Annual Symposium

Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020
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.

Gardeners on Gardening

Speakers will deliver a narrative about the experience and practice of gardening as creative, personal, and ecological. As the world becomes more urbanized and technological, the gardening lifestyle is at the center of a stylish and verdant cultural movement to reconnect our communities with land.

Speakers and Topics:

Inspired by the Wild: Creating and Managing Naturalistic Plantings for Beauty, Adaptability, and Creatures, Lauren Springer

In an increasingly crowded and unnatural world, many of us find connection with plants and creatures in gardens and wild places. Author and designer Lauren Springer’s passion is making and tending diverse and beautiful naturalistic gardens. Inspired by exploring wild places for more than three decades in the harsh but stunning western North American interior, Lauren attempts to capture in microcosm the transcendent serenity she finds in that vast and varied region.

Zonal Denial: Tropical Gardening in the Midwest, Irvin Etienne

A garden should reflect the gardener as an expression of their interests, personalities and passions. A horticultural designer at Newfields, formerly Indianapolis Museum of Art, Etienne’s deep interest verging on evangelism is tropical plants. “Essentially, if it is dead or injured at 32 degrees, I want it in my garden,” he says. “I like to go full-on Tropicalissmo, so the garden looks like an island paradise by late summer with cannas, elephant ears and 15-foot-tall bananas.”

The Artful Garden, Elissa Steeves

Elissa Steeves is a retired high school horticulture teacher, gardener and art enthusiast. Elissa’s garden is an outdoor gallery where the creative use of original art, artifacts and well-chosen paint colors transforms her ever-growing plant collection into a 3D experience of focus and flow punctuated with delight. Through Steeves’ presentation, you’ll gain inspiration for your own garden through colorful images and insights.

A Bountiful Year: Six Seasons of Beauty from the Brandywine Cottage, David Culp

Based on his new book of the same name, this talk digs deeper into David Culp’s celebrated garden, Brandywine Cottage, and features a focus for each month, including recipes, a garden to-do list, flower arrangements and practical information. Culp will also share his favorite mail-order sources, gardening for biodiversity and wildlife habitat, the creation of the meadow at Brandywine Cottage, recommended plants for dry places and even his favorite weed. This lecture and book are about lifestyle and blurring the lines of indoor and outdoor living to make the garden home.

Thank you to our 2019 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.