Join Us for the 2024 Plant Select Annual Conference: June 13, 2024

March 6th, 2024

** Thanks for your interest! This event is sold out. Please join our monthly e-newsletter to be among the first to hear about our 2025 conference.**

Please join us for a stimulating day of inspiration and practical tips! This year’s annual conference includes educational talks from regional experts, opportunities to meet fellow plant lovers, a catered lunch, and time to explore Denver Botanic Gardens at your own pace.

2024 event highlights:

One-day event:
Thursday, June 13, 2024
See the schedule

Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York Street, Denver, CO 80206)

Our annual conference is ideal for:
Landscape professionals, plant enthusiasts, master gardeners, home gardeners, municipalities, garden centers, botanic gardens and more from across the intermountain west

This year’s presentations include:

  • Shrouded in Light: Naturalistic Planting Inspired by Wild Shrublands with Kevin Philip Williams and Michael Guidi of Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Gardening in a Warmer World: Planning Now for Your Garden’s Future with David McKinney of the Iowa Arboretum and Gardens
  • Creating Inspiring Designs With Plant Select Plants with Sara A. Meier of Green Thumb SAM from Boise, Idaho
  • Lessons Learned from a Waterwise Landscape with Mike Lorenc of Utah’s Conservation Garden Park

Scroll down for presentation details…

A big thanks to our 2024 sponsors!

More on the presentations and speakers:

Shrouded In Light: Naturalistic Planting Inspired by Wild Shrublands

Shrublands exist all around us, thriving in almost any environmental condition, from the desiccating sunshine of the endless sagebrush steppe to the deep, private shade of moist forests. These diverse and inspiring ecosystems serve as perfect models for our gardens. Beyond their inherent beauty, they provide nurturing habitats and demonstrate resilience in the face of a changing climate. 

Join the authors of Shrouded in Light: Naturalistic Planting Inspired by Wild Shrublands (Filbert Press, 2024) as they draw inspiration from Plant Select’s shrubby offerings and invite you to work, live and play with shrubs. Explore a glorious spectrum of wild shrublands, and discover the philosophies and design strategies behind translating these magnificent plant communities into your home garden. 

Michael Guidi and Kevin Philip Williams

About the speakers

Kevin Philip Williams is a naturalistic gardener who collaborates with plants to create dynamic and challenging worlds. His unique style combines bioregional plant palettes, a hardcore punk ethos and post-human aesthetics to craft wild and captivating spaces. Kevin’s extensive work with Denver Botanic Gardens has led to the creation of celebrated public gardens throughout the Denver. Kevin was a gardener on The High Line in Manhattan and studied as a horticulture intern at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Michael Guidi is an ecologist and horticulture researcher who is passionate about naturalistic plantings that embody the flexibility and resiliency of wild systems. His work draws inspiration from liminal urban spaces and wild areas alike. Preferring common and weedy plants to the rare and precious, Michael is a proponent of dynamic, self-sustaining gardens and green infrastructure as alternatives to static, high-maintenance landscaping. His research links ecological theory with horticultural techniques and designs to broaden the definition of gardens and gardening.

Book signing: 

Kevin and Michael will be signing their book, Shrouded in Light: Naturalistic Planting Inspired by Wild Shrublands, during lunchtime at the conference. If you’d like to get this book, we’ll have details on its sale soon.

Gardening in a Warmer World: Planning Now for Your Garden’s Future

As North America’s climate continues to become less predictable, severe storms and natural disasters become more frequent alongside increasingly extreme precipitation cycles. Journey with David through what future gardening may look like, gain insight into planting decisions for the next 10 to 50 years, and explore strategies to make your garden successful in a changing world. Finally, learn about how trial gardens and dependable programs like Plant Select put plants to the test as a resource to save gardeners everywhere frustration and heartache.

About the speaker:

David McKinney is a horticulturist, ecologist, entomologist and plant physiologist. He‘s currently the curator at the Iowa Arboretum and Gardens where he manages 160 acres of gardens, prairie restoration, and native woodland. Originally from Colorado, he received three degrees in horticulture from Colorado State University, while also coordinating extensive perennial trials and demonstration gardens. He is passionate about native plants and the interactions between plants and wildlife. On top of his curatorial work, David is a writer and speaker, serves on the AmericanHort Landscape Community Connectors group, and is on the Garden Review Board for Better Homes and Gardens.

Creating Inspiring Designs With Plant Select Plants

Have you ever wondered what Plant Select combinations are a landscape designer’s favorite? Trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and groundcovers—there are so many choices! How do you go about putting all these fantastic plants together? And if you’re well versed in Plant Select design, how about some new inspiration?

Join Landscape Designer Sara A. Meier of Green Thumb SAM as she shares her professional tips and techniques for creating stunning Plant Select gardens for her clients in Boise, Idaho. This talk will be packed with her favorite plant combinations and pointers on how she uses Plant Select plants in an effective and dramatic way.

About the speaker:

From an early age, Sara A. Meier had a connection with the outdoors: whether she was playing by a local creek, climbing in her grandpa’s tree, or cutting flowers at her grandmother’s home. But it was a high school horticulture class that was Sara’s springboard to a life of horticultural highs! Sara has had landscape design businesses for 23 years. She started Green Thumb SAM LLC—her second landscape design and consulting business—in 2016 and serves clients in Boise who are looking for waterwise, habitat-friendly gardens. She also teaches classes at Idaho Botanical Garden, the Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association, Idaho Firewise and the Osher Learning Program at Boise State University.

Lessons Learned From a Waterwise Landscape

How much time and effort does it REALLY take to maintain a waterwise landscape? What are the best ways to set up a water-efficient landscape, so you spend more time enjoying it and less time working on it? Find out with Mike Lorenc of Utah’s Conservation Garden Park!

For four years, Mike has measured a variety of factors in maintaining a quarter-acre, Localscapes home demonstration landscape within the park. In this talk, Mike will briefly introduce us to Conservation Garden Park and the home demonstration landscape. Then, he’ll share lessons learned and practical things to consider for lawn versus garden bed care, choosing mulch materials (including which to avoid because they add time and maintenance), irrigation, vegetable gardening and more, so you can make informed decisions and minimize unnecessary work in your own landscape.

If time allows, Mike also will share how they’ve effectively engaged interns in their public garden efforts.

About the speaker:

Mike Lorenc is the Lead Garden Horticulturist for Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan, Utah. Mike has always had an interest in landscaping, but he fully jumped into the profession after a career change in his late 30s. While earning a degree in horticulture from Utah State University, Mike started as an intern at Conservation Garden Park, and he never left! Mike is passionate about water conservation, so his children (and his children’s children) can live in Utah for the long term. 

Following the presentations:

You’re welcome to explore Denver Botanic Gardens at your leisure.

View the full schedule for the day