Speakers

Our organization strives to bring some of the best presenters from all over the world.

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BRANDON BRANCH

Brandon was born and raised on a farm in south Mississippi, and he has been decorating,
polishing, and enhancing his surroundings as far back as he can recall. He currently resides at the historic St. Francisville Inn with his husband, Jim. Mr. Branch has a degree in Horticulture from Mississippi State University and a great passion for gardening.

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LAURA DOWLING

After a career in public policy and strategic communication, Ms. Dowling studied at L’Ecole des Fleurs in Paris, learning French floral techniques. She became a floral designer and was selected to serve as Chief
Floral Designer at the White House, where she managed thousands of official and private events. Her innovative design aesthetic using lush and vibrant seasonal blooms can be seen in her books, Floral Diplomacy at the White House, A White House Christmas, and Bouquets: With How to Tutorials.

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KEITH EGGENER

Keith Eggener is currently Marion Dean Ross Distinguished Professor of Architectural History at the University of Oregon. Previously, he taught at the University of Missouri, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and Carleton College. He is the author of the books Luis Barragán's Gardens of El Pedregal and Cemeteries (part of a series from the US Library of Congress) and of essays, reviews, book chapters, and video scripts about art, architecture, landscape, urban design, cinema, photography, and material culture, primarily of 20th century Mexico and the United States. His work has been featured in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), Winterthur Portfolio, the Journal of Architectural Education, American Art, Places, TEDX, The Atlantic, 99% Invisible, and many other academic and popular forums. Eggener edited the widely used anthology American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader and has been on the editorial or advisory boards of the 60-volume Buildings of the United States series, the JSAH, Places Journal, the Foro de Historia y Critica de la Arquitectura Moderna, the AMSJ: American Studies Journal, and other publications and organizations. Between 2018 and 2020, he was editor-in-chief of the JSAH. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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JENKS FARMER

A tenth generation South Carolinian, Jenks Farmer grew up on a romantic but failing 1750’s farm filled with heirloom flowers. His studies at Clemson University, University of Zambia, and Seattle’s Center for
Urban Horticulture earned him a master’s degree in public garden management. After working at three major public gardens, he returned to the family farm where he created a unique mail order nursery. The author of two books, his work has been featured in such publications as Garden and Gun, and Southern Living.

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ELLEN KENNON

After hearing Native American Chief Sun Bear give a lecture on living in harmony with nature, interior designer Ellen Kennon relocated to St. Francisville from Manhattan where she was head of interiors
for Architect/Designer Peter Marino, whose clients included Valentino, Yves St. Laurent and Calvin Klein. She reconnected with Mother Nature by designing and building a little cabin in the woods where she was inspired to create her line of Full Spectrum Paints featured in numerous national publications including Architectural Digest, and House Beautiful Magazine. House Beautiful’s articles have featured Ellen as one of “twelve major players in design” and “three of the best color consultants”. Ellen will show us how to bring the energy of color and nature into our homes to create healing environments.

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CAROL REESE

Carol Reese is an Extension Horticulture Specialist housed at the University of Tennessee’s West Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center in Jackson, TN. She is a nationally known speaker, blending equal parts gardening knowledge, natural lore, and quirky humor. Carol is the gardening and nature columnist for several newspapers, as well as a contributor to several gardening magazines. She was the Q&A columnist for Horticulture Magazine for several years. Her B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture are from Mississippi State University, and she could also add her PH.D. if she “had ever written that damn dissertation!” While there, she taught classes in Plant Materials,, and co-taught Landscape Design for non-LA majors alongside a “real” landscape architect. She attributes her love of horticulture to being raised on a farm by generations of plant nuts, including a grandfather who dynamited his garden spot each spring to “break up his hard pan.” Carol’s very personal appreciation of natural lore is at least partially a result of her near daily rambles through the wild areas near her home with her motley collection of mutts, also known as the strong-willed breed of “Amalgamations.”

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SUSAN ROLAND

Mother-daughter team Cheri McDaniel and Susan Roland have collaborated on design projects for more than half a century, Cheri building more than 400 homes in her career, Susan founding and managing Fireside Antiques since 1982.  Susan’s husband Jimbo manages the fields and barns.