Winter Symposium 2023

Winter Symposium

February 22, 2023 - February 22, 2023
Embassy Suites, Charleston, WV
300 Court Street
Charleston, WV

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.”

Thomas Jefferson’s love of Monticello resulted in a lifelong dedication to the gardens, landscapes, and views of his iconic Palladian villa. Restoring Jefferson’s gardens with accuracy requires rigorous research and careful preservation. 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.”

Using native plants requires more than simply expanding the conventional design palette. Based on observation of how native plants develop in nature, new design, implementation, and management techniques emerge, many of which are diametrically opposed to traditional horticultural practice. 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 past 9 years, Lisa Roper has managed the Gravel Garden at the renowned public garden Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania. A gently sloping site planted with a mix of fine textured grasses, gray-leafed Mediterranean plants, drought tolerant perennials, annuals grown from seed, and hardy succulents, the gravel garden is a stunning and unique landscape. Ms. Roper 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?” 

While much of the industry is focused on the latest and greatest, compact, spring blooming whatever, there’s a counter movement afoot. A movement that embraces a more natural look, a different pallet of plants all while creating beneficial habitat and food for pollinators. It seems like a no-brainer, but how do we capitalize on it?

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 some 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 have made 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 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.

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.