Extension News

Not Just Another Gardening Symposium

Note to media editors:

This is the Garden Column for the week of Sept. 30, 2005.


By Cindy Haynes


Iowa State University Extension


For the past eight years Iowa State University Horticulture Extension has put together a fall program called the Herbaceous Perennial Weekend.  Like many gardening symposia, the audience is always enthusiastic and the speakers are always knowledgeable.  But unlike any other gardening program this symposium is conducted twice in two different locations and each session is packed (from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.) with useful information, good food, Master Gardeners and a good time! 


This year’s crop of speakers includes a modern plant hunter/hybridizer, a prolific garden writer, a researcher, a designer/artist, and an educator. All are connoisseurs of ornamental plants. All are well-known and respected for their craft and knowledge. All have been fun to talk to and encourage participating in this year’s program.


Dan Heims is the president of Terra Nova Nurseries in the Portland, Ore. area. While you might think that plants from the Pacific Northwest may not perform well in the Midwest – think again. In fact, you probably have a few of his coral bells (Heuchera) and other offerings planted in your garden already. Dan is an enthusiastic speaker and loves to show audiences the newest perennials on the market and those of the future too.  His new book Heuchera and Heucherellas is sure to be a hit with gardeners. Dan will speak about these genera and his fascination with Asian plants.


Our garden writer is Elvin McDonald, senior gardening editor for Better Homes and Gardens.  Since Elvin has been gardening and writing about gardening for more than fifty years, it is not surprising that he is often referred to as “the Dean of Garden Writers.”  He is also one of the most knowledgeable and charming speakers I have ever met.  He has authored, edited, photographed or published more than a hundred books on gardening. His forthcoming book The Gardening Husband refers to his long term gardening relationship with fellow author C.Z. Guest, and is the topic of his talk.


Don’t let the name Nancy Rose fool you – she is not just an expert on roses but also on other ornamental woody shrubs. In addition, she has written the highly popular book Shrubs for Cold Climates. Nancy has worked for the University of Minnesota for several years where she has extensively studied hardy woody shrubs and willingly shares that experience with the gardening public across the country.  Nancy will speak about small shrubs for the mixed border – a nice fit for a perennial weekend!


Charlene Harris passed up a pottery workshop to contribute to this year’s Herbaceous Perennial Weekend. Her artistic background, experience as a Michigan Master Gardener, and delightful sense of humor make her an entertaining and insightful speaker. We will learn from Charlene the “fun-damentals” of garden design.


Last, but certainly not least, is Lois Girton from Iowa State University. Lois is on the board of directors of the Iowa Arboretum and chair of the plant collections management committee. She is an Iowa gardening expert and well-known for teaching and expertise with hosta and Siberian iris.  Lois will pass along her ideas and passion for the use of Siberian iris in the landscape.  


Join me in attending the 2005 Herbaceous Perennial Weekend. The symposium will be held on Nov. 11 at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha and repeated on Nov. 12 at Scheman Auditorium on the ISU Campus, Ames, Iowa. Brochures with schedules and costs are available at your local county extension office or online at www.yardandgarden.iastate.extension.edu. Be sure to take your vitamins before the symposium, you wouldn’t want to miss a thing.




Contacts :

Cynthia Haynes, Horticulture, (515) 294-4006, chaynes@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu