Speakers

Our organization strives to bring some of the best presenters from all over the world.

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BRIE ARTHUR

Known for her leadership with the suburban foodscape movement and her work with public schools, Ms. Arthur is a bestselling author and speaker. A recipient of an American Horticultural Society Award, she studied landscape design and horticulture at Purdue University. With experience as a propagator and grower for leading nurseries, she is currently President of the International Propagators Society, Southern Region. Her passions center on sustainable land management and promoting the value of gardening across America.

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EVAN PARDUE

Being a Louisiana native helps Evan visualize the dramatic ecosystem that is right outside his back door. From the heavy wooded pine forests to the haunting marshlands where bald cypress reign as old kings. A lot of Evan’s influences lay in the folklore and folk art of Southern Louisiana. Being able to immerse himself in the local culture and favor as well practicing the art of bonsai has further enriched his life as a whole.
Evan has a history in art and has been involved with bonsai for 10 years now. Underhill Bonsai is the perfect environment to further his skills and knowledge of his beloved craft. He loves teaching and working alongside others to help guide their hand to further express themselves through the art. Evan likes to bring key principles to the table when talking about bonsai such as the golden mean, horizon lines, and prospective.

RHONDA SHERMAN

Rhonda Sherman has been providing education and technical assistance on vermicomposting and composting at North Carolina State University for 27 years. A leading authority on vermicomposting, she organizes an annual conference on large-scale vermicomposting that draws participants from all over the world. Rhonda gives about 50 presentations annually, has conducted countless training courses and workshops, and has a variety of publications and videos on composting and vermicomposting on her website at https://composting.ces.ncsu.edu/ Rhonda is the director of the Compost Learning Lab which has 25 types of composting and worm bins. Her new book is The Worm Farmer’s Handbook.

JENKS FARMER

As Mr. Farmer observes, small farmers and backyard gardeners of our parents’ generation knew simple, cheap, effective gardening skills. The people who inspired him to garden were self taught, country folk who loved the land. As an adult he began sharing their stories through his writing and realized that gardening today has become a shopping experience, an industry that can ignore hard learned wisdom. He has learned to incorporate the knowledge of these self taught gardeners in designing and planting joyful, soulful modern gardens. 

JESSICA BAUMERT

Jessica Baumert is the Executive Director of The Woodlands National Historic Landmark District in Philadelphia, PA. She has a degree in Historic Preservation from The Savannah College of Art and Design and fell in love with historic cemeteries while learning to repair aging headstones in Savannah's historic Colonial Park Cemetery. Jessica followed her love of preservation to the City of Philadelphia. There, she spent ten years caring for the historic structures of Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the country. An avid fan of gardening, public spaces, and Martha Stewart, Jessica knew she would be able to bring The Woodlands Cemetery, a place for the dead, back to life. She took over the organization in the Fall of 2011, and has been creating programs like the nationally renowned Grave Gardeners, ever since. She has increased yearly visitorship to over 40,000 people, and has cultivated a renewed sense of community within this horticultural oasis in West Philadelphia. She currently lives in West Philadelphia with her partner Nate, Cat Gene, and Puppy Sandy. 

JOHN GRADY BURNS

John Grady Burns is a native of Natchez, Mississippi, attended  Cathedral Catholic Schools and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Retail Floral Management from Mississippi State University. He had the privilege of studying under Professor Emeritus Ralph Null. Upon graduation he was asked to travel to Washington, DC and had the opportunity to do flowers for the White House and numerous Embassies and other foreign and domestic Dignitaries. 


He attributes his level of taste to the “Garden Club Ladies of Natchez” “Not only do they appreciate and preserve beauty, but they promote it.”  


In the 1980’s John Grady worked in both the retail and wholesale end of the flower industry. He then was fortunate enough to carve out a niche in the floral arena specializing in weddings, parties and events. He taught the art of floral design for 13 years at Kennesaw State University and then an additional 10 years with Halls Atlanta Floral Design School.


He has done florals for The Atlanta Symphony Ball, Atlanta Ballet Ball, Junior League Ball, Atlanta’s Swan Ball and for Wynona Judd at the Cecil Scaife Visionary Awards held at the Governors Mansion. He has won numerous awards over the years as well as appeared in many major publications.


His events helped lead him to the publication of his four books, “Personally Yours, Flowers for Weddings, Parties and Events”, “Evergreen, Decorating with the Colours of the Season”, “Collections, Sharing the Passion” and “Home, Celebrating Autumn and Winter.”


John Grady now has a retail shop in downtown Natchez called Nest, and recently purchased H Hall Garner Bridal Registry. He continues to lecture, lead demonstrations, seminars, book signings and flower programs across the country. He has been placed on the National Speakers list for the Garden Clubs of America as well as invited to become an Honorary Member of the GCA Chapter “Garden Lovers of Natchez”.   He is a member of the Pilgrimage Garden Club and an Honorary member of the Natchez Garden Club.   

P. O. Box 2075

St. Francisville, LA 70775

info@southerngardensymposium.org

Tel: 225-635-3738

Tel: 225-721-0051

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