JC Raulston Arboretum Spring Symposium

"A Passion for Plants 2.0"

  • Friday, March 23, 2012 – 9:00 am4:30 pm – Optional Nursery Trip
  • Saturday, March 24, 2012 – 8:00 am12:30 pm

A Fresh Look at Southeastern Landscapes for All Gardeners

Join the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University as we celebrate the university's 125th birthday with three forward-thinking landscape visions for home gardeners, plant enthusiasts, and professionals in the Southeast.

Program Highlights

  • Visit Architectural Trees, a specialty tree nursery, and Pine Knot Farms, a perennial nursery specializing in plants for shade.
  • Renowned Extension nursery specialist, award-winner author, and educator, Dick Bir, embraces shade, using tough, water-thrifty native plants for "Gardening in the Understory."
  • Distinguished lecturer/undergraduate adviser and host of UNC TV's Emmy award-winning garden program, Bryce Lane, taps into the trends of downsizing, re-urbanization, and smaller yards with "Landscaping in Small Spaces: Big Ideas for Little Gardens."
  • Acclaimed plant breeder, researcher, and bold gardener, Tom Ranney, demonstrates the totally unique transformation of his personal garden: ripping out the entire front yard and "Building a Mountain Bald."


    March 23, 2012 (Friday)
9:00 AM   Depart from JCRA
10:00 AM   Architectural Trees
11:30 AM   Depart
12:00 PM   Lunch in Henderson
1:00 PM   Depart
1:30 PM   Pine Knot Farms
3:00 PM   Depart
4:30 PM   Return to JCRA
    March 24, 2012 (Saturday)
8:00 AM   Registration, continental breakfast, and silent auction begins
8:30 AM   Tom Ranney
"Building a Mountain Bald"
9:30 AM   Break and auction
9:45 AM   Dick Bir
"Gardening in the Understory"
10:45 AM   Break and auction
11:00 AM   Bryce Lane
"Landscaping in Small Spaces: Big Ideas for 'Little' Gardens"
12:00 PM   NC State University 125th birthday celebration
12:30 PM   Conclusion and auction checkout


Dick Bir
"Gardening in the Understory"

The urban and suburban forest is expanding. Dooryard  trees provide more shade each season plus the farm fields where some of our homes were built have, thankfully, been planted with ever taller and wider, protective, shade giving trees. Gardening with and under these trees can present numerous challenges. Dick will present solutions as well as expectations for these gardening challenges using mostly native shrubs and understory trees. The Southern Highlands Reserve will be used as the most frequent example of what has worked.

Bryce Lane
"Landscaping in Small Spaces: Big Ideas for 'Little' Gardens"

With the average property size getting smaller, aging Baby Boomers growing tired of caring for big "yards," and the migration of folks back to urban areas there is need to re-think our approach to home gardening. We are faced with the opportunity to create outdoor living spaces in smaller and smaller areas. Bryce will discuss many "small space gardening" ideas, including garden structures, use of turf, gardening in containers, edible landscaping, vertical gardening, borders, dwarf and compact plants, and other creative gardening practices for smaller garden spaces. It's an exciting time to be gardening!

"Building a Mountain Bald"
Tom Ranney

Sometimes you just have to tear it out and start over. But, try convincing your spouse to rip out your entire front yard and recreate a mountain bald in its place! Challenging enough. Though, if you're a plant breeder you tend to obsess and want to design not only the space, but the plants as well (i.e., not their arrangement, rather their phenotype). Plant breeding is an addictive gamble, premised on creativity and design, wrapped in genetic vagaries, with a thick outer enigma of horticulture and gardening—all fun. Breeding projects at the NC State Mountain Crop Improvement Lab are making great strides in developing new plants with enhanced utility, sustainability, and dazzling garden appeal. In an act of sheer folly, Tom's terraforming project tests the limits of design, genetics, and marriage.

About the Speakers

Dick Bir

Dick Bir is a horticulturist and a long-time friend of directors Ted Bilderback, Denny Werner, Bob Lyons, and J.C. Raulston. He retired from the NC State University's Department of Horticultural Science on April Fools' Day 2004. His 25 year career was as an Extension nursery specialist. Since retirement he has received the Scott Medal from Swarthmore College, the Balentine Award from the Southeastern Flower Show, the International Award of Honour from the International Plant Propagator's Society, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society and been made a life member of the NC Nursery and Landscape Association. They think he may know what he is talking about.

A pioneer of the current native plant education and research revival, Dick was instrumental in establishing the Native Plant Conference at Cullowhee as the major native plant conference in North America. He wrote the popular book Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants. Describing himself as "a teacher who does practical research," Dick lectures nationally and has produced over 500 published articles.

Bryce H. Lane

Bryce Lane, an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, is the undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University. Bryce teaches Home Horticulture, Principles of Horticulture, Interior Plantscapes, Plant ID, and Garden Center Operations. He is also the host of "In the Garden With Bryce Lane," an Emmy winning, "how to" television program for home gardeners on UNC TV. From 1997 through 1999, Bryce served as the interim director at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

A native of western Massachusetts, Bryce worked seven years at the Hadley Garden Center through high school and college. He received his B.S. in plant science from the University of Massachusetts, his M.S. from The Ohio State University in ornamental horticulture.

Bryce has received numerous teaching awards including the NC State Outstanding Teacher Award (3 times), NC State Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Award, American Society for Horticultural Science Distinguished Educator Award, and the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Excellence.

He's gardened on the same property for 28 years.

Tom Ranney

Tom received his B.S. degree from The Ohio State University followed by a M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He has been a faculty member at North Carolina State University since 1989 and is currently a Professor of Horticultural Science. He lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Western North Carolina where he leads a research program at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC.

His research program focuses on the evaluation, selection, and development of new landscape and bioenergy crops. These efforts involve an ongoing search of new plants that provide economic opportunities for the green industry and a foundation for further plant breeding. Recent plant developments from his program include new hybrid Albizia, Calycanthus, Chaenomeles, Clethra, Exochorda, ×Gordlinia, Hydrangea, Hypericum, Illicium, and ×Schimlinia. He has published more than 230 research and popular articles on diverse horticultural topics. He has served in editorial positions for Tree Physiology, the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, and the Southern Nursery Association Research Conference.

Recent awards include the Publication Award, Extension Educational Award and Distinguished Achievement Award for Nursery Crops from the American Society for Horticultural Science; the Research Friend of Extension Award from NC State University; the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Research from the Southern Nursery Association, and the H. Marc Cathey Award for outstanding scientific research from the American Horticultural Society.

He has served on boards of the NC Urban Forest Council, Metropolitan Tree Improvement Alliance, Landscape Plant Development Center, and International Plant Producers Society.

He has advised and served on committees of 30 graduate students and has the good fortune to work with exceptional faculty, staff, and students at NC State University.


We've planned a whirlwind nursery trip for Friday, March 23, 2012. We're visiting Architectural Trees and Pine Knot Farms. Participants depart the JCRA at 9:00 AM and return at 4:30 PM. Lunch is on your own in Henderson (Bojangles' Famous Chicken, Burger King*, Chick-fil-A, Denny's, Golden Corral, KFC, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Mayflower Seafood*, McDonald's, Ruby Tuesday, and Taco Bell).

*Longer walk than other locations.


Auction purchases support the JCRA's general fund within the NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc.

Hotel Accommodations

A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the Ramada Blue Ridge for $75.00 (single and double rates). 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 CGJCR3 group code and the JCRA Block group block. Reservations should be made on or before March 5. The Ramada Blue Ridge offers a free hot buffet breakfast to their hotel guests.

Early registration (now through March 15, 2012): $40.00 for members and $50.00 for nonmembers; late registration (begins March 16, 2012): $50.00 for members and $60.00 for nonmembers. The optional nursery tour is $30.00 for members and $40.00 for nonmembers, and is only open to symposium participants.
Please call (919) 513-7005 or use the downloadable registration form to register. Early registrations must be received by March 15, 2012 (Thursday) and late registrations must be received by March 16, 2012 (Friday). Registration is limited. Online registration is not available.
Symposium cancellations can be made through March 9, 2012 (Friday). No refunds will be made after March 9, 2012. A $10.00 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.
For information, please contact Chris Glenn at (919) 513-7005 or chris_glenn@ncsu.edu.