InVigorateU is an annual education conference that not only offers great sessions and CEUs, but also offers a chance to reflect on what worked this season and collaborate with peers about what you might want to do differently in the next to get stronger results.
We’ve invited an esteemed lineup of industry professionals and thought leaders to challenge us and plant new seeds. The emphasis of the sessions will be on plants but the content will be presented from many different perspectives, offering something for all segments including landscape professionals, nursery and greenhouse operations, garden centers. There are even sessions for irrigation contractors to stay current on standards and share best practices.
What makes this event special is the time allocated to networking with peers, which is the secret to our industry thriving long-term. The real value of these events is in shared experiences and strengthening connections that can offer support during the busy season.
Carlin Horticultural Supplies
First Editions Shrubs and Trees
Forrest Keeling Nursery
Hoffie Nursery Inc
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Kankakee Nursery Co
Martenson Turf Products
National Nursery Products
Proven Winners ColorChoice
Russo Power Equipment
Spring Grove Nursery
St. Louis Composting
The Davey Tree Expert Company
The Fields on Caton Farm
The Morton Arboretum / CRTI
The Pizzo Group
Wilson Nurseries & Landscape Supply, Inc
Committee Chair: Pete Worth, Kankakee Nursery Co Association Chair: Meagan Provencher, Wasco Nursery & Garden Center Board Liaison: Ryan Heitman, The Fisher Burton Company
Kevin Collins, Chalet
Kim Hartmann, Rosborough Partners
Lauren Howell, Stuber Land Design
Abby Jacobs, Home Nursery Inc
Cathy Schroeder, Mariani Plants
Devon Kane, SiteOne Landscape Supply
“InVigorateU is a phenomenal learning experience for everyone – regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry. The environment is very friendly, and my team always leaves the event feeling inspired.”
Platt Hill Nursery
“InVigorateU says it all in the name. It is one of the first conferences of the season and doesn’t disappoint. It is so inspiring to see all your colleagues, see plants, and hear speakers that put you in the spirit of spring.”
Austin Eischeid Garden Design LLC
“I love learning from leading green industry professionals who have a wealth of knowledge to share! Whether you’re interested in networking, discovering research and best practices, or brainstorming new ideas, InVigorateU will leave you inspired for the future!”
Spring Grove Nursery
“Participating in InVigorateU is a great way to kick off a new season. From seeing other industry professionals to the great speakers & sessions, InVigorateU does not disappoint!”
Date: January 16, 2024
Time: 8:30am Gardens for our Changing Climate Presenter: Jeff Epping, Olbrich Botanical Gardens
In these challenging times of climate change and global warming, environmentally conscious gardeners are looking for better ways to garden to help cool the planet. Water guzzling, chemically dependent, pollution causing lawns are not sustainable and can be replaced with so many better alternatives. One such alternative is earth-friendly gravel gardens that require little water, no fertilizer or other chemicals, no organic mulches and require less time and money to maintain. This garden system utilizes drought tolerant perennials, most of which are natives that support native fauna. Don’t confuse these gardens with traditional rock or alpine gardens that can look more rocky than green and require a great deal of time to maintain. These resilient gardens are as colorful as any perennial planting around, provide food and habit for pollinators and other insects and require up to 80% less maintenance than a traditional perennial planting. Gravel gardens are not only good for the planet but are also beautiful – a key element in persuading gardeners to reduce or give up their lawns for something better.
Date: January 17, 2024
Time: 8:30am Underused Trees & Shrubs for More Interesting Landscapes Presenter: Scott Beuerlein, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Underused plants, like new introductions, keep landscapes fresh, new, and exciting for your clients. Just as importantly, maybe more so, they keep things interesting for you and your team. Learning the plants and the stories behind them is engaging to any bright mind. While it may vary from project to project, a certain percentage of every landscape should include plants that are new and even sometimes experimental. This is how you grow your plant palette and build nuance and personality into your designs. All of the plants in this talk will be somewhat to very seldom used in landscapes. All will be generally available. Some will be adaptable to a wide variety of conditions, while others will be good choices for specific sites.
Plants Day Sessions – January 16, 2024
9:45am Planning & Planting for the Future Presenter: Chad Rigsby, Bartlett Tree Experts
We will revisit the basics of selecting and planting trees and shrubs, but will focus on plant selection in the context of climate change. What species should we be selecting? For what time scale are we planning? How do we select plants for an uncertain future?
11:00am Bad Ass Trees for Piss Poor Places Presenter: Scott Beuerlein, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Originally titled “Good Trees for Bad Places,” it was determined by a committee of sobriety-challenged but internationally renowned horticulturists that the name needed an upgrade. The trees in this talk are survivors. They laugh at incorrect planting technique, scoff at mulch volcanoes, mock bad pruning cuts, and smirk at poor maintenance practices. They ask for poor soil. They taunt droughts. They are sometimes even found growing out of old toilets in piles of rubble from burned out crack houses. Sure, some of the usual suspects, but also a bunch you probably don’t know or didn’t realize. Enjoy this romp through trees so ornery they’ll resist the worst that is hurled at them and be there to shade your children’s children’s children.
After lunch, attendees will gather at the main tables in the large conference room where the Plants Day speakers will be featured. Each table will be marked with a topic and hosted by a moderator. Participants will have an opportunity to select the topic of their choice and participate in 20 minutes of moderated discussion. At the 20-minute mark, you’ll be prompted to move to another table featuring another topic of discussion. At the conclusion of the session, everyone will have participated in three total topics. Exhibitors & sponsors are highly encouraged to participate in the round table sessions, as this is where a lot of interaction and networking occurs. This is a great chance to make important connections with other industry leaders, so bring your business cards!
Topic #1 – If you like this shrub, try this native or nativar; Moderator: Kevin Collins, Chalet
Topic #2 – Utilizing internship programs to identify and fast-track future leaders; Moderator: Lauren, Stuber Land Design
Topic #3 – Is demand softening, is it time to sell again?; Moderator: Kim Hartmann, Rosborough Partners
Topic #4 – Working with re-wholesalers, what growers need to know and upcoming trends; Moderator: Eric Boetcher, Lurvey
Topic #5 – Groundcovers as a turf alternative; Moderator: Meghan Kohlmann, Midwest Groundcovers
Topic #6 – Promoting your value over the big box stores; Moderator: Devon Kane, SiteOne Landscape Supply
Topic #7 – Great Design Starts with Asking the Right Questions; Moderator: Meagan Provencher, Wasco Nursery & Garden Center
Topic #8 – Is the B&B market shifting to container?; Moderator: Pete Worth, Kankakee Nursery Co
Topic #9 – Ways wholesale growers can help retailers thrive; Moderator: Matt Fredrickson, Hampshire Farms
Topic #10 – Recruiting people into the green industry; Moderator: Dave Kopsell, Illinois State University
2:30pm Acknowledging Your Roots: The Idiosyncrasies of the Midwest Presenter: Ed Lyon, Reiman Gardens
Why write a book specific to the Midwest? Because it is a region unlike any other in the country and presents its own set of challenges. If you read national gardening magazines, you have probably been frustrated when much of the information is not applicable to your situation. Simply acknowledging it won’t make you a successful gardening. Knowing what the differences are and the background behind them will switch on a light bulb for you. Knowledge truly is power and when you know the specifics behind the unique characteristics of our region, it will provide you with valuable background of how to use the information to be a successful gardener.
3:45pm Cultivating Plants: Understanding the Need for Improved Characteristics (panel)
Description: Have you ever wondered why certain species are selected for research and adaptation to become a cultivar? When is it appropriate to select a cultivar for a space instead of a native? With so much emphasis on diversifying the plant palette, where do cultivars fit? Natives are a critical part of the landscape and we want to use them when possible, but breeders have spent years developing adaptations to straight species to help them thrive in tough conditions. In this session, we’ll demystify the terminology, explain the rationale behind why certain plants are chosen, provide understanding of the plant development process, and offer examples of great plants that should be in your consideration set.
6:00pm-9:30pm Social Event
After a day of invigorating sessions, grab your smartest (or most fun) friends and see if you have what it takes to win the night during trivia. This year, all trivia categories will be horticulturally-related, but don’t worry, there is something for everyone so you don’t have to be a plant geek to be victorious! Registration is required! It is not included in your conference registration.
Breakout Sessions – January 17, 2024
On day two, participants are invited to move freely in and out of the breakout sessions that are of greatest interest. There will be twelve total sessions in three different rooms. You are not required to stay within one learning track for the entire day. ‘Choose your own adventure’ and move from room to room to ensure you gather information that will be most useful for your role on the job.
Hidden Treasures: Herbaceous Plants you should use more often Presenters: Nikki Melin, Shannon McEnerney, Midwest Groundcovers, LLC
In this session, Nikki and Shannon will review great plants that are underutilized in the landscape, sharing the attributes and characteristics that make these plants a must for the Midwest landscape.
Caught with Your Plants Down: Landscape Diagnostics Presenter: Janna Beckerman, Purdue University
It’s been another tough year for diseases in the landscape. Again, we find ourselves dealing with challenges that are tough to diagnose and ever harder to explain to the customer. It also seems these issues are more active some years than others. Dr. Beckerman will present an overview of the issues we saw in 2023 and how we can be more successful in managing them.
Going Native: A Balanced Perspective Presenter: Ed Lyon, Reiman Gardens
A recent noble gardening trend is a movement to using native perennials, trees and shrubs in the home garden. However, most home landscapes have changed considerably from the cultural conditions that were originally indigenous to the site and the honorable push to support this movement tends to highlight the idyllic without education that addresses reality. Many worthy garden movements have failed due to oversimplifying information, resulting in unhappy homeowners who revert to a simpler form of gardening – or abandon gardening altogether – when these new trends fail to work. Go native, what might this mean to you as professional and educator? This talk will attempt to balance the real-life challenges with the benefits of the native plant movement.
Trees & Shrubs for Pollinators Presenter: Heather Prince
Discover the many trees and shrubs that are larval hosts to a wide array of butterflies and moths as well as attractive to bees and other pollinators. Many clients are requesting pollinator plants in designs and landscapes. Go beyond our favorite flowers and dive into the surprising world of Lepidoptera that depend on woody plants. Find out how your plant choices can welcome common favorites like tiger swallowtails and unusual beauties such as American snout butterflies in this information-packed session.
Favorite American Plants of European Gardeners Presenter: Jeff Epping
The hottest garden designers in the world are crazy about our American native plants – Piet Oudolf, Nigel Dunnett, and James Hitchmough, to name a few, incorporate scads of plant species that grow naturally all around us. What do they see that we don’t? Why is Doug Tallamy calling on home gardeners to join his Homegrown National Park movement and plant more natives? Join Jeff Epping in taking a second look at some of our best native trees, shrubs, perennials and ephemerals and how he and other gardeners are incorporating more natives into their existing gardens of non-native plants to create beautiful and ecologically functional gardens.
How to Identify and Manage Plant Diseases during Plant Selection and Installation Presenter: Stephanie Adams
Description Coming Soon
Designing for Curb Appeal Presenter: Vallari Talapatra
Vallari has been conducting “Curb Appeal Design” workshops for the Morton Arboretum for just over a decade now and it has made her aware of some of the challenges that homeowners have in their front yards. Vallari will present some of the common issues and discuss how to design for them using both hardscape and plants. Being more site specific and honoring the architecture while getting the most functionality from the front yards is something that all of us strive for. She wants to make sure that she is transferring her experiences to others in the landscape industry that are transforming front yards everyday.
BFD: Boring Fungicide Details Presenter: Janna Beckerman, Purdue University
Boring fungicides details are a BFD. Now that I have your attention, let me explain: Understanding the details allows you to determine the right fungicide to use and when to use it to effectively manage diseases on all your landscape plants. We’ll discuss the most common diseases and their management, with a focus on fungicides. If that isn’t a BFD, I don’t know what is.
Ornamental Grasses – New, Old, and in the Future Presenter: Brent Horvath
Find out more about ornamental grasses from a breeder and grower of perennials for 32 years. From favorites to new to the future of ornamental grasses.
Easy Edible Landscaping Presenter: Lisa Hilgenberg
The garden to table movement is here to stay. Learn practical ways to incorporate interesting edible plants, fruiting trees and shrubs into all gardens and every landscape client’s project. We will highlight tried- and- true varieties including the most ornamental combinations and the newest dwarf varieties for seasonally interesting beauty and plentiful harvests. Inspiration and fresh ideas on design and pro planting tips to extend your fruit and vegetable gardening knowledge.
What Impacts Decision-Making in Plant Production
Have you ever wondered how growers decide what product lines to add to the mix or even phase out completely? What factors dictate what sizes, species, packaging, etc. is offered and how does that change over time? With so much technology evolving so quickly and pressure to become more efficient and sustainable, yet inputs rising on all fronts, how does a grower determine what new practices are economically feasible to adopt? In this session, you’ll hear stories from three growers as they share how their operations have evolved, discuss circumstances that led to certain changes, and offer their thoughts on things to be mindful of in the future.
Cultivating Excellence for Plant Health in the Landscape
Join our panel of seasoned industry professionals as they present their perspective on plant challenges from real-world situations. Learn how a single choice, made at the right time in the life of the plant, can be the difference between a thriving landscape and one that is riddled with problems. They will challenge all of us to think about ways we can set plants up for success in the landscape.