Saturday 18 February 2012

Perennial Plant Conference

From the left, Ray Stephenson, Ron McBeath, Ed Snodgrass, Tammi Hartung,
Panayoti Kelaidis, Susan Band, sitting infront, Georg Uebelhart

For the fifth year in a row a winter conference on perennials has been hold at Die Bildungsstätte Gartenbau in Grünberg in Germany. As usual, George Uebelhart had put together the exellent program and he also acted as moderator during the three days, Friday-Saturday, last weekend.

Even this time the program was well composed with very interesting talks and it was Susan Band from Pitcairn Alpines in Scotland who had the honor to open the conference with her presentation.

Ron McBeath from Lambereton Nursery in Scotland gave two talks, one on plant hunting and plants in the Himalayas, Sikkim, Nepal and China and one on rock plants, and he showed beautiful pictures of the high mountains and Primula, Meconopsis, Gentiana and other plants.

Together a total of three educational lectures on plants from both alpine and subalpine environments as well as other mountain plants. Particularly, I now feel tempted to some time go myself to the Himalayas.

Under the heading A Passion for Stoncrops Ray Stephenson spoke in glowing terms of small and obese Sedum species. Ray from Coppington, UK, is the holder of The National Sedum Collection and he has made many trips to various parts of the world in order to find different stonecrops. He is also chairman and editor of the Sedum Society Newsletter and the writer of the comprehensive book Sedum - cultivated stonecrops.

Rhodiola bupleuroides, male plants. From The Sedum Society Newsletter

We had great fun all the time, not just because of  the fascinating lectures, but also thanks to all the nice delegates from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and of course Germany. The Swedish group consisted of 15 plant enthusiasts and only Germany had more participants.

In the late afternoons till early mornings, in the cozy German Bierstube, the vague memories of today's lectures were diluted by chilled and tasty beer.

Since all the lectures were interesting, it is difficult to select a single presentation that would be better than any of the others, but when Ed Snodgrass began to show pictures of roof gardens and mentioned their importance to biodiversity I smiled contentedly inside where my heart is situated.

This was the fifth perennial conference and Ed Snodgrass is also a fifth generation farmer and nurseryman, and the president and founder of Emory Knoll Farms in Maryland, US. He is the co-author of the books Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Plant Guide (2006) and The Green Roof  Manual: A Professional Guide to Design, Installation, and Maintenance (2010).

Green Roof Plants at Emory Knoll Farms in Maryland. Photo: Emory Knoll Farms, Inc

I was also very inspired by the lectures of the two Colorado residents Panayoti Kelaidis from Denver Botanical Gardens and Tammi Hartung from Desert Canyon Farm, Canon City.

Panayoti Kelaidis is a true plant lover and a devoted collector, and when he lined up image after image from beautiful Colorado, I felt quite quickly that there I have to go. He has written several books such as Flourish: A Visionary Garden in the American West and participated with his brilliant photographs in others as in the monograph Penstemon by Robert Nold.

Tammi Hartung told us about the use of herbs in food and as health supplements. That is an area that particularly interests me and for me there were therefore many familiar plants she talked about, but also some more unusual and less known. Tammi gave us several recipes that we could try at home. More recipes can be found in her books Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs and Growing 101 Herbs That Heal: Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies.

On the whole, this year's ISU conference was very successful and we got all really inspired so now I am already looking toward next winter, and the sixth perennial conference. But as early as this August the ISU congress is held in the Netherlands. See you there?

The informal talks are equally important and fun as the conference itself


  1. Yes it was fun! Its almost impossible to choose one single presentation as a favorite.
    But i agree with you, Ed snodgrass was great!
    Those pictures...... WOW!
    And Panayoti Kelaidis..... The pictures from his private home garden was fantastic. And all the plants he talked about, are my kind of plants:)
    To bad that so many of them are so hard to grow here.
    So you feel tempted to go to the Himalayas?
    Why not join us for Sikkim this summer?
    See you there?


  2. It would be great to follow you guys to Sikkim but unfortunately I'm already occipied. Perhaps next time...

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