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2024 Spring Fever Symposium

April 6 @ 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Join us for the 14th annual Iowa Arboretum & Gardens Spring Fever Symposium “Great Gardening on the Great Plains.” This year’s symposium features three speakers, all of whom will provide key insights and out-of-the-box ideas on how Iowa landscapes and gardens can become more diverse and resilient as we deal with an unpredictable climate.

Preregistration required. Lunch is provided. $55 for members, $65 for nonmembers. More information is on the way!

Click Here to Register

Our first speaker should look pretty familiar, because it is our very own Curator of Collections and Grounds, David McKinney! David is a horticulturist, ecologist, entomologist, and plant physiologist. Originally from Colorado, he received three degrees in horticulture from Colorado State University while also coordinating extensive perennial trials and demonstration gardens. He is passionate about native plants, and the interactions between plants and wildlife. On top of his curatorial work David is a writer, speaker, serves on the AmericanHort Landscape Community Connectors group, and is on the Garden Review Board for Better Homes and Gardens.

  • Learn about the arboretum and how it is addressing an uncertain climate future with out-of-the-box gardening strategies, changes in land management, and using historical precedent to inform future planting.

The next speaker we want to highlight is Elliott Duemler! Elliott most recently provided native-plant industry leadership in the Midwest as the Native Perennial Manager at Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries. He supervised all aspects related to TCRN’s perennial plug production. Elliott is passionate about all native plants, but his obsession is the Carex genera. He focuses on exceeding client expectations in quality and customer service as well as bringing more native plants to the horticultural trade. Elliott received his degree from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he majored in General Resources Management. Prior to TCRN, Elliott interned at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center; and worked as a Wilderness Surveyor for the USFS. He currently sits on the board of the Green Rock Audubon society.

  • Know Your Native Plants on a First Name Basis: Native plants have become common in designed landscapes and gardens; but still come with many challenges. Elliott will review the propagation process and delve into his favorite genera: the native Carex species.

Our keynote speaker is Bryan Fischer! Bryan is curator of plant collections and horticulturist for Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, CO. There, he designed and manages a half-acre, native-only Prairie Garden and manages the half-acre Rock Garden in addition to tracking the institution’s plant collections and providing horticulture counsel to staff. With over 120 taxa in a matrixed design, the meadow-style garden is one of the largest public, stylized meadow gardens in his region. He took lessons learned from the then 4-year-old endeavor to improve upon his process and adapted it to the home scale by installing a similar meadow in his own backyard. In addition to his work for the Gardens on Spring Creek, Bryan is a regional columnist for Fine Gardening online. He holds a B.S. in horticulture from Colorado State University (CSU) and has over a decade of professional experience in horticulture that includes academic and applied work at CSU, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Gardens on Spring Creek.

  • Hear about Gardens on Spring Creek, in particular their Prairie Garden, a 1/2 acre meadow garden in a matrixed style devoted to plants native to the American Prairie and adjacent native plant communities. Bryan will speak to the garden’s story, composition, and design tactics he has employed in the space.
  • Bryan will also speak to smarter garden choices in the face of climate change. He will highlight realities and practicalities, aiming to deliver useful information and strategies for dealing with our changing climate, particularly in regard to often-overlooked nuance in plant selection. Examples will be pulled from plant collection and botanizing trips Bryan has taken to various parts of the Central and Western US, and underused plants suitable for our changing Middle American climate will be highlighted.


April 6
9:30 am - 3:00 pm


Mark Schneider
David McKinney


Iowa Arboretum & Gardens
1875 Peach Avenue
MADRID, IA 50156
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