Half-day (and an Evening) Symposium

Full—Waitlist Started

"A Passion for Plants"

  • Friday, February 25, 2011 – 6:45 pm9:30 pm
  • Saturday, February 26, 2011 – 8:30 am12:30 pm

Horticultural Heavyweights Hit the JC Raulston Arboretum

A quartet of great plantsmen will be sharing their knowledge on February 25 and 26 at the JC Raulston Arboretum for a not-to-be-missed meeting of the minds. Plant hunter and writer extraordinaire Dan Hinkley brings his wit and wisdom to Raleigh and will be joined by Tony Avent owner of the famed Plant Delights Nursery; Todd Lasseigne, executive director of the newest botanical garden in North Carolina, the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden; and Mark Weathington, the assistant director and curator of collections of the JC Raulston Arboretum. No garden lover should miss this panel of internationally recognized experts as they share their passion for plants with JC Raulston Arboretum members and the general public.


    February 25, 2011 (Friday) – New
6:45 PM   Registration and dessert social
7:30 PM   Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections, JC Raulston Arboretum
"Plants to the People: 35 Years of Collecting, Evaluating, and Distributing Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum"
    February 26, 2011 (Saturday)
8:00 AM   Registration, continental breakfast, and silent action begins
8:30 AM   Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens
"Freeze-Dried and Loving It—Favorite Plants of the Winter Garden"
9:30 AM   Break and auction
9:45 AM   F. Todd Lasseigne, Ph.D., Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden
"Wild and Crazy Horticulture from a Ragin' Cajun: Enlivening the Passion for Plants"
10:45 AM   Break and auction
11:00 AM   Dan Hinkley, Plant Explorer and Author
"Remembering J. C.: Trees, Shrubs, and Vines Shared by a Master Plantsman"
12:00 PM   Conclusion and auction checkout


"Plants to the People: 35 Years of Collecting, Evaluating, and Distributing Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum"New
Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections, JC Raulston Arboretum

The JCRA has a history of searching out new, unusual, and potentially garden worthy plants and evaluating them under real conditions in an effort to diversify the American landscape. Plants with potential are distributed to other botanic gardens, nurseries, specialists, and the public. The strength of the North Carolina green industry and the diversity of the plant palette is in part a testimony to the legacy of J. C. and the arboretum he started and continues to drive the JCRA. After all life is too short for boring plants.

"Freeze-Dried and Loving It—Favorite Plants of the Winter Garden"
Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens

From bulbs to trees, there are certain plants that just bring the winter garden to life, whether through flowers or foliage. Tony will share the details of some that he simply wouldn't garden without.

"Wild and Crazy Horticulture from a Ragin' Cajun: Enlivening the Passion for Plants"
F. Todd Lasseigne, Ph.D., Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden

How does a garden distinguish itself from others? How can garden designers keep their designs from becoming staid? With the practically unlimited palette of plants now available, plus a much heightened awareness of diversity in design styles, there really are few limitations in creating exciting and compelling gardens. This talk will attempt to loosen up the reins in our way of thinking about plants and gardens helping you to unleash your creative spirit and overtake dogma and too much tradition in our gardens and plantings.

"Remembering J. C.: Trees, Shrubs, and Vines Shared by a Master Plantsman"
Dan Hinkley, Plant Explorer and Author

Dan Hinkley's horticultural life can, in many ways, be divided into three epochs. The first involves the countless numbers of plants that J. C. shared with him; boxes arriving in the mail, visits to the NCSU Arboretum with secateurs in hand, or J. C. himself showing up on Dan's doorstep with yet another treasure trove in hand. The second considers the number of plant genera, species, and selections that he and J. C. happened to encounter at the same time, in the same place, in their travels about the Southeast, Northeast, or the Pacific Northwest. And the third concerns those plants that Dan has subsequently encountered; ones that perhaps J. C. had never known before his death, but were those that he would assuredly have loved. Join Dan for a chaotic wandering through these epochs, as one memory evokes another, and in the process is revealed a horticultural tapestry with the immense richness and character that was J. C.

About the Speakers

Tony Avent

Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanical Gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina. Plant Delights Nursery, an international retail mail order nursery, serves as the public face of Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Their mission is to discover, study, select, and make available new perennial plants for both shade gardens and sun gardens around the world. Since 1994, they've taken over 60 botanical expeditions and sponsored many more, both domestic and worldwide in their quest for great new plants. While the nursery offers over 1,600 different perennials at any one time, this represents only about 10% of the living plant collections featured in the gardens. The mission of Juniper Level Botanic Garden is one of aesthetic display of ornamental plants, ex-situ plant conservation, plant evaluation, plant identification, plant exploration, plant propagation, and education about the diversity of ornamental plants from around the world. Their emphasis is southeast U.S. natives, especially those of conservation concern and those whose horticultural desirability make them targets of unscrupulous collectors who decimate wild populations by selling wild collected plants.

Tony is a 1978 graduate from the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University. After graduating, he became the landscape director at the NC State Fairgrounds. From 1985 to 1994, he was the volunteer curator of the Shade House (now the Lath House) at the North Carolina State University Arboretum. In 1987, Tony began his popular weekly garden column in the News & Observer which he continued for 11 years. Tony is an international plant explorer and has visited Argentina, China, Crete, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Texas (five expeditions), and Thailand and Vietnam and has explored the Southeast 43 times. He's a prolific hosta hybridizer and freelance garden writer and lecturer (over 640 lectures since 1990). He 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 and the Symposium Committee at the JC Raulston Arboretum. 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.

Throughout Tony's career, he's received numerous awards including the American Horticulture Society Outstanding Commercial Award, D.H. Copeland/NC Association of Nurserymen Award, Robert Balentine Horticulture Award (Southeastern Flower Show), Marcel Le Piniec Award (North American Rock Garden Society), Nursery Innovator of the Month Award (GM Pro Magazine), Outstanding Alumni Award (NC State University, Department of Horticultural Science, NC Nurserymen Award for Landscape/Beautification of NC State Fairgrounds, Outstanding Journalism Award (Mens Garden Club of America – three times), and the Outstanding Senior (NC State University, Department of Horticultural Science). He's a member in numerous plant societies and is a founding member of the Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum.

So You Want to Start a Nursery, published by Timber Press in 2003, was written by Tony. This comprehensive book touches on a broad range of issues that prospective nursery owners will encounter. If you or someone you know has been thinking about the "n" word, save lots of time, money, and heartache by learning ahead of time what will be involved. Small nurseries looking to expand will also benefit from the detailed information. Topics covered range from selecting the type of nursery that you will start, selecting land, irrigation, writing a catalog, pricing plants, the effect of the nursery business on family relationships, handling employees, as well as marketing your plants.

Dan Hinkley

Dan Hinkley, born in the Zone 4 highlands of North Central Michigan, has had a lifelong interest in plants, leading him to receive his B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture and Horticulture Education from Michigan State University in 1976, and his M.S. in Urban Horticulture from the University of Washington in 1985.

In 1987, while teaching horticulture at Edmonds Community College north of Seattle, he and his partner, Robert L. Jones, began Heronswood Nursery, near Kingston, Washington. Devoted to introducing rare and unusual plants to gardeners of North America, this endeavor has led Dan into the wilds of China, South and Central America, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Nepal, Vietnam, Taiwan, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tasmania, and Canada numerous times a year for the past 22 years. Heronswood Nursery previously listed nearly 3,000 plant species, and has shipped to 48 states as well as England, Europe, and Asia. When W.A. Burpee closed the garden and nursery in May of 2006, Dan independently focused his attentions on continued plant hunting, writing, and speaking.

Dan has written for a number of periodicals, including Pacific Horticulture, The American Gardener, Garden Design, The Gardener, Horticulture Magazine, American Nurseryman, Gardens Illustrated, Martha Stewart Living, Fine Gardening and The English Garden, as well as having regular columns in Horticulture Magazine, and an occasional horticulture feature for the Seattle Times. He is a contributing editor to Horticulture Magazine and has appeared many times on Martha Stewart Living television as a gardening correspondent. On April 17, 2007, Dan appeared in a PBS NOVA program, The First Flower, exploring the flora of remote mountains of China.

His first book, Winter Ornamentals, was published in 1993 and his second, The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials, received the 1999 Book of the Year Award from the American Horticultural Society. His third book, released in May of 2009 and the second in a series of three, is titled The Explorers Garden: Shrubs and Vines from the Four Corners of the World for which he received the 2010 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society.

In 2003, Dan was honored with the Scott Arboretum Gold Medal from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania for his lifetime achievements in horticulture. He has been awarded the Marcel Le Piniac Award from the American Rock Garden Society, the Medal of Honor from the Garden Club of America, the Garden Communicator of the Year award from the American Nurserymen and Landscape Association, the White Gold Medal from the Greater Cleveland Horticultural Society, and in 2006, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society for a lifetime of achievement in education, writing and plant exploration. He received on June 21, 2007, and July 2, 2007, respectively, the George Robert White Medal of Honor from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for the advancement of interest in horticulture in the broadest sense; and from the Royal Horticulture Society of Great Britain, the Veitch Memorial Medal for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture. In March of 2008, Dan was appointed to memberships of the boards of both the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden Trust and the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden Endowment Trust. In 2010, Dan was presented the Perennial Plant Association Award of Merit for contributions to the advancement of the perennials plant industry through lectures, writing, and plant exploration.

Dan Hinkley currently resides in Indianola, Washington, where he is in the process of realizing his latest endeavor, the Gardens of Windcliff, on a south-facing bluff overlooking Puget Sound; and writing his third book for Timber Press in the Explorer’s Garden series.

F. Todd Lasseigne, Ph.D.

Todd Lasseigne currently serves as the executive director of Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, a position he has held since 2005. This newly developing public garden, located in the small town of Kernersville, North Carolina, will celebrate its grand opening in early 2011. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden aims to serve as a horticultural and educational resource for the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina and beyond, being not only a horticultural and tourist destination but also a horticultural showcase that highlights the gardening splendors and potentials of the west-central North Carolina Piedmont.

Todd is a highly respected and well-known plantsman, educator, horticultural scientist, writer, and garden photographer, and leader in the field of public horticulture. He has traveled widely throughout the United States, western Europe, and Japan in search of new landscape plants and has participated on plant expeditions in China and the nation of Georgia. He has also visited numerous public and private gardens, nurseries, and plant collections throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and elsewhere.

He's a well-known speaker on topics of interest to gardeners, nursery and landscape professionals, and horticulturists. He has presented numerous lectures throughout the United States and has also delivered several lectures to audiences in Japan. He has published articles in professional magazines and society publications such as American Nurseryman, Nursery Management, and Production/NMPro, Fine Gardening, Conifer Quarterly, Carolina Gardener, and the National Boxwood Trials.

Todd serves as the current chair of the Plant Collections Professional Section for the American Public Gardens Association. He is active in numerous plant societies and has helped to organize professional meetings for the Maple Society and the American Public Gardens Association. He previously served as the assistant director of the JC Raulston Arboretum (Raleigh, North Carolina). He is a past recipient of the prestigious Garden Club of America/Martin McLaren Horticultural Scholarship. He also has worked for the Citywide Arboretum of Aiken, South Carolina, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (Athens, Georgia).

He's been professionally recognized through several awards, particularly the American Society for Horticultural Science, Southern Region for Excellence in Doctoral Research (2004); and also as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (2008).

Mark Weathington

Mark Weathington is the assistant director and curator of collections at the JC Raulston Arboretum. He earned undergraduate degrees in horticulture and sociology and a M.S. in horticulture from Virginia Tech. He has served as director of horticulture for the Norfolk Botanical Garden and horticulturist at both the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and the Atlanta Botanic Garden. Mark writes and speaks on a variety of topics in horticulture. He has recently revised and updated the Propagation Guide for Woody Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum. He has been published in Horticulture, Carolina Gardener, American Nurseryman, and Virginia Gardener magazines as well as the Mid-Atlantic Gardeners' Book of Lists. In addition, he writes two weekly columns for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper and features for several regional newspapers.

Open Houses

After the symposium, we hope you spend the rest of the day touring the JC Raulston Arboretum and visiting the local garden centers and nurseries. The local garden centers are open throughout the year. In addition, several area wholesale nurseries and mail order nurseries are holding open houses. The public is invited to attend the following open houses:

Camellia Forest Nursery
February 25, 2011 (Friday) – 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
February 26, 2011 (Saturday) – 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanical Garden
February 25, 2011 (Friday) – 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
February 26, 2011 (Saturday) – 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

Pine Knot Farms (Hellebore Days)
February 25, 2011 (Friday) – 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
February 26, 2011 (Saturday) – 10:00 AM-4:00 PM

The nurseries listed above also have open houses on the following weekend.

Hotel Accommodations

A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the Ramada Blue Ridge for $75.00 (single and double rates for February 25). The Ramada is located at 1520 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It's the closest hotel to the JCRA. For more information about the hotel, please visit their Web site. To make a reservation, please call (919) 832-4100 and mention it's for the "CGJCRA" group code and the "JCRA" group block. Reservations should be made on or before February 18. New: The Ramada Blue Ridge now offers a free hot buffet breakfast to their hotel guests.

Early registration (now through January 31, 2011): $50.00 for members and $65.00 for nonmembers; late registration (begins February 1, 2011): $65.00 for members and $80 for nonmembers.
Please call (919) 513-7005 or use the downloadable registration form to register. Early registrations must be received by January 31, 2011 (Monday) and late registrations must be received by February 24, 2011 (Thursday). Registration is limited to 140 people.
Symposium cancellations can be made through January 31, 2011 (Monday). No refunds will be made after January 31, 2011.
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.
For information, please contact Chris Glenn at (919) 513-7005 or chris_glenn@ncsu.edu.