Plantsman Dan Hinkley, Confirmed as Keynote!

Dan Hinkley’s talks at the 2017 IMGC are made possible, in part, through the generosity of Timber Press.

We are so thrilled to announce that Dan Hinkley has agreed to deliver  the keynote address at the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference on Thursday, July 13, 2017!  The keynote address will be ‘The Forgotten Elements of Good Design: Texture, Movement and Fragrance‘.

Dan will also deliver a concurrent class session on that same day, entitled ‘My Life in Gardening‘.

Dan is a teacher, writer, lecturer, consultant, nurseryman and gardener who has been recognized with numerous awards, and was one of the co-founders of the renowned Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA.  He now maintains his garden, Windcliff, in the Pacific Northwest.  He has been described as the ‘Indiana Jones of the Plant World’, with an ‘inconvenient fear of heights’, given his penchant for collecting plants on mountaintops.

He is committed to solid and sustainable horticultural practices, above average garden plants, landscapes of distinction and raising the collective awareness of the diversity of plant life on Earth as well as the magic and mysteries of our natural world.

He has been featured in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Fine Gardening, Horticulture Magazine, and Sunset Magazine.  He has appeared on Martha Stewart television, where he served as a gardening consultant for 10 years.  He has also appeared in and served as a horticultural consultant for the PBS Nova program ‘The First Flower‘.

He is the author of  two Timber Press books:  ‘The Explorer’s Garden, Shrubs and Vines from Four Corners of the World‘ (2009, Timber Press) and ‘The Explorers Garden, Rare and Unusual Perennials‘ (1999, Timber Press, now in its fourth printing).



Thank You, 2017 IMGC Sponsors!

Central Oregon Master Gardener Logo Ball Hort logo OSU College of Ag logo OMGA logo

clackamas county wagon

Hosting the International Master Gardener Conference can be a scary proposition.  When choosing a site for the 2017 IMGC, we needed to find a place that could hold 1,000+ people (we’re hoping to attract 1,200), but we also needed to do our best to keep costs down.

We settled on the Oregon Convention Center, primarily because it is the only site in Portland that could fully meet our space needs.  But, the City of Portland also has a wonderful program  that helps organizations bring business to Portland, via conferences held at the Oregon Convention Center.  Without this program, the cost of hosting the conference at the Oregon Convention Center would be beyond our means.

But, even though we the cost of renting the Convention Center space is drastically discounted, we still have to find a way to bear the costs of:  speaker fees, speaker mileage and travel costs, catering, audio-visual support, trade show set up and break down, registration services.  All of these are expensive, and we are doing our best to provide the highest quality possible, while keeping costs low for attendees.

One approach to keeping quality high and costs low is to find sponsors ~ businesses, non-profit organizations, or even individuals ~ who believe in what we’re trying to do.  By collaborating with sponsors, we’re in a much better position to plan and implement the type of conference we want to host.

I’ve been beating the bushes over the past few months, to try and drum up sponsorship support for the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference, and the early response has been phenomenal.

Ball Horticultural, a perennial supporter of the International Master Gardener Conference, was the very first to sign on as a sponsor.  Ball continues their generous support of the International Master Gardener Conference, with a pledge of $10,000 to help defray conference costs and to keep registration fees as low as possible.

The Oregon State University Department of Horticulture and the College of Agricultural Sciences were the next two to sign on as sponsors ~ pledging $1,000 each.  At a time when state budgets have been slashed and every penny spent is carefully considered, I’m so proud that my Department and my College have stepped forward to say ‘we know the IMGC is important, and we want to support what you’re doing’.

But the largest response has come from Oregon’s Master Gardeners, themselves.  The Oregon Master Gardener Association and 10 of it’s chapters (the Clackamas county, Jackson county, Benton county, Multnomah county, Marion county, Central Oregon, Central Gorge, Lincoln, Tillamook county, Clatsop county and Lane county Master Gardener Associations) have together pledged or already donated $34,000 to support the International Master Gardener Program!  Master Gardeners Sherry Sheng (and husband Spike Wadsworth), Jo Ann Bones, Marcia Sherry (and husband Bob) and Larry and Giuli Sutton have also pledged or donated their individual support of the International Master Gardener for a combined $9,000.  The generosity of Oregon’s Master Gardeners will truly help us to host high quality speakers that we couldn’t otherwise afford to bring to Oregon, and I am truly grateful for their support.  If you are planning on attending the 2017 IMGC, please take the time to thank Oregon’s Master Gardeners for their strong and meaningful support of the conference.

Thank you to Ball, Oregon State University and Oregon’s Master Gardener Associations and volunteers for your support of the 2017 IMGC!  We are doing our best to build a conference that will make you proud!

We are still actively seeking sponsors who value the community services of Master Gardeners, internationally, and who support the continuing education afforded to Master Gardeners through this conference.  Sponsorship donations are managed by the Agricultural Research Foundation, a non-profit with  501(c)3 status from the Internal Revenue Service, and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring the 2017 IMGC, please visit our sponsorship page for more information.  There, you can access the information sheet we’ve developed for potential sponsors, as well as the sponsorship pledge/payment form.

International Master Gardener Conferences ~ Past, Present and Future

The 2017 International Master Gardener Conference, with the theme ‘Follow the Oregon Trail to Great Gardening‘,  will mark the 30th year and the 15th biennial gathering of this remarkable event.  But, did you know that 2017 will mark the second time that the conference has been hosted in Portland?  In 1989, the Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener Program (under the direction of Ray and Jan McNeilan) hosted the second national gathering of Master Gardeners at the Red Lion in Portland, Oregon.  I believe that the conference was renamed the International Master Gardener Conference by 1991 ~ although I could be wrong.

If you have more details on the evolution of the conference, please share!  I’ve become a Master Gardener history buff, and love seeing how the program and the conference have grown and evolved over the years.

What I have found on the history of the event is listed below, together with a few photos from IMGCs I have attended (2009, 2011 and 2013).

2015 International Master Gardener Conference

2015: Horticultural Horizons in the Heartland, September 22-25, 2015 in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Previous International Master Gardener Conferences

2013:  Flowers, Fjords & Friends, September 7-14, 2013, an Alaskan cruise from Seattle

Cruising Glacier Bay during the 2017 IMGC cruise to Alaska.
Cruising Glacier Bay during the 2013 IMGC cruise to Alaska.
Touring gardens managed by the Alaska Master Gardeners in Sitka.
Touring gardens managed by the Alaska Master Gardeners in Sitka.


I have Siberian Huskies, and couldn't help but stop and pet these Malamutes while visiting Ketchikan.
I have Siberian Huskies, and couldn’t help but stop and pet these Malamutes while visiting Ketchikan.

2011:  Color it Green In a Wild & Wonderful Way, October 11-14, 2011 in Charleston, West Virginia

Oregon Master Gardener Betty F. up on stage (4th from left) during the 2011 IMGC.
Oregon Master Gardener Betty F. up on stage (4th from left) during the 2011 IMGC.


A street scene from Charleston, during a break in the 2011 IMGC.
A street scene from Charleston, during a break in the 2011 IMGC.
There was a fire drill during the 2011 IMGC!  A great reminder that sometimes things don't go as planned.
There was a fire drill during the 2011 IMGC! A great reminder that sometimes things don’t go as planned.

2009:  “New Frontiers” in Horticulture and Gardening, March 22-26 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

At a behind the scenes tour of the Bellagio gardens at the 2009 IMGC in Las Vegas, NV.
At a behind the scenes tour of the Bellagio gardens at the 2009 IMGC in Las Vegas, NV.

2007:  Celebrate Gardening in the Natural State, May 2-5 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

2005:  100 Years of Gardening on the Canadian Prairies, June 24-27 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

2003:  Celebrate Gardening in the Ohio River Valley, June 18-21 in the Cincinnati, OH/Northern Kentucky area.

2001:  The Magic of Gardening, May 29-June 1 at Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, Florida

1999:  World of Gardening, August 19-22 in San Antonio, TX

1997:  July 15-19 in Sacramento, CA

1995:  Gardening Under the Northern Lights, July 22-26 in Saskatoon, Canada

1993:  Gardening for a Better World, August 12-15 in San Antonio, TX

1991:  Gardening Tools of Another Kind, September 24-27 in Detroit, MI

1989:  An On-Growing Experience, October 11-14 in Portland, OR

1987:  Capitol Gardening, October 7-10 in Washington DC

Volunteers Needed

Planning and executing an international conference for 1,200+ Master Gardeners from across the country and world is a big job!  Volunteers are needed to assist in many capacities, in order to put on a top-notch conference that will make us proud of our efforts.

If you are interested in volunteering, please register your interests and skills via this online survey form.  A brief description of the different volunteer opportunties can be found below.

Speaker committee: creating the program of conference speakers; contacting and communicating with speakers; obtaining speaker biographies; making sure that the website and the paper program has all relevant speaker information; work with the gardener’s store committee to arrange for space and time for book sales and book signings for speakers who wish to do so; serve as the liaison between the conference speakers and the IMGC chair.

Local tours: helping to create a program of local, Portland-area tours that will be of interest to conference attendees. This could include hosted or unhosted tours. Creating maps and directions for participants to get to tour sites. Pre-touring sites to make sure they are safe for conference attendees. Arranging for transportation, as needed, for tours.

Pre-conference tours or Post-conference tours: helping to create a program for a 2- and/or 3-day tour of Oregon sites, that conference participants can take before the actual IMGC begins, or after the conference ends; arranging for bus transportation, hotel stays, tour activities. Helping to develop a price for the tour(s) that covers tour costs, but is still affordable for conference participants.

Food committee: helping to create the menu for meals and snacks during the conference. There may be an in-house caterer, or there may be other caterers to interview. Taste test meals and snacks. Consider their nutritional value. Choose between buffet, seated meal or passed appetizer options.  Plan meals and snacks that are affordable, nutritious, delicious.

Goody Bag Committee: creating the goody bag that will be given to each conference attendee. Choosing the bag, itself. Finding high-quality items to stuff in each bag. Make sure the items are travel-friendly, for those flying with checked baggage. Work with sponsorship committee to find donors of goody bag items.

Hospitality Committee: greet conference attendees as they arrive at the airport, and help direct them to their destination. Help conference attendees navigate public transportation in Portland. Generally assist conference attendees, by answering their questions or finding someone who can answer their question. Serve as a greeter that helps attendees feel welcome in our state and in our city.

Gardener’s Store Committee: line up vendors to display or sell appropriate items during the conference; work with sponsorship committee to ensure that high level sponsors are given a free trade show booth; serve as the liaison between trade show vendors and the IMGC chair.

Sponsorship Committee: solicit sponsors to help defray the costs associated with the 2017 IMGC. Sponsorships can be ‘in-kind’ or ‘cash’. Work with chairs of other committees, to ensure that sponsors donations are received (e.g. goody bag committee, finance committee). Make sure that sponsors receive documentation of their donation, for tax purposes.

Registration Committee: helping attendees register for the conference (many will have questions about how to register or what to register for, and volunteers are needed to assist / answer questions); helping to put together registration packets that will be picked up by attendees; arranging registration packets and tickets so that they are easy to understand and easy to pick up; helping to choose a vendor to handle the online registration process.

Finance Committee: helping to develop and monitor the budget for the conference; adjusting budget as needed; working with sponsorship committee to ensure that all sponsors receive the proper forms documenting their tax-deductible donations; work closely with OMGA treasurer to ensure timely payment of conference bills and timely deposit of conference revenues.

Decorations Committee: plan and make decorations that will help conference attendees feel welcome in our state and in Portland. Examples of decorations that could be made include a map, where folks can place a star to show where they traveled from; floral arrangements for general sessions or the banquet; something Portland-esque that can be displayed around the conference site (for example, West Virginia had scarecrows displayed throughout their conference center).

Program Committee: gathering information from the speakers’ committee, sponsorship committee, tour committees, etc., to create a program that can be given to conference attendees. This program will be the conference attendees ‘guide’ to the conference ~ and will provide all of the information they need to find their way around and enjoy themselves. Work with the registration committee to ensure that each attendee receives a conference program when they pick up their registration packet.

Publicity Committee: publicize the conference in various no-cost outlets, including, but not limited to: social media, email listservs, garden centers, MG events, radio spots, etc. Work to get the work out locally, but also nationally and internationally about this event. Work with IMGC chair to ensure that all publicity adheres to OSU policy.