Well this is a long over due (about 6 months past) recap of the 2016 Perennial Plant Association Symposium this past summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since this was a six day conference over the summer, we made it a road trip from Ohio up to Minneapolis with a few stops in Chicago and Wisconsin along the way. The trip alone was amazing and while I was attending the conference the family had a great time exploring the city and meeting up with us in the evening. (I shared stops in Chicago and the Olbirch Botanical Garden).
The Perennial Plant Symposium is the annual conference for the members of the Perennial Plant Association or PPA. The PPA is run by Dr. Steven Still and his wife Carolyn, both of which are retiring this year after years of creating an amazing association, symposium and not to mention garden tours abroad. I enjoy this conference for the mixture of design professionals with the growers/plantsmen creating the new and unique varieties along with growing the best specimen. At this event you get to meet the folks that cultivate and hybridize the perennials and grasses that we use in our gardens along with trailblazing unique methods for growing. The wealth of knowledge and experience is second to none. Truly the whos who of the ornamental plant world attend.
For the conference, it includes a trade show, classes, speakers and garden tours. Generally there are three tracks to choose from for those in the wholesale nursery trade, retail nursery trade and garden design. You are able to attend across sections based on the topics and speakers you are interested and tours between the three trade disciplines, with a final stop/meet up at the end of the day for the groups to reconvene. I did not take many photos during the classes or trade show, but did capture while on the tours and end of day meet ups. One of my favorite speakers was Jeff Epping , from Olbirch Botanical Garden who talked about the planting techniques of gravel gardens popularized by Beth Chatto.
GARDEN TOURS – DESIGN FOCUS;
No surprise I attended the design tours, which included public and private homes.TIP: while on these tours, drop pins on your phone so you can return back to neat areas or nurseries to purchase more plants to take home (benefit of driving). A great end of day stop was at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We had a great time walking, driving and resting around the different areas and found the ornamental grass test plot that has different cultivars side by side to make it easy to compare size, color, shape, etc. I need to share that whole experience separately, especially the library.
A Tour stop included Tangletown Gardens and a farm to table dinner at Tangletown Garden Farm outside Minneapolis. On our drive home we had a departing breakfast and stopover back at Tangletown and their restaurant, Wise Acre. One of the stops we made a stop and a return visit was to see Tangletown Gardens and eat at Wise Acre. Both our meals on the farm and at Wise Acer were delicious, and picked up a few plants to take home from the nursery.
When we arrived to Minneapolis, we spent time wondering around the downtown shopping and eating. The bummer was the day we where to spend exploring neighborhoods and leisurely driving to Minneapolis included heavy rain, so we did not get to explore outside of a return visit to Tangletown Gardens at breakfast at Wise Acres.
I just returned from a long weekend in Lexington, KY and am reminded how traveling (no matter how short the distance) is a great reboot and inspiration revitalizer. This year the PPA symposium will be in Denver CO with all the details released earlier this week on speakers etc. Visit http://ppadenver.com for details and to register.