Newfields Horticulture Symposium

Newfields Horticulture Symposium
7:45 am-4:30 pm

Join fellow plant-lovers for a full day of talks focused on plants, design, and environmental stewardship. Hear experts share on a variety of topics that will inspire and inform your own garden. Topics include inspiration from travels in Japan, hardy perennials from the Chicago Botanic Garden trials, the integration of art and horticulture, annuals at the Cincinnati Zoo, developing resilient landscapes for a changing climate, and houseplant selection and care. Registration opens in December.

February 29
The Tobias Theater at Newfields
$80 Member / $95 Public / $70 Horticultural Society Member / $50 Student

Please note: Student tickets are only available onsite at the Welcome Desk with a valid student ID. 


Full Schedule 

7:45 - Registration and morning refreshments 

8:15: Welcome and opening remarks

Jonathan Wright, the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director for Horticulture and Natural Resources, Newfields

8:30am: Top-Shelf Perennials

Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager and Associate Scientist, Chicago Botanic Garden

It's new...but is it a winner or a dud? Richard Hawke will share information on perennials that have proven both beautiful and hardy in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s evaluation trials. Plants are rated on their ornamental qualities, garden adaptability, winter hardiness, and disease and pest resistance. Find out which perennials passed with flying colors and are recommended for Midwestern gardens.

9:30am: Nature’s Inspirations

Chad Franer, The Tom and Nora Hiatt Director of Horticulture, Newfields

Chad Franer shares his journey to Japan, where he explored plants in national parks and Imperial gardens. Franer shares the deep connection with nature that permeates Japanese art and culture, inspiring a stronger appreciation for the fine details of design that strengthen the gardens, and underscores how plants create a sense of place.

10:30am: Morning break

11:00am: A Designer’s Tapestry: Weaving Together Color, Texture and Structure in the Garden

Susan Martin, freelance horticultural marketer, writer and speaker at Gardener Sue's News

When you experience an extraordinary garden, its beauty is obvious and often felt deeply, but the dynamics of what makes it beautiful aren't always immediately recognized. How can we intentionally create gorgeous gardens, harmonious spaces and well-designed landscapes? The process begins with mastering the use of color, texture and structure. In this presentation, we’ll learn from talented professional designers and passionate self-taught gardeners alike how to artfully combine plants in mixed borders and curate outdoor spaces you’ll love to live in.   

12:00pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Planting in a Changing World

Paul Bouseman, Deputy Director, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden

Pretty is as pretty does. Function and form have become equally important in our landscapes and we are asking our plants to do more than ever.  At the same time, our changing weather patterns are creating new challenges for existing landscapes and pressuring us to choose ever more wisely as we look forward. Bouseman will explore how efforts spent on proper plant selection reward us with resilient landscapes that make our gardens and communities more livable and valuable.

1:50pm: Pushing the Boundaries

Brian Williams, Brian’s Botanicals

Brian Williams provides a sneak peek into the new plant breeding that he has been working on for several years. Guests will see varieties that have not yet been released on the market and will witness the color and drama in new elephant ear varieties. Williams also shares his work on Philodendron and Monstera, plants that have long captured his attention. 

2:10pm: Bringing Back an Old Favorite

Jonathan Wright, The Ruth Lilly Deputy Director of Horticulture and Natural Resources, Newfields

Jonathan Wright offers a look into the exciting plans to reimagine the original flower and vegetable garden that once surrounded the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse. Until the 1960s, this garden provided flowers and vegetables for the estate. Inspired by the few remaining photographs of the original garden, this vibrant new garden will inspire and delight guests.

2:30pm: Starting Your Indoor Jungle: Houseplant Selection and Care

Amanda Griffith, Owner, Grounded Plant and Floral Co.

Amanda Griffith shares tips on selecting and caring for indoor tropical plants. With what can feel like an overwhelming number of options, learn how to choose the right plant for your home and lifestyle. Understanding basic water, light, and care needs for popular indoor plants is the first step in starting your own indoor jungle oasis. 

2:50pm: Afternoon break

3:00pm: Annuals for a Purpose

Scott Beuerlein, Manager of Botanical Garden Outreach, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Scott Beuerlein hears what you’re saying: “Oh no, not another annuals talk. More on the latest and greatest? The same old tips on container design?” On the contrary! Beuerlein delivers an eye-opening, wide-ranging, educational talk on annuals that is sure to refresh your interest and impact plans for your own garden.

4:00pm: Closing remarks

Jonathan Wright, the Ruth Lilly Deputy Director for Horticulture and Natural Resources at Newfields