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2016 Horticulture Events

Native Plant Symposium

nativeberriesSat, Nov 12, 2016
9:00am – 6:30pm
$49 (Please keep your ticket to show to receive free parking!)

Purchase Tickets

Please join us for our fifth annual Native Plant Symposium, an all day adventure into the beauty and joy of native plants. Top speakers will present great native plants for regional gardens and landscapes. Great for green industry professionals, gardeners, and anyone who is interested in native plants. CEUs approval pending. A catered lunch is included with your registration.

Registration is from 9-10 am. A social hour will follow the program from 5:30-6:30 pm.

Click here to see speaker details or expand below for more information.

Speaker Bios and Details

Fun and Adventure with Pocket Prairies, 10:00AM-10:50AM

Few plant communities provide more diversity and environmental benefits as do prairies. Although prairies in the wild tend to be quite vast, we can bring smaller prairies into the urban environment and enjoy the fun, beauty and benefits they provide. Doing things right in the beginning will make a big difference in the long term success, so proper installation and design is essential. Mike will steer us through the process, and regale us with amusing and enlightening tales from his years of experience.

Mike Berkley, co-owner of Growild, Inc. of Fairview, TN; has experimented with all things native in homeowner’s yards, state and federal parks, on roof tops and in his own yard for the past 30 years.  His passion for native plants has evolved into a nursery of over 35,000 native plants for sale from the tiniest violet to the mighty oaks with many being endangered species.  A grower and designer was not enough for Mike; he is now a co-host to the hot new Native Plant Podcast where native plants meet Click & Clack. 

Collection of Eastern North American Native Plants for Use and Study, 10:50AM-11:20AM

The Dawes Arboretum has been very active in collecting native plants from throughout the eastern half of North America with several key goals in mind, including applied research, species conservation and evaluation of plant material for enhancing landscapes. This talk will discuss the focus of recent and future plant collecting trips, the specific plant types being sought, and how sharing this information with the public might affect the plant choices for future landscapes and natural area restoration.

Shana Byrd is the Director of Land Conservation at Dawes Arboretum and former Director of Restoration Ecology at the Wilds conservation center.  Her passion for plants began during her undergraduate studies in Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University in 1999.  She went on to work for several years in sustainable forestry and community development at Rural Action, Inc. in southeast Ohio.  Later she earned her Master’s degree from Miami University, focusing on global and local plant conservation efforts.  For 15 years, she has enjoyed practicing the art and science of adaptive management and ecological restoration, enhancing woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and farmland to create better landscapes for people and wildlife.    

Grasses & Sedges: Powerful Plants for Today’s Landscapes 11:35AM-12:25PM

Grasses and sedges are integral to modern planting design and help fulfill the promise of ecologically sound landscapes. They offer lower inputs and maintenance, they support wildlife, and they provide important functions, such as anchoring the soil and managing water. This session will touch on the unique design attributes of grasses and sedges, address ways to use them, touch on care and maintenance, and highlight example projects that illustrate their capabilities.

Shannon Curry’s work life began in social science research, where she earned a PhD in Social Psychology. In the early 2000s, she changed fields to pursue a career in horticulture. At North Carolina State University, she trained as a landscape designer and horticulturist in the Department of Horticultural Science. She began working at Hoffman Nursery in 2007 and has had a range of responsibilities—coordinating the plant evaluation program, managing the sales team, and overseeing their marketing program. She’s written articles for national trade publications and given talks on grasses to landscape architects, garden clubs, industry organizations, and at public gardens.

Best Native Plants Blitz: A Battle of Wits, 1:15PM-1:45PM

In this fast-paced, fun filled session our speakers, some Zoo staff, and maybe a surprise guest or two will each quickly extol the virtues of favorite less-well-known native plants. The only rules are the speakers must include at least one completely embarrassing guilty pleasure and at least one bad plant that they hate. The other presenters will sit on a panel, will approve or not the good plants and will try to determine the bad plants. The panel is permitted to subject the presenter to scorn, vitrio, and maybe even raucous approval. The audience will be encouraged to lose all sense of decorum and to cheer, boo and hiss at will. It may all breakdown into bitter recriminations and tears, but hopefully hilarity and the sharing of exciting plants will carry the day!

BUZZ FEED – New and Underused Natives Perennials and Their Cultivars for Enticing Pollinators, 2:55PM-3:45PM

Find out what all the buzz is about! Learn how potential new introductions filter through the pipeline of North Creek’s trial and evaluation process. Steve Castorani will share the latest insights to help you choose the best perennial selections that provide nectar for all types of pollinators. This presentation will feature a mix of tried and true favorites, underused varieties and reliable new introductions.

Steve Castorani graduated from the University of Delaware where he studied Plant Science and Education. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Plant Science in 1977. In 2015 Steve received a Certificate of Applied Horticultural Business Management from Texas A&M University. Prior to this, Steve attended and graduated from Girard College in Philadelphia. In 1979 Steve began Gateway Landscaping and Woodworking Inc, a landscape design – build firm located in Hockessin, Delaware. Gateway Garden Center was a natural outgrowth of Steve’s landscape business. Established in 1986, Gateway is now the area’s source for new plant selections. The Garden Center specializes in perennials, conifers, native plants, aquatic plants as well as water gardens. Steve co-founded North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA in 1988. He currently acts in the capacity of President and CEO of this progressive nursery that specializes in perennial, fern, vine, and ornamental grass plug production with an emphasis on Eastern regional native plants. In 2004 Steve co -created the American Beauties Native Plant® brand. American Beauties Plants are currently available at independent garden centers in Eastern, Midwestern and select western States. A portion of each sale benefits the National Wildlife Foundation’s wildlife habitat program. To date the program has donated over $267,000 to NWF. Steve is a recent past president of the International Plant Propagator’s Society. He was awarded the honor of Society Fellow in 2005 and became the recipient of the society’s most prestigious, Award of Merit in 2012. He is also very involved in his state’s green industry and served two years as President of the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association. As a member of the Governor’s Drought Advisory Board, Steve helped draft legislation to ease restrictions on Nurseries and Garden Centers in the state.

Ohio’s Rarest Plants and Their Habitats, 1:45PM-2:35PM

Ohio is a botanically rich and diverse state with 1,800 native plants residing within its borders. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, too, with many being quite rare. In fact, nearly 1/3 of Ohio’s indigenous flora is considered rare and monitored within the Natural Heritage Database. Many of these rare plants are at risk of extirpation and on the brink of disappearing from Ohio’s soils. Thankfully, our state nature preserves and natural areas help to protect these plants and their equally rare habitats for future the enjoyment of future generations. This talk will dive into what makes Ohio’s rare plants and habitats so special and take the listener throughout our incredible state on a journey to ‘see’ many of our most imperiled wildflowers and places.

Andrew Lane Gibson is currently a field botanist and ecologist for the Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves where he monitors, surveys and manages our state listed flora and rare habitats. He studied plant biology and ecology at Ohio University in Athens, as well as wildlife management and biology at Hocking College. His most passionate botanical interests are the Orchidaceae, Cyperaceae, and anything rare and/or unusual. He’s seen nearly 80 different species of North America’s wild orchids; including all 47 of Ohio’s indigenous taxa. Andrew is an ardent nature photographer and writer and publishes a popular nature blog and Instagram, The Buckeye Botanist, featuring his many botanical forays and travels. You can also find him frequently leading field trips or giving presentations to numerous naturalist groups and organizations throughout the state.

The Design and Build of CZBG’s Native Gardens, 3:45PM-4:30PM

There are several native gardens at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, each with their own focus and unique beauty. Brian will describe in detail the Zoo’s ideal process—from soil building, plant selection, plant-size selection, to design—and how that differs sometimes from the actual process due to the myriad of challenges any gardener or landscape installer faces…oh, and some that are simply unique to Zoos. The takeaway will be a very valuable and practical series of installation and design steps and ideas that will help you find success with your native gardens.

Brian Jorg Manager of Horticulture at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, joined the organization in 2004. Prior to joining the Zoo, Brian was a horticulturist at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, a national historic landmark, for 15 years. 

Brian’s responsibilities include managing the Native Plant Program. This program includes the conservation, education, and promotion of native flora.  

 Active in professional organizations in the greater Cincinnati community, Brian is the past president of the Cincinnati Rose Society, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association. Brian is also on the board of directors for the Cincinnati Audubon Society.

 Whether he is trekking the glaciers of Alaska or the plains of East Africa, he is constantly learning, observing and documenting nature.

 The Native Oak Collection at Gainesway Horse Farm, 4:30PM-5:00PM

Gainesway Farm is a premier thoroughbred facility and arboretum in the heart of Kentucky’s bluegrass savannah lands. Encompassing nearly 1600 acres, the historic property maintains collections of nearly 1000 species and 10,000 total accessions. The Quercus collection consists of around 70 species and 80 distinct taxa represented by nearly 500 individual accessions. Gainesway Farm is an active member of the International Oak Society, the American Public Garden Association, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. Phil will highlight the more beautiful and interesting oaks in the collection, especially as they might perform in area gardens.

Phillip Douglas is a Northern Kentucky native who currently serves as the Director of Horticulture at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, KY. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he received a Bachelors of Science in Horticulture from the University of Cincinnati. Beginning his career at the Boone County Arboretum, Phil spent several years working as a horticulturist for the historic landscape at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio. Phil has spent the last 4 years managing the 1600 acres of planted and natural areas bisected by the Elkhorn Creek that make up Gainesway Farm. In late 2014, Phil established Kentucky Horticulture Consultants LLC which specializes in large scale property management in Central Kentucky. Phil is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at Eastern Kentucky University.

Heidelberg Distributing Company Sponsored Social Hour, 5:00PM-6:00PM

Enjoy rubbing elbows with our speakers, staff, and guests along with complimentary beer and wine. Sponsored by Heidelberg Distributing Company!

Thank you to our 2016 Sponsors

Silver Sponsor


Bronze Sponsor

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Mi Jardin

Associate Sponsors

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Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposium

Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposium
Thu, Feb 23, 2017
8:00AM – 6:00PM
Price: $49.00

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Sustainable Urban Landscape Symposium will be a jam-packed program with expert speakers designed to take on the challenge and answer the questions of how we can design, build, and maintain the most sustainable landscapes possible. Speaker list: coming soon!

C.E.U.’s Pending

Free parking and lunch are included with your fee.

Purchase Tickets


Need a Speaker?

Need a speaker for your academic, Master Gardener, garden club, or other event? Contact us at [email protected] for one of the zoo’s expert horticulturists to speak.

How Can I Help?

If you would like to offer ideas for horticultural events the zoo should hold, or if you would like to sponsor a zoo horticultural event, contact us at [email protected].

General Events

Zoo Blooms

garden events 1The saturated colors and sun-catching glow of masses and masses of tulips in bloom is a truly spectacular experience. Zoo Blooms delivers not only the region’s largest tulip display, but also hundreds of trees and shrubs in full regalia. Magnolias, cherries, crabapples, serviceberries, viburnums, other bulbs, loads of perennials, and more all in their spring glory! Generally the best tulip display is around the middle of April, but the peak varies somewhat according to the weather. Each week all through spring the landscape continuously changes as the many plants of our extensive collection come into bloom. You need to visit several times to experience the fullness of the season!

Tunes and Blooms

garden events 5Every Thursday evening during April the Zoo hosts Tunes & Blooms. These are FREE concerts in the garden. Enjoy great local bands amongst gardens aglow with the blooms of 100,000 tulips and hundreds of other spring bloomers.

Tree Carnival

garden events 4A rising star in our line up of garden events, Tree Carnival is a fun and educational experience for the entire family. Kids can learn about trees, test their knowledge, earn their Tree Planting License, and take home a free tree! A party atmosphere. There’s even the famous Mr. Tree to hug!

Plant Sales


Native Plant Symposium

garden events 3The annual all day symposium about native plants. Great outside speakers along with the zoo’s Native Plant Program Manager, Brian Jorg.  CEUs available. Affordably priced. Includes lunch.

Plant Trials Day

annnualsThe Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden horticultural staff and volunteers, in conjunction with several other organizations, conducts plant trials on annuals, grasses, and perennials in accordance with regimented protocols. Such trials enable us to develop useful data for gardeners, other public gardens, plant producers, and others in the green community. For more information regarding our Plant Trials programs, please contact us at [email protected].

Sustainable Landscapes Day

gogreenThe concepts of “going green” have come down on the green and building industries in a big way in recent years and a lot of argument over the meaning of sustainability and the means of achieving it has ensued. This program is designed to sort out fact from fiction regarding such issues as soils, irrigation, and the very best low input plants for landscape applications. CEUs available. Affordably priced. Includes lunch.

Home Landscapes Lecture Series

flowerA late winter ten week series of lectures regarding all aspects of landscaping for the homeowner by one of the region’s top horticulturists and the zoo’s Director of Horticulture, Steve Foltz. If you are planning on garden renovation or a new installation in your landscape these classes provide great insight on design, preparation and plant selection with emphasis on plants that do best in the Tri-state area. A different aspect of landscaping is covered each week such as perennial design and tree care, but one way or another everything is covered! Sign up for individual classes, or for the entire series and save! Very affordably priced.