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No event on the Southern gardening calendar attracts a more extensive roster of recognized experts to historic settings quite like the Southern Garden Symposium.

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Heather Cooper is a local artist, community leader and theatrical producer who has had the pleasure of creating masterpieces in the surrounding neighborhoods of the District of Columbia for 35 years.

Currently she serves as Lead Designer at Blair House, the President’s Guest House, after having served as Resident Artist and Designer for The Executive Residence of The White House for 17 years. She has created tablescapes, original custom artwork and faux painting, designed and installed decor along the entire North and South Porticos, created Halloween facades, made State Floor focal centerpieces, and has provided decor, design and calligraphy for four administrations, from the smallest dinner party to the largest State Dinners.

Her masterpieces have been featured on Homeworthy, The Today Show & HGTV, along with several custom videos created for The White House, archived on YouTube. She also has been quoted and published in several publications, including “Martha Stewart Living” for her award winning Halloween Decorations, “The Faith of America’s First Ladies”, by Jane Hampton Cook, “A Thousand Points of Light” by President George H.W. Bush’s Foundation, “Washingtonian’s Bride and Groom”, “Christmas at the White House” by Jennifer Pickens, “A Great Party” by Bryan Rafanelli, and countless media mentions across the globe.



Marianne Willburn is an opinion columnist for the American Horticultural Society’s The American Gardener, and the author of Tropical Plants and How to Love Them, and Big Dreams, Small Garden. She is a contributing editor at, and has spent her gardening life in places as diverse as California, the United Kingdom, and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.


She currently gardens in rural Northern Virginia and blogs at A regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens and other national gardening magazines, Marianne has been a newspaper columnist for over a decade, and is the recipient of several Gold and Silver Media Awards from Garden Communicators International for her column and books. She is  a graduate of the University College, London.

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Meredith Bishop is a native of Memphis and has lived in Nashville for 22 years. From childhood on, she discovered herself to be motivated by beauty in all its forms- art, music, literature and especially the natural world. In 2016, a move into a historic Nashville home on a larger property instigated a swap from strictly vegetable gardening to heirloom flowers started from seed, and the obsession, and her garden’s size, has grown ever since.

Meredith now operates an organic, cut-flower business called Bloom & Bounty from her 1 acre property on Woodmont Boulevard in Nashville, where she sells her sustainably-grown blooms to local florists as well as the public, leads educational workshops on indoor seedsowing,  permaculture, & sustainable gardening, educates local flower enthusiasts on how to grow their
own cut-flower gardens, & teaches floral arranging.

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Scott is the Manager of Botanical Garden Outreach at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. He is heavily involved in running the Zoo’s Botanical Garden educational programs and various plant trialing programs. Scott has published hundreds of articles and columns in several publications. Currently, he is a Partner in the Garden Rant blogsite and posts regularly. Scott also authors the Deep Roots and Garden Views columns for Horticulture Magazine. He'll come talk to your group if you ask.  He graduated with a BA in Communications from Xavier University. He is an ISA Certified Arborist and an ONLA Landscape Technician.

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Adam & Jenn O'Neal run Pepper Harrow Farm near Des Moines, Iowa. Their journey began with a shared passion for the outdoors. Adam, a Louisiana native, brought his love for nature from playing in the swamps of a nature preserve, and gardening in some of the most historic gardens in Middle Tennessee. Jenn, an Iowa native, inherited her love and knowledge for flowers from generations of her family’s matriarchs. Together, they nurtured their passion, co-founding PepperHarrow Farm and cultivating blooms on a 9-acre oasis.

Today, PepperHarrow Farm is more than just flowers.  The O'Neals are proud Master Gardeners and co-authors of the book "Small Farms, Big Dreams," published in April 2022 by BLOOM Imprint. The farm has been featured in numerous publications, such as Midwest Living and Better Homes and Gardens. 

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Bryce Lane is an Emmy award winner for his show "In the Garden with Bryce Lane."  After earning his BS in Plant Science at the University of Massachusetts and MS in Ornamental Horticulture at The Ohio State University, he became a lecturer in the  Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University in 1981. Bryce also served as the department’s Undergraduate Coordinator from 1987 -2014. He spent 34 years teaching and advising over 25,000 students.  He was the recipient of numerous local, regional, and national teaching awards. Bryce retired in 2014, but still teaches part-time in the department. From 2003- 2014 Bryce hosted and produced a three-time Emmy winning, UNC TV public television show called “In the Garden With Bryce Lane”. The show focused on all things home gardening and served all levels of gardeners.

He now spends his time giving horticulture talks, doing leadership and communication training, teaching part-time at NC State, and at the JC Raulston Arboretum. He also produces gardening videos on his YouTube channel: Power of Plants With Bryce Lane.
He has worked closely for years with North Carolina Extension and the NC Nursery and Landscape Association. An avid gardener, Bryce has gardened on the same one quarter acre plot for 40 years. He and his wife of 46 years also spend plenty of time with their 6 grandchildren!

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