Susan Martin (two presentations)

Thursday 9 a.m.: Lessons Learned Under the Trees

Thursday 1 p.m.: A Designer’s Tapestry: Weaving Together Color, Texture, and Structure in the Garden

Susan Martin is a native Michigander who enjoys sharing her passion for plants, gardening and the business of horticulture with fellow plant enthusiasts across North America.  She is a freelance horticultural marketer, writer, and speaker who has spent over two decades in the horticulture industry in marketing, sales, new plant development, and consulting.  As someone who works with people at every level of the business, from the breeder to the consumer, it is her mission to connect those producing plants to the people making the final purchase. Susan is an avid gardener who doesn’t just talk the talk—she walks the walk in her own zone 6 garden which has been featured in print and online and has received visitors from around the world.

Irvin Etienne

Thursday 10:10 a.m.:  Tropical Temptations

Irvin is the Curator of Herbaceous Plants and Seasonal Garden Design for the Garden at Newfields (of the Indianapolis Museum of Art [IMA]) where he has worked over 30 years.  In that position he helps the Horticulturists with their plant selection and garden design as well as designing and maintaining his own areas.  While working in the 152 acres of the IMA gardens and grounds requires knowledge and skill with all manner of woody and herbaceous plants, Irvin lusts for and loves the tropical species most of all. He is the recipient of Gold and Silver awards in Electronic Media Writing from the Garden Writers Association for his blogging at the IMA.  Irvin is a frequent contributor to Fine Gardening.  In his own garden everything from cannas to eggplants to Magnolias coexist in a lush jungle fed by manure from his own rabbits and chickens.  Obviously a product of the midwest, Irvin could be considered, well, a simple farm boy that likes shiny sparkly things. And is easily distracted.


Aaron Steil and Lisa Nunamaker

Thursday 2:10: Shade Lost and Found

Aaron began working as a consumer horticulture extension specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in 2021.  He previously worked as assistant director at ISU’s Reiman Gardens and taught a horticulture lab course for a decade.  He also does outreach through “Gardening with Steil” on Iowa PBS and on Iowa Public Radio’s “Talk of Iowa,” which provides horticulture advice every Friday.

Lisa is a garden design educator, writer, illustrator, and speaker. After ten years of practicing as a landscape architect she realized that even though she adored designing, she loved inspiring others to design even more.  She loves learning and teaching from new angles, while unraveling the mysteries of landscape design.  With her design experiences in hand she began a shift towards teaching.  Teaching took many forms that included a position as the education coordinator and then assistant director at a public garden, the creation of an award-winning garden design website, the publication of an ebook, many presentations to garden groups across the US, and then finally landing her dream job in 2011…teaching landscape design in the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University.


Bob Solberg  

Thursday 8 pm: The Top Hostas of the 21st Century

Bob has introduced more than 50 hostas to date and has plans to add five or so to that number each year.  Bob has been very active in the American Hosta Society, serving as the Editor of The Hosta Journal (1988-1990) and as Vice President for The Genus Hosta (1998-2001).  He was the recipient of the 2003 Alex J. Summers Distinguished Merit Award.  Bob is a nationally known lecturer on the subject of hostas and writer of many articles on hostas.  He has edited the “Green Hill Gossip” for the past 13 years and the “Gossip Jr.”, a twice yearly subscription newsletter since 2004.  When the hostas are up and glowing in the garden you may find him on the road, bringing hostas and hosta stories to a town near you.

Ed Lyon   

Saturday 8 p.m.: The Other Lilies

Ed Lyon is Director of Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.  He has worked at several major public gardens in various roles.  Ed wrote a book published by Timber Press in 2015 called Growing the Midwest Garden.  He has written for magazines including Fine Gardening, Wisconsin Gardening, Iowa Gardener, Chicagoland Gardening, Nursery Management Pro, and American Nurseryman.  He wrote the “Ask the Expert” column for Wisconsin Gardening and a regular regional report on southern Wisconsin for Chicagoland Gardening as well as feature articles for both magazines before moving to Iowa.  Ed teaches and lectures and has served as featured/keynote speaker for a number of conferences.  He is emphatic about focusing on gardening with regionality as a primary focus.