The Southeastern Plant Symposium and Rare Plant Auction – one of the nation’s largest annual gatherings of plant lovers, expert speakers, and rare plants – returns to Raleigh on June 16 and 17.

Organized by NC State University’s JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden, this year’s gathering features 13 top speakers from around the world, including Emma Allen, with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisely in the United Kingdom, plus an international cast of trailblazing plant experts representing leading institutions across the United States.

“Southeastern Plant Symposium is a who’s who of horticulture allowing plant lovers, educators, researchers, nurseries, plant breeders, and industry leaders to connect and share cutting edge information and research,” said Mark Weathington, Director of JC Raulston Arboretum.

Now in its fifth year, the Symposium and Auction has attracted attendees from over 31 US states, DC, and eight nations.

“The Symposium’s Rare Plant Auction is an opportunity for people to acquire plants that, for the most part, simply aren’t available commercially,” said Tony Avent, Proprietor of Juniper Level Botanic Garden. “We start the auction online about a week before the symposium, adding plants every day or two, ending with between 300 and 400 different plants on the final day. Even the hardest core plant lovers will find plants they’ve never seen for their gardens.”

The Juniper Level Botanical Garden is also in Raleigh. CREDIT: Southeastern Plant Symposium

Expert symposium presenters include:

  • Richard Olsen, Ph.D., Director, United States National Arboretum, Washington, DC
  • Scott McMahan, Manager of International Exploration, Atlanta Botanical Garden, GA
  • Nina Bassuk, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, The Urban Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Tom Ranney, Ph.D., JC Raulston Distinguished Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, Raleigh, NC
  • Anthony Aiello, Associate Director of Collections, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
  • Emma Allen, Head of Horticultural Relations, Royal Horticultural Society Garden Wisley, London, England, United Kingdom
  • Gary Knox, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Quincy, FL
  • Jenny Xiang, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, NC State University, Raleigh, NC
  • Judson LeCompte, Ph.D., Product Development Assistant Manager, Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc., Grand Haven, MI
  • Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D., Professor and Department Head, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
  • Ross Bayton, Ph.D., Director, Heronswood Garden, Kingston, WA
  • David Roberts, Director of Plant Breeding, Bailey Innovations, Bailey Nurseries, Inc., Athens, GA
  • Greg Paige, Director of Horticulture, JC Raulston Arboretum, NC State University, Raleigh, NC

“Everyone will have opportunities to share their thoughts and questions with the experts,” said Weathington. “That’s what I find exciting – the cross-pollination of every field of landscape horticulture.”

“The day before and after the symposium, Juniper Level Botanic Garden and JC Raulston Arboretum will be open for attendees,” added Avent. “This is a great chance for plant lovers to combine a tour of both gardens and attend the symposium.”

Registration is available for in-person or online attendance. The host hotel is Hilton Raleigh at North Hills on Wake Forest Road. All presentations, including Friday’s dinner and presentation, will occur at this location. Continuing education credits may apply to professionals. See the symposium website for details.

Auction proceeds benefit the JC Raulston Arboretum (tax ID 56-6049304) and the Tony & Anita Avent Juniper Level Botanic Garden Endowment (tax ID 56-6000756). Funds are managed by the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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