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Arbor Day Speakers' Archive

Rick Darke(1)Rick Darke
2015 Speaker

Rick Darke heads Rick Darke, LLC, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm focused on landscape ethics, photography and contextual design. Darke’s work blends art, ecology and cultural geography in the design and management of living landscapes. Projects include parks, scenic byways, transportation corridors, corporate and collegiate campuses, conservation developments, post-industrial and historic brownfields, botanic gardens and residential landscapes. His many books including , The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes and The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden co-authored with Doug Tallamy. For more information visit:  www.rickdarke.com

Ted Stephens HeadshotGerald Stephens Headshot
Ted and Gerald Stephens
2014 Speakers

For over 40 years, Nurseries Caroliniana in North Augusta has been providing plant lovers across the globe with one-of-a-kind plants and one-of-a-kind service.

Gerald Stephens started Nurseries Caroliniana with his brother Ted in downtown North Augusta in 1973. It moved to a piece of family land in 2001. The nursery operates a wholesale business and a retail store, each specializing in selling hard-to-find plants. Read more

Allen Armitage

Dr. Allan Armitage

2013 Speaker

World-renowned garden writer, speaker and researcher, Dr. Allan Armitage set to present to participants during the 10th Annual Arbor Day Celebration. 


Armitage is an emeritus professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, where he taught, conducted research and developed and maintained The UGA Trial Gardens, one of the finest trial gardens in the country. Armitage has served as an adviser for the Garden Book Club of America and as a consultant for Scholastic Books’ Magic School Bus series. Since retiring from UGA, he spends his time writing, consulting, speaking, teaching online classes and developing a gardening App. Armitage has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards to include: Alex Laurie Award for outstanding research in horticulture, The Golden Trowel Award from the Garden Writers of America, The Medal of Honor given by the Garden Club of America, and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award for lifelong achievements in horticulture.  His books include: "Legends in the Garden”, “Vines and Climbers”, “Native Plants”, and “Garden Perennials”.


Tracy DiSabato-Aust
2012 Speaker

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden was the presentation topic of our 2012 featured speaker, Tracy DiSabato-Aust of Horticulture Classics & Consultations. She has earned international acclaim as one of America’s most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. Her experience includes stints at Longwood Gardens in the U.S., The Montreal Botanical Garden in Canada, the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium, and Knightshayes Court in England. She earned a bachelor of science and master of science in horticulture from The Ohio State University. DiSabato-Aust is a frequent guest on national garden television and radio gardening shows and has contributed articles or been featured in numerous national and international magazines, books and newspapers.


Learn more about Arbor Day 2012 and Tracy DiSabato-Aust!

 Mike DirrDr. Michael A. Dirr
2011 Speaker

A professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia, Michael A. Dirr is a legend in the horticultural world and has tremendous energy for teaching about plants, writing about plants, and especially for growing plants.

Michael worked at a nursery and garden center to pay his way through university while earning his bachelor and master of science degrees at Ohio State. He went on to earn a doctorate in plant physiology at the University of Massachusetts and began his teaching career in 1972 as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois.

Michael has published more then 300 scientific and popular papers and articles. His teaching, lectures, seminars, garden study tours, and plant introduction programs have contributed enormously to greater horticultural awareness, and his book Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs is one of Timber Press's bestselling titles.

He has received numerous awards and honors during his career, most recently the Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal from the American Horticulture Society. Today, he travels widely to lecture, teach and form new opinions of plants.  

Dan HinkleyDan Hinkley
2009 Speaker

Having had an interest in botany and gardening from childhood, Dan Hinkley earned his Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture, and Horticulture Education, from Michigan State University in 1976. He went on to graduate school at the University of Washington, where he accomplished a master of science degree in Urban Horticulture in 1985.

Hinkley was an instructor of horticulture at Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington from 1987 to 1996.

In 1987 Hinkley began gardening on the land that would become Heronswood with his partner, the architect Robert L. Jones. By the mid 1990's, Heronswood Nursery was doing a thriving mail-order business and their display garden tours gained international acclaim. Hinkley became a regular speaker at seminars offered during the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

In 2000, Hinkley and Jones sold the business and display gardens to Burpee Seeds but continued to run the nursery. Hinkley and Jones moved to a residence separate from the nursery in Indianola, Washington.

ShadowDonDon Shadow
2008 Speaker

View our Arbor Day 2008 TV appearance on YouTube!

Don Shadow is a fourth-generation nurseryman who has owned Shadow Nursery, a wholesale nursery located in Winchester, Tennessee, since 1973. Shadow Nursery encompasses more than 800 acres of field-grown stock, seedling blocks, propagation beds, trial and evaluation areas and a container operation.

Shadow is widely nationally and internationally recognized, both as an expert horticulturist and for his success in saving endangered animal species. He has received numerous prestigious awards for his services to horticulture and his latest project involves the development of a botanical garden and animal park dedicated to education and the preservation of flora and fauna.

There are currently more than 600 animals in 60 different species living and breeding under Shadow’s watchful eye. He has 14 different species of deer and 46 camels, as well as antelope, zebras, tapirs, lemurs and many others. In fact, Shadow is raising Chinese Red Panda babies, the first ever to be successfully bred by a private individual in the United States. He works closely with zoos that regularly send him animals for breeding, based on his remarkable success record.

But whether it’s growing tender bamboo for his pandas or developing new varietals of fruit trees, Shadow’s first love remains in the realm of plants.

"I focus on varietals that I describe as new and useful," explains Shadow. "These could be plants that are ideally suited to a particular location due to their color, form or habit."

Many of the "new and useful" plants that Shadow is working with reflect this downsized milieu. He is developing a new Chinese Fruitless Red Bud that will bloom when only 10" tall, as well as PeeWee Hydrangeas and a Pygmy White Dogwood that produces tiny, perfectly-formed blossoms.

Shadow travels extensively and has noticed that Americans are beginning to move towards planting styles already popular in countries such as Japan and England.

"Smaller spaces need trees and shrubs that match the scale of those spaces," he points out. "Large, majestic trees just don’t work in the smaller landscapes we’re seeing now around newly-constructed homes."

According to Shadow, Americans are showing a renewed interest in all heirloom plants, trees and perennials that were popular with our grandparents but fell out of favor until very recently. Another trend that he sees is the increased use of "edible landscape:" fruit trees and bushes, berries and brambles.  

Shadow received a bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Tennessee and he has served as past-president of both the International Plant Propagator's Society (Eastern region) and the Southern Nurserymen's Association. He has received the Medal of Honor Award of the Garden Club of America (1989), the Individual Commercial Award of the American Horticultural Society (1993) and the Silver Seal Award of the American Federation of Garden Clubs (1994). He was inducted into the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association Hall of Fame in 2008.


tonyaventTony Avent
2007 Arbor Day Speaker

Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tony founded this nursery to help fund the activities of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, a display and research garden with over 11,000 plants. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Tony was a student of the late horticulture professor J. C. Raulston, who instilled in him the quest for the newest and best garden plants from around the world.

Tony is well known as a lecturer and garden writer and recipient of prestigious awards from the American Horticultural Society, the North American Rock Garden Society, and the North Carolina Association of Nurserymen, to name a few.

He was originally drawn to horticulture by a quirky combination of genes. Tony actually began selling plants when he was a young kid, so selling plants seemed natural to him. He quickly realized that starting a nursery was the best way to cover the costs of plant addiction without having to get a real job. "It's sort of like a gambler opening a casino or a car buff opening an auto repair shop," says Tony. Tony is a lighthearted garden genius who tired of letting Mother Nature put him in his place.

"Nurseries are for people who want to be in a business that embraces gardening, [and] enriches peoples' lives, while controlling their own destinies ... as much as Mother Nature will allow."

Tony Avent runs his nursery, Plant Delights, together with his wife, Michelle; they receive help from their cats Diamond, Pearl, Ruby, and Zirconia.


armitageDr. Allan Armitage
2006 Arbor Day Speaker

In 2006, Dr. Allan Armitage was the guest speaker at the celebration.

“It is indeed an honor to have Dr. Allan Armitage as our guest speaker,” said Bea Walters Smith, director of alumni affairs and advancement services at USC Upstate. “”He is well-respected on a global level and will attract garden enthusiasts from around the region. In addition, this helps bring increased awareness of the Susan Jacobs Arboretum on the USC Upstate campus.”

Armitage is well known as a writer, speaker and researcher throughout the world. He has visited research centers and production centers throughout the world and is constantly studying annuals, perennials, cut flowers, and greenhouse crops in various climates. Armitage has a bachelor’s degree from MacDonald College in Quebec, a master’s degree from University of Guelph, Ontario, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

He is a prolific and well-respected writer, has written more than 350 articles and papers in journals such as Horticulture Magazine, American Nurseryman, Greenhouse Grower, Grower Talks, Plant Physiology and the journals of the American Society of Horticultural Science. Armitage writes a monthly column for Greenhouse Grower Magazine, a national trade journal, in which he discusses new crops and new trends in floriculture and is a regular contributor to Fine Gardening Magazine.

The author of 11 books, Armitage is best known for his classroom and reference text, Herbaceous Garden Perennials, a Treatise of Identification, Culture and Garden Attributes, now in its 2nd edition (1146 pages), a standard reference for gardeners, professionals and students. In 1997, it was designated as one of the 75 most important horticultural books written in the last 75 years by the American Horticultural Society. In January, 1999, the book was selected by Choice, the publication of Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, as one of the top 3% of Academic Books reviewed in 1998. He is presently in the midst of writing the third edition, with a proposed publication date of 2007.


2005 Arbor Day Speaker

Rudolph E. Mancke III

manckeDistinguished Lecturer in Natural History
School of the Environment
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-9153
email: mancke@environ.sc.edu

Undergraduate, Wofford College, B.S. 1967, Phi Beta Kappa
Graduate, University of South Carolina, Zoology,1967-1969
Honorary Degrees:
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters: College of Charleston (1990)
Honorary Doctor of Science: Wofford College (1992)
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters: Winthrop College (1993)
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters: Coker College (1998)
Honorary Doctor of Science: Presbyterian College (1999)

Professional Experience:
Teacher: Spartanburg High School, Biology and Geology (1972-1975)
Curator of Natural History: South Carolina State Museum (1975-1985)
Founder of SCAN (South Carolina Association of Naturalists)
NatureScene Series: South Carolina Educational Television (1978 to present)
Teacher: Workshops/Lesson Plans for Instructional Television
Director of Science and Nature Programming: South Carolina Educational Television (1985 to 2002)
Distinguished Lecturer in Natural History: University of South Carolina (2002-present)


Arbor Day 2016

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