Plant symposium is a perennial favorite

The purple coneflower is a perennial that grows well in many areas of the United States, including Kentucky, and is a favorite of bees.
The purple coneflower is a perennial that grows well in many areas of the United States, including Kentucky, and is a favorite of bees. MCT

If you love perennials and would like to learn more about them, you're in luck.

From Monday to Friday, the Perennial Plant Association will hold its annual symposium in Cincinnati. Seminars, lectures, and tours of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Lexington gardens and horticultural businesses are planned.

Attending the symposium will give you behind-the-scenes access to private gardens as well as wholesale growers and retail nurseries, and open up opportunities to do some networking with kindred spirits.

Although the association is a meeting place for horticulture business and landscape design professionals, members of the public are welcome.

On Monday, a special day-long program entitled Perennial Primer — Education for You and Your Plants is designed especially for the benefit of home gardeners, master gardeners, professional gardeners, green industry professionals, and landscape enthusiasts.

The lineup of speakers and self-proclaimed plant geeks starts with the ever-entertaining plant hunter Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, N.C., who will reveal his favorite 100 perennials from 50 years of growing over 45,000 different cool and quirky specimens.

Sessions are held about every hour with lecture topics including:

■ Edible landscaping by Paul Cappiello of Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky;

■ New varieties of old favorite perennials with Susan Martin of Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Mich.;

■ Finding plants that will survive in problem areas like heavy clay soils with Jennifer Brennan of Chalet Nursery and Garden Shop in Wilmette, Ill.;

■ Planning for 10 months of blooms in shady areas with Gene Bush, who not only maintains Munchkin Nursery and Gardens, LLC, in DePauw, Ind., but writes for Fine Gardening and The American Gardener magazines;

■ Landscape maintenance tips with Laura Deeter of Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, Ohio.

Details and speaker biographies are at

The benefits of a Perennial Plant Association membership include a quarterly journal, six annual online newsletters, regional meetings, garden-travel tour offerings, and special symposium rates. The membership period begins on Oct. 1 each year. The annual fee varies. For interested noncommercial gardeners it is $95.

The symposium is held in a different region of North America each year: In 2013, it was in Vancouver, B.C., and in 2015 the destination will be Baltimore.

For garden enthusiasts, it's a great chance to travel with a focus on learning more about perennials and landscaping, while letting the Perennial Plant Association do most of the planning for you.

If you cannot make it to the symposium, have a look at the many tour stops listed in the online brochure. You might want to explore a few of these regional resources on your own.