About the speakers

Denise Adams

Ornamental Plant Historian
Stony Point, NY

American Home Landscapes: A Historical Perspective
Based on Denise's book by the same name (written with Laura Burchfield and released in May, 2013), this lecture provides a historical perspective of the evolution of America's residential landscapes. From Colonial subsistence gardens to Victorian gardens of excess to 1980s backyard barbecues, this lecture provides something for everyone. Learn about the major landscape design trends and most popular plants since our country's establishment to the present.

Denise Wiles Adams is an ornamental-plant and garden historian. She received her Ph.D. in horticulture from The Ohio State University and for a decade owned an heirloom-flower and herb nursery. She is a prolific writer and lecturer on topics related to the history of American ornamental gardens and is the author of Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Timber Press, 2004) and American Home Landscapes (Timber Press, 2013). Denise currently resides in Stony Point, New York where she enjoys researching and making period-appropriate gardens for her 1914 Arts & Crafts-style home.

Mark H. Brand, Ph.D.

Professor of Horticulture
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

UConn Plant Introductions: Know Them, Grow Them
Did you know that UConn has been a force when it comes to new plant development and introductions? Mark will take a historical look at the plants and the breeders that have put UConn on the map when it comes to great new plants. Come see all of the outstanding cultivars that were developed right in your own backyard. The talk will start off in the 1970s and end with some sneak peeks at what new plants are on the horizon from UConn plant breeders.

Mark grew up next to the UConn campus and worked summers for Dr. Gustav Mehlquist, who first introduced him to the art and science of plant breeding. After receiving his college degrees from Cornell University and The Ohio State University, he returned to Connecticut to join the faculty at UConn.  Dr. Brand teaches plant propagation and woody landscape plants and conducts research and extension activities for the nursery industry.  Plant breeding and plant genetics are one of his passions and he has introduced 14 cultivars of landscape plants, with more in the pipeline.

Ben Campbell

Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Consumer Perceptions; Sustainable, Organic, Ecofriendly, Local
Does your customer think differently than you do? Is their perception of commonly used terms such as sustainable, organic, ecofriendly and local differ from yours? Explore and understand consumer perceptions and the best communication strategies when working with your clients.

Dr. Campbell is an Assistant Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Connecticut. His appointment is research and extension based. His extension and research efforts are mostly focused around the Green Industry along with other specialty crops. These efforts revolve around enhancing Connecticut production and consumption of specialty crops. Other efforts focus on working with statewide extension faculty/staff on a variety of issues relating to strengthening agriculture within communities statewide. He has published in a wide array of peer-reviewed journals, trade press, and via other extension avenues.

Mark Dwyer

Director of Horticulture
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, WI

The Sensory Garden
While we all strive for beautiful gardens to enjoy visually, there are some specific ways to make sure the garden satisfies all of the senses.  By incorporating scent, sound, tactile engagement and taste, the sensory garden can be achieved in dramatic fashion.  Specific plants, design features and other garden components will be shared with the goal of creating a garden with the more rounded goal of “all inclusive sensory enjoyment”!

Basics of Landscape Design
Landscapes, while focusing on beautiful and appropriate plantings, should also consider form and function in regards to the basics of layout, the anticipated use of the landscape, plant placement, etc.  This presentation will address the basic considerations regarding assessing the landscape, identifying goals, addressing needs and making some decisions prior to even selecting plants.  Advice will consist of design ideas that will create a beautiful setting that coincides with available maintenance and the expectations of the landscape itself.

Mark Dwyer
Director of Horticulture
Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, WI)
1455 Palmer Drive
Janesville, WI  53545

Mark has been the Director of Horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, WI) for the past 16 years.  Along with a talented grounds staff and dedicated volunteers, he oversees the maintenance and improvement of this 20 acre botanical garden which just celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2014.  Mark has degrees in landscape architecture (University of Illinois – Champaign-Urbana) and urban forestry (University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point).  His true passion is obtaining, growing, observing and photographing all manner of plants.

Kelly Norris

Horticulture Manager, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Des Moines, IA

Dig This:  Stylish Gardening for Savvy Gardens
Gardeners need chic, sustainable, thriving plants for modern lifestyles. Plants after all are the very essence of fashionable gardening. Gardeners need to know the basics of gardening as well as have the opportunity to craft landscapes in their own unique style with plants that flourish sustainably for more than just a few seasons.  The horticulture industry needs to re-shift and re-tool its focus on the style conscience of the young and young-at-heart, including how to market plants to a new generation of gardeners.  Gardeners new and old have always wanted to make gardens that look like them and that reflect a personal, artistic ownership of the space outside their home, large or small.  20-something plantsman Kelly Norris will take the audience on a journey through a world of hot, functional and head-turning plants and ideas that will inspire you to craft a stylish garden that’s uniquely yours.

Kelly D. Norris is a 20-something, award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre public garden in Des Moines, Iowa.  He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press, which won the 2013 American Horticultural Society Book Award, and is at work on his next project tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants. Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150 year history, awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa.  In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture.  In 2013, he won the Iowa Author Award for Special Interest Writing, the youngest Iowan to be recognized in the history of the awards program.


Kristin Schwab

Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Eileen McHugh

Landscape Architect and Tree Warden
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Rise of the Perennial Plant Palette: Examining the New UConn Landscape
Fueled by a well-considered landscape master plan, the addition of several staff design and plant professionals, and expanded budgets & improved processes for landscape development and maintenance, the campus landscape at the University of Connecticut has undergone a dramatic positive transformation over the past 5 years.   Reflective of recent planting design trends, many of the most iconic new landscapes at UConn prominently feature the use of perennials in their plant palettes.  This talk will provide an in-depth look at several of these landscape designs (Oak & Laurel Hall, Whetten bio-retention gardens, McMahon & Arjona foundation plantings, Hillside Road streetscape, Burton Football Complex, Oak and Widmer green roofs, Floriculture Gardens.).  It will examine the contexts, design rationale, challenges, and benefits of the increased use of perennial plants in large scale institutional settings.  


Kristin Schwab has been a faculty member of UConn’s Program of Landscape Architecture for 16 years, where she has taught courses in planting design, site design, and community planning, among other subjects.  She is co-author of the book Sustainable Site Design: Criteria, Process & Case Studies for Integrating Site and Region in Sustainable Landscape Design, published in 2010 by John Wiley.  Her community design outreach and professional practice work over the past 30 years has included the design and implementation of dozens of public and private landscapes throughout the United States. She holds degrees in landscape architecture from the University of California at Davis and Iowa State University.

Eileen McHugh is a UConn Landscape Architect and the University's Tree Warden.  She has been with the University in the Office of University Planning for the past 4.5 years and has been active designing or managing many recent site improvements.  Some of those projects are: the Floriculture Garden, Hillside Road Streetscape, the Sundial Plaza and the restoration of four quads; the Historic Quad and the Art Woods Quad (south and north of the Benton Museum), The Whetten/Library Quad and the Student Union Mall.  Prior to coming to UConn, Eileen designed and built many parks and gardens in Boston, Chicago, Ohio and Kansas.  At home, Eileen tends 4 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadow.

Kim Stoner

Associate Agricultural Scientist, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
New Haven, CT

Growing Plants That Benefit Bees
Flowers originally evolved to attract pollinators, and to provide benefits to them in exchange for the service of pollination. However, many flowers have been radically altered by breeders so that they no longer offer pollen or nectar, or those rewards are inaccessible to bees. In addition, systemic insecticides applied to flowering plants can travel into pollen and nectar and may have sublethal effects on bees and other pollinators.  Now that many gardeners are concerned about bee health, find out what flowers benefit bees and how to protect bees from garden pesticides.

Dr. Kimberly Stoner is an Associate Scientist in the Entomology Department of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. She started out as the vegetable entomologist in 1987, but has been working primarily on bees since 2005.  Her research on bees includes quantification and routes of exposure to pesticides, long-term monitoring of native bees, alternative floral resources for bees on vegetable farms, and pollination of pumpkin and winter squash. She received her Ph.D. in Entomology from Cornell in 1987, and her B.S. in Zoology from Duke in 1979.

Michael Yanny

Owner of JN Plant Selections, LLC
Senior Horticulturist - Johnson’s Nursery
Great Woody Plants for Discerning Gardeners
Few avid gardeners want to have the same plants as their neighbors. They want ones that will distinguish their garden as unique and interesting. Mike will discuss plants that he thinks can make gardens stand out. He will talk about Asian Maples, Shagbark Hickory, Bottlebrush Buckeye and Leatherwood among others. He will show you some plants that are both tough and beautiful.  

The Plants and Their Stories: How I Developed New Woody Plants at Johnson’s Nursery over the Past 34 Years
Mike will discuss a few of his cultivar and seed strain originations by showing pictures and describing the plants’ exceptional qualities. He will tell the stories behind the development of his tough, hardy plants. They were all selected to perform in Wisconsin’s brutal zone 4 climate. Some of the plants he will cover include: Firebird® Crabapple, The JN Strain of Musclewood—Carpinus caroliniana JN Strain, Firespire® Musclewood, Technito® Arborvitae, and his two Viburnum carlesii selections Spice Island™ and Sugar n’ Spice™. Michael Yanny was the long-time plant propagator at Johnson’s Nursery, Inc. in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin from 1980 to 2010 and is currently the Senior Horticulturist on Johnson’s staff. He recently started his own business, JN Plant Selections, LLC, which develops and introduces new woody ornamental plants. 

Michael graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He learned many of his propagation and plant selection skills while working with the late Herbert F. Trautman of Trautman Nurseries in Franksville, Wisconsin in the late 1970’s.

Some of the plants Michael has selected, named and introduced include: Firebird® Crabapple,  Redwing® Highbush Cranberry Viburnum, Red Feather™ Arrowwood Viburnum, Ping Pong™ Buttonbush, Pink-a-licious™ Spirea, Spice Island™ Koreanspice Viburnum, Sugar n’ Spice™ Koreanspice Viburnum, Early Glow™ Ohio Buckeye, Technito® Arborvitae, Star Power™ Juniper, Irish Setter™ Dogwood, and Firespire® Musclewood.

Michael is a serious Green Bay Packers fan and in his spare time likes to play his acoustic guitar and write poetry.

Affiliations for Michael D. Yanny:
JN Plant Selections, LLC
Michael D. Yanny - Owner
10903 W. Bobolink Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53225


Johnson’s Nursery
W180 N6275 Marcy Road
Menomonee Falls, WI

A Conference for the Landscape and Horticultural Professional

March 5, 2015
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Lewis B. Rome Commons
University of Connecticut
Storrs, Connecticut

Register Online » Download Mail-in Registration

The Perennial Plant Conference offers exciting educational opportunities for professional landscapers and designers, nursery and greenhouse producers, and retail garden center operators.  Nationally renowned speakers and local experts will be featured.

Early registration fee is $100 per person if postmarked on or before February 26th.  The fee is $110 per person if postmarked after February 26th or for walk-ins. Student registration is $25 with valid school ID.  Registration Discount! Save $20 per person if registering groups of 3 or more together.

If you have questions about the conference, please contact Donna Ellis at 860-486-6448 or email: donna.ellis@uconn.edu