Annual Gardening Symposium

Saturday,  March 10, 2018 

Loudoun County Extension Master Gardeners present the 9th Annual Gardening Symposium featuring noted speakers, knowledgeable practitioners, plant sellers and vendors of gardening related items.  The Symposium is a good way to get motivated and jump into the spring gardening season with new information and refreshed enthusiasm.  Bring your gardening notebook and/or paper to write down all your ideas – we are saving trees and eliminating our folders.  (Speakers may have handouts).  All registration is online. There is an option to pay by check once registered.

Online Registration Closed. We are sold out!  

Registration fees are non-refundable.


$75   Includes your lunch selection (vegetarian option available)Map Location for Annual Symposium
$65   Bring your own lunch


Ida Lee Rec Center 60 Ida Lee Drive
NW Social Hall (to the left and downstairs of the main entrance)
Leesburg, VA 20176

Get Directions


8:30 – 9:00         Check-in, Vendors & Light Refreshments

9:00                    Welcome & Announcements

9:15  – 10:30      Doug Tallamy* – Making Insects: A guide to restoring the little things that run the world

Insect populations have declined 45% globally since 1974. The most alarming part of this statistic is that we don’t seem to care, despite the fact that a world without insects is a world without humans! So how do we build landscapes that support the pollinators, herbivores, detritivores, predators and parasitoids that run the ecosystems we depend on? Tallamy will remind us of the many essential roles insects play, and describe the simple changes we must make in our landscapes and our attitudes to keep insects on the ground, in the air and yes, on our plants.

10:45 – 12:00    Ellen Ogden* – The Art of Growing Food

Ellen will offer fresh ideas for how to bring more artful touches to the garden, to turn work into play and how to grow a more interesting kitchen garden. She will cover six steps to success. 

1. A plan – overview of the yard
2. Beds – determine what works best
3. Paths – options for design and layout
4. Gates and Fences – define the boundaries
5. Plants – find things you can’t buy
6. Personality – add touches to dress it up

12:00 – 1:00      Lunch, Vendors

1:00                    Door Prize Drawings

1:15 – 2:30         Doug Tallamy – Restoring Nature’s Relationships at Home 

Specialized relationships between animals and plants are the norm in nature rather than the exception. It is specialized relationships that provide our birds with insects and berries, that disperse our bloodroot seeds, that pollinate our goldenrod, and so on. Plants that evolved in concert with local animals provide for their needs better than plants that evolved elsewhere. Tallamy will explain why this is so, why specialized food relationships determine the stability and complexity of the local food webs that support animal diversity, why our yards and gardens are essential parts of the ecosystems that sustain us, how we can use our residential landscapes to connect the isolated habitat fragments around us and produce valuable ecosystem services, and what we can do to make our landscapes living ecosystems once again. Managing landscapes in this crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities that we can no longer ignore.

2:45 – 4:00         Scott Aker*-  Selecting and Planting Trees for Success

Trees are the largest plants in our landscapes, and they are the keystone plants in any garden. With careful selection and proper planting, they can thrive with minimal care, rewarding us with shade, energy savings, wildlife habitat, and beauty. Aker will examine the ways trees are marketed to consumers, give tips on proper planting techniques, and demonstrate a quick and easy way to determine trends in the health of any tree from a representative branch sample. Trees that are well-adapted to the Washington, DC area will be highlighted, with a focus on species and cultivars that deserve to be planted more frequently.

4:00                    Closing comments

*Speaker Bios: 


Professor – University of Delaware

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 87 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for garden Design magazine. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence.


Bringing Nature Home:



Author, Lecturer and Kitchen Garden Designer

Ellen Ecker Ogden, is the author of five books, including From the Cook’s Garden, based on the catalog she co-founded in Vermont, and The Complete Kitchen Garden, which features theme designs for cooks who love to garden. Her kitchen garden and articles have been featured in national magazines, including Eating Well, Horticulture, The Boston Globe, Country Gardens and Martha Stewart Living.

She is dedicated to growing ornamental edibles and has been a guest chef on PBS’s Victory Garden, and HGTV’s Garden Smarts, where she is known as the “baroness of basil.” She combines her love of good food with a background in fine art to create kitchen garden designs that turn work into play.

Ellen’s website:


Horticulturist, U.S. National Arboretum

Scott Aker is Head of Horticulture and Education at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington DC. He manages curators, technicians, educators, and horticulturists and provides oversight for some of the most notable plant collections in North America.   Prior to serving in management, Aker was the horticulturist in charge of the Integrated Pest Management Program at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC.  He earned his Master’s Degree in Horticulture from the University of Maryland and his Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota. 

A native of the Black Hills of western South Dakota, Aker served for a short time with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service in Howard County, Maryland after completing his Master’s thesis. Aker wrote Digging In, a weekly garden question and answer column in the Washington Post. He now writes Garden Solutions, a column in The American Gardener.


*  Schedule will be posted throughout symposium area.