by Lisa Jorgens and Ann Cindery
We were privileged to represent the Orinda Garden Club at the 18th annual Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference in Denver, Colorado from Sept. 11-14.
The Conference was co-hosted by the Garden Club of Denver (GCD) and the Denver Botanical Gardens, which was co-founded by GCD and whose members work twice weekly in the public garden.
The irresistible beauty of Colorado was on full display. Conference workshops and speakers highlighted Colorado’s ‘steppe’ ecosystem, which calls for landscaping and plants that are designed to be tough and resilient.
The Conference opened with a presentation by Brian Vogt, CEO of the Denver Botanical Garden and 2019 recipient of the Garden Club of America’s Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal. Under his leadership the DBG trains agriculture therapy students, works with seniors with dementia, hosts children’s programs and exhibits renowned sculpture collections. These and numerous other programs attract 1.4 million annual visitors & requires a staff of 300 and 2,900 volunteers.
Another key presenter is a pioneer in water-wise landscaping, Laura Springer. She is an award-winning and internationally recognized high country garden designer. Author of the book “The Undaunted Garden”, Ms. Springer has contributed her vast knowledge to designing public gardens at the downtown Denver Botanical Garden, the prairie garden at Chatfield Farms, and Ft. Collins’ Gardens on Spring Creek. Ms. Springer’s presentation showed us how to create year-round appeal by using plant texture and color for a harmonious and naturalistic look.
Photos from Denver Botanic Garden's Chatfield Farms. (Click to enlarge)
During an afternoon at the Denver Botanical Gardens' Chatfield Farm we explored the 700-acre working farm. The cornerstone of the farm is the seven acres of vegetables, fruits, and flowers grown for their CSA (Community Supporting Agriculture) program. The farm also educates veterans in small-scale agriculture careers, and it grows produce for farmer’s markets located in neighborhoods where produce availability is limited.
Breakout workshops on Thursday included gardening with beneficial bees, scientific methods of seed propagating, and an herbalist’s favorite embellishments for happy hour cocktails.
Dr. Cary Fowler, the recipient of the 2019 GCA Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal, closed the Shirley Meneice Conference with a presentation on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Dr. Fowler established the Seed Vault in Norway in 2008, and has dedicated his life to protecting seeds and “the gene pool of agriculture plants.” The Vault currently holds over 400,000,000 seeds from one million unique crop varieties from around the world.
The Shirley Meneice Conference offered a third optional day, with stops in Loveland and Ft. Collins. They included a seven-acre native plant and vegetable garden within a housing development to showcase a merging of conservation with a commercial development. The second visit was to an expanded Fort Collins public garden with a performance stage. Laura Springer’s “Undaunted Garden” is the centerpiece. The final visit was to CSU’s seedling operation to see thousands of seedlings that will be sold and sent to fire or flood ravaged areas for replanting.
We look forward to sharing the many lessons & enthusiasm for Horticulture gained at SMHC with everyone.
Ann and Lisa