Opening Keynote and Session Speaker Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University, and is an ISA-certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist.  She is the Washington State University Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture. Her research in applied plant and soil sciences yielded published scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets.  She is currently the editor for WCISA’s Western Arborist magazine, the Journal of NACAA, and Editor-in-Chief for Compost Science and Utilization.  She is also actively involved in enhancing the scientific literacy of her audiences by teaching them how to assess the credibility of information from print and online sources.


Linda is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press;  Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc.;  and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015).  Her latest book is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019), which has won several national awards since its publication.


In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses.  She also is one of the Garden Professors, a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages.  Her educational contributions to science-based information have been recognized by such groups as Garden Communicators International, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, and the International Society for Arboriculture.


Opening Keynote: Gardening Myths vs Garden Science

Gardeners want the latest plant and soil science information to use in managing landscapes, but how to tell what’s science and what’s pseudoscience?  Gardeners can quickly lose credibility, and cause damage to plants and soil, when they end up promoting products and practices that aren’t based on reputable science.  This talk will provide some guidelines for evaluating articles, books, and electronic resources objectively.  We’ll then use those guidelines to evaluate some products and practices of interest to  gardeners everywhere, based on the most current and relevant scientific information available.


Session Topic: Mulches – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A well-chosen mulch not only reduces weed invasions, but also reduces management costs by improving water and air movement, moderating soil temperatures, improving soil structure and nutrition, and enhancing beneficial microbes and insects.  A poorly chosen mulch will interfere with air and water movement into the soil, injure roots and soil organisms, and can even promote weed growth.  The persistence of many mulch myths makes it even harder to decide which mulch is best for your landscape.  This talk will deconstruct some common mulch myths and recommend the single best mulch for plant and soil health.

Session Speaker Paul Thompson

Paul (BS and MAg, Clemson) is a Distinguished Urban Horticulture Agent in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties with the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.  He is a Certified Nursery Professional with the SC Nursery and Landscape Association (now known as the SC Green Industry Association).  Paul coordinates the tri-county Master Gardener program and conducts educational programs for consumers and horticulture professionals.  He writes a quarterly column for SC Farmer magazine, timely blogs for the Clemson HGIC website, and is a regular guest on SCETV's Making it Grow.  Paul has received many awards for his programming and communication efforts through national and state peer associations, including the SC Association of County Agricultural Agents 2015 Distinguished Service Award and the 2016 Louis B. Parson's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Landscaping and Nursery Industry (presented by the former SC Nursery and Landscape Association).


Session Topic:  Pruning with Knowledge and Confidence – Throw the Hedge Shears Away!

Learn how different pruning methods affect plant growth, health, and longevity using natural target pruning.

Session Speaker Ellen Vincent

Dr. Ellen Vincent grew up in the Hudson River Valley of New York State where she was immersed in art, architecture, and agriculture. Her Ph.D. is in Environmental Design and Planning from Clemson University in South Carolina.  Ellen is a senior lecturer who teaches sustainable landscape design, landscapes + health, and other classes for the horticulture program in the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at Clemson University.  Her research areas focus on nature and health; and sustainable garden design, installation, and maintenance.  Ellen is the Principle Investigator of a research project beginning in 2011 that created a sustainable landscape demonstration garden of native plants in a well-travelled campus space.  Its goal is to serve as an urban model for health.  She is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, and serves on the SC Green Industry Association (SCGIA) Board of Directors.


Session Topic: Native Plants in the Sustainable Landscape

Explore definitions, examples, and techniques for fostering the use of native plants in the ornamental landscape.  Selection, planting, and maintenance tips will be included.  

Session Speaker Justin Ballew

Justin has been with Clemson Extension since 2015.  He is the Extension Fruit and Vegetable Research Associate stationed at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia.  Justin conducts research in fruit, vegetable, and nut crops to study pesticide efficacy, varietal differences, and the effects of different management techniques.  He most commonly works with brassicas, cucurbits, strawberries, and pecans.


Session Topic: Vegetable Crop Rotation in the Home Garden

Crop rotation is an important management strategy for both home gardeners and farmers.  This presentation will cover the benefits and limitations of rotating crops, and discuss proper techniques for successful rotation.

Session Speaker Charles Horn

Dr. Horn has a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama and is currently professor of Biology at Newberry College where he has been since 1986.  He has taught a variety of courses, including introductory biology, botany, zoology, ecology, earth science, and environmental science.


Charles' research interests have been with the ecology and distribution of plants in South Carolina.  Over the years he has worked to better understand the ecology and distribution of rare species such as spring flowering goldenrod, mud plantains, columbo, leatherwood, pawpaws, and most recently the May-white azalea.  Research on these species has resulted in a variety of publications in scientific journals and books.


Session Topic: Wild Azaleas and Rhododendron of South Carolina

Through the study of herbarium material and much time in the field, Dr. Horn has worked for two decades to refine the identification, distribution, and ecology of the Rhododendron species native to the Carolinas.  He has done extensive research on the ecology of the South Carolina endemic May-white azalea (Rhododendron eastmanii) to document its known distribution, ecology, and flowering time.

Session Speaker Jon Roethling

Jon's interest in gardening started at a young age working with his father in their home garden.  Encouraged to "Get a Job" as a teen, he began working at New Garden Nursery in Greensboro, NC, at the age of 15.  Working primarily in retail in his teens during high school and on breaks in college, he had an early foundation for a career in Horticulture despite initially entering college pre-med.  Quickly realizing plants were easier than people, he switched from UNC-Chapel Hill to NC State University where he pursued a B.S. in Horticultural Science.  While at NC State he began working part time at Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanical Garden.  It was here a passion for plants took deep root;  not only finding that passion for plants but also finding true love in his wife, Adrienne Roethling who leads the garden at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville, NC.


Interning at the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) while pursuing his degree led first to a position there as Horticultural Assistant to his mentor, then Assistant Director Todd Lasseigne, Ph.D.  He later became the Research Technician for the JCRA before leaving for the private sector as a Plant Project Manager for PlantHaven, a Breeders agency tasked with trialing and introducing new plants worldwide.  Public Horticulture was his true passion, which eventually led him to High Point University where, for eight years, he led the tremendous growth of the Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.   Beginning in December 2018, Jon took the helm of Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University as Director overseeing the four acres of Formal Gardens; a 1913 Lord & Burnham Greenhouse; and the 130 acres of greater Gardens that comprise meadows, wetlands, trails, and woodland gardens.  In under five years the Gardens have seen a complete renewal of the Formal Gardens, native plantings in the Greater Gardens with even more on the immediate horizon.


Session Topic: The Scent-ual Garden – Creating Four Seasons of Olfactory Delight

Fragrance is a powerful aspect of gardens and too often overlooked in plant selection.  This lecture will guide you and introduce you to tried and true plants that will fill your garden with olfactory delight all year round. 

Closing Keynote Shannon Currey

Shannon is a horticultural educator with Izel Native Plants. Working in the nursery trade since 2006, she has established herself as an expert on grasses and sedges, with a focus on native species.  She has shared her knowledge in nationally published articles and traveled the country speaking to professional organizations, community groups, and at public gardens.  She currently serves on the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program Scientific Committee and the Perennial Plant Association’s Board of Directors.  Shannon is based in Durham, North Carolina.


Closing Keynote: The New Workhorses of the Garden – Native Grasses and Sedges

Native grasses and sedges offer a host of ecosystem benefits, a unique set of aesthetic qualities, and smart solutions to common landscape challenges.  Join us for a look at these extraordinary plants and discover where they do their best work.