Southeastern Plant Symposium and Rare Plant Auction
Hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden
Friday, June 16, 2023 – 9:00 am–4:30 pm
Friday, June 16, 2023 – 6:00 pm–8:30 pm – Optional Evening Dinner
Saturday, June 17, 2023 – 9:00 am–4:30 pm
The 2023 Southeastern Plant Symposium is two days of incredible, enlightening programs for plant lovers with a focus on woody ornamentals.
Join fellow plantaholics, plant geeks, nurserymen, gardeners, and horticulturists to rethink and reinvigorate modern landscapes. We're talking plants outside our backdoors to plants around the world, low input but high impact performers, super-functional and beautiful to native, rare and unusual. Do not miss this two-day deep dive into what's new and exciting in the plant world!
Can’t make it in person? This event will be live-streamed over Zoom and recordings of the presentations will be made available to all participants. Sign up to attend online so you don’t miss a moment of this spectacular symposium!
Registration fees include Friday and Saturday presentations, networking breaks, and lunch on Friday and Saturday.
The Friday evening dinner presentation is optional and requires an additional registration fee. To attend the Friday dinner presentation, select the dinner and presentation option during registration. Additional guests can be added for only the Friday dinner presentation during registration.
Early Registration (ends Sunday, May 14, 2023): $250.00.
Regular Registration (Monday, May 15 through Sunday, June 11, 2023): $300.00.
Late Registration (Monday, June 12 through Thursday, June 15, 2023): $350.00.
Optional Friday Evening Dinner Presentation: $80.00.Registration for In Person Attendance Registration for Online Attendance
Ball Horticultural Student Scholarships
Thanks to the generosity of Ball Horticultural Inc., the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden are pleased to offer 10 student scholarships to this year's Southeastern Plant Symposium.
Applicants must be actively working towards a degree (associate, bachelor's, or graduate level) or have graduated with a degree in 2023. Scholarships will cover the full cost of the symposium including Friday's dinner presentation and one night accommodations in the conference hotel if coming from out of town. The application deadline is 12:00 pm EDT May 19, 2023.2023 SEPS Student Scholarship Application
Friday, June 16
- 8:00 am
- 9:00 am
- WelcomeTony Avent, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights NurseryMark Weathington, JC Raulston Arboretum
- 9:15 am
- Richard Olsen, U. S. National Arboretum"Where the Wild Things Are: The Role of Cultivation in Plant Conservation" Morning Keynote Sponsored by First Editions | Shrubs and Trees
- 10:15 am
- 10:30 am
- Scott McMahan, Atlanta Botanical Garden"Tales of Success from ABG’s Test Grounds"
- 11:30 am
- 1:00 pm
- Nina Bassuk, Cornell University, Urban Horticulture Institute, School of Integrative Plant Science"Selecting Great Plants and Their Limitations: Focus on Hybrid Oaks"
- 2:00 pm
- Break Sponsored by North Creek Nurseries
- 2:15 pm
- Tom Ranney, NC State University, Department of Horticultural Science"Garden Innovations: The Golden Age of Plant Breeding" Afternoon Keynote Sponsored by Plant Development Services
- 3:15 pm
- 3:30 pm
- Anthony Aiello, Longwood Gardens"Japanese Flowering Cherries in America: A Long Love Affair"
- 4:30 pm
- 6:00 pm
- Optional Evening Dinner (additional registration fee)Sponsored by Proven Winners ColorChoice Flower Shrubs
- 7:30 pm
- Emma Allen, RHS Garden Wisley"RHS Trials and the Award of Garden Merit"
- 8:30 pm
Saturday, June 17
- 8:00 am
- 9:00 am
- WelcomeTony Avent, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights NurseryMark Weathington, JC Raulston Arboretum
- 9:15 am
- Gary Knox, University of Florida/IFAS, North Florida Research and Education Center"Magnolias for the Deep South"
- 10:00 am
- Jenny Xiang, NC State University, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology"Cornus, Benthamidia, and Swida, Oh My — Making Taxonomy Less Taxing"
- 10:30 am
- 10:45 am
- Judson LeCompte, Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc."Into the Oven: How Spring Meadow Nursery Develops the Next Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrub"
- 11:30 am
- Mengmeng Gu, Colorado State University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture"Noteworthy Plants from Southeast China"
- 12:00 pm
- 1:30 pm
- Ross Bayton, Heronswood Garden"Patience is a Prerequisite: New Trees for Your Garden"
- 2:30 pm
- 3:00 pm
- Auction closes
- 3:00 pm
- David Roberts, Bailey Innovations"Bailey's Plant Breeding: It's a Wonderful Life"
- 3:45 pm
- Greg Paige, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University"Shrubs: The Neglected, Often Forgotten Stepchild of the Garden!"
- 4:15 pm
- Concluding remarksTony Avent, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights NurseryMark Weathington, JC Raulston Arboretum
- 4:30 pm
- AdjournAuction checkout
"Where the Wild Things Are: The Role of Cultivation in Plant Conservation" Richard Olsen, PhD, Director, U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, DC
Through history, gardeners have served as a vast contingent of citizen scientists preserving plant diversity. Cultivating a plant is, more and more, an act of conservation. As such, this talk will celebrate the role gardeners play in ensuring future generations experience the wonders of the plant kingdom.
Dr. Richard T. Olsen serves as the seventh Director of the United States National Arboretum. But he was not always an administrator. In 2006, he joined the arboretum plant breeding team, whose combined efforts have transformed American landscapes with disease-tolerant and improved woody ornamentals, either directly or through enabling industry and academic partners. Projects of note involved ash, boxwood, catalpa, elm, fringe trees, hemlock, and winterhazel, among other endeavors. Since 2015, he lives vicariously through gardeners and scientists, while working to enhance and strengthen partnerships enabling the National Arboretum to thrive in the 21st century.
"Tales of Success from ABG’s Test Grounds" Scott McMahan, Manager of International Plant Exploration, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, GA
In 2001, Scott McMahan began traveling to Asia for the Atlanta Botanical Garden with the purpose of collecting new ornamental germplasm for the Garden. Since then, he has made dozens of scouting, collecting and meeting trips to China, India and Vietnam primarily to further the work of the International Plant Exploration Program (IPEP) at ABG. In 2016, the Plant Exploration Program was officially created and since then Scott and Tim Marchlik (IPEP Coordinator) have been working hard to plant and properly evaluate the material that has been collected over the past 21 years. Scott's talk will focus on the woody plants that have been the true standouts in their evaluation field at ABG's Gainesville location.
Scott McMahan is the manager of the International Plant Exploration Program (IPEP) at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. IPEP focuses on plant exploration and plant evaluation and sponsors a visiting scholar program aimed at the exchange of information and germplasm with our international collaborators. Over the past 20 years, Scott has made nearly 30 exploration trips to China, Vietnam, India, Bhutan, Japan, Taiwan, and Mexico.
"Selecting Great Plants and Their Limitations: Focus on Hybrid Oaks" Nina Bassuk, PhD, Emeritus Professor, The Urban Horticulture Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
This presentation will focus on the important issues of plant selection and where great plant selection is limited in the process of creating a sustainable landscape. Primary among these limitations is soil degradation and remediation. Plant selection can deal with varying nutrient availability, wet and dry soil, insects and disease infestation, solar exposure and climate variables. However, soil compaction must be addressed if the landscape will be successful. In addition, research on new hybrid oaks will be presented to address these environmental and production challenges. Tools and techniques to address plant selection and soil remediation will be presented.
Dr. Nina Bassuk has been a professor and program leader of the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University for the past 42 years. She is on the Board of Directors of the New York State Urban Forestry Council and is co-author of Trees in the Urban Landscape, a text for landscape architects and horticultural practitioners on establishing trees in disturbed and urban landscapes. She works closely with municipalities to help implement best practices in urban forestry management. Now retired, Nina continues to conduct research on woody plants, especially hybrid oaks, and engages in outreach activities.
"Garden Innovations: The Golden Age of Plant Breeding" Tom Ranney, PhD, JC Raulston Distinguished Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, Raleigh, NC
The golden age of plant breeding is upon us. With access to the world's flora and advanced plant breeding techniques, the opportunity for new plant innovations is boundless. Never before has there been such a groundswell of exciting new plant developments and we have barely scratched the surface. Tom will touch on diverse genera, recent introductions, and the future of plant breeding.
Tom Ranney has been a faculty member at North Carolina State University since 1989 and is currently the JC Raulston Distinguished Professor of Horticultural Science. He lives, works, and gardens in the Mountains of Western North Carolina where he has the good fortune to lead a plant breeding program at the Mountain Crop Improvement Lab in Mills River, NC. He and his team have introduced 79 new cultivars including mainstream crops like rhododendron/azalea, dogwood, flowering quince, hydrangea, deutzia, spiraea, and miscanthus to more obscure hybrids like desert orchid and mountain schimlinia 'Schima Lina Ding Dong'.
"Japanese Flowering Cherries in America: A Long Love Affair" Antony Aiello, Associate Director of Collections, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
Japanese flowering cherries are among the most heralded aspects of spring. This talk will discuss the introduction of flowering cherries into the United States, their description and promotion in the early 20th century, and efforts to preserve cultivar diversity. It will provide insight into arboricultural practices to help preserve and extend the life of these beloved trees. Tony will also discuss the role of botanic gardens in introducing, developing, and preserving, cultivated genetic diversity.
Anthony Aiello is Associate Director, Collections at Longwood Gardens, where he participates in tree conservation, plant exploration and evaluation, and collections development. Previously, he served for 22 years as the Gayle E. Maloney Director of Horticulture and Curator at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, where he managed the historic gardens and living collections. These positions allowed him to travel throughout the United States, Europe, China, and Japan to find novel plants suitable for growing in the Delaware Valley. He has a BS from Cornell University and MS from Purdue University and chaired the North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) and participated in the APGA's taxonomy and plant collections committees.
Friday Evening Dinner Presentation(additional registration fee required)
"RHS Trials and the Award of Garden Merit" Emma Allen, Head of Horticultural Relations for the Royal Horticultural Society, London, England
Take a tour of the plant trials at the RHS and hear a brief history of the trails including the trials process, round tables and the value of the Award of Garden Merit.
Emma Allen studied at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and over the years have worked at Borde Hill Garden, Inner Temple and Walpole Park before moving to RHS Garden Wisley in 2016 as Garden Manager responsible for The Glasshouse, Rock Garden, Alpine collections and the Formal Ornamental areas. She is now turning her attention outwards to the wider world of horticulture as Head of Horticultural Relations.
"Magnolias for the Deep South" Gary Knox, PhD, Professor Emeritus, North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Quincy, FL
Dr. Knox's presentation will showcase some exciting new magnolia species and hybrids, as well as highlight native rarities that are worth seeking to plant, conserve, and enjoy.
Dr. Gary Knox recently retired after a 38-year career as Professor of Environmental Horticulture with the University of Florida at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC). Dr. Knox is best known for his work with Magnolias, serving as president of Magnolia Society International and co-organizer of the Third International Symposium on Magnoliaceae in 2016. Dr. Knox's early passion for magnolia was rewarded by Dr. J.C. Raulston with a generous gift of 12 Magnolia taxa. These plants formed the foundation of the Magnolia Garden, now a part of Gardens of the Big Bend, a botanical, teaching, and evaluation garden located on the grounds of the NFREC. As a result of Dr. Knox's efforts, it now contains 112 cultivars, 24 hybrids, and 40 species, of which 8 are categorized as vulnerable or endangered.
"Cornus, Benthamidia, and Swida, Oh My — Making Taxonomy Less Taxing" Jenny Xiang, PhD, Professor, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, NC State University, Raleigh, NC
New plant classification systems which are resilient to name changes resulting from the splitting of large genera or families are needed instead of new names being proposed accepted and then rejected seemingly on a weekly basis. Examining the taxonomy and classification history of dogwoods presents an ideal introduction to a classification system based on PhyloCode which aims to make taxonomy more stable.
Dr. Jenny Xiang grew up in a small town in southern China. At age 15, she was admitted to Zhongshan University (Zhongda) to study plant genetics in the biology department. During her studies, she discovered her passion for plant systematics which continued to grow while working in the Department of Taxonomy of the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing. Dr. Xiang earned her PhD in Botany-Plant Molecular Systematics from Washington State University. She has been running a research lab on Plant Molecular Systematics and Evolution at NC State University since 2001 where her focus has been largely on the dogwood family Cornaceae and the North Carolina's state flower, Cornus florida L.,. She is a world authority on the family and is the lead author for the treatment of Cornaceae in the Flora of China.
"Into the Oven: How Spring Meadow Nursery Develops the Next Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrub" Judson LeCompte, PhD, Product Development Assistant Manager, Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc., Grand Haven, MI
Dr. LeCompte will highlight how the Research and Development Department at Spring Meadow Nursery has spent the past 30 years introducing some of the industry's most beloved plants and how they plan to continue woody plant improvement in the future.
Dr. Judson LeCompte is an internationally known nurseryman, researcher, speaker, teacher and plant hunter. Based in Grand Haven, Michigan, Dr. LeCompte and the team at Spring Meadow Nursery are developing, selecting, and introducing superior woody plant genetics for the world's leading shrub brand Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs. Hailing from Alabama's "loveliest village on the plain," Dr. LeCompte earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in horticulture at his hometown Auburn University, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. A self-described plant nerd, Judson keeps an extensive plant collection at home and enjoys gardening, "Pure Michigan" summers, and good eating in his down time.
"Noteworthy Plants from Southeast China" Mengmeng Gu, PhD, Professor and Department Head, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Although the Southeastern U.S. is no stranger to plants from China, there are still so many more that deserve our attention. Having lived and worked in the Southeastern U.S. for 20+ years, Dr. Gu has a renewed appreciation of many plants she encountered (or missed) when traveling in China with both her Chinese and American colleagues. Many of them agree, “why don’t we have this in the U.S.?” Let’s take a plant tour and see if you agree with us.
Dr. Mengmeng Gu is professor and department head of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. She graduated with her PhD in Plant Science from the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas. She started at Mississippi State University before moving to Texas A&M University. Her research and extension focused on solving problems in the green industry, such as Japanese beetle, alternative potting mixes, sensor-controlled nursery irrigation and crape myrtle bark scale. She is Vice President of the International Division of ASHS, serves on the ASHS Board, and was inducted as ASHS Fellow in 2022. She is a self-claimed plant geek and has always been eager to learn more.
"Patience is a Prerequisite: New Trees for Your Garden" Ross Bayton, PhD, Director, Heronswood Garden, Kingston, WA
For gardeners who love trees, patience is a prerequisite! 14 years on from the publication of New Trees, join its co-author, Dr. Ross Bayton, to find out how those trees have fared, which are still worth growing, and how hardy tree selection and cultivation at Heronswood differs from down south.
London-born botanist and gardener Dr. Ross Bayton gained his PhD at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, studying the classification of tropical palms. He's the author of several books on horticulture including New Trees: Introductions to Cultivation (with John Grimshaw), Plant Families: A Guide for Gardeners and Botanists (with Simon Maugham), and most recently The Gardener’s Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names, as featured in the New York Times. Formerly the Gardening Editor of the UK’s best-selling gardening periodical, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, he is now the Director of the world-renowned Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Wa., and is developing a 5-acre garden at home in nearby Bremerton.
"Bailey's Plant Breeding: It's a Wonderful Life" David Roberts, Director of Plant Breeding, Bailey Innovations, Bailey Nurseries, Inc., Athens, GA
Hydrangea and Lagerstroemia, two genera that are very well represented on the market today. With such a crowded playing field, creating innovative and exciting new cultivars can be a challenge for any plant breeder. How does one create plants that stand out when everyone is working towards the same goal? Join David as he discusses how the plant breeding team at Bailey Innovations tackle popular yet challenging plant groups and see how they trial their selections to learn which ones are truly unique and which ones are just too familiar for their own good.
David Roberts acquired his master’s degree in horticultural science from North Carolina State University (Dec 2015) with a concentration in ornamental plant breeding. David worked as a graduate student for Dr. Dennis Werner and Dr. Tom Ranney, where he developed a passion for plant breeding and propagation. Bailey Nurseries, Inc. hired David in 2015 to act as the general manager and head plant breeder for Bailey Innovations. David currently serves as the Director of Plant Breeding for Bailey Innovations where he leads breeding direction and coordinates plant trials from their nursery located in Winterville, GA.
"Shrubs: The Neglected, Often Forgotten Stepchild of the Garden!" Greg Paige, Director of Horticulture, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, Raleigh, NC
The diversity and majestic nature of trees cannot be denied. However shrubs are as diverse and are crucial components to any garden and urban landscapes. Let's talk about all things shrub and their better utilization in these important environments.
Greg Paige discovered his career goal early—creating and working in beautiful public gardens and sharing and teaching this passion with others. Prior to joining the JC Raulston Arboretum, Greg was the Director of Horticulture and Arboretum Curator for Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory in Charlotte, NC. His 25-year career in public horticulture has involved work at some of the finest gardens in the country—Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina; the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College; the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina; the Holden Arboretum outside Cleveland, Ohio; and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.