The Sense-Abilities in Gardening

Gardens endlessly award our sense, making them sensible places to share our time and energy. A brief scent of wet soil, a distant murmur of a bird's song, or a blurred pattern of blooms can transport us to another time in our memory and simultaneously root us in the present moment. Such experiences offer a source of appreciation for the life all around us and nurture our minds and souls. It's no surprise that gardening is an amazing way to cultivate, expand, and hone our "sense-abilities". Join us for our 5-part virtual lecture series to learn from talented professionals in the gardening community about the many ways sound, touch, taste, smell, and sight inspires their work.

This series offers an opportunity to connect with inspiring professionals in the gardening community throughout the United States and beyond. Each lecture includes a 60-minute presentation on ZOOM followed by a 30-minute Q&A with the presenter. Please note that we are NOT able to record virtual programs at this time.

Thank you to our 2024 Presenting Sponsor, Barbara Mathis!

A World of Discovery: How Science and Heart Can Make You a More Ecological Gardener

Nancy Lawson | Thursday, Jan. 25, 5:30 - 7 pm CST

Much has been written about gardening for human senses, but how do plants and animals perceive the world around them? What do we miss when we landscape for human visual appeal but neglect the sensory experiences of our wild neighbors? Noise, light and odor pollution can have many unintended consequences. Conventional gardening practices often interfere with animals’ and plants’ abilities to interact with their environment in ways we can scarcely imagine. Through science, heart, and our powers of observation, author Nancy Lawson will share how we can mitigate these disruptions and create sensory refuges in an increasingly noisy world. Lawson is a nature writer, habitat consultant, speaker, and author of The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife and Wildscape: Trilling Chipmunks, Beckoning Blooms, Salty Butterflies, and other Sensory Wonders of Nature. Her new book, Wildscape, is a finalist for the 2024 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS/Subaru SB&F) Prize for Excellence in Science Books.

The Art of Topiary

Mike Gibson | Thursday, Feb. 22, 5:30 - 7 pm CST

Topiary unlocks our sense of touch and sight in unique ways. Join award-winning artist Mike Gibson as he explores the therapeutic aspects of topiary and shares his process for beautifying locations of any type, creating more inviting spaces for our senses and decreasing negativity within an area. Mike Gibson is a self-taught property artist, topiarist, and entrepreneur, who has spent over 20 years beautifying residential, commercial, and public spaces. Inspired by hardworking Black artists like his father, Michael T. Gibson, and Topiary Artists Pearl Fryar and Jake Hobson, Gibson began honing his craft at the early age of seven. Since 2015, Gibson has created well over 600 topiary designs for properties nationwide through Gibson Works Property Art (GWPA) LLC. In 2021 Gibson was the Topiary-Artist-in-Residence at Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC, where he helped to restore the legendary garden. Among many other awards and achievements, he was a featured contestant on the HGTV-produced reality TV competition show "Clipped" featuring Martha Stewart as head judge in 2021.

Daring & Delicious: Tropical Edibles for the Temperate Garden

Marianne Willburn | Thursday, Mar. 28, 5:30 - 7 pm CST

Ginger, Hibiscus, Taro, Turmeric…Whether you harvest the stem, leaf, root, or flower, adding tropical edibles to the garden allows the temperate gardener-cook to work with the freshest flavors possible in an adventurous kitchen. Join gardening columnist Marianne Willburn to learn which tropical and subtropical plants make the most of a temperate climate, and how they can revolutionize your garden and your table. Willburn is the author of Tropical Plants and How to Love Them (Cool Springs Press, 2021) and Big Dreams, Small Garden (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017). As a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens, The American Gardener, GardenRant, and other digital and print magazines, she has been a newspaper columnist for over a decade and is the recipient of several Gold and Silver Media Awards from Garden Communicators International (formerly GWA).

Plant Placement: Punctuation, Accentuation, Exclamation

Daniel Hinkley | Thursday, Apr. 25, 5:30 - 7 pm CST

Award-winning horticulturist, botanist, and plant collector Daniel Hinkley believes visually satisfying gardens rely on three concepts: punctuation, accentuation, and exclamation. Learn how to create balance in your garden by utilizing these concepts just as Hinkley has in many places, including at his most recent and personal project, Windcliff. Hinkley is a teacher, writer, lecturer, consultant, nurseryman, naturalist, gardener, and recipient of numerous awards, including the Veitch Memorial Medal (V.M.M.) from the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain in 2007 “for outstanding contribution to advancing the science and practice of horticulture” and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society in 2006. Above all, he is committed to solid and sustainable horticultural practices, above average garden plants, landscapes of distinction and raising the collective awareness of the diversity of plant life on Earth as well as the magic and mysteries of our natural world.

My Greatest Design Lessons

Jay B. Sifford | Thursday, May 23, 5:30 - 7 pm CST

A garden has the potential to speak to all our senses. Designer Jay Sifford believes that “a garden should be an immersive environment laced with magic, art and story, a place where people, plants and wildlife interact in meaningful ways, and a stage upon which people can live out the best versions of their lives.” Join us as Jay shares his personal discoveries from 20 years of garden design, plus lessons from other designers. Learn how to create a magical, immersive, and profound space. He will share tips on rhythm, lines, shapes, and light; creating theater using scrim; and the power of emotion. Sifford’s work has been featured in several books and publications including Fine Gardening, Southern Living, Country Gardens, Garden Design, and SouthPark Magazine. LUXlife Magazine named him "North Carolina's Most Outstanding Landscape Designer” in 2021.