Speakers Series

Come listen to some of the foremost garden experts in our area and the Southeast! The Sacred Heart Garden Festival has welcomed many garden experts over the years, offering visitors how-to demonstrations as well as tips and tricks to add more splendor to their own gardens.

We invite you to learn from their wealth of knowledge and experience through educational seminars and interactive demonstrations on many garden-related topics.

Please scroll down for the speaker schedule.

Speaker Schedule for 2018

Friday April 20
9:30 AM

Robert "Buddy" Lee, inventor of Encore Azaleas

Trialed and Trusted Plants, Distinctly Southern
11:00 AM

Mark D. McConnell, PhD, Wildlife Specialist, UGA

Pollinators in a Changing Landscape
Saturday April 21
9:30 AM

Chris VanCleave, Redneck Rosarian

Roses for the Real World
11:00 AM

Amanda McNulty, Host of SCETV "Making it Grow!"

Planting a Tree for the Future

Friday April 20

Robert "Buddy: Lee, Inventor of Encore Azaleas

Trialed and Trusted Plants, Distinctly Southern
Friday, April 20, 9:30 AM

Well-known plant breeder and inventor Buddy Lee introduces us to the newest plant innovations from the Southern Living Plant Collection, beautiful plants developed in partnership with the editors of Southern Living. Southern Living plants are so much more than just a brand name on a label. Selected for our Southern climate, they are durable, bloom bigger and longer and offer foliage as stunning and healthy as the blooms. Buddy will share proper placement, planting and care tips, plus where to find easy garden plans, to ensure your gardening success.

Robert “Buddy” Lee, the inventor of Encore® Azalea, the world’s best-selling reblooming azalea, has more than 30 years’ experience in nursery management, breeding, propagation, and new plant development. Buddy currently serves as Director of Plant Innovations for Plant Development Services, the introducers of Encore Azalea, the Southern Living® Plant Collection, and the new Sunset Western Garden Collection. Buddy has been active in numerous horticultural groups and presently is serving as board member of IPPS-SR (International Plant Propagators Society – Southern Region) and of the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association. He is past president of The Azalea Society of America.

Mark McConnell,PhD Wildlife Specialist, University of Georgia

Pollinators in a Changing Landscape
Friday, April 21, 11:00 AM

Mark McConnell is the Wildlife Outreach Specialist in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. His research program focuses primarily on integrating profitable wildlife management solutions in working landscapes. He is an avid bird hunter, mediocre dog trainer, and even worse fly-fisherman.

Saturday April 22

Chris VanCleave, America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Roses for the Real World
Saturday, April 21, 9:30 AM

America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. A grower of roses "most of his life", he is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President.
In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at About.com, in various magazines and on his popular website; RedneckRosarian.com, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening.

Amanda McNulty, Host of SCETV Making it Grow!

Planting a Tree for the Future
Saturday, April 21, 11:00 AM

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.

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