About the speakers

Russ Cohen

Bio: Russ Cohen’s “day job” is serving as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration.  In his spare time, Russ likes to forage and share his knowledge of and enthusiasm for connecting to the landscape via one’s taste buds in a safe and environmentally-responsible manner.  Russ’ book, Wild Plants I Have Known... and Eaten, published by the Essex County Greenbelt Association, is now in its sixth printing.   He has been teaching foraging since 1974, and gives over three dozen foraging walks and talks annually at a wide variety of venues throughout the Northeast.

Abstract: There’s an increasing inclination to utilize more native species in home landscaping, thanks to books like Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, which extol the virtues of native plants over exotic ornamentals for attracting and sustaining beneficial insects. Yet, for some people, this alone may be insufficient motivation to “go native”. Perhaps knowing that many native species are edible by people too will provide the additional incentive. Join Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, to learn about native edible wild plants suitable for your home landscape, or nibbling on as you encounter them elsewhere.

James Gagliardi

Bio: Grew up gardening at his family’s 1780’s colonial home in Berlin, Connecticut. He studied horticulture at the University of Connecticut and went on to earn a master’s degree from the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware. James previously served as the horticulturist for River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society in Alexandria, Virginia. He is currently a horticulturist with Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for the landscape surrounding the National Museum of Natural History, including the Butterfly Habitat Garden and the Urban Bird Habitat. He is honored to be the editor of the Smithsonian’s first gardening book, Encyclopedia of Garden Plants for Every Location.

Abstract: Just because it is winter does not mean that gardens or gardeners get a rest.  At Smithsonian Gardens, 30 million visitors are welcomed year-round to the landscapes surround the Smithsonian museums along the National Mall.  These visitors include many tourists but also wildlife as our gardens serve as an important urban habitat for birds, insects, and mammals.  James will show how the gardens at Smithsonian maintain their appeal in winter beyond impressive annual displays of pansies, violas, and kale.  He will highlight important garden features in this bleaker season including berries, grasses, seedheads, stems, bark, evergreens, and even some flowers.

Mark Hirsch

Bio: A photojournalist, artist and naturalist, Mark Hirsch is the author of “That Tree.”  Hirsch of Platteville, Wisconsin is an editorial, corporate, and landscape photographer based out of Dubuque, Iowa. Hirsch spent 20 years in the newspaper industry as a photojournalist, photo editor and visuals editor before embarking on a freelance career in 2006. His clients include Getty Images, The New York Times, and John Deere Corporation.

While recovering from a serious car accident in 2012, Hirsch was inspired by a friend to use his iPhone to document a year-long photo a day project focusing on an old bur oak tree. Hirsch embraced the challenge resulting in a transformative experience of healing, self-discovery, inspiration, and enlightenment. The yearlong project along with Hirsch’s essays and reflections have been published in a coffee table book, “That Tree”, available at www.thattree.net

Hirsch’s project has gone viral producing widespread international attention from the world's most noted broadcasters, magazines, newspapers, and online outlets including CBS Sunday Morning, NBC, PBS, NPR, The Sierra Club, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Mail (UK), The Guardian (UK), Le Monde, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, and many more.

That Tree: An iPhone Photo Journal Documenting A Year in the Life of Lonely Bur Oak.
THAT TREE is a full color, 10x10 inch, 192 page hardcover book documenting a year in the life of a lonely bur oak tree. Mark created this inspirational story exclusively using the camera in his iPhone.

Abstract: Shades of wisdom, lessons learned from a wise old oak
Trees resonate deeply in the souls of people. That Tree spoke to me of patience and dedication, hidden beauty and personal healing.

Nestled in a valley between cornfields, That Tree has witnessed a metamorphosis of the land.  For an entire year using only my iPhone, I would quietly coax her stories and share in her wisdom through my visual discoveries in and around her realm.
Where tall grass prairies flourished, ox and plow have transformed the land.  Through it all, That Tree has stood as a silent sentinel adapting to the challenges, be they from man or nature.

My wish is that through my story and images, the audience will find themselves in my place on the landscape mesmerized by the sunset while listening to the blackbird’s song.

Amy Sampson

Amy E. Sampson, PhD
Owner, AES Landscape Design & Consultation

Certified Horticulturalist, CT Accredited Nursery Professional, Landscape Design Instructor

Amy Sampson, PhD, is a residential and commercial landscape designer and is the owner of AES Landscape Design and Consultation located in Cheshire, CT.  Amy taught landscape design and horticulture courses at Naugatuck Valley Community College and is the landscape design instructor for the CT Nursery & Landscape Association’s accreditation program.  Amy has also taught classes for the CT Master Gardener continuing education program and conducts talks for nurseries, garden clubs, and horticulture-related groups across Connecticut.

Abstract:  Landscape design principles are the basic concepts that guide us to create aesthetically pleasing landscapes.  This talk will present residential landscape design principles, their components, and will provide visual examples of each.  Since a successful design must also consider what plants will thrive in what location, the talk will conclude with a brief discussion of how to understand microclimates based on typical sun and wind patterns.

Art Wolk

Bio: Art Wolk, a lifelong bulb grower, is an award-winning writer, lecturer, photographer, and Grand Sweepstakes winner at the famed Philadelphia Flower Show, where his forced bulbs have won silver cups and baskets of blue ribbons.  His lectures and books (including Bulb Forcing for Beginners and the Seriously Smitten) are known for a combination of laugh-out-loud mirth and horticultural expertise. Art has appeared on the Discovery Channel, CBS, ABC, FOX, and other networks. And, he’s lectured at flower shows, symposiums, and famous horticultural institutions. Art’s magazine articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Fine Gardening, and other publications.

Abstract: Every winter delivers dark, dreary days and a landscape awash in icy rain and drifts of snow. Week after week, you search your garden for signs of growth, but it’s a futile endeavor born of despair.  However, there is a way to relieve your cabin-fevered nerves by having an indoor preview of springtime, months before the one outdoors.  In this enlightening and entertaining program, Art Wolk will show you how to force a worldwide diversity of bulbs into bloom throughout winter. So come along for a botanical bulb ride that will turn your dismal days into flower-filled winters of wonder.

A Conference for the Home Gardener

March 19, 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 Garden Conference offers exciting educational opportunities for home gardeners at all interest levels - from the casual gardener to the garden enthusiast to the Advanced Master Gardener. It also gives you an opportunity to hear and talk to nationally renowned authorities on various aspects of garden design, maintenance, and plant selection.

Early registration fee is $90 per person if postmarked on or before March 12th. The fee is $100 per person if postmarked after March 12th 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 Joan Allen at (860) 486-6740 or email: joan.allen@uconn.edu.