GARDENS ARE A REFLECTION of culture and place. And, like the plants in them, our relationship with the landscape is constantly shifting and adapting to what’s happening in the world around us. It’s called growth.

Last spring, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the Northwest Horticultural Society (NHS) in-person symposium on the topic of Diversity and Ecology, it seemed like a missed opportunity to take a closer look at a timely topic. So, the organization regrouped and adapted the program to an online platform. Now everyone’s invited.

“Gardening for the Future: Diversity and Ecology in the Urban Environment” offers various perspectives and an inclusive look at horticulture in our region and beyond. According to the NHS website, the event “is designed to challenge our traditional views and expand the way we view our gardens and the world we garden in.”

Featured topics and speakers include:

From Scotland to Seattle — Making the Most of Maritime Gardens. Ross Bayton, botanist and taxonomist for Heronswood Garden in Kingston, shares his passion for the wide range of plants available to Pacific Northwest gardeners that will thrive in our changing climate.

Immigrant Gardens & Their Socio-Ecological Impact. Wambui Ippolito is a New York-based landscape designer who was born in East Africa. She explores the broader cultural context of gardens and ways in which immigrants have contributed to the rich biodiversity of the American landscape.

African Americans and Ornamental Horticulture. Abra Lee grew up and lives in the South, where she has worked in public and private horticulture for more than 18 years. Lee, who has just completed the prestigious Fellows Program at Longwood Gardens, examines the artistic contributions of African Americans to horticulture throughout a long history.


The Northwest’s Asian Gardeners. Riz Reyes, Northwest plantsman and Gardens Manager at McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell, celebrates the gardens and plants of Asia and recognizes the growers, collectors and designers whose efforts have put the Pacific Northwest on the horticultural map.

The Garden of Vegan. Cleve West is an acclaimed English landscape designer and creator of numerous award-winning gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows. West shares his thoughts and challenges on creating spaces that minimize environmental impact, from design to upkeep, and support a more just and equitable society.

Gardens are expansive spaces. In addition to grounding us in natural systems, they contain history and connect us to the gardeners who came before us. It’s a constant education. An archived recording of the virtual NHS symposium, which took place over several weeks in October, is available through the end of the year. Register to access these five lectures and a two-hour panel discussion with audience Q&A on the NHS website ( ($70 for the general public, $50 for NHS members).

NHS is a forum for gardeners and plant lovers. Membership includes three free presentations in the webinar lecture series; a subscription to Garden Notes, the quarterly print newsletter; and discounts on all symposiums, workshops and classes; $35/individuals, $30/seniors (65+). Funding for the 2020 Symposium was provided by an educational grant from the Pendleton and Elisabeth C. Miller Charitable Foundation.