Step back in time, and step onto the Grand Island of Mackinac as you listen and learn from our inspirational speakers.

2017 Speakers

Laura LeBoutillier

Garden Answer

Garden Topics:

Gardening to Attract Birds!

Laura LeBoutillier is quite simply an emerging force in the field of gardening. She started Garden Answer in 2014, a YouTube how-to gardening vlog filled with style, expertise, and helpful gardening knowledge.

From the time she was a child, Laura was surrounded by her Ontario, Oregon family garden and family business, Andrew’s Seed Co.

Today, she has attracted 87,000 YouTube channel subscribers and has generated 7.5 million views of her gardening videos. And her Facebook page has over 125 million followers with over 50 million video views. She is quite the sensation in just a short period of time and these numbers are continually growing!

She can’t wait to meet you, chat about all things Earthy, and share some of her expertise with you first-hand!

P. Allen Smith


P. Allen Smith, an author, television host, and conservationist, is one of America’s most recognized garden and design experts.

Smith has received numerous awards for his television shows. Garden Home airs on public television, and Garden Style is in syndication. In 2015, Smith was inducted into the Taste Hall of Fame for his significant impact in the world of taste and broadcast entertainment.

He attended Hendrix College and received a Rotary International Scholarship to study garden design and history at the University of Manchester in England, where he also studied English gardens that had been visited by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century.

Smith is a former Board Member of the Royal Oak Foundation and has contributed to preservation efforts at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and George Washington’s Mount Vernon among other historic properties. He is a Certified Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and is an Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America. Smith received the Garden Club of America’s “Medal of Honor” in 2006 at the GCA’s 93rd Annual Meeting Awards Dinner in Denver, Colorado.

Inspired by a childhood spent on the farm raising and showing livestock and poultry, he has led a life of promoting good stewardship of the earth. In 2009 Smith founded the Heritage Poultry Conservancy, an organization dedicated to the preservation and support of all threatened breeds of domestic poultry. 

Smith uses his Arkansas Home, Moss Mountain Farm,as an epicenter for promoting the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds. He created his farm to serve as a place of inspiration, education and conservation and provides visitors from around the country with tours of his property.


Jack Barnwell

Barnwell Landscape and Garden Services

Garden Topics:

Let's Design a Garden!

Jack Barnwell is an award winning garden designer, author, and owner of C3 Gardens of Southwest Florida as well as Barnwell Landscape and Garden based on the small Northern Michigan island of Mackinac. As owner of Barnwell Landscape and Garden Inc., Jack has over twenty years of experience creating breathtaking commercial and private garden displays on one of the world’s premier summer vacation destinations. His newest venture with Partner, Tom Smith is already gaining recognition as one of the most exciting new companies in the Naples/Marco Island area of Florida.

Barnwell Landscape and Garden is responsible for the annual planting and maintenance of thousands of flats of flowers. They handle complete landscape installations, and specialize in innovative annual displays in garden beds, containers, and window boxes. Because of the complete motor vehicle ban on Mackinac Island, all of Jack’s landscape construction must be done without the use of trucks and machinery. Plants and materials are brought to the Island by boat and moved on location by horse and bike power. Jack’s ability to embrace these circumstances and be inspired within this context contributes to the unique beauty of this rare gem of an island. Jack has taken this experience and customized it for the Southwest Florida climate and market. C3 Gardens also maintains many of their clients’ plantings by bicycle as they have found that this not only provides a more efficient means of transport, but significantly decreases their impact on the environment.

His plantings received top honors at the Cincinnati Flower Show, taking home an award for Best in Show. Jack’s work has been featured in many publications, including Landscape Management Magazine. As a consultant for Proven Winners, Jack contributes to the design of beautiful gardens at prestigious commercial properties all over the United States. Jack’s first book, An Introduction to the Gardens of Mackinac Island, was published in the spring of 2013. He is currently working on his second book, Container Garden Recipes for Porch, Pool, and Patio. This second book will read like a cookbook and include many of his favorite designs.

At the end of a long day, Jack, his wife Karen, and their son Reed enjoy watching the sun set, no matter which island they are on at the time…

Tim Wood

Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc.

Garden Topics:

The Hunt for Better Plants

Tim works for Spring Meadow Nursery and travels the world looking for new plants for the Proven Winners plant brand. He is a 3rd generation plants-man that started on his father’s nursery at 8. Tired of hard work he set off to Michigan State and Youngstown St. His on the job training came at Longwood Gardens, The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Kingwood Center & Zelenka Nursery. Tim would say  that “then with a bit of luck, I landed the ‘sweet job’ at Spring Meadow”. He has articles and photographs in nursery and gardening magazines, has hosted a radio show and published 3 books; Tree and Shrub Gardening for Michigan, The Best Garden Plants and Gardening Month by Month. Tim has a passion to share his love and knowledge of plants with others – that’s you!

John Gaydos

Proven Winners

Garden Topics:

Bringing New Plants to your Garden! - The Why and How of New and Innovative Plants

John Gaydos joined Proven Winners in 1998. In his present role, he is responsible for product development and promotion of the Proven Winners line, and acts as the company’s spokesperson at trade shows, conferences and industry events. Gaydos is the main contact for cultural information, new product development and variety testing. He also serves as the liaison for information exchange between Proven Winners members and the industry.

A graduate of the Ohio State University, John brings more than 40 years of horticultural experience with hands on knowledge of all aspects of the industry, from crop production through retail sales.  His passion is innovation, whether in plants, production, marketing or management.  He has stays involved with the industry through his roles with the Ohio Florist Association (AmericanHort), The Ohio State Hort Alumni association, Floriculture Foundation and various other national horticultural organizations.  He resides in Rochester Michigan.

Valerie Rollins

Four Star Greenhouse

Garden Topics:

Do-It-Yourself Herbs

Valerie Rollins has been in the Proven Winners family since she began selling their products over 16 years ago.  With a down to earth approach she shares her passion and knowledge with greenhouse growers and garden centers nationwide.

Growing up on a working farm in central NH she learned the value of building personal relationships with all of her customers.  Valerie discovered her passion for gardening early on while helping her family with their farm and greenhouse business where they grew and sold herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes. From then on Valerie planted her own seeds that would later turn into a successful career with Four Star Greenhouse in Michigan as their Northeast Regional Sales Representative.

Today, Valerie inspires people by listening to their needs and offering answers that yield successful results.

Marshall Dirks

Proven Winners

Garden Topics:

Event Emcee

Marshall Dirks will bring his enthusiasm, humor and 20+ years of experience with Proven Winners products to “center stage” at our 2016 Grand Garden Show.  As the second employee hired by Proven Winners, he is excellent at keeping all of our speakers on their toes and on time! Technically in charge of marketing and public relations, all the plant geeks who surround him are turning him into a passionate gardener!