Submitted by gsparrow on

THE ADIRONDACK CHAPTER invites you to attend NARGS’ Annual General Meeting whether you are a return attendee or are considering attending for the first time. We promise an action-packed few days that include visiting the Cornell Botanic Gardens and some very special private gardens. We are eager to showcase the beauty of our area that is often described as “gorge-ous” in reference to our many gorges and waterfalls. But we’re also proud of 40-mile (64 km) long Cayuga Lake, the second largest of the Finger Lakes, and the rolling, wooded hills and verdant gardens that surround it. 

Each afternoon, after returning from field trips, you will be able to indulge your plant lust at our plant sales featuring an exciting list of specialty vendors. Dinner and evening talks will follow. We are thrilled to introduce the NARGS community to Kaj Andersen and the Bangsbo Botanical Gardens of Northern Denmark where he and his wife Minna, working alongside Zdeněk Zvolánek, have been instrumental in the construction and care of the world’s largest crevice garden. Our other international speaker is Harry Jans who, believe-it-or-not, is making his AGM debut and needs no introduction to the rock gardening community. Harry, renowned for his extensive travels, will take us on a whirlwind round-the-world tour in 60 minutes highlighting alpines that he considers the best, new, rare, or strange, and looking at their different survival techniques. For his second talk, he will focus on the alpines of Ecuador and Peru, two countries not often visited by plants people. Rounding out the Conference activities are book sales and signings, door prizes, and always the camaraderie of fellow plant enthusiasts.

We believe Ithaca is the place to be this June! You might even want to consider extending your stay to more fully experience the Finger Lakes region.

 --Adirondack Chapter Planning Committee

Registration at a Glance

    • Cost $425; must be a NARGS member. You can join or renew at the time of registration.

    • Online registration opens around January 6, 2020. From the home page, go to drop down “Events” and to the link for the Annual Meeting. The link will take you to an external webpage where you can complete the registration form and pay. There will be no paper registration.

    • Limited to 135 registrants. 

Conference central will be Robert Purcell Community Center, 217 George Jessup Rd. on the north campus of Cornell University, Ithaca, where talks, plant sales, book sales and signings, and most meals will take place. Everyone will sign in here; look for the loading zone signs near the building entrance. We plan to have volunteers on hand to direct you upon arrival.

    • Accompanying guests who do not choose to register for the conference may stay in the residence halls and can purchase meals at the Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery with a credit card; advance payment is required for guests to attend the banquet.

    • May 15 is the deadline for all below (subject to availability); all can be performed through the online registration site:

        ◦ Registration for Syracuse pre-conference day trip. 

        ◦ Submission of after-hours mini-talks proposals (coordinated    through Steve Whitesell, [email protected]).

        ◦ Ordering a Conference t-shirt.

        ◦ Guest banquet reservations.

        ◦ Motel or residence hall reservations at special conference rate.

        ◦ Last date to register without a penalty; after May 15     registration cost is $450.

        ◦ Last date to cancel your registration, less a $50 processing fee;    registration fee is forfeited for cancellations after May 15.


Program Summary

• Two daytime field trips to gardens and a moderate level gorge walk (with easier options) at a “botanical pace.”

• Two talks by Harry Jans, one talk by Kaj Andersen, four talks by Cornell Botanic Gardens naturalists and horticulturists.

• After-hours mini-talks (by advance submission, see below).

• Two scheduled plant sales and book sales and signings.

• Three breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners at Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery.

• Friday night catered banquet with a cash bar; option to add a guest at an additional cost; Saturday dinner is on your own. 

• NARGS Annual Meeting and Awards.

• Door prizes.

• Open gardens on your own on Sunday, June 21 (optional).


Please refer to the fall Quarterly for brief bios of our international speakers (Harry Jans and Kaj Andersen) and to FAQs on the NARGS conference web page for more details.

Cornell Botanic Gardens featured talks

    • Emily Detrick, the Elizabeth Weaver Director of Horticulture: welcome and opening remarks.

    • Sarah Fiorello, Interpretation Coordinator: “Cornell Botanic Gardens is Gorges,” the Natural Areas Program of management, conservation and research.

    • Krissy Boys, Natural Areas Horticulturist: her stream bank restoration project in the Mundy Wildflower Garden.

    • Robert Wesley, Botanist: the Chaumont Barrens of Jefferson, County, a rare alvar grassland.

Field Trips

Friday: We’ve planned a full day’s outing, dividing into three groups with three identical itineraries, in round-robin fashion. Box lunch on the go will be at a local park along Cayuga Lake. We will take a guided gorge walk and visit three gardens.

Gorge walk: Buses will take us on a guided gorge walk with a local naturalist expert to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Note the walk will be at a leisurely “botanical” pace on improved pathways that do involve walking up and down steps and woodland paths. Be advised to wear comfortable clothing and hiking shoes, exercise caution, and know your own limits.

Three garden visits:

• Bill Stark and Mary Stauble Garden: See the article in this issue about this garden (Gardening with Glaciers, page 28).

• Len and Cindy Lion Garden: We anticipate their hundreds of perennials will be in peak bloom for the Conference. From the entrance plantings, you will be drawn to the sound of flowing water emanating from three connected ponds. Stone-terraced beds around the house are filled with yet more choice perennials and dozens of planted pots. The gardens continue down a steep, wooded hill, where borders of shade-loving perennials, ground covers, and shrubs surround a gazebo and folly. Woodland trails lead to a sculpture garden, a cantilevered deck overlooking a deep gorge, and a boardwalk.

• Marlene Kobre and Ron Denson Garden: An unassuming front yard belies the beauty that awaits you as you enter through the garden gate. The gardens soon reveal a passion for Japanese maples and tree peonies, lush perennial borders, patio plantings, troughs, water features, and more. Regular visits to New Mexico have greatly influenced their collection of potted succulents. Continuing to add new beds and new plants, their latest additions have been a second rock garden and a dwarf conifer bed. 

Saturday: After breakfast and a morning talk, we’ll be ready for a lovely ramble along Beebe Lake on mostly level ground from our Conference headquarters to the Nevin Welcome Center and the Cornell Botanic Gardens. Docent volunteers will be stationed along the surrounding themed gardens to answer questions throughout the morning. With a free afternoon, you may choose to further explore its 25+ acres of gardens or its F.R. Newman Arboretum (voted the most beautiful among U.S. colleges), best reached by car.


Plant Sale Vendors

The following nurseries are confirmed at this time:

Secret Garden, Esther Benedict owner, Nappanee, IN. Miniature plants, alpines, mini-hostas, ferns, daphnes, and papercrete troughs. No website but check out this tantalizing review:

Coldwater Pond Nursery, Phelps, NY, Ted and Elly Hildebrant, owners. Dedicated to propagating and growing select woody ornamentals of exceptional quality, range, and scope.

Topiary Gardens, Diana Smith, owner, Marcellus, NY. Specializing in new and hard-to-find conifers, perennials, including choice alpines, shrubs, and trees and her real passion, Japanese Maples with over 500 varieties grafted and grown by the nursery. 

Cayuga Landscape, David Fernandez, owner and Pat Wilson, Garden Center Manager, Ithaca, NY. Choice dwarf conifers, unusual deciduous ornamentals, and interesting perennials suitable for rock and woodland gardens, primulas a specialty. 

Wrightman Alpines, Esther Wrightman, owner.

St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Needs no introduction to most NARGS members, offering a choice selection from the more than 600 alpine plants listed in their catalog. 


Syracuse Area Pre-Conference Day Trip

A charter bus will leave at 8:00 AM on Thursday morning to take those who have signed-up in advance (via the Conference registration page) to visit three Syracuse area gardens, located north of Ithaca. The ride is just over an hour to the first garden. Cost is $45, which includes a box lunch and at this price, we expect seats will sell fast. The bus returns you back to the Robert Purcell Community Center at approximately 3 pm. The pictorial article in this issue (Pre-Conference Garden Tour: Preview in Words and Pictures, page 16) offers a preview of what you’ll see at these outstanding gardens. Note you must be a Conference registrant or guest of a registrant to go on this trip.

After-hours Mini-talks 

We are inviting proposals for informal after-hours presentations to be offered Thursday evening (and Friday if there is sufficient response) following the main speakers’ talks. Each one-hour session can feature up to four speakers who will have five to fifteen minutes for their presentation on any topic of interest to rock gardeners. Possibilities are wide open and could include travel adventures, growing tips, experimentations, design and construction ideas and/or implementations, failures and successes, or your own idea – the more original the better. We want to be as inclusive as possible and will accept as many proposals as time allows, considered on a first-come, first-served basis. For our planning purposes, submit your proposal via email to Steve Whitesell, [email protected] by May 15, after which he’ll notify all applicants of the scheduling and other details. Your presentation should be formatted in PowerPoint, please. 

We look forward to a broad range of presentations.



A block of single and double rooms have been set aside at a Cornell residence hall very close to all conference-based activities at a cost of $68 and $93 plus tax per person respectively. All rooms are furnished with twin beds, linens, and towels, and bar soap but no other toiletries. A full bath serves every three-room suite. Rooms can be booked for Wednesday, June 17 for early arrivals. You may book your room on the registration website. Roommate requests will be honored.

Alternatively, a limited number of rooms are being held at special rates at two nearby motels: Best Western University Inn of Ithaca ($139+ tax for single/double room for two) and Clarion Inn University Airport, Ithaca NY ($129 + tax for single/double room for two). Ask for the NARGS Conference rate, which can also be applied to two days before and two days after the official Conference dates (from June 16 – 22). Each motel offers free door-to-door shuttle service to the Conference by advance arrangement. The registration webpage will provide links to these motels.

All rooms are subject to availability and will be held until May 15.


Getting to Ithaca

By car: Parking on campus will be available only in a designated lot for a daily parking fee, currently $7 per day. We will contact attendees arriving by car by email with further instructions.

By Air: Ithaca is served by three airlines: Delta, United, and American. Airports in Rochester and Syracuse offer additional carriers. 

Shuttle Service: Both motels offer free shuttle service from the airport and to and from the Conference Center. Car rental services are available at the Tompkins Ithaca Regional Airport. Ithaca also offers Uber, Lyft, and taxi service.


Conference T-shirt

We will be selling a full-color Conference t-shirt featuring our Conference logo. It can be ordered through the registration website.


Additional Information/Questions

Visit the FAQs on the NARGS website (Home -> Events -> Annual General Meeting FAQs). We’ll also include options for free time activities, whether it be for a few hours or a few days (including dining options). Our FAQs address many of the details of the AGM and Conference, but you may still have unanswered questions. If so, contact our Registration Coordinator: John Gilrein, [email protected].