- Keynote Speaker
- Banquet Speaker
- Plenary Session Speakers
- Breakout Session Speakers
Dr. John Alex Floyd, Jr. is the former editor-in-chief and vice president of Southern Living magazine. A native of Selma, he earned a Bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture at Auburn before completing both a Master's degree and a doctorate in plant physiology at Clemson University. He first joined Birmingham-based Southern Progress Corporation, a subsidiary of Time Inc., in 1977 as a senior horticulturist and subsequently held leadership roles with several Southern Progress magazines, including Southern Living Classics, Southern Accents, Creative Ideas for Living and Cooking Light. His expertise in horticulture and landscape design made him a key member of several teams charged with the development of the Lakeshore Drive campus of Southern Progress. John is a trustee for the Birmingham Botanical Society and a past board member for the American Horticultural Society. In 2010 John was named Volunteer of the Year at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Dolores Hydock is an actress and storyteller whose story concerts and one-woman shows have been featured at conferences, festivals, and special events throughout the U.S. She has been a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and her eight CDs of original stories have all won Resource Awards from Storytelling World Magazine for excellence in story recordings. She tends a garden that includes a pomegranate bush, muscadine vines, 16 varieties of conifers, and way too much grass. The weeds are winning. In her spare time, she teaches Cajun and zydeco dancing.
Fred Spicer is executive director of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Alabama’s largest living museum, containing 25+ distinct gardens in naturalistic and interpretive styles, and 30+ works of original sculpture and garden art. Fred has more than 30 years in practice as a public garden administrator, landscape architect and nurseryman. He is a graduate of the Landscape Architecture program at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, N.J.), where he was an adjunct instructor with its Continuing Professional Education office for more than 15 years. Fred is an experienced lecturer and has spoken throughout the Northeast, Mid-West and Southeast to groups ranging from professionals and garden clubs to plant societies and home gardeners. He has written for a number of trade and home-gardening publications, and has appeared on numerous local and cable television programs, including Martha Stewart Living.
Robert “Buddy” Lee, the inventor of Encore Azalea®, has more than 30 years’ experience in nursery management, breeding, propagation and new plant development. Buddy has been active in numerous horticultural groups and presently serves on the boards of the International Plant Propagators Society-Southern Region and the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association. He is past president of the Azalea Society of America. His current role is Director of Plant Innovations at Plant Development Services, Inc. (PDSI) in Loxley, Alabama.
Sara Bright and Paulette Ogard have spent more than a decade locating, observing and documenting the life histories of more than 100 species of Southeastern butterflies. In 2010, their fieldwork culminated in the publication of “Butterflies of Alabama: Glimpses into Their Lives” by the University of Alabama Press. Through Bright’s photographs and Ogard’s words, the book chronicles the life histories of 84 species of Alabama butterflies and the plants on which they depend. The two continue to collaborate on butterfly-related projects.
Dr. Vasha Rosenblum taught elementary school for a number of years before becoming the first Education Coordinator for Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama. In this position she worked with public school teachers to develop curriculum-based field trips, the most popular being “Down to Earth: A Worm’s-Eye View of Soil Science.” Dr. Rosenblum held a position in the Cawaco RC&D Council for seven years where she helped implement a Heiffer International grant in which the “livestock” was red wiggler worms. She earned her Master Gardener certificate in 2003 and has taught the Junior Master Gardener program at Aldridge Gardens for seven years.
Dr. Jim Jacobi is employed with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System as an Extension Plant Pathologist. He has a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Vermont, an M.S. in Forest Pathology from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. For the last 11 years he has managed the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Sallie M. Lee grew up on a farm in the shadow of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and couldn’t wait to leave the farm. After a series of corporate jobs, she has returned to her horticultural roots as an Urban Regional Extension Agent with ACES specializing in Home Grounds, Gardens, and Home Pests for Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, and Walker Counties. She received her undergraduate degree from Longwood College, has an Associate degree in Horticulture from Bessemer State and an M.S. in Environmental Management from Samford University.
Nelson Wynn is a graduate of Alabama A&M University with a B.S. in Soil Science and an M.S. in Horticulture and has been with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service for 19 years. He specializes in Home Grounds, Gardens, and Home Pests and is based in the Shelby County ACES office.
John Manion is Curator of the Kaul Wildflower Garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a seven-acre abandoned quarry planted with the Garden’s primary collection of native plants. Prior to joining BBG, John was Historic Gardens Curator at the Atlanta History Center. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in plant science at the State University of New York at Cobleskill and a Master’s degree in Public Garden Leadership at Cornell University. John administers Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ program, the Certificate in Native Plant Studies.
Lois Trigg Chaplin was a gardening editor at Southern Living for 13 years and continues to wear many hats. She is the author and editor of many books, including “The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists” and “A Garden’s Blessings: Refreshment for the Soul” and is a popular trade show and seminar speaker. Lois is currently director of marketing for Bonnie Plant Farms and lives and gardens in Birmingham.
Betsy Fleenor has been an active gardener for many years. She's worked as a graphic designer and editor for a number of Birmingham non-profits, most recently for Hand-in-Paw, an animal-assisted therapy organization. She has volunteered at Birmingham Botanical Gardens for 10 years and worked as an assistant librarian in their horticultural library. For the last three years, she has helped lead the BBG Native Plant Group to annually provide over 5,000 native plants for the BBG plant sales.