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2017 4th Annual Tree Diversity Conference


To protect our urban forests, which are threatened by pests and pathogens, a greater variety of tree species is necessary.


For our fourth annual conference we will continue to explore the relationships between landscape design, horticultural practices and the use of a greater variety of tree species.


Between them, our speakers this year boast an extravagant depth of experience ranging from worldwide plant exploration to landscape and garden design, promotion of new plant materials, administration of some of our country's most noted horticultural conferences and institutions and hands-on experience with plant testing and data collection.



$75, includes all programming and lunch




Jeff Iles | "The Iowa Experience"

Jeff, with his many years as a key figure in the widely-attended Iowa Shade Tree Short Course--now in its 61st year!--will draw on his experience to give us his best ideas for underutilized tree species for planting in our region. He will also devote a major portion of his talk to recommending pruning practices for maximizing the longevity of all those new trees we've been planting and will keep planting in the future.

Jeff serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University (Ames, IA). He teaches, conducts applied research, and provides Extension programming in the areas of landscape plant establishment and maintenance, woody plant evaluation, and nursery and garden center management. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa State, respectively. Between degrees, Jeff worked in the retail garden center segment of the green industry, first in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and later in Littleton, Colorado.

Jeff is a member of the Rotary Club of Ames and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ames Foundation, Iowa Arboretum, Brenton Arboretum, and in his spare time is an ice hockey referee and an avid cyclist.


Justin Evertson | “Trees For the Central Great Plains”

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has been working to expand the diversity and resiliency of community forests and planted landscapes across the state for nearly 40 years. This program will highlight some of the unique efforts of NSA including the network of over 100 affiliate sites scattered across the state, as well as the Environmentally Adapted Trees Initiative (EAT) developed to identify and propagate superior and environmentally-adapted trees from across the central Great Plains region.

 Justin Evertson has been involved with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Forest Service since 1990. Since 2010 he has been Green Infrastructure Coordinator for the Community Forestry and Sustainable Landscapes unit of NFS/NSA. Justin oversees programs that provide funding, technical assistance and educational outreach for sustainable landscape enhancements in communities across the state. Justin has authored several publications over the years with an emphasis on woody plant selection. He earned his architecture and community and regional planning degrees from UNL (1988/92). Justin grew up on a farm in western Nebraska (Kimball County) where he learned an appreciation for shortgrass prairie and Nebraska’s wide-open spaces. Justin is passionate about trees, the native landscape, biodiversity and sustainable landscape development. He lives in Waverly (near Lincoln) where he plants many trees and works to enhance landscapes throughout the community.


Ben Rickenbacker | "A Close Look at Denver's Urban Forest Diversity"

Ben will discuss the city-wide inventory project which was done in part to prepare for the pending arrival of the emerald ash borer. Featured discussion points will include an update on the species composition of Denver's urban forest along with the discovery of some notable trees, some of which are new state champions.

Ben Rickenbacker is a Forestry Operations Supervisor for the City and County of Denver. Ben was initially hired to lead the city-wide street tree inventory project, where he and his team documented roughly 230,000 public right-of-way trees. Ben is an ISA Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist. Ben holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Western Kentucky University. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the arboriculture industry.


Sean Hogan | "Woody Plants for the High and Dry"

Sean will draw on his wide experience as a plant hunter around the world, a designer of water conservation landscapes and an aficionado of the high, dry and cold eastern Oregon steppe to recommend trees and cultural techniques tailored to conditions in the Front Range region of Colorado.

Sean Hogan is the owner of the renowned Cistus Design Nursery in Sauvie Island, Oregon (near Portland), which besides introducing many new plants to U.S. gardens also provides innovative landscape design services. Sean has a curatorial and collections background at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland and the University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden. He has traveled all over the world to collect plants with potential application in U.S. landscapes and has managed the design of naturalistic landscapes, eco-roof installations and water conservation gardens. One of his major horticultural interests is promoting new, underused and unknown plants for summer-dry climates.


Dr. Rich Olsen | TBD

Director, U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C. Dr. Olsen holds a doctorate in horticultural science from North Carolina State University and joined the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in 2006 as a research geneticist for the urban tree breeding program of the Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit. His research has focused on the development of superior landscape trees with pest and disease resistances combined with non-invasiveness. In 2015 Dr. Olsen was appointed Director of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He is an international horticultural leader who has shared his scientific expertise and practical knowledge with multiple arboreta, urban forestry groups and professional associations.



Calder: Connected to the Contemporary

Curator Lynne Warren presents examples that demonstrate the effect Alexander Calder has had on artists working today. Warren curated the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibition Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, authoring a book by the same name. She has written more than 30 exhibition catalogs and has taught courses at prominent Chicago universities.

Price: $25, $20 member

Speaker: Lynne Warren, Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Calder: From Miniature Circus to Monumental Sculpture

Alfred Pacquement, guest curator of Calder: Monumental, details the life and career of this American master. Pacquement was Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou from 2000-2013. He is an independent curator and cultural consultant, responsible for numerous exhibitions, including Calder at the Rijksmuseum, 2014.

Price: $25, $20 member

Speaker: Alfred Pacquement, guest curator of Calder: Monumental and former director of Musée National drt Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou

Juno: Queen of Irises, with Tony Hall

“Juno: queen of irises” by Tony Hall, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Juno Iris are a section of the iris genus with nearly 100 species and countless hybrids. They are distinguished by the corn-plant like foliage and their dahlia like roots—and have a spectacular range of flower color. The very first plate in the first issue of Curtis Botanical Magazine published in 1787 was of Iris persica, a Juno Iris! This amazing group of irises that grow from the Mediterranean to Mongolia: the only one commonly seen in the Denver area is Iris bucharica--but almost all them should prove to be outstanding garden plants in our climate, since they are mostly found in high steppe in Asia.


Speaker: Tony Hall was Horticulturist in the Alpine Section of RBG Kew since the 1970’s (focusing on the Alpine House and the famous collection of potted alpines at that garden), and continues his research there in his retirement. He is completing a monograph on the Juno Irises which is sure to be a classic!

Price: $29, $24 member

Image: Signa.org

Lecture - Reimagining a Classic Style

Inspired by the tiny plants and dramatic, rocky landscapes found on mountain tops, rock gardening uses a range of unusual plants in combination with beautiful stones to create miniaturized landscapes. This approach to gardening is water-wise, perfect for containers, small gardens and for gardeners interested in exploring a whole new group of beautiful plants. In this talk Joseph Tychonievich shares beautiful images of rock gardens to get you inspired, the basic principles of creating rock gardens and an introduction to some of the most beautiful and easy to grow rock garden plants to get you started.


Joseph Tychonievich

A lifelong gardener and lover of plants, southeast Michigan resident Joseph Tychonievich earned his bachelor of science in horticulture from Ohio State University, worked at specialty rare plants nurseries in Michigan and Japan, and was named by Organic Gardening Magazine as one of “...six young horticulturists who are helping to shape how America gardens.” He is the author of “Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener” and “Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style.”


6 p.m. Social hour and tasting hosted by Slow Food Denver (included in price)

6:30 p.m. Program and lecture

8:00 p.m. Book signing by author

All lecture programs: $15 member, $20 non-member. Space is limited so register early!

Slow Food Members are welcome to register for the discounted member price of $15, please click on reciprocal member price, no identification required.


“Water, water, water...There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.” ? Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

With the support of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and in line with the Gardens’ mission of connecting people with plants, we are excited to bring you a series designed to explore water as it relates to our ability to thrive in Colorado’s dry environment.

Throughout the 2017 series, we explore the importance of water through the lens of art, home gardening, conservation and home ownership. The lecture series includes topics such as enhancing the abundance of water throughout the world, rock gardening and water quality of the Colorado River through underwater photography.

A parallel series of intimate workshops, tours and trips further the exploration. Workshops include water-harvesting, aquaponics, photogram water camera-less photography, insect home building and many other hands-on opportunities. The Gardens offers day-long tours of Habitat Hero Gardens, gardens that provides resources and habitat for insects. A self-guided water wise home garden tour allows participants to explore ways in which their fellow Denverites use low water plants and water conservation techniques. Further your water experience by joining the Gardens on multi-day trips, including a canoe trip down the Gunnison River alongside a wetland ecologist and a photography trip to view the stunning water features around Vail.



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