First Fall Great Plants Symposium

Fall Symposium

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center, Sturbridge, MA

The Symposium Features

  • Five info-packed lectures led by nationally and regionally renowned professionals in their fields
  • Terrific handouts, door prizes and garden gifts for all attendees!
  • Special overnight room rates for symposium attendees at The Host Hotel & Conference Center (details at bottom of page)
  • An exquisite setting - The hotel is located in central Massachusetts, just one mile from the famous Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum that re-creates life in rural New England during the 1790s through 1830s. Sturbridge is near the intersection of I84 and the I90 (the Massachusetts Pike)
  • Fall Foliage and Columbus Day Weekend – the symposium backs up the Columbus Day weekend when foliage should be at, or near peak in this lovely New England setting.
  • An opportunity to connect with enthusiastic gardeners from around the Northeast
  • All this for only $93! (discounts for groups and Master Gardeners)

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 6 - Symposium Starts!

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Symposium Registration
. Coffee and Tea


8:30 a.m. Ravishing Foliage Plants Steal the Show!

Presenter: Kerry Ann Mendez - award-winning speaker, author and garden designer

Discover how foliage can add incredible color to a garden without depending on flowers for a dramatic effect. And the bonus, if not the main attraction, is that foliage centered landscapes require little maintenance! This presentation features showy perennials, as well as a few shrubs and annuals prized for their wide array of foliage textures, forms, and colors.

Kerry is the owner of Perennially Yours, a garden lecturing, design and consulting business located in Kennebunk, Maine. She focuses on time-saving gardening techniques, workhorse plant material and organic practices. Kerry has been in national magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate, and Better Homes and Gardens. In 2014 she was awarded the Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. She is the author of three gardening books of which her most recent top seller is The Right-Size Flower Garden. Her fourth book is expected out in February 2018. For more about Kerry and her work, visit

9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Refreshment break featuring fresh fruits and pastries. Book signing with Kerry Ann


10:00- 11:00 a.m. Combat Cabin Fever with Your Garden!

Presenter: Kathy Purdy – winner of the Garden Writers Association 2015 Silver Award for Excellence in blog writing.

If winter starts too early and spring doesn’t come soon enough OR if you find yourself pacing indoors and gazing out windows hoping to see something other than snow, you need to design a breathtaking winter landscape to enjoy from indoors. Kathy will introduce you to some tips, techniques and great plants to create a winter wonderland and brighten your world.

Kathy Purdy has been writing for over thirteen years at She has written for Fine Gardening, Horticulture, and The American Gardener. She lives with her husband and children on ten acres in Chenango County, NY. Kathy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She gardens in a cold climate because she hates hot weather more than snow, but concedes that winter is a tad too long. Her garden philosophy is: "If it's not fun, don't do it--or figure out how to make it fun!"


11:00 – Noon The World of Roses and Hydrangeas.

Presenter: Heather Lynn Poire, professional sales associate with Bailey Nurseries.

Heather is delightful plant geek who has been immersed in the plant industry for the past 17 years. Roses and Hydrangeas are two of the shrubs she adores – especially those that perform well in the Northeast. Heather’s inspiring presentation will feature the most popular roses and hydrangeas in the market as well as pruning and fertilizing techniques for thriving specimens.

Heather has been involved in Horticulture for most of her life. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Horticulture and became the Sales Manager for Proven Winners. For twelve years she oversaw the distribution of Proven Winners annuals, perennials and shrubs to garden centers in the Northeast. For the past five years Heather has been in sales with Bailey Nurseries, a premier wholesale company based in Minnesota. A true gardener at heart, when she’s not working you can find her in her garden spending time with her friends.

Noon – 1:00 p.m. Luncheon Buffet


1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Unique and Unusual Perennials for the Northeast

Presenter: Suzanne Thatcher, Senior Buyer at Russell's Garden Center in Wayland, MA

Get ready to be dazzled by striking and unusual perennials that will have heads turning and onlookers mumbling "What is that?" These unique plants transform ho-hum gardens into eye-popping, extraordinary ones! Specimens for both sun and shade will be featured. And don't be hoodwinked into thinking that these plants are hard to grow, just because they're uncommon.

Suzanne Thatcher was born and educated in England. She is the Senior Buyer and Perennial Specialist at Russell's Garden Center, a premier garden center in Wayland, MA where she has worked for 25 years. At Russell's she is primarily responsible for the Perennial, Bulbs & Roses.  Suzanne has been an active member of the Perennial Plant Association since 2002 - serving on the local site committee for the Boston Symposia in 2003 and 2014. She was recognized by the Perennial Plant Association as Retailer of the Year in both these years. She has been a consultant on & assisted in the sourcing of plant material for many notable projects in the Boston area including PBS'sThe Victory Garden; Adrian Bloom's Bressingham Garden at Elm Bank;  and  he historic renovation of The Blue Garden in Newport R.I. Suzanne was awarded the 2015 Silver Medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for service to Horticulture and was subsequently elected as a Member of the Board of Overseers at the Horticultural Society.


2:00 – 3:00 p.m. A Thrifty Gardener’s Guide to Luxurious Gardens.

Presenter: Kerry Ann Mendez

Kerry Ann will share some of her designer trade secrets for acquiring great plants for less, as well as design tips and smart choices that create longer blooming, more sustainable gardens that are prized by gardeners and pollinators alike. This presentation is based on her newest book, The Budget-Wise Gardener, coming out in February 2018.  I’ll be offering signed copies of my upcoming book, The Budget-Wise Gardener. The book will be available for a special pre-sale price of $18, plus $3.50 for shipping & handling (the book retails for $19.95). Symposium attendees can pre-purchase the book and be the first to receive signed copies. I will sign and ship as soon as the first batch arrives from the printer in February.

3:00 p.m. Closing Remarks

Symposium Registration

Registration fee for Great Plants Fall Symposium includes:

  • Five dynamic garden lectures
  • Saturday morning coffee, mid-morning refreshments and lunch buffet
  • Handouts for each lecture
  • Garden gift
  • Door prizes!



Rates for Symposium (Friday, October 6)

Regular Rate: $93 per person

Group Rate: $88 per person when 5 or more people register together.

*PAYMENT BY CHECK ONLY for the group rate. You must PRINT THE REGISTRATION FORM and mail it with your check.

Master Gardeners and members of Nursery & Landscape Associations: $88 per person.




Special Pre-Symposium Class!

Thursday, October 5

Kerry Ann Mendez1:00 – 4:00 p.m. 'Double-Header' Flowering Gardening Class. Presenter: Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning speaker, writer and garden designer in Kennebunk, Maine. This lively and info-packed session features two of Kerry Ann's popular gardening lectures.

  • Switcheroos – Plant This, Not That! Get more bang for your buck with these amazing annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs that provide strikingly more color than the commonly planted options. Plus these underused beauties are low-maintenance and in many cases require less water. Presentation includes design tips.
  • Garden Therapy: Tips for Reducing Stress, Improving Health and Growing Gorgeous Gardens. This eye-opening presentation will introduce you to remarkable plants and time-saving gardening products & tools that benefit your health, as well as the wellbeing of the planet, while also beautifying your gardens!


Rates for Pre-Symposium Class Only (Thursday, October 5)

Registration fee includes:

  • a refreshment break
  • handouts and
  • garden catalogs.

Regular Rate: $49 per person

Group rate: $45 per person for 5 or more registered together.

*PAYMENT BY CHECK ONLY for the group rate. You must PRINT THE REGISTRATION FORM and mail it with your check.

Master Gardeners and members of Nursery & Landscape Associations: $45 per person.


Class fee is additional to the symposium fee. See the links below to register.

Payment Options

Pay By Check

For the Great Plants Fall Symposium AND/OR the 3-Hour Garden Class, download the Registration Form below, complete the form and mail it in to arrive before October 5, 2017.

Payment by check is required for Groups.  No discount will be given if paying by credit card.

NOTE: The paper Registration Form is to be used ONLY when paying by check. No credit card payments are accepted through the paper form. If you wish to pay by credit card, please use the online payment option.

Pay By Credit Card

Great Plants Symposium (Friday, October 6 only)

$93 regular registration
$88 Master Gardener and members of Landscape & Nursery Associations registration

Thursday 3-Hour Gardening Class (Thursday, October 5 only)

$49 regular registration
$45 Master Gardener and members of Nursery & Landscape Associations registration


Special Overnight Room Rates
for Registered symposium attendees at The Host Hotel & Conference Center.

$112 per night, single or double.

To make reservations, please call (508) 347-7393 and request the special garden symposium rate.


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