Plant Fanatics Party in Baltimore


What to call the plant-obsessed people attending the Perennial Plant Association’s shindig last week in Baltimore? Terms like “geek” and “nerd” seem better suited to people who stay out of the sun, so I’ll call us (me, included) fanatics – in a good way.  And I’d never encountered more of them than I did in just one day of this week-long event.


I recognize very few of the tanned, well above-average-looking people in this group shot.


Ah, but these folks I know. From left, Janet Draper chaired the event and disappointed, I’m guessing, no one because everyone raved about what a great event it was.  800+ attendees, too! With her is a familiar face from the Toronto Botanical Garden – Tony Spencer.  On the right are two of my newest hort pals – horticulturist/author Ruth Clausen, who recently moved to Maryland, and DC-area designer Barbara Katz.


I signed up for the all-day Design Tour, and my bus captain happened to be Monika Burwell here – sister of Kurt Bluemel and plantswoman in her own right. With her, Simple is his usual photogenic self. (Here’s a post about Simple.) On the right is famed Ohio State researcher  Steve Still.


Trying to eat dinner but obliging my “It’s for GardenRant!” photo request are Allan Armitage and Oregon grower Dan Heims.


From left, Timber Books editor Tom Fischer,  author and plantsman David Culp, Cassian Schmidt of Hermannshof Gardens in Germany, and GardenRant’s own Allen Bush! (No blog brainstorming took place, though – we barely had time to say hi.)


On the left, Brent and Becky Heath chat up Richard Olsen, director of the National Arboretum.  On the right, I don’t know who these guys are (maybe one is Kelly Norris?) but look, folks – young people in horticulture!!


I’ve saved the best for last – my all-day bus companions, four locals and one Chicagoan who fit in just fine.

Clockwise from upper left are my pal John Boggan, a botanist and blogger, with National Cathedral head horticulturist Joe Luebke, whom I finally met in person and bonded with instantly.  We all enjoyed meeting Todd Jacobson, head of horticulture at the Morton Arboretum.

Local pal Carolyn Mullet is a garden designer and popular garden tour leader.  I’m showing Carolyn in her booth at the trade show because – well, what are friends for?

Lastly, I’d seen a stunning garden by landscape designer Tom Mannion and it was a treat to gab with him over the course of the day.

boggan ph oto

After touring gardens all day and dining outdoors with these folks at Cylburn Arboretum (above) I was bone tired, but so, so glad I attended.  The gardens were wonderful (photos coming soon) and so were the people. 

Photos by me, Janet Draper, John Boggan, and Brienne Gluvna Arthur.


  1. It was my first time with PPA and I can’t recommend the organization and people more highly. Such a friendly, welcoming group. And of course, the day spent with you, John Boggan, Joe Luebke, & Tom Mannion was really the most fun I’ve ever had on a garden tour! Thanks for this post, Susan. Brings back warm memories.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful event; would love to have attended! Nothing like being in the company of fellow garden enthusiasts! When you mentioned Joe Luebke, I have to admit that my first thought was that it would be great if, through your friendship with him, you could convince him that WNC needs to reopen the Cathedral Greenhouse. I was a local when they closed it and am still heartsick that it’s gone. Is the Greenhouse structure still there or did they tear it down?

  3. I couldn’t have asked for better seatmates on the garden tours. It was a truly special day.

    I was not part of the decision making process for the closing of the greenhouse. I too felt like I had lost something special. It was a very difficult time in the life of the Cathedral. There were many people who lost their jobs during that time not just the greenhouse people. The greenhouse was torn down a few years ago. It is now a teaching vegetable garden and is used by the science teachers at Beauvoir.

  4. Thank you for the kind words, Susan! I likewise enjoyed that day of tours immensely, even if I was exhausted afterwards. But please, we are plant geeks and plant nerds, and proud of it! I loved the talks, and I loved the absolutely phenomenal garden tours, but what I think I liked best was meeting and getting to know so many great people who share my obsessive love of plants and gardening. Kudos to Janet and her team for planning and pulling off such an amazing event.

    I was likewise encouraged to see so many young people attending. BTW the two “young people” on the left in that photo are Kelly Norris, one of the up-and-coming horticultural stars, and Nathan Nordstedt, one of the 2015 PPA scholarship recipients.

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