Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium 2018

Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium

Join us as we present A Gardener's Palette. We'll dip your brush in a variety of topics offering something for everyone from garden hobbyist to experienced landscape architect. In the end, we'll have a canvas filled with colors and perspectives to consider and put in practice. 

Proceeds from the event support our horticulture department's Bloom Program.  

When and where...

Friday, March 16, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Best Western Inn & Conference Center


Regular Registration- $90 per person

Early Registration (before January 15)- $80 per person; Late Registration (after February 26)- $100 per person

Registration will require you to set up an account. Your user ID will be your email and you will set up a personal password. The system will store your name, address, contact information, and transaction history which you may access and update at any time. If you are purchasing multiple tickets each person you are buying for will need to be added to your account. Please be sure to select the event and pay in order to complete your registration. If you need assistance, contact Parks and Recreation 540-942-6735. 

Vendor/Sponsor opportunities available- email 

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Best Western Inn & Conference Center

109 Apple Tree Lane, Waynesboro, VA 22980    Driving Directions

Need to spend the night? A block of rooms have been reserved for Thursday, March 15, 2018. Make your reservations prior to February 22, 2018 and mention Garden Symposium to receive a discounted rate of $89.99 for your room. 

Featuring current topics...

Natural Landscape Design: Meadows, Woods and Water- Larry Weaner
Natural gardens can reduce maintenance, improve the environment, and enhance the beauty of any residential property. Through a series of case studies, this presentation details techniques for gracefully integrating native plant compositions and ecological processes into the residential setting. Projects are presented from inception to maturity, providing a behind-the-scenes look at both practical and aesthetic considerations involved in creating and maintaining natural gardens.

Planting Solutions for Green Infrastructure- Claudia West
Functional plantings are being installed on a large scale but face severe challenges. They often fail to wow the public, offer a low level of ecological functions, and simply don’t survive in low budget maintenance environments. Examples of failed rain gardens and green roofs are all too plentiful. We won’t solve these issues if we continue to compare functional planting design to painting on canvas and perceive plants as individual objects in space. It is time for a new approach -- a plant community-based method which has evolved in the world of ecological science. Join us as we translate ecological principles of wild plant communities into planting design tools that will help you create better functional planting. This lecture will introduce you to the science behind stable and lasting planting and inspire with successful planting projects in our region.

Living in the Wild: My House - Larry Weaner
Experiencing wild nature needn’t be limited to the remotest regions of the world.  It can occur in even the smallest backyard garden.  Learn how noted landscape designer Larry Weaner interacts with and responds to ecological processes to create an ever-evolving wild yet still ornamental garden in his small property outside Philadelphia.  Learn how this brains-over-brawn approach goes beyond simple editing of what occurs naturally and incorporates natural processes and plants’ reproductive abilities to achieve common aesthetic and functional goals.  And perhaps most importantly, discover how loosening the reins can bring a newfound mystery and discovery to even the smallest garden.

Approaches to Designing with Plants- Preston Montague  

Making design decisions in the landscape can be a frustrating challenge for both Green Industry professionals and home gardeners alike. Join artist and landscape designer, Preston Montague, as he demonstrates some of his approaches to designing with plants that can help demystify the process of making decisions about, "which plant, where, and how many?" Guests will be exposed to planting strategies developed from a range of residential and commercial projects.

The Exciting World of Container Culture- Dan Benarcik

A look at the breadth of container gardening styles and techniques. Explore beautiful examples from Chanticleer and other picturesque locations. Different types of containers are discussed as well as some favorite plants for container culture.


Virginia Nursery &Landscape Association/ Certified Horticulturist- 5 CEU's

American Society of Landscape Architecture/ Landscape Architects- 5 CEU's

Virginia Society of Landscape Designers/ Certified Landscape Designers- 5 CEU's

Association of Professional Landscape Designers- 5 CEU's

Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional- 3 CEU's 

Virginia Master Gardeners

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Presented by renowned speakers...

Claudia West

LARRY WEANER founded Larry Weaner Landscape Associates in 1982, combining expertise in horticulture, environmental science, and the traditions of garden design.

His design and restoration work spans more than ten states and has been profiled in national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design, American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, and ASLA’s “The Dirt” blog.

Larry has received numerous awards for his work, including the Landscape Design Award from the New England Wildflower Society for use of native plants in “exceptional and distinctive landscape compositions” and the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award from The Native Plant Center.  The Garden Club of America awarded him an honorary membership in 2015.He is a founding member of Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), a former member of APLD’s Environmental Committee, and an Affiliate member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).In 1990, Larry developed New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL), a conference and workshop series dedicated to advancing the art and science of natural landscape design. This influential series has a loyal following in the landscape field and in 2016 received the New England Wildflower Society’s first annual Regional Impact Award.

Larry recently authored Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change with Tom Christopher (Timber Press, 2016).  Their book received a 2017 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society.

CLAUDIA WEST is a leading voice in the emerging field of ecological planting design. Known for her passionate advocacy of plant-driven design, Claudia is a widely sought out speaker and consultant who applies the technologies of plant systems to bring essential natural functions back into our cities and towns. She has worked on all sides of the green industry—as a designer, a grower, installer, and land manager—grounding her innovative work in pragmatic solutions that address the realities of our urbanizing world. She is the co-author of the critically acclaimed book, Planting in a Post-Wild World (Timber Press, 2015).

Having grown up on a family-owned nursery, florist business, and design/build firm in eastern Germany, Claudia was propagating plants before she could walk. Her love of American native plants brought her to the U.S. where she worked at Blue Mount Nurseries in Maryland and immersed herself in the study of American flora and mid-Atlantic ecosystems. Claudia holds a Master’s Degree of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Her intense studies of plant habitats and the science of plant community-based design strategies at the renowned school for horticulture in Weihenstephan, Germany built a solid foundation for her current work. Before co-founding Phyto Studio, Claudia was ecological sales manager at North Creek Nurseries, a wholesale perennial grower in Landenberg, PA. Her work was focused on bridging the gap between growers, designers, and land managers as well as introducing more functional and beautiful ecological plants into the nursery trade.

Dan Benarcik
Preston Montague

DAN BENARCIK attended the University of Delaware and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science. Fresh from the University, he started work at Mt. Cuba Center, dedicated to the research and protection of native plants. Working there as the Woods Path gardener, a real love of native plants developed.
Ready for a new challenge, Dan went to work as a sales representative for Imperial Nurseries, a large East Coast re-wholesaler of landscape plants. Building a network of horticultural professionals he still relies on to this day, he also gained an understanding of commercial production and the business world.  The next job he took in 1993, at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA is where you can still find him to this day. Chanticleer is about innovation.
The horticulturists there are artists and encouraged to explore their ideas through travel and continuing education.
Dan oversee the Courtyard Gardens with an emphasis on tropical, sub-tropical and tender perennials for seasonal display. His position at Chanticleer affords him the privilege of creating and maintaining our visitors first and last impression of the garden.  He also joined the Garden Writers Association and is currently a Regional Director with his writing appearing in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Martha Stewart Living and Rodale's gardening books.

PRESTON MONTAGUE is an artist, educator, and landscape designer who developed a passion for the natural world while growing up in the rural foothills of Virginia. Currently, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina working on projects that encourage stronger relationships between people and their environment for the purpose of improving public health. Preston holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from North Carolina State University as well as bachelor’s degrees in horticulture and fine art. His latest body of work, Codex Carolinum, is a series of didactic botanical illustrations using art and storytelling to foster natural science literacy.

Preston uses botanical illustration as a medium to teach drawing and observation skills in an effort to encourage environmental awareness and natural science literacy. Though he offers advanced classes for students with previous art experience, he is currently focusing on teaching basic techniques for quick sketching. Preston believes that there is a broader need to encourage the development of observation and visualization skills in the outdoors through spontaneous documentation without the pressure of creating labor-intensive, “finished” works of art.