Annual Symposium

Saturday, October 19, 2019. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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.

The Resilient Garden

This year’s symposium theme is The Resilient Garden. Discover multi-layered, colorful and resilient gardens, from a rural presidential estate to the Brooklyn Bridge, that will inspire you to balance biodiversity with beauty in your own garden.


To register online, please click here. The registration fee includes lunch. Prefer to pay via cash or check? Please print and fill out this form and return it to the Garden with your registration.

Continuing Education

This year’s Annual Symposium will be offered as a continuing education unit (CEU) by two different professional organizations: The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and The Iowa Nursery & Landscape Organization (INLA).

Speakers and Topics

Thomas Rainer, Keynote: Rebuilding Abundance: Planting Strategies for more Colorful, Biodiverse, and Lower Input Gardens
Landscape Architect Thomas Rainer will explore strategies for designing multi-layered, colorful and resilient plantings. Learn how to tailor plants to your soils, reduce weeds and plant more flowers. Listen to case studies from Rainer’s practice that can be used in your home landscape. Both practical and inspiring, Rainer’s talk will focus on an expanded role of planting design for the future.

Rebecca McMackin: Brooklyn Bridge Park: Lessons (so far) in Built-Ecology
Rebecca McMackin is an ecologically obsessed horticulturist, garden designer and the director of horticulture at Brooklyn Bridge Park. She manages 85 acres of diverse parkland organically and with an eye toward habitat creation for birds, butterflies and soil microorganisms. McMackin will share ecological strategies and management techniques you can use in your own garden.

Peter Hatch: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden
Peter Hatch, Emeritus Director of Gardens and Grounds for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, will discuss Thomas Jefferson’s 1,000-foot-long, terraced vegetable garden at Monticello and how it helped shape the way we grow and consume vegetables today.

Patrick Cullina: The Dynamic Landscape Explored: Examining Strategies for Creating Transformative Spaces with Plants
Driven by a colorful array of plants and dynamic landscapes, Patrick Cullina will explore strategies for creating spaces that transform neighborhoods, towns and cities. With 25 years of experience designing and photographing landscapes, Cullina will draw on examples from personal experiences with New York’s High Line and a selection of other public and private projects.

Thank you to our sponsors

Country Landscapes, Inc.

Kemin Industries, Inc.
Cynde and Richard Schreiber



AC Hotel by Marriott

Click here to learn more about Annual Symposium sponsorship opportunities and submit your sponsorship.
Email or call 515.323.6289 with any questions.