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The annual symposium is the Botanical Garden’s signature educational opportunity for advancing gardening in Iowa. Each fall, four internationally acclaimed lecturers visit Des Moines to speak about current topics that impact home horticulture, plant sciences and/or ecology.

This year’s symposium theme is The Gardening Adventure. Our keynote speaker is internationally-known garden designer Jimi Blake, founder of Hunting Brook Gardens in Dublin, who will discuss creative planting through the seasons. The Annual Symposium will inspire attendees to practice dynamic and innovative gardening in the modern world. Join us Saturday, Oct. 20 as Jimi Blake as well as Mike Kintgen, Julie Moir Messervy and Lloyd Traven share their unique gardening adventures.

Jimi Blake

Hunting Brook Through the Seasons
Jimi trained at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and was Head Gardener at Airfield Gardens in Dundrum, Dublin for 10 years. In the mid-1990s he established Hunting Brook Gardens—a dynamic, innovative 20-acres filled with Jimi’s signature design: fiercely colorful and theatrically beautiful large-scale planting combinations. Jimi is known for his modern designs, boundless enthusiasm for plants and ability to push boundaries to create stunning, fluid combinations.

In his talk, Jimi will take you on a journey through the seasons at Hunting Brook, especially his evolving woodland plant collection. He will detail the plants he uses to bridge the gap between late spring and early summer, then illustrate how he uses large leaves in a modern fusion of prairie and tropical planting. He will then discuss how to extend the seasons by using the very best, longest-flowering perennials. Throughout his talk Jimi will illustrate how to combine plants in a way that’s both modern and inventive, and the strategies he uses to ensure Hunting Brook looks its best from early spring until the first hard frost.

Lloyd Traven

Bringing Awesome Every Day
Lloyd is president of Peace Tree Farm, USDA certified organic wholesale growers and propagators of potted herbs, herb liners and the Garden Geek brand of quirky plants. Peace Tree Farm serves botanical gardens across America as well as farmers, locally owned garden centers, greenhouses and tunnel growers.

Lloyd believes gardens are expressions of one’s sensibility, passion, spirit and essence, and that your garden shouldn’t look like everyone else’s—it should reflect your personality and make a strong first impression with visitors and passersby. In his talk, Lloyd will discuss how to avoid using overdone plant combinations and ubiquitous varieties in favor of exploring unique locales and plants to create a garden that speaks not only to you, but also to everyone who sees it.

Julie Moir Messervy

Creating Landscapes (and Lives) of Beauty and Meaning
Julie is the principal designer of JMMDS, a landscape architecture and design firm in Vermont that creates public and private gardens around the country. Her best-known work, the three-acre Toronto Music Garden, was designed in collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and received the Leonardo da Vinci Award for innovation and creativity. She is the author of nine books on landscape design and the creator of the Home Outside® landscape design app and online design service.

Throughout her long career as a garden and landscape designer, author and presenter, Julie has always sought to create landscapes of beauty and meaning. In her talk, she will share her journey along with the principles and processes she lives by for creating private and public landscapes. Using her firm’s projects as case studies, Julie will interweave personal stories with design theory and perspectives, as well a share before-and-afters and tips that apply to both creating a beautiful garden and living a joyful life.

Mike Kintgen

Returning to the Wild
Mike developed an interest in alpine and rock garden plants at a young age. He joined the North American Rock Garden Society at 12, and later became president of the group’s Rocky Mountain chapter. Mike has served in various roles at the Denver Botanic Garden (DBG) since the mid-1990s. He is currently the DBG’s Curator of Alpine Collections, in addition to managing eight other gardens on the property. In 2012, he finished a two-year project to have DBG’s collection of alpines recognized in the Plant Collection Consortium through the American Public Gardens Association.

Mike’s fieldwork spans four continents looking for sustainable plants for Rocky Mountain gardens, in addition to ecological fieldwork in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado exploring aridity as a driver in species richness. Mike says that research in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world is changing our perception of what drives biodiversity on our planet in these often fragile and unique environments.

In his talk, Mike will venture into the inspirational and wild steppes, prairies, forests, deserts and mountains of the world. He will offer not only exciting plants, but also hints on how to make our gardens more sustainable and connected to natural ecosystems. Through reconnecting our lives and cities with nature, he says, perhaps we can restore some of the damage humans have caused to the planet.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Country Landscapes

Kemin Industries, Inc.
Cynde and Richard Schreiber

Casey’s General Stores, Inc.
Mary Oothout

Laurie and Neil Barrick

Comfort Inn & Suites Event Center
Garden Design magazine