Annual Symposium

2021 Annual Symposium

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

This year, the Annual Symposium will include virtual and in-person presentations. See below for more information.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

The theme of this year’s Annual Symposium inspires gardeners to embrace their surroundings and bloom where they are planted! Our speakers will highlight the potential to bring botanical beauty to any environment. From ecological horticulture to urban design to houseplant care, find inspiration and advice for being your botanical best.


Ticket details coming soon.

Meet Our Annual Symposium Speakers

Hover your cursor over the tiles (or click the tile on mobile) to view details about the speaker and their presentation.

Darryl Cheng

An Engineer’s Approach to Houseplant Care

Thursday, September 30

6 – 7:30 p.m.

If you follow traditional houseplant advice, you’ll be left with disappointment because your plant is no longer “perfect.” Darryl’s approach breaks down the barriers to true, long-lasting enjoyment of houseplants. When you understand how plants work, you can gain a deeper appreciation for their character and more acceptance of how they’ll grow. It’s a healthy dose of science and realistic expectations!


Chris Fehlhaber

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Thursday, October 7

6 – 7:30 p.m.

Gardens, if we allow them, can be places of healing, community and joy. Every garden presents its own opportunities and it is up to the gardener to make the most of them. Whether your goal is to nurture the site, connect with neighbors or simply create a place of beauty, gardening is always a worthy pursuit. Join Chanticleer Assistant Horticulturist Chris Fehlhaber as he discusses his experiences at various gardens throughout his career and shares ideas of how to bloom where you are planted.


Mel Brasier

Cultivating An Urban Oasis

Thursday, October 14

6 – 7:30 p.m.

Gardening in the city can mean so much more than a windowsill lined with potted plants. Join Mel Brasier as she shares her experience turning ordinary outdoor spaces into urban oases. As the co-founder of the Manscapers and Construction Manager on Bravo’s Backyard Envy, Mel will highlight some of the unique projects she has worked on and the challenges and rewards that come with creating vibrant green spaces within the concrete jungle.


Laura Ekasetya

Revolutionary Naturalistic Plant Combinations

Saturday, October 16

10 – 11:30 a.m.

Laura has worked for over 10 years as a steward of Piet Oudolf’s gardens. She enjoys getting to know the beautifully designed plant communities that comprise these naturalistic gardens, including Lurie Garden in Chicago and Oudolf Garden Detroit on Belle Isle. In her presentation, Laura will are some thoughtful plant ideas that work for all scales of garden design providing structure, texture, and beauty in all seasons. Many of these combinations support local ecology as well!

Virtual & In-person