Speakers

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

2019 Speakers

Jimmy Turner ~ Grand Closing Keynote Speaker

The Royal Botanic Garden ~ Sydney, Australia

Garden Topics:

Play with Your Plants!

Jimmy Turner is a self-proclaimed obsessive plant geek, garden writer, and lover of all things horticultural. He was appointed in 2013 as the Director of Horticulture Operations for the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, the Australian Botanic Garden, and Centennial Parklands. Previously, Jimmy enjoyed over a decade as the Senior Director of Gardens at the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden in Dallas, Texas where he honed his skills in Horticultural Display. Whilst there, he created the largest and one of the most successful plant trial programs in North America. You could often see him on local, state, and national news programs sharing his horticultural knowledge with humor and zest.

A native-born Texan who has worked in many fields across horticulture including farming, wholesale and retail nurseries, landscape design and maintenance, and botanical garden management, Jimmy received his M.Sc. in Ornamental Horticulture from The Pennsylvania State University. He considers horticulture to a calling not a career and is known for his fast-talking, passionate, and enthusiastic presentations. Jimmy firmly believes that subtlety isn’t an achievement.

He is known for having a flair for increasing visitor engagement with horticultural display by using “out-of-the-pot” thinking to increase awareness of plants. His vision has been realized again in his current “Plants With Bite” carnivorous plant exhibition in the Calyx at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Jimmy has become a social media influencer with one of the largest horticulture-based Twitter followings in the world. You can find him at @TexanInOz to share in his plant obsessions.


Paul Zammit ~ Keynote Speaker

Toronto Botanical Gardens ~ Canada

Garden Topics:

Container Gardening: Drama for Every Season

Paul Zammit, a graduate of the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) is the Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden. He is an energetic and passionate gardener and speaker who is much in demand and has been presenting across Canada and in the United States for over 25 years.

Paul has also presented internationally in Germany, Switzerland, Bermuda and most recently in South Africa. He has appeared on numerous occasions both on television and in print.  For the summers of 2016 through 2019, Paul has had a weekly gardening column providing gardening advice on the CBC Here and Now radio program.  In October of 2014, Paul lead a 10 day garden and food tour on the island of Sicily.  In July 2019, Paul co-lead a garden tour to South England. In February 2016, Paul and his wife participated in a week of gardening study at Great Dixter in England. In 2017, Garden Making magazine selected them both as two of Canada top 20 shaping gardens across Canada.

In 2019, Paul was awarded the garden Communicator of the Year by Landscape Ontario.


Laura LeBoutillier ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Garden Answer

Garden Topics:

Questions and Answers with Laura - moderated by Marshall Dirks

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 nearly half a million YouTube channel subscribers and her Facebook page has over 2.5 million followers. Combined, she’s received over half a billion 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!


Jack Barnwell ~ Grand Opening Speaker

Barnwell Landscape and Garden Services

Garden Topics:

The Rhythm of the 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 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…


Heidi Grasman ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Garden Crossings

Garden Topics:

New and Exciting Proven Winners® Plants for 2020

Heidi Grasman has been busy fostering her love for all kinds of plants over the past 25 years with her husband Rod. Together they have owned and managed Garden Crossings in Zeeland, MI since 2002.

Garden Crossings is a retail and mail order garden center and the provider of Proven Winners® plants on Proven Winners® website online store. Garden Crossings is known for offering the very best varieties that deliver proven garden performance. Their extensive line boasts over 1,000 annuals, perennials, shrubs, vegetables, succulents and they are always adding more to their offerings.

Heidi will be talking about new annuals, perennials, and shrubs that will be introduced in 2020. She will share her personal experience with growing these plants this summer and share tips on how you can incorporate them into your garden. Heidi’s hands-on experience in the garden helps her relate easily to other gardeners who are drawn to her passion for premium quality plants.


Natalie Carmolli ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Spring Meadow Nursery

Garden Topics:

Show-Stopping Shrubs and the Garden Roles They Play

Natalie is rooted in horticulture. When she was 6-years old her family moved to a farmhouse on 40 acres in mid-Michigan. This house was unique in that it had a full-sized glass greenhouse in the side yard – so of course her mother started a small seasonal business selling spring bedding plants, which quickly turned into a full service flower shop. Natalie grew up working in that shop – learning floral design and customer service; skills she’d take with her to college where she continued in the floral industry as she earned her degree in theatrical performance. So how does one combine a theatre degree and a lifetime immersed in horticulture? Now marketing specialist for Proven Winners® ColorChoice® flowering shrubs, Natalie can tell you that the communication skills she has learned in the theatre help her to express herself clearly and more confidently when talking to large groups about one of her favorite subjects…gardening.


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 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!