Adult Programs

Midwest Perennial Plant Symposium (online)

The Perennial Plant Association and The Morton Arboretum are teaming up to offer a gardening symposium with the best writers and most knowledgeable experts in the business.
Registration closes on February 3, 2022, at noon Central.

Content Detail

Registration closes on February 3, noon Central time.

The Perennial Plant Association and The Morton Arboretum are teaming up to offer a gardening symposium with the best writers and most knowledgeable experts in the business.

Join these industry-leading professionals online as they talk about their favorite plants and the gardens they’ve found most inspirational. Horticulture professionals and garden enthusiasts can meet popular and respected garden horticulturists and writers, discover great plants, share ideas with other gardeners, and get inspiration for the 2022  growing season. 

The event will be held live on zoom so you can join it online from the comfort of your home. 

Please add to your address book. You will receive an email from this address with important information about the program.

Continuing education: This program has been approved for 4 APLD CEUs.

All sessions will be recorded and available to registered attendees through the PPA for 6 months following the program.


Arboretum members should log in with their member information to access member pricing. Members of the Perennial Plant Association and the Horticultural Society of Maryland should consult communications from their organization or call the Registrar’s office for their discount codes.

You can register to participate in this program online. Registration closes on February 3, 2022, at noon.

Section B: Online. Limit 500.

  • If attending online, access information for the program will be provided to all registrants by email. Registrants should click on the link to join the program at the scheduled date and time. 
  • Online participants will need access to the internet via a computer or mobile device (viewing on a computer is recommended for the best experience)

Please note: Section A has been canceled. The program will be presented entirely virtually this year.

8:30 a.m. Welcome

8:35 a.m. Sensuality of Seasonality

Heather Prince, Writer, Educator, Marketing Manager for Garden of Words 

Discover the sensuality of seasonality and how creating moments of discovery in your gardens can bring a deeper connection to the place where you dwell. We’ll explore how to appeal to all five senses in all four seasons with plants. We’ll also stop along the way and investigate the abundant life that calls a planted landscape home.

9:35 a.m. Break

9:40 a.m. Gardening for All

Jeff Epping, Director of Horticulture, Olberich Botanical Gardens 

In this day of shrinking natural areas and habitats for the creatures that live in them, it’s more important than ever to create gardens that are not only beautiful for us to look at, but also provide homes and food for our insects, birds, and other urban-dwelling friends. Jeff Epping, Director of Horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens will show you how he and his staff have designed and maintained the gardens at Olbrich utilizing ecologically-minded gardening concepts.  Jeff will also give examples of how he has transformed his small suburban lot with its typical bluegrass lawn and mundane foundation plantings into a beautiful, low-maintenance, no lawn garden that is teeming with life.

10:45 Lunch Break

11:45 a.m. Throwing Shade: What is the Midwest Shade Garden?

Edward Lyon,  director, Reiman Gardens 

In writing a recent article for Fine Gardening, Ed was asked by the editor to define what he meant when he wrote “Tiarella… but in areas such as the Midwest where most deciduous shade trees cause water-deprived soils, amending with organic matter may be necessary”. Not all shade is alike. We all know this and how the quantity and type of trees affect the shade garden but what about geographic location? Climate? Locale? The Midwest is unique to the rest of the country and there are unique ranges within the Midwest. This talk will be a discussion of the importance of understanding the variables of shade.

12:50 p.m. Break

12:55 p.m. Innovation in the Perennial Garden – Stay Up-to-Date with the Best New Perennial Introductions! 

Laura Shaver-Robles, regional product manager, Walters Gardens 

Every year there are countless new plant introductions in every sector of the industry.  It’s no wonder it can be hard to stay on top of them let alone incorporate them into your garden!  Join Walters Gardens’ Laura Robles to learn about some of the newest and coolest perennial introductions from Walters Gardens, including information on plant characteristics and how to use them in the landscape.

2:00 p.m. Concluding Remarks and Networking

2:15 p.m. Event ends

Jeff Epping has been Director of Horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens for over 25 years. He oversees the horticultural operations and garden designs of over ten inspirational display gardens, that celebrate the region, enhance the senses and satisfy one’s innate desire to connect with the natural world. Epping and his staff practice and preach environmentally conscious gardening, which is reflected in their award-winning gardens visited by over 350,000 visitors a year. Their designs put plants at the forefront to create gardens that are not only beautiful but also ecologically sound, providing habitat for insects, birds, and all the wild creatures they help support. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Epping holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture and regularly lectures and teaches throughout the country on great garden plants and designs for northern gardens.


Ed Lyon is the director of Reiman Gardens. Throughout his roles in public garden administration and hands-on experience in the green industry, he has been as passionate about education as he is about horticulture. For 20 years he has inspired and taught public, student, and professional audiences through lecturing, writing, and online classes through Spellbound Garden Writing & Consultation. He has written for many garden magazines and authored the book Growing the Midwest Garden. Over the past 25 years, he has moved three times and developed shade gardens on each property.

Heather Prince has been a part of the green industry for more than 20 years in numerous facets from public to private. She currently balances a busy freelance writing and teaching schedule with her role as email marketing manager for The Garden of Words. She firmly believes anyone can garden and everyone will fall in love with plants given the chance.


Laura Robles is a Regional Product Manager for Walters Gardens, Inc. in Zeeland, MI.  Robles oversees sales in the Mid-Atlantic states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and western New York; and is also responsible for managing the trialing program sent out to customers.  She was previously the Trials Manager for Walters Gardens, where she managed container trialing of new varieties and production methods, as well as finished production for shows and events.  Prior to coming to Walters Gardens, she was with Neal Mast Greenhouses and Mast Young Plants, where she managed the R&D department.  Robles has been involved in the horticulture industry for over 20 years; in various aspects including retail, public gardening, growing and research, and now sales and technical support.  She received a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a B.S. in Horticulture from Michigan State University and is an alumnus of the Greenhouse Product News 40 Under 40 Class of 2013.


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