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A Savvy Success

Yesterday we (the Environmental & Historic Preservation Division of the Indianapolis Museum of Art) held our inaugural Emily N. Daniels Horticulture Symposium. Titled “Shade Savvy,” the symposium brought together five highly respected speakers, both national and local, to the IMA to discuss the many possibilities that shade provides when planning or working in a garden.

Every kind of plant was presented as a potential partner in helping the amateur and professional gardener achieve success. A very large plant palette was presented to attendees, from small native spring ephemerals to large exotic trees, dappled shade to dense dark shade, and stunning tender tropicals to tough as nails perennials. We were thrilled to have 175 people from Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio join us for this wonderful event.

A quick note on each of the speakers, who not only educated but entertained the audience (you need to have a sense of humor when you deal with nature every day).

Dan Benarcik of Chanticleer Gardens opened our program with a visually stunning review of many wonderful plant combinations used in this highly respected public garden. Chanticleer is rightfully considered one of the finest gardens to visit. I always leave there inspired nearly beyond measure.

Karen Perkins was our one specialist, you might say. She covered the incredibly diverse world of epimediums. Her mail-order business, Garden Vision Epimediums, carries an amazing selection of plants with fragile looking flowers and exotic leaves that are in reality some of our hardiest perennials. Expect her to be online soon but in the meantime you can request a catalogue at by emailing her here.

Munchkin Nursery & Gardens, LLC in southern Indiana has been a destination and mail-order nursery for some time. Husband and wife team Gene Bush and JoAn Riley run the nursery and garden but Gene is the one that gets in front of audiences. Always knowledgeable and entertaining, he presented many tough shade tolerant perennials.

As the interest in using native plants in our gardens has increased, so has the research. This covers not only new colors and forms, but also less obvious things like selection for more robust plants that reproduce faster. Faster reproduction can mean more folks can add natives to their home gardens.  It also generally means lower cost so we can afford more of them. Brian Jorge of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Native Plant Program presented a program highlighting the diverse possibilities of Trilliums and other native woodland flowers. Always remember this zoo is also a botanical garden. You can get your flora and fauna fix at the same time.

Our final speaker, Paul Cappiello of Yew Dell Gardens, concentrated on woody plants for the shade garden whether they were for growing in the shade or creating the shade. Actually, most of the trees he mentioned did both. He could not resist presenting some prime herbaceous plants as well. Heuchera parviflora is in our future. Yew Dell is a young dynamic public garden only about 1 ½ hours south of Indianapolis and well worth the easy drive.

Before this first symposium started, we were already wondering aloud about next year’s possibilities. With the wrap up of “Shade Savvy” nearly complete we will soon sit down to evaluate the program and toss around ideas for 2014. We hope you will be able to join us in the future and contribute to our next savvy success.

Filed under: Horticulture, Public Programs, The Toby

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