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

Stay tuned for additional 2018 speaker information!

2018 Speakers

Amy Stewart

Bestselling Author

Garden Topics:

Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants and Garden to Glass

Amy Stewart is the New York Times best-selling author of nine books, including Girl Waits with Gun and the rest of the Kopp Sisters series, which are based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. Her popular nonfiction titles include The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential.

You might’ve heard Amy on NPR’s Morning Edition or Fresh Air, or seen her profiled in such esteemed publications as the New York Times and Earthworm Digest. Her checkered television career includes CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, the PBS documentary The Botany of Desire, and–believe it or not– TLC’s Cake Boss. (The cake was delicious.)

Amy travels the country as a highly sought-after public speaker whose spirited lectures have inspired and entertained audiences at college campuses such as Cornell and Harvard, corporate offices like Google (where she served tequila and nearly broke the Internet), conferences and book festivals, botanical gardens, bookstores, and libraries nationwide.

Amy lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer. They own an independent bookstore called Eureka Books, which is so independent that it lives in California while they live in Oregon.

Jack Barnwell

Barnwell Landscape and Garden Services

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 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.

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. Plants and materials are brought to the Island by boat and moved on location by horse and bike power because of the complete motor vehicle ban on Mackinac Island. Jack has customized his work 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 decreases their impact on the environment.

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 commercial properties all over the United States.

At the end of a long day, Jack, his wife Karen, and their two sons enjoy watching the sunset, no matter which island they are on at the time…

Kerry Ann Mendez

Perennially Yours

Garden Topics:

Breakout session speaker

As an award-winning garden designer, author and lecturer, Kerry Ann Mendez focuses on time-saving gardening techniques, workhorse plants and sustainable practices. She has been on HGTV and in numerous magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes & Gardens.

Kerry Ann was awarded the 2014 Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for her horticultural accomplishments. She has published four popular gardening books, her most recent being, The Budget-Wise Gardener (February 2018). In 2016 Kerry Ann introduced National Gardening Webinars that are attended by thousands.

For more about Kerry Ann visit www.pyours.com.

EXCLUSIVE ADD-ON SEMINAR!  Sunday, August 26, 2018.

1:00 – 1:30 PM  Registration

1:30 – 4:30 PM  The Budget-Wise Gardener: Plant the Best for Less! Money-Saving Tips for Purchasing Plants Plus Cost-Saving Garden Designs AND Save the Pollinators: “Attractive” Landscapes for Pollinators and Homeowners.

To register for the Sunday afternoon add-on seminar, visit Proven Winners or call Cindy at 815-899-1973.

Marshall Dirks

Proven Winners ~ Event Emcee

Marshall Dirks will bring his enthusiasm, humor and 20+ years of experience with Proven Winners products to “center stage” at our 2018 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 have turned him into a passionate gardener!


Zeke Cooper

Cooper|Stewart Landscape Architecture

Garden Topics:

Breakout session speaker

Zeke C. Cooper is a National Award-Winning Landscape Architect based in Cherokee, North Carolina.  

Over the course of his career, Zeke has been fortunate to be able to work and learn from notable individuals and companies, such as Tom Fazio Golf Course Designers, ValleyCrest Landscape Development, Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon, and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, among others.  Currently, Zeke is a Partner & Principal at Cooper|Stewart Landscape Architecture, with his longtime business partner and mentor, Curtis E. Stewart.  

The past few years Zeke has worked on a variety of projects for high profile clients, been part of numerous National Award-Winning teams, while also being invited to speak at numerous Green Industry Events.  Within a short time, he has become a Thought Leader, Expert and Problem Solver throughout the Green Industry.  Quickly, Zeke has become a sought-after Consultant, offering different professional solutions to better your business.  His expertise includes: Creative, Sustainable Landscape Architecture & Design, Management & Organizational Structuring, Increasing Efficiency to Better Your Business and Innovative Landscape Management Plans. His company has been fortunate to provide design services for numerous botanical gardens, public/government projects and high-end resorts such as The Greenbrier Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Resort properties.

However, Zeke’s greatest accomplishments will always be becoming a husband to Krysta and father to their beautiful little girl, Granby Hattan.