This program has reached maximum capacity for the venue and will not be accepting any walk-in registrations.

Beat the winter doldrums and attend the 2019 Plants of Distinction Seminar!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel
21111 Haggerty Rd, Novi, MI, 48375

Time: 8:30 a.m. (registration)
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (program)

Cost: $85 per participant
(Includes light breakfast, lunch, handouts)

Winter can seem especially long and cold to plant enthusiasts who revel in spending time creating and enjoying their garden and landscape. To beat the winter doldrums and get energized for spring, join nationally renowned horticulturists and fellow “plant geeks” at the daylong Michigan State University Extension Plants of Distinction seminar.


The Layered Garden
David Culp, Horticulturist, Vice President for Sunny Border Nurseries, Kensington, CT

Join noted horticulturist, David Culp, as he shows us how to create outstanding landscapes based on his majestic, two-acre Pennsylvania garden, Brandywine Cottage. David will share the basic lesson in layering—choosing the correct plants by understanding how they grow and change throughout the seasons, design elements of a layered garden, and tips on maintenance. David will take us on a virtual tour through each part of his celebrated garden to illustrate the layered garden design. This inspirational presentation culminates with David’s signature plants for all four seasons

At the Water’s Edge: Marginal Plants
Matthew Ross, Director of Continuing Education, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

The interface between land and water is an area with diverse plant material that can handle even the most extreme conditions. These tough plants are not only ecologically important by preventing erosion, capturing sediment, and providing habitat for wildlife; they can also become beautiful and unusual specimens in your garden, floral arrangements, and even culinary curiosities. Marginal plants are welcome additions to “problem areas” within your garden or landscape and after you fall in love with their blooms and bold texture, they might even replace many traditional plant selections. We will get our feet wet with a look at buttonbush, sweet flag, swamp hibiscus plus many other flowering and non-flowering plants that thrive at the water’s edge.

The Hunt for New and Better Hydrangeas for Michigan Gardens
Tim Wood, Plant Hunter, Product Development and Marketing Manager, Spring Meadow Nursery, Grand Haven, MI

One of America’s favorite plants, the hydrangea, is one of the most exciting groups of shrubs sold and grown in the Midwest. Sometimes gardeners can be mystified by how to select and manage these outstanding beauties for maximum performance. Join nationally noted horticulturist Tim Wood, The Plant Hunter, as he highlights hydrangea species that are best suited for our climate and the most reliable bloomers. Tim will share the newest varieties, future breeding trends and how to care for each type. If you love hydrangeas this is the talk for you!

50 Plants You Cannot Live Without
David Culp, Horticulturist, Vice President for Sunny Border Nurseries, Kensington, CT

From old classics to current trends, David will present an overview of perennial plants that have stood the test of time.  From his unique perspective from a long career in the nursery and horticulture industry, David will also reveal future glimpses of plants that are sure to become our new garden favorites.  As creator of his celebrated Pennsylvania garden, Brandywine Cottage, it’s a challenge to pick only 50! These are the perennials you simply must start with to become the basic bones of your garden.

Plants that Ignite the Winter Landscape
Matthew Ross, Director, Continuing Education, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

After the vibrant colors of fall fade and the gray skies of winter engulf our Great Lakes State, it can be a bleak time for gardeners seeking the comfort of a bloom or the scent of a flower.  Imagine unlocking a secret to extending garden interest during these mundane times.  From intriguing colored stems, breathtaking bark, and even winter blooms, Matthew will highlight winter beauties that have made his favorite plant list. Learn how to integrate many outstanding plants whether it is book-ending your winter landscape with witch hazels, mass planting uncommon bulbs and corms, or selecting the best colored stems to edge your gardens. You will be amazed by the plethora of plants that can ignite the winter landscape. 


David Culp is the Vice President for Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut and creator of the gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. David has been lecturing about gardens nationwide for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Fine Gardening, Green Scene, and many other publications. He is a former contributing editor to Horticulture magazine and served as chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Hardy Plant Society. An expert on herbaceous perennials, David is a frequent instructor at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. He has developed the Brandywine Hybrid strain of hellebores, and was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise on snowdrops. His Brandywine Cottage gardens have been featured several times in Martha Stewart Living and on HGTV and listed in the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Gardens. 

David is the author of the book, The Layered Garden, published by Timber Press, and won the coveted "Best Overall Book" award by the Garden Writers Association in 2013. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Garden Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Award of Merit.  He serves on the Pennsylvania Horticultural Societies Gold Medal Plant Selection Committee.

Matthew Ross is the Director of Continuing Education at Longwood Gardens where he oversees the development and delivery of over 170 programs annually in the concentrations of ornamental horticulture, landscape design, visual arts, and floral design. Prior to his arrival at Longwood Gardens, Matthew spent six years in Toledo, Ohio where he worked as a horticulturist at Toledo Botanical Gardens. He was an instructor at Owens Community College, where he established a 5-acre farm and training center, and developed the accompanying curriculum for the Urban Agriculture Program.  His passion for horticulture is contagious and he is a proud graduate of Michigan State University where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Horticulture Science with an emphasis on Landscape Design and Urban Forestry.

Tim Wood is a fourth generation plantsman that travels the world hunting for new shrubs for the Proven Winners plant brand. He is also an accomplished plant breeder with over 100 plant patents to his name. An avid lecturer, photographer and writer, he writes a blog called “The Plant Hunter” and has three books to his credit, including “Tree and Shrub Gardening for Michigan.” He has studied and taught horticulture at Michigan State University. He has spent 10 years in public horticulture with stints at Longwood Gardens, Kingwood Center, Fellows Riverside Garden, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Extension Master Gardeners: This program qualifies for 6 education credits.
Certified Green Industry Professionals: This program qualifies for 6 credits.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds within 7 days of the event, otherwise a $10.00 cancellation fee applies.  Substitutions are allowed and encouraged. This event will not be cancelled due to inclement weather unless the facility closes.

Special Needs: Please contact ANR Events at or 517-353-3175 at least 2 weeks prior to the event if you have special needs.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For questions, please contact ANR Event Services at or 517-353-3175.