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Alaska Botanical Garden’s 11th Annual Spring Garden Conference & Reception

March 3 @ 8:45 am - 6:30 pm

Join us for our 11th Annual Spring Garden Conference & Reception 

Purchase Tickets Here

ABG_Spring Conference_Program_2018

The conference will be held at Benny Benson, 4515 Campbell Airstrip Rd, Anchorage, AK 99507. Doors open at 8:45 am and sessions begin at 9:30 am. Cost $85 Student, $105 Early Bird Member, $120 Early Bird Non-member (rates increase February 17th). The annual Spring Garden Conference is an excellent resource for both novice and expert gardeners wanting to learn more about gardening in Alaska.

Included in your conference ticket price is lunch and a reception in the ABG Greenhouse following the conference*. Lunch will be various sandwich options and side salads. Vegetarian options will be available.

To renew your membership please click here.

Space and tickets are limited! Purchase your ticket early to save on the early bird rate and ensure you attend the conference!

*Student tickets do not include the reception, students 21 and over may purchase a separate reception ticket the day of the conference or by calling the office at 907-770-3692 ext 0.

*Call the garden to purchase ticket and avoid processing fees.

Speaker Information:

Stephen Brown- Demystifying Soil Sample Lab Reports


Bio: Dr. Stephen Brown is a Professor of Agricultural Extension and District Agriculture Agent for the Anchorage/Mat-Su/Copper River regions of Alaska. His background is agricultural engineering focusing on the application of geospatial technologies to improve production and reduce farming inputs. In his spare time he is an avid mountaineer and marathon runner.




Ellen Vande Visse- Building Powerhouse Soil Fertility


Bio: Ellen Vande Visse, MS. Ellen played in the soil as a 12-year market gardener (organic, of course). For another 6-year tour of fun, she grew produce for the National Outdoor Leadership School kitchen, Alaska Branch. Ellen teaches courses on sustainable and non-toxic growing methods through UAA and Mat-Su College, as well as through her Good Earth Garden School near Palmer. She is now the Compost Instructor for the Mat-Su Borough, offering continual free classes. Ellen authored the Alaskan gardening book, Ask Mother Nature, A Conscious Gardeners Guide.



Rob Brown

Update on Grafted Watermelon Production in Southcentral Alaska

Bio: Rob Brown has a degree in Horticultural Science – Nursery Production, from Oklahoma State University. He has spent over 20 years in the Horticulture industry. He currently has a small farm at 1100 feet in Anchorage where he is the only Alaska Grown provider of grafted tomato plants and sells other potted plants and vegetables as well. He is currently being funded by a Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education grant to do a two year study on Grafted Watermelon Production in Southcentral Alaska and has a great interest in expanding growing opportunities for Commercial Growers and Home Gardeners.


Claire Kaufman- Growing Edibles in Small Spaces


Bio: Claire Kaufman is the owner of Boreal Bioscapes, a gardening company in Anchorage that specializes in creative garden design, installation and maintenance. Claire is a Master Gardener with over 15 years of horticultural experience. She has worked in both the commercial and non-profit garden sectors, and has instructed University-level courses in soil science and environmental management. Claire takes a holistic approach to gardening, recognizing the complex relationships between plants and their surrounding environment.



Debbie Hinchey, M.S. – Espalier: A Technique for Small Spaces and/or Protection


Bio: Debbie has a wide-range of experience in Alaskan Horticulture (since 1974) – from chemist for a hydroponics research project in Kenai; to working at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Experimental Farm; some greenhouse production; but mostly as a landscape horticulturist. Growing fruit in the urban landscape has been a passion since helping to start the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association in 1985.





Brenda Adams- Cool Plants for Cold Climates: A Garden Designer’s Perspective

Bio: Brenda Adams is the author of the acclaimed books, Cool Plants for Cold Climates: A Garden Designer’s Perspective and There’s a Moose in My Garden: Designing Gardens in Alaska and the Far North. She is the award-winning designer of Gardens By Design, Alaska’s premier garden design firm. Adams has designed over 200 unique and personalized gardens for both residential and commercial clients in Alaska. Brenda’s designs have received three prestigious awards in the Perennial Plant Association’s annual international competition. Her 2012 award was the PPA’s highest, the Honor Award. She was also awarded the PPA’s Merit Award in 2007 and in 2009. She is the only Alaskan to receive either award and is a frequent guest on radio offering advice to gardeners who toil in zone 2 through zone 5.




Les Brake- Gardening as an Art


Bio: For almost 34 years Les Brake has been gardening in Willow. Fortunately, before he had time to do too much damage to his land, he discovered the idea of gardening as an art, and that has been his path ever since. His garden, ice play, and partner Jerry Conrad’s handsome rustic garden structures and furniture have featured in numerous magazines and books, most recently in the autumn 2016 issue of Garden Design and the spring 2017 issue of Northwest Travel and Life.



Julie Riley- Strategies for Growing a Highly Productive, Intensive, Small-space Garden


Bio: Julie Riley is horticulture agent with UAF Cooperative Extension Service (CES). She works with home gardeners, small market growers and Alaska’s horticulture industry. She has trained over 1,000 Master Gardeners since 1984. Working in collaboration with the Alaska Botanical Garden, she evaluated 30 varieties of cilantro, a dormant planting of 10 spinach varieties, promoted the Alaska heirloom potato ‘Haida’ at ABG’s 8th Annual Harvest Day and taught a course on organic food production. This past season, she gardened in Fairbanks where she works in the Cooperative Extension Service’s Tanana District Office.




Paul Marmora- Bonsai in Alaska


Bio: Paul is president of the Cook Inlet Bonsai Study Group and one of its original founders. He has taught gardening, bonsai, Sign Language, cooking and floral design for UAA Adult Education. Paul became a florist in the mid-1970s working for Chinese, Japanese and American florists around the country. He was first exposed to bonsai in Rye, New York, where a friend’s father was a gardener on a vast estate and had 200 show-quality bonsai. Since arriving in Alaska, 20 years ago, he has been experimenting with the art of bonsai amidst Alaska’s short growing season.



Ginger Hudson- Edible Flowers From the Alaskan Landscape and our Gardens

Bio: Ever since Ginger escaped the Texas heat for the cool air and abundant water in Alaska she has been absorbing all she can about the biggest state’s wild flora and horticulture. She quickly became an Alaskan Advanced Master Gardener and spent three years at the Alaska Botanical Garden–one as volunteer docent and two as Retail and Special Horticulture Projects Manager. Ginger has given presentations and workshops in south central on landscape design, organic soil amendments, and fall bulb planting among others. Prior to moving to Alaska, Ginger worked as art director at the American Botanical Council; operated her own landscape design business; was an instructor in the GoNativeU program at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; and served as President of the Native Plant Society in Austin, Texas. Currently she is pursuing an MFA in creative writing through UAA, specializing in nature writing. Ginger can be seen at numerous garden club activities in Anchorage where she serves as Secretary for the Alaska Native Plant Society and as newsletter editor for the Anchorage Alaska Master Gardeners. She is an enthusiastic supporter of locally grown foods and when she travels carries bags of carrots, or Alaska sea salt, or birch syrup, or cottongrass lip balm, or, you get the idea.


Colleen M. Kirkpatrick, PT- Exercise for the Gardener’s Body


Bio: Colleen Kirkpatrick has been a Physical Therapist for 25 years, working at Providence since moving to AK from Oregon.  She lives on the South Anchorage Hillside with her husband, also a PT, and two daughters, ages 13 and 15.  Gardening in Alaska for the last 13 years has been a welcome challenge in her “solid Zone 2”.




Rosa Meehan: Gardening with Moose

Bio: Rosa Meehan lives in South Anchorage and gardens for both beauty and produce. A master gardener for several years, she assists others with developing gardens, such as the Children’s lunchbox program sponsored by Bean’s Café. Her personal garden is frequently visited by moose, which led to searching for and developing a variety of strategies for gardening with moose. A wildlife biologist by training, she initially came to Alaska in 1976 to further her education. In the intervening years, she had a successful career in wildlife management and now maintains both flower and vegetable gardens adjacent to her home in the Oceanview area. She appreciates the presence of moose and other wildlife and brings her understanding of wildlife together with gardening strategies to enjoy both.


Cameron Willingham- Indoor Growing in Alaska


Bio: Lifelong Alaskan and gardener who decided 8 years ago to build a life out of doing what I love, growing food. Agriculture has always been a challenge up here, but we know that with dedicated people working along side an engaged community we can build a better food system. And how do I like my greens? Straight out of the shipping container.




Exciting Vendors to Visit!

Below is a list of who will be at this year’s Conference. Looking for that perfect garden gift, advice about gardening, or want to get a jump start on seeds and plants for your own garden? Don’t miss out on visiting the vendor tables!

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Alaska Botanical Garden
907-770-3692 ext 0


Benny Benson
4515 Campbell Airstrip Rd
Anchorage, AK 99507 United States
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