Submitted by gsparrow on

Foresight 2020: Exploration and Inspiration is the theme of the 2020 NARGS Annual General Meeting and Conference to be held June 18-20, hosted by the Adirondack Chapter and co-hosted by Cornell Botanic Gardens. Why this theme? Foresight, because after you attend this conference, we hope you will be armed with fresh knowledge to become a better gardener moving forward. How many times have we all said, “I wish I knew then what I know now!"


So let’s explore the possibilities together, whether it’s the opportunity to view alpine plants in their native habitats or salivate over cultivated beauties in public or private gardens. We’ll learn from the experience of others and share successes and not-so-successful attempts. In any case, we will all seek to be inspired in 2020 to try new plants, new techniques, and new challenges in our gardens!

Packed into three days will be daytime field trips, evening talks (line-up below) optional “night owl” mini-talks, plant sales by choice vendors, door prizes, book signings, and an optional pre-conference tour to visit three exceptional private gardens in the Syracuse area. 

This conference will be based on the north campus of Cornell University, voted one of the most beautiful college campuses, with its own botanic garden and arboretum a short walk away from the conference. Many of our activities will occur in the Robert Purcell Community Center including meals, plant sales, and evening talks. Dorm lodging is offered literally steps away from this building.

Speakers and Mini-Talks

 • Harry Jans, well-known plant explorer extraordinaire, is still traveling and exploring the far reaches of the alpine world. He will deliver two talks, including one about his recent travels in Peru and Chile.

    • Kaj Andersen, a frequent garden lecturer throughout Europe and avid traveler, will speak about Bangsbo Botanical Garden in Frederikshavn Denmark. He and his wife Minna have volunteered throughout the construction, planting, and maintenance of its crevice garden, which claims to be the world’s largest.

    • Cornell Botanic Gardens horticulturists and designers will deliver presentations about their mission, collections and educational/research components in preparation for our field trip there on Saturday. 

    • Night Owl Mini-Talks invite our attendees to give short presentations after the formal scheduled talks end on Thursday and Friday evenings. What would you love to share in a 5-10 minute presentation?

Field Trips

Ithaca is gorgeous! So the Friday field trip will include a guided walk to explore one of our famous gorges, visits to three choice private gardens and the Adirondack Chapter’s public rock garden, and a lakeside lunch on the shores of Cayuga Lake.

On Saturday, we visit the Cornell Botanic Gardens plant collections with their docents on hand to answer questions. Free time in the afternoon allow further exploration of the Gardens, or to venture to other on- or off-campus attractions including the Newman Arboretum (other suggestions will be offered as well).

Additional Activities

NARGS awards, election of officers, and annual report.

Plant sales, book sales, and signings.

Friday evening banquet and open bar.


As we confirm the details of our itinerary, our schedule will be posted on the NARGS website ( and in the forthcoming Winter 2019/20 Quarterly.


Ready to sign up? Online registration will open January 1. Check the Home Page under Events, listed as Annual Meeting and Tours 2020, for further information and the registration link. The registration fee of $425 payable by credit card will be due at that time. You must be a NARGS member to attend this Conference; however, you may include the $40 membership fee with your registration 


Dormitory lodging is available nearby, literally steps away from the conference. A block of rooms is also being held until May 18 at two nearby hotels the Clarion Inn and Best Western University at a special conference rate. Both offer shuttle service to campus.

Pre-Conference Day Trip

Thursday, June 18, 8 am – 3:30 pm Syracuse Area gardens, beginning and ending at Robert Purcell Community Center.

Three too-good-to-miss private gardens were just a little too far away from Ithaca to include within the Conference time frame. So for your benefit, we have added an all-day trip prior to the official start of the Conference.  Registration will open simultaneously with Conference registration on January 1, 2020.

    • Minimum of 35 to make it a go; maximum of 42

    • $45 includes box lunch


The Dianne Bordoni garden is a self-made collector’s garden, which is mature at 35 years. The focus is a choice selection of dwarf conifers interspersed with mature Japanese maples, peonies, and unusual shrubs and perennials. This is an intimate garden; the careful layering of plants and strategic garden vistas create the illusion of a much larger, tranquil park.

The Brennan/Moss garden, which they have named Pagoda Hill, is a true country garden named for the Cornus alternifolia that about throughout their eighteen-acre hilltop. To respect the terrain, grass and gravel paths integrate garden beds and borders. Connected to the house is a chartreuse themed garden featuring trees, shrubs, woodland perennials, bulbs, and a small pond. A sixty-foot (18 m) pergola covered in clematis and roses and underplanted with peonies and alliums leads to a more formal perennial garden featuring hot-colored flowers.  The gravel path continues to larch logs laid out in a grid pattern to grow veggies and cut flowers. Mowed paths lead to another pond featuring several willow species and many other specimen trees and shrubs.

Donna Kraft’s love of gardening has evolved to reflect a passion for unique dwarf conifers and flowering shrubs. Her stone-terraced gardens include a small stream with waterfalls, a woodland area, rock garden plants in tufa beds and troughs, pendulous conifers, striking perennial plant combinations and a collection of various types of peonies. The Kraft gardens welcome you with a serene feeling enhanced by the backdrop of beautiful Crooked Lake, one of the area’s kettle lakes.


Check out our FAQ’s first (posted on the NARGS website). If you have further questions contact John Gilrein, registration coordinator, at [email protected].