SYMPOSIUM: Saturday, March 2, 2019
JUST US: Mad Gardeners Working with the Land, Part 1

at HVRHS, Falls Village, CT

NOTE: There will be a 1 HOUR delay due to weather. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

Download the BROCHURE to register! (photo by Catharine Cooke)

NOTE:To register after February 26, call 860-355-1547 or email to Registration at the door is usually possible but depends on enrollment. Same day enrollment may not include lunch.

Featured speakers include:

Helen Dimos: Evolution of a Designer’s Personal Garden
Helen will talk about how her garden evolved after moving in 1995 from New York City to a 2.5 acre property in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The property contains an intact colonial saltbox listed on the National Register of Historic Places and situated on lovely open land.

Catharine Cooke: One Designer’s Process
Design....What does that word mean, what does it mean to be a “Landscape Designer”? To me, it means to be aware of the whole. Not one plant, not one garden, not one tree, not one patio. It is a process of absorbing the whole picture: the land, the architecture, the surrounding area and/or neighborhood, and then, taking it all apart. What is this process? How does it happen? ‘Designer’s block’? (hint—yes, it exists) How photos help—a lot. What is de-construction & why does it matter? I will attempt to explain what this means to me as a landscape designer; both with hardscaping and garden design. I will take you through some projects that were easy and not easy and share my mistakes and successes.
“Artists...can see patterns and details and connections that other people, dis-tracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.” —Jay-Z

Laura Rissolo: Becoming Wild

More than I make gardens, I am made by the garden. Landscape provides us with our humanness, our wildness. Regardless. If we cannot act wildly—with innate integrity and within healthy boundarsies—nature shifts and provides us limits. This talk will realize the wild as guide to balanced gardening.

Click on the image below to download the symposium flyer & registration form:
2019 Symposium

To register after February 26, call 860-355-1547 or email to Registration at the door is usually possible but depends on enrollment. Same day enrollment may not include lunch.

Recertification credits: NOFA and APLD will each credit 4 CEU’s for this symposium. DEEP authorized 3 credits each for Connecticut private applicator (PA), ornamentals and turf (3A), and arborist (3D) licenses. Check this website or contact Eileen Mulvihill,, to check on other approvals.

CIPWG SYMPOSIUM: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018

Invasive Plants in Uncertain Times: Achieving More with Less

8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Student Union, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Presented by the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG), co-hosted by Mad Gardeners

Online registration for the CIPWG symposium is now available. Visit the CIPWG website or click HERE to register online, to view the symposium program and find directions.

REGISTRATION FEE: $65 – REGULAR; $25 – STUDENT (must bring current ID)

This 9th biennial conference features national, regional, and local experts as well as citizen volunteers sharing practical solutions for invasive plant management and actions needed to promote native species and improve wildlife habitat. The symposium is open to the public and will include introductory information about invasive plants. People with all levels of interest and experience are invited to attend.

Keynote speaker Judy Preston, Long Island Sound Connecticut Outreach Program Coordinator, Connecticut Sea Grant, will present, “Raising the Bar on Sustainability: Transcending the Gardener.”

Concurrent afternoon sessions will include:

  • Introduction to Invasive Plant Management - Panel discussion with various experts
  • The Nursery Industry and Non-Invasive Alternatives – Panel discussion on the role of nurseries
  • Early Detection and Invasive Plant Risk Assessment – How to address newly introduced plants
  • Advanced Invasive Plant Management – Cost/benefit analysis of management options
  • Innovative Invasive Plant Technologies – New technologies to report and learn about invasives
  • Native Alternatives and Pollinators – Planning your native plant garden

Research and management posters, an invasive plant identification area, and other educational exhibits will be featured throughout the day. The registration fee includes parking and lunch. Pesticide Recertification Credits and other Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) will be available. Attendees are advised to register early, as the last symposium had record attendance and sold out in advance with 500 attendees. For additional information, please contact Donna Ellis at 860-486-6448;

SYMPOSIUM: Saturday, March 3, 2018

at HVRHS, Falls Village, CT

NOTE:To register after February 25, call 860-355-1547 or email to Registration at the door is usually possible but depends on enrollment. Same day enrollment may not include lunch.

Critters are an important part of our gardening life. From bears in the peach trees to butterflies on the milkweeds, from hummingbirds feeding on lobelia to mites on the phlox - we are constantly aware of, interested in, and often frustrated by, critters in our gardens.

photo by Kathy DiemerThis year we asked several experts to put together talks addressing many of our critter questions. Kathy Diemer, Mad Gardeners’ newsletter editor and photographer extraordinaire, is putting together a slide show to run during registration and breaks. It will include many of the critters we won’t have time to discuss. The endlessly fascinating but not garden-friendly deer and the tiny voles that eat the roots of garden plants will find a place in the slide show but not in the talks – nobody seems to have anything more to add to those conversations. Kathy’s slides will cover the many critters that inhabit her back yard, from the frustrating to the cherished – insects (good and bad), birds, and many mammals – as well as the plants that provide them with food and housing.

Heather Holm, an award winning author and speaker, will start the day off with a buzz sharing her passion of the fascinating world of native bees and the plants that support them. She will address native plants that attract specific bees and beneficial insects, including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings and how the predator-prey relationships in the insect world help keep problem insect populations in balance.

purple coneflowerWe all strive to create gardens that are welcoming to native insects, while looking attractive to their human caregivers. We asked Mad Gardener and professional photographer, Karen Bussolini, to provide lots of beautiful photographs to illustrate the good plant choices and restorative land practices she will be discussing that create “wildlife-friendly plantings disguised as gorgeous gardens.”

Flea BeetleSenior Extension Educator and long-time friend of the Mad Gardeners, Donna Ellis, from the University of Connecticut, will address identifying some of the newer insect and mite pests in the garden and how IPM methods to help control them can be implemented. Donna has worked with the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture for 28 years, there is no better person to address this topic.

Tom Wessels gave a summer talk and a guided woodland walk to the Mad Gardeners many years ago, and we haven’t forgotten the engaging way he shares his knowledge of the woodland and woodland edge biodiversity. With humor and wit, Tom will cover woodland co-evolution and the justification for native plants that will enhance and boost biodiversity, while using examples that can be incorporated into designed landscapes.

Click on the image below to download the symposium flyer:
2018 Symposium

To register after February 25, call 860-355-1547 or email to Registration at the door is usually possible but depends on enrollment. Same day enrollment may not include lunch.

Recertification credits: We will be requesting recertification credit for Connecticut private applicator, ornamental and turf, and arborist licenses, and for NOFA Organic Land Care AOLCP credits. Let us know if we should request others. Check this website or contact Kathleen Nelson,, to check on approvals.

Mile-A-Minute Project 2012

The video below describes the progress we have made in 2012. Our work continues....

mile-a-minute advice

M-A-M Vine is on the move!

Advice on prevention and control:

Posted 2/22/14 by Kathleen Nelson, Mad Gardeners’ Mile-a-Minute Control Project

PLEASE CHECK YOUR PROPERTY FOR PERSICARIA PERFOLIATA, MILE-A-MINUTE VINE (MAM). Yearly checks plus timely action can prevent MAM from becoming a serious pest on your property. See the video at for help recognizing the plant.

Mile-a-Minute Vine, an invasive annual vine from Asia, is being found in more and more places in New England. Expect it to arrive at your property soon. MAM usually arrives in new places in soils that contain MAM seeds. Once arrived, birds and other animals carry seeds to nearby properties. Be prepared to take immediate action to prevent establishment of new patches. A single seed arriving at a new place can, within 4-5 years, give rise to a large, dense patch covering all other vegetation and producing hundreds of thousands of seeds each year plus satellite patches as far as a mile away.


PREVENTION: MAM arriving from a distance often comes in with soil—perhaps a seed in bulk soil, on the soil of a potted plant, on the tires of equipment—even on shoes.
READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE including methods and timing to control MAM

Further Details: 2012Project.pdf


Spotted Lanternfly Confirmed in Pennsylvania

Please see the Pest Alert and follow this link for information regarding the Spotted Lanternfly, a new insect pest recently confirmed in Pennsylvania, the first detection in the US. The Spotted Lanternfly is a planthopper native to Asia that attacks numerous hosts, including grapes, fruit trees, pines, and more than 70 other species. In the fall, adults can be found on the invasive plant Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

Above: Spotted Lanternfly—dorsal and lateral views

A new weed is coming your way....
We hope you never see it.

posted 9/24/14 from New Milford, CT

You may already have heard about Asian Mile-a-Minute Vine, (MAM), which was accidentally introduced into Pennsylvania, and is rapidly moving north, smothering fields, meadows, and woodland edges. An annual that can grow six inches a day, it blankets everything, blocking other plants’ light. Only tall trees may survive.

The invasion front is moving north. Four populations have been found in southern Litchfield County. The only way to stop this serious threat to New England's agriculture and environment is to prevent the spread of seeds....

how you can help

posted 9/24/14 from New Milford, CT

Start by educating yourself. View and printout information on Mile-A-Minute from this web site. Get to know how to identify this invasive plant by its triangular leaves and tiny barbs on weak stems clambering over trees and shrubs.

Check your own backyard. When you are gardening, walking, hiking, visiting — be aware and look for signs of invasive plants.

Rely on experts. If you suspect Mile-A-Minute Vine, report it. Somebody will contact you to verify the identification.

Please REPORT ALL SIGHTINGS to or or or The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group at 860-486-6448.

We need volunteers to contact property owners and help check properties. Contact: Kathleen Nelson, or 860-355-1547.

To contribute to our project, send a check payable to Mad Gardeners' Invasive Species Fund to Angela Dimmitt, Mad Gardeners Inc., PO Box 146, Sherman CT 06784. Mad Gardeners, Inc is a 501(c)3 corporation.

2012 Report on the Status of MAM in CT

Follow this link to view the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group’s 2012 Report on the status of Mile-A-Minute vine in Connecticut.

Be on the Lookout for Mile-a Minute Vine!

posted 9/24/14 from New Milford, CT

Mile-a-Minute Vine (Persicaria perfoliata formerly Polygonum perfoliatum), an invasive Asian annual weed accidentally introduced from Asia into Pennsylvania, has been moving steadily northward. Until recently, the northern front of the invasion was southern New York State and southwestern Connecticut. In 2004 and 2005, populations were discovered in New Milford and Bridgewater, Connecticut. In 2007 two large populations were discovered in Newtown....