, gardeners, and horticulturists! We are thrilled to announce the fourth annual JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden Southeastern Plant Symposium. Join us for two very full days of plant lust as we host the best of the best to talk about cutting-edge plants. We've got plant explorers, plant breeders, nurserymen, and other experts for a two-day deep dive into what's new and exciting in the plant world. What could be better than great lectures and mingling with your fellow horti-thusiasts? How about a chance to get your hands on some of the most exciting plants during the completely mind-numbing, fever-inducing silent auction. This is the one garden event that you definitely don't want to miss!

Colocasia 'Waikiki'


Friday, June 10

Eleftherios Dariotis (Liberto Dario on Facebook), Horticulturist
Adam Black, Assistant Curator and Head of Propagation, Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Arboretum
Dan Hinkley, Plantsman and Owner, Windcliff and Director Emeritus, Heronswood
Patrick McMillan, Ph.D., Horticultural Manager, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens
Kelly D. Norris, Gardener, Curator, Artist, and Owner, Three Oaks Garden
Peter Zale, Ph.D., Associate Director of Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections, Longwood Gardens

Saturday, June 11

Tony Avent, Co-owner, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights Nursery
Ian Caton, Co-owner, Wood Thrush Natives
Shannon Currey, Marketing Manager, Hoffman Nursery
Richard Hawke, Director of Ornamental Plant Research, Chicago Botanic Garden
Hayes Jackson, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama A&M University
Adrienne Roethling, Director, Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden
Janice Swab, Professor Emerita, Biology, Meredith College
Mark Weathington, Director, JC Raulston Arboretum

Friday Presentations

Bouvardia ternifolia in scene of Texas mountains

"The Botanical Riches of Texas: A Gold Mine for Southeastern Horticulture"
Adam Black, Assistant Curator and Propagator, The Bartlett Arboretum

From the Pineywoods of east Texas to the Chihuahuan Deserts of the Trans-Pecos, Texas offers a dizzying array of exciting native perennials, ferns, grasses, etc., unknown to horticulture, many of which often prove remarkably adaptable to cultivation elsewhere. Attractive endemic rarities abound, mixing with exotic Mexican plants barely ranging across the southern border, while westernmost representatives of familiar southeastern flora are often tougher than their eastern counterparts—built to withstand the hostile nature of the Texas environment—and therefore your garden as well!

"Perennial Pleasures from a Pacific Northwest Garden"
Dan Hinkley, Plantsman and Owner, Windcliff and Director Emeritus, Heronswood

Dan will discuss some recent and not so recent introductions from abroad and his own backyard that has him transfixed in his gardens of Windcliff and Heronswood near Kingston, Washington.

Trillium discolor

"Palmetto State Perennials for Southeastern Gardens"
Patrick McMillan, Ph.D., Horticultural Manager, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens

Though it is often ignored as a source of great plants, South Carolina, with 4050 species of plants growing wild enjoys one of the richest and most glorious floras of any state. Numerous plants from this region can enhance your garden both visually and environmentally. South Carolina’s flora includes plant species adapted to environments ranging from cool mountain coves to desert-like outcrops and hot, humid savannas and swamps. Drought and heat-adapted ecotypes, pollinator magnets and simply spectacular new introductions such as Ravenel's Eryngo have resulted from selections made from South Carolina Natives. Join, horticulturist, naturalist, television personality, and conservation biologist, Patrick McMillan, the lead author of A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina (USC Press, 2022) for a tour de force of the unique and garden-worthy plants that call the Palmetto State home.

natural landscape

Consilience: At the Intersections of Horticulture, Ecology, Design, and Curation
Kelly D. Norris, Gardener, Curator, Artist, and Owner, Three Oaks Garden

My life's work orbits the world of plants, tracing an arc that intersects multiple disciplines. On any given day, I'm as likely to be puttering in my garden as I am to be traipsing about a prairie or modeling plant communities in my studio. The richness of perspectives offered by each of these disciplines leads to diverse plantings that celebrate biodiversity and the legacy of landscapes while offering a template for how to plant the world a more beautiful, ecologically connected place. Through consilience, I believe we can discover a desirable address at the intersections of horticulture, ecology, design, and curation.

collage of Bletilla flowers

"Noteworthy Plants from the Research and Conservation Program at Longwood Gardens"
Peter Zale, Ph.D., Associate Director of Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections, Longwood Gardens

At Longwood gardens, we use a variety of methods to obtain, develop, and introduce new plants for use in the gardens and beyond.  This presentation will cover the roles that plant exploration, plant breeding, plant conservation, and strategic plant collections development play in this process and highlight some of the most exciting new introductions currently growing in our Research Nursery and in the gardens. Although we work broadly across a variety of plant groups, some of the focal groups highlighted in this presentation include Bletilla, Cypripedium and hardy orchids in general, Phlox, Arisaema, and many others.

Saturday Presentations

Eriogonum allenii

"Rare Plants and Plant Communities of the Appalachian Region"
Ian Caton, Co-owner, Wood Thrush Natives

This lecture is an introduction to some of the rare species and the communities from which they are found that I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, both growing and introducing them into the horticultural trade. Some may by now be familiar, but others are still quite unknown. Many have broad applications to gardening in challenging areas such as green-roofs, urban brownfields, city hell-strips, and salted roadsides. Others are curiosities that may be easily grown in a typical garden.

ornamental sedge with golden foliage

"Sedges Step Into the Spotlight"
Shannon Currey, Marketing Director, Hoffman Nursery

Sedges may be backup singers in the plant world, but they're beginning to steal the show. This group of herbaceous perennials is diverse in colors, textures, and cultural adaptations. Asian varieties shine with beautiful habits, variegation, and color. North American natives are getting attention for their versatility in layered plantings and as alternatives to mulch and traditional lawns. The Southeast has a wealth of native Carex that are well-adapted to our conditions and support pollinators, birds, and small mammals. Awaken your inner sedge head as we bring Carex out of the background and into the spotlight.

trial garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden

"Proving Their Worth: Plant Evaluation Trials at Chicago Botanic Garden
Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager, Chicago Botanic Garden

Hundreds of new perennials are introduced every year, and whether gardeners are excited or disappointed by the plants depends in part on a rigorous evaluation to determine their cultural adaptability, disease and pest resistance, and winter hardiness. Richard Hawke will share information on perennials that are proving to be beautiful, reliable, and hardy in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s evaluation trials.

"Welcome to the Jungle … Creating a Tropical Oasis Beyond the Tropics"
Hayes Jackson, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama A&M University

Everyone loves the feeling of tropics … the swaying palm trees, exotic flowers in vibrant colors, and fabulous foliage of various shades of green. Tropical landscapes in colder climates of the South can be easy when using the hardiest palms, bold textured perennials, and a few hardier selections of other warm climate plants. Join Hayes as he highlights some of his selections of plants that he has utilized in creating the Tropical Courtyard planting at Longleaf Botanical Gardens in Anniston, Alabama. Hayes will also delve into some of the latest trials and successes of pushing the limits in horticulture in the upper reaches of zone 8 in central Alabama.

Jasminum officinale 'Frojas'

"Tied Up and Twisted: Plants That Weave, Scramble, and Meander"
Adrienne Roethling, Director, Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden

Vines is not a scary word. There are many worthy vines that belong in the garden. Vines can interlace like yarn on a stark wall, connect elements together, extend the height of a border, or wander aimlessly. The choice is yours to make. Let's take a look at some garden worthy vines that offer pizzazz without the burden of aggressiveness.

Friday Speakers

Adam Black

Adam Black
Assistant Curator and Head of Propagation, Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Arboretum

Adam Black is a lifelong plant enthusiast with a passion for the rare, unusual, and esoteric. He combines his experience in the fields of botany and horticulture by promoting diverse landscapes while also collaborating with various gardens and universities documenting and collecting imperiled plant species for the purposes of research and conservation. Currently assistant curator and head of propagation at Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Arboretum in Charlotte, North Carolina, he previously was a botanical/horticultural consultant and also served as director of The John Fairey Garden (formerly Peckerwood Garden) in Hempstead, Texas.

Dan Hinkley

Dan Hinkley
Plantsman and Owner, Windcliff and Director Emeritus, Heronswood

Dan is a renowned teacher, writer, plant explorer and winner of several awards, including the prestigious Liberty Hyde Bailey Award and the Veitch Memorial Medal from the Royal Horticulture Society. Known for international plant exploration, he is just as famous for starting the garden Heronswood which became world renowned for its mail order catalog of rare and unusual plants. He serves on the boards of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden Trust and the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden Endowment Trust. Dan is the author of two books and has a third one in progress. Currently, he lives in Indianola, Washington, and is realizing his latest endeavor, the gardens of Windcliff.

Patrick McMillan, Ph.D.

Patrick McMillan, Ph.D.
Horticultural Manager, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens

Patrick is a lifelong gardener and the horticultural manager at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Patrick received his B.S. in biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Clemson University. He is perhaps best known as the Emmy Award-winning host, co-creator, and writer of the popular ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. For over 30 years, Patrick has worked as a professional naturalist, biologist, and educator. His range of experience has concentrated on botany, though he is also well-respected through his work in ichthyology, herpetology, and mammalogy. Patrick is a professional naturalist, and served as the Glenn and Heather Hilliard Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University, where he was also a faculty member in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum and the Clemson Experimental Forest, and an honorary member of the Clemson University Class of 1939. Before joining the staff of JLBG, he was director of Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Washington.

Kelly Norris

Kelly D. Norris
Gardener, Curator, Artist, and Owner, Three Oaks Garden

Kelly D. Norris is one of the leading horticulturists of his generation. An award-winning author and plantsman, Kelly’s work in gardens has been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Fine Gardening, Garden Design, and in numerous local and regional media appearances. His passion for planting at the intersections of horticulture and ecology has culminated in a new book New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden which debuted in 2021 from Cool Springs Press. Kelly also presents plants for Cottage Farms Direct on QVC and lectures widely to consumer and industry audiences. Kelly holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University.

Peter Zale

Peter Zale, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collection, Longwood Gardens

Peter Zale, Ph.D., holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics (2009, 2014) from The Ohio State University and is currently associate director, Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections, at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  In this position, he leads curatorial activities, the plant breeding programs, the plant exploration program, the plant conservation program, and plant collections curation efforts.  He has participated in over 25 plant exploration expeditions throughout the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar, the Republic of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and China.  In his spare time, he has been building his own "private botanical garden" rich in collections of hardy geophytes, woodland plants, trees, shrubs, and a variety of other plants that reflect personal interests in a wide variety of plant groups.  

Saturday Speakers

Tony Avent, Contrarian Plantsman, Writer, and Founder of Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanical Gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina, both being based on extensive field research, educational outreach, and conservation. Not only has Tony completed 60 international and southeastern United States botanical expeditions, but he is a popular freelance garden writer and lecturer (over 640 lectures since 1990). He is also a prolific hosta breeder. Tony serves on many committees, including the USDA-ARS Hardiness Zone Map Revision Advisory Committee, North Carolina Department of Agriculture Plant Conservation Scientific Committee, and the Woody Plant Advisory Committee. He's a contributing editor for Horticulture magazine and was an invited participant in the St. Louis Summit, a workshop on linking ecology and horticulture to prevent plant invasions.

Ian Canton

Ian Caton
Co-owner, Wood Thrush Natives

Ian Caton has been the owner/operator of Wood Thrush Natives (formerly Enchanters Garden) since March of 2013. Wood Thrush Natives is a nursery specializing in native plants of the Appalachian region including West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and North Carolina. A focus of the nursery is the introduction of new and rare native plants which are little known or underappreciated in the nursery trade. Previously, Ian had been an employee of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates (a landscape firm specializing in the use and promotion of native plants in landscaping) since 2001 and has an ongoing relationship with the firm and its educational arm: The New Directions in the Landscape program.

Shannon Currey

Shannon Currey
Marketing Director, Hoffman Nursery

Shannon Currey has been with Hoffman Nursery for 15 years, where she's been learning, writing, and talking about grasses and sedges. She started her career as a social scientist but changed fields in 2003 to pursue horticulture at NC State University. At Hoffman Nursery, she had a range of responsibilities, including coordinating the trial program and managing the sales team. She leaves the nursery at the end of June and plans to continue working in horticulture. Shannon is currently Southern Region director for the Perennial Plant Association and chairs its Education Advisory Committee. She represents the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association on the NC Plant Conservation Scientific Committee and was honored with the 2020 Libby Wilder Award for outstanding contribution to the nursery industry by a female.


Richard Hawke
Director of Ornamental Plant Research, Chicago Botanic Garden

Richard Hawke is director of ornamental plant research at the Chicago Botanic Garden and responsible for the breeding, evaluation, and introduction programs. He previously managed the plant evaluation program from 1985 to 2022. Richard has a horticulture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an instructor for the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the author of Plant Evaluation Notes, and is an author and contributing editor for Fine Gardening. In 2005, Richard received the Perennial Plant Association's Academic Award for teaching excellence. The Plant Evaluation Program received the Award for Program Excellence from the American Public Garden Association in 2008. Richard is currently president-elect on the board of directors for the Perennial Plant Association.

Hayes Jackson

Hayes Jackson
Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama A&M University

Hayes Jackson graduated from Auburn University with a degree in landscape design and ornamental horticulture and a Master's in environmental biology at Jacksonville State University. Hayes is the urban regional Extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama A&M University. He works in Anniston with community-based programs in urban horticulture. Hayes also serves as the liaison to Longleaf Botanical Gardens in Anniston in collaboration with the city of Anniston and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.


Adrienne Roethling
Director, Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden

Adrienne Roethling was appointed director of the Paul J. Ceiner Botanical Garden (PJCBG) in Kernersville, North Carolina, in 2021. Prior to her appointment, her active, hands-on participation in the management of the gardens and its public activities since 2008 have won her scholarships from Chanticleer Gardens and American Public Gardens Association for further training in professional development. Adrienne trained at Longwood Gardens and previously worked for eight years as garden curator for Juniper Level Botanic Gardens at Plant Delights Nursery prior to going to the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden which she joined as curator of PJCBG. Adrienne is a public speaker and writes for national and local publications as well as Martha Steward Living online blog.

Janice Swab

Janice Swab
Professor Emerita, Biology, Meredith College

Janice Swab has spent her life teaching, mostly in North Carolina, and has been fortunate enough to travel in many countries and to teach in several. In addition to Fulbright Grants in Egypt, Sudan, Zambia, and India, she has taught four semesters by invitation in China and done research in the USSR as an exchange scientist through the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She is a botanist and has spent years traveling for plant study and following Charles Darwin’s five-year voyage around the world. Though retired since 2008, Janice continues to teach as adjunct at Meredith and to travel. She mainly teaches science methods to students at Meredith who are preparing to teach science in middle and secondary schools. Her recent interests lie mainly in the arctic regions, and she has spent several months in this fascinating part of the world over the last seven years. She is active in a number of botanical and environmental organizations. She is a a member of Phi Beta Kappa; Beta Beta Beta biological honor society; the Society of the Sigma Xi scientific honorary society; and have received the Meredith College Teaching Award and the Faculty Library Award.

Mark Weathington

Mark Weathington
Director, JC Raulston Arboretum

Mark Weathington is the director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University where he is passionate in his work to connect people with plants. His latest book, Gardening in the South: The Complete Homeowner's Guide, takes his common sense approach and a bit of humor and makes gardening accessible for any level of gardener.

Mark travels extensively searching for new plants to diversify the American landscape and lecturing on a variety of topics in horticulture to further the JC Raulston Arboretum's vision of "Planning and Planting a Better World." His explorations and speaking engagements have taken him to China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Ecuador, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and throughout the United States.


Presenting Sponsor

Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs

Student Scholarships Sponsor


Break Sponsors

Friday Morning

Leaf & Limb

Friday Afternoon

North Carolina Farm Bureau

Saturday Morning


Speaker Sponsor

August (Gus) A. De Hertogh Educational Endowment


Become a Sponsor Sponsorship opportunities are available for the annual Southeastern Plant Symposium hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Events like this innovative symposium are only possible through the support of our fellow horticulturists. We hope that you will consider sponsoring the symposium so that we can continue sharing the endlessly exciting discoveries in the world of plants. Proceeds support the mission of the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Juniper Level Botanic Garden Endowment.


The host hotel for the Southeastern Plant Symposium is the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. The Sheraton is located at 421 South Salisbury Street.


  • Located in downtown Raleigh
  • Onsite cafe and restaurant
  • Indoor, modern fitness center
  • Within walking distance of restaurants, breweries, amphitheaters, and museums
  • Within walking distance of a few R-LINE bus stops – the R-LINE is Raleigh's free circulator bus service with destinations throughout much of downtown

Book Your Room

Hotel ReservationsTo make your reservation, please visit Sheraton Raleigh Hotel's Web site. The host hotel is located at 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601. When making a reservation using the link above, our group name is already applied. If you call in your registration, please mention "North Carolina State University Southeastern Plant Symposium." Please note that our group rate expires on Monday, May 23.

Early: $250.00 (ends Sunday, May 29); late registration: $300.00 (starts, Monday, May 30); and $80.00 for optional Friday dinner and evening presentation.
Advance registration is required. Please register online using our registration e-store (in-person program and online program). 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.
Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Please write for more information about this symposium.