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

Jimmy became Director of Horticultural Operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands in Sydney, Australia in the spring of 2013 from his role as Senior Director of Gardens for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.  A Texas native, he admits plants have always been a part of his life provoking an insatiable curiosity that led to him studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Ornamental Horticulture.

From there it was on to Pennsylvania State University to complete his Masters qualifications. Whilst working across many varied fields of horticulture in his career to date, Jimmy says that working in a public garden has always been his ultimate goal and working at the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Paul Zammit ~ Main Session Speaker

Toronto Botanical Gardens ~ Canada

Paul Zammit, is the Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden. He is a regular speaker at garden clubs and horticultural trade shows inspiring audiences across Canada and in the United States. In recent years, Paul has presented in Germany, Switzerland and Bermuda.

Paul and Uli’s home garden has been featured in Canadian Living, Gardening LifeCanadian Gardening and Gardening How-To.  His personal garden was awarded first place in the environmental garden category in the 2001 City of Toronto Garden Contest followed by an award in 2003 for the Best Use of Plant Material in the City of Toronto West District Garden Contest.

Paul’s container designs have also been showcased in numerous gardening magazines.  Most recently, on the cover of the May 2011 issue of Canadian Gardening. Paul has been awarded the Young Professionals award by the Perennial Plant Association.  In 2010, he was the recipient of an Industry Service Award.


Laura LeBoutillier ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Garden Answer

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 Keynote Speaker

Barnwell Landscape and Garden Services

Garden Topics:

Gardening Life on Mackinac Island and the People That Make It

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…


Shannon Downey ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Spring Meadow

Garden Topics:

Proven Winners Shrubs

Shannon works in marketing and new plant development for our shrub partner company, Spring Meadow. She will be speaking on both new and old Proven Winners’ shrub favorites. Shannon’s favorite plant variety is Aphrodite. She will keep you on the edge of your seat with her knowledge of shrubs and quick wit!


Heidi Grasman ~ Breakout Session Speaker

Garden Crossings

Garden Topics:

Proven Winners New Introductions

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.


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!