2023 Winter Symposium

2023 Winter Symposium

February 22, 2023 - February 22, 2023
Embassy Suites
300 Court St
Charleston, WV 25301

Mark February 22 on your calendar for our 2023 Winter Symposium at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. The dual-track format assures something for everyone, with one track focusing on landscape design and the other on business issues.

Design side topics include the preservation of historic plants at Monticello, ecological design in traditional landscapes, the gravel garden at Chanticleer and perennial powerhouses.

Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello, will present “Preserving Plants from the Past—Monticello’s Historic Landscape.”

Peggy’s presentation features the many varieties—from historic tulips and ancient roses to heirloom fruits, vegetables, and herbs—that have been collected, propagated, and preserved in the gardens at Monticello today.

Larry Werner, principal and founder of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, will present “Breaking the Rules: Ecological Landscape Design and Traditional Landscape Methodology.”

Larry’s presentation examines how alternative approaches on everything from selecting, arranging, and spacing plants to the simple act of weeding can yield more easily maintained landscapes that express the beauty and ecological richness of our native landscapes.

Lisa Roper, horticulturist at Chanticleer Gardens, will take us through “The Evolution of Chanticleer’s Gravel Garden.”

For the years, Lisa Roper has managed the Gravel Garden at the renowned public garden Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Lisa will discuss how form, texture, color,and rhythm are carefully considered in her design choices. She will introduce some of her favorite plants, cover planting techniques, the importance of “editing,” and the technique of using photography to inform design decisions.

Paul Westervelt, annual and perennial production manager and head grower at Saunders Brothers, Inc, will discuss “Are These Plants Better, or Just New?” 

With so many new perennials released every year, it can be difficult to distinguish legitimately better cultivars from those that are simply marketable. Through production trials, garden visits, vendor visits and collaboration with other growers, Paul works to select the best form the rest.

Our Business Track speakers have been selected to meet the unique needs of West Virginia’s green industry businesses.

Business Coaching: Speakers from the West Virginia Small Business Development Center specialize in business coaching to encourage the success of small businesses in West Virginia. They provide expert advice on everything from marketing, business management and planning, human resources, succession planning, cyber security, financial analysis, government contracting and technology commercialization. With so many resources available, they want to be sure to hit the issues most relevant to YOU. So, please, email Julie Robinson at with the topics you want to hear. This is your chance to tailor the discussion to your needs.

Electric vs Gas Equipment: As administrators and politicians push for electric-powered equipment usage, some cities and municipalities are mandating electric-powered landscape equipment. A representative of Stihl will fill us in on the benefits of both and where the industry is headed with this equipment.

Workforce Development: Recently, WVNLA has been working on many levels to develop green industry employees. We’ve made presentations to high school agriculture and career and tech students, created videos and presentation materials, developed a lawn and landscape training course through the National Guard to present to Jobs & Hope participants and others and developed a “Landscape Technician Boot Camp,” a 40-hour course to be offered at community and technical colleges throughout the state. Hear all about it from the folks who are making it happen: Michael Biafore, chairman of WVNLA’s Workforce Development Committee and president of Biafore’s Landscape Development; Cindy Bailey, director of economic development for the West Virginia National Guard; and Scott Byars, WVNG trainer, former WVU Extension Service agent and landscape business owner.

Before the sessions begin at 9:30 a.m., WVNLA will sponsor an Member’s Annual Breakfast Meeting at 8:30 a.m, also at Embassy Suites. The morning meeting is a change from the Annual Member’s Meeting, which is typically held at the Symposium’s conclusion.

Vendors tables will be set up in the main meeting and lunch space for attendees to visit. If you  would like to reserve a vendor’s table at $20, please contact Julie Robinson

Registration will open in December. Cost to attend is $50 for WVNLA members and $100 for non-members and includes lunch. Contact Julie Robinson at or 304-553-1234.