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Garden Symposium Explores “Layers of the Living Landscape”

Authors Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy
Headline 69th Annual Conference
Photograph: Anne K Moore


Colonial Williamsburg presents its 69th garden symposium “Layers of the Living Landscape” April 10-12. Landscape consultant and photographer Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, authors of “The Living Landscape:­ Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden,” lead a team of experts who share their expertise on using plants to create and maintain a layered landscape.

“Planting in layers allows gardeners to take full advantage of their space and include a diversity of plants that provide beauty and benefit wildlife,” said Laura Viancour, manager of landscape services for Colonial Williamsburg. “Guests who attend the symposium will hear from horticulture experts about how to effectively transition the garden from one layer to the next and discover plant selections that range from tall shade trees to mid-sized shrubs to low-growing perennials and groundcovers.”

Friday, April 10
Prior to the official opening of the conference, two optional programs are offered: “Bassett Hall Woods, a Forest in Transition,” a walking tour led by Colonial Williamsburg historic gardener Wesley Greene, $15; and “Layers of Flavor,” a demonstration and tasting of vegetable-inspired cuisine led by Executive Chef Rhys Lewis, $35.

The conference opens at 5:30 p.m. in the Hennage Auditorium at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, 326 W. Francis St. Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, takes a look at Jefferson’s observations on natural history.

Saturday, April 11
Darke and Tallamy’s morning presentations include a book signing and question-and-answer session.  Afternoon presenters include James Orband, senior extension agent emeritus, Yorktown, who looks at the ground layer of the landscape; and Robert Lyons, Ph.D., professor emeritus and former program director, Longwood graduate program in public horticulture, University of Delaware, who introduces the subject of the color of native plants.

The day’s programming concludes with a landscape practicum that examines the garden challenges attendees submitted in advance. A panel of experts tackles real issues using a selection of the submitted photographs. 

Sunday, April 12
Pam Beck, author and photographer from Wake Forest, N.C., discusses the use of vines in the garden, and Peggy Singlemann, director of horticulture for the Maymont Foundation and co-host of WCVE’s “Virginia Home Grown” examines the shrub layer. Peggy Cornett introduces the layer of roses. The afternoon session includes a look at the trees in mid-Atlantic gardens with Les Parks, curator, herbaceous plants, Norfolk Botanical Garden. Andrew Koenig, ISA, a board-certified master arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts, examines the canopy layer. The day concludes with Beck discussing the creation of intimate spaces in the garden.

Monday, April 13
An optional floral arranging workshop is offered with Colonial Williamsburg landscape supervisor Susan Dippre and landscape foreman Hunter Curry. Participants learn how to layer flowers in an arrangement and receive flowers and a container to take home their own arrangement. $45.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the American Horticultural Society (AHS) are co-sponsors of the 69th annual Colonial Williamsburg Garden Symposium. Financial support for the Saturday morning sessions is provided by the Phoebe Moyer Garden Symposium Speaker Fund.  Cost for the symposium is $295 per person, $265 for AHS members. Registration for the conference and optional programs can be made by calling 800-603-0948 or online at Complete program details and conference brochure, directions, program locations, conference hotel rates and dining and spa options are also available online. 

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation preserves, restores and operates Virginia’s 18th-century capital of Williamsburg, Va., as a 21st-century center for history and citizenship. Innovative and interactive experiences, such as the street theater Revolutionary City® and the RevQuest: Save the Revolution! series of technology-assisted alternate reality games, highlight the relevance of the American Revolution to contemporary life and the importance of an informed, active citizenry. The Colonial Williamsburg experience includes more than 400 restored or reconstructed original buildings, renowned museums of decorative arts and folk art, extensive educational outreach programs for students and teachers, lodging, culinary options from historic taverns to casual or elegant dining, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club featuring 45 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones and his son Rees Jones, a full-service spa and fitness center, pools, retail stores and gardens. Philanthropic support and revenue from admissions, products and hospitality operations sustain Colonial Williamsburg’s educational programs and preservation initiatives.

Posted January 9, 2015

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