Broaden your botanical palette at Iowa Arboretum Spring Symposium

Special to the Times Vedette

Iowans working to create resilient, natural landscapes can explore plants that have broad geographic ranges amid current weather extremes at the Iowa Arboretum and Garden’s Spring Symposium, Saturday, April 6, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“If your gardens have been struggling amid recent Iowa weather, this symposium provides you a broad range of strategies and a whole bunch of plants to consider incorporating into your landscape,” said David McKinney, curator of collections and grounds at the Iowa Arboretum and Gardens, organizer of the event.

The Iowa Arboretum’s collection spans 160 acres in Boone County, near Madrid, and focuses on trees, shrubs, and plants native to the state, as well as those proven suitable for Iowa’s climate. It is also a testing ground for major nurseries’ new introductions with plants currently listed for Zone 5, 6 and 7 in performance trials.

Three symposium speakers will present out-of-the-box ideas for incorporating native and prairie plants from throughout the Great Plains into naturalistic gardens that can withstand Iowa’s changing climate.

  • McKinney will address the strategies and changes in land and water management the arboretum is using to address an uncertain climate future.
  • Elliott Duemler, a restoration and conservation specialist and sales representative for National Nursery Products, will address the challenges and opportunities of working with native plants in designed landscapes. Duemler also will present a discussion of the native Carex species (sedges) and why they deserve broader use in Iowa landscapes.
  • Bryan Fischer, curator of plant collections at the Gardens on Spring Creek, Ft. Collins, Colorado. The Gardens on Spring Creek ( will address underused plant selections from other areas across the Great Plains that will tolerate current and future Iowa weather extremes.

Tickets for the Symposium, which includes lunch and catered breaks, are $55 for Arboretum members, $65 for non-members. Reservations and lunch selections are due by March 29 on the Arboretum’s website

The Iowa Arboretum and Gardens is a community-supported public garden inspiring curiosity, discovery, and appreciation of the natural landscape. Established in 1968 as a non-profit organization by the Iowa Horticultural Society in Boone County near Madrid, the Iowa Arboretum became a stand-alone organization in 1979. The Arboretum’s vision is to be a leading botanical, educational, and recreational destination fostering the value and enjoyment of nature. It features 160 acres displaying a unique collection of Iowa trees, landscape plants and native ecosystems. To learn more, visit: