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News: The 2020 Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference


September 24, 2020

Bringing clubs together while safe at home

Thousands of GCA club members spent the last two days together (virtually) delighting in the knowledge and joy of gardening. The GCA’s 2020 Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference exceeded the expectations of the planning team and attendees with engaging content from an all-star line up of plant specialists and enthusiastic chatting among the participants as they experienced each unique element of the eight-hour conference agenda.

The Meneice is an annual event typically held at a different botanical garden each year. The Chicago Botanic Garden stayed on as host in spite of the change of plans to a virtual conference. Experts like Margaret Roach, GCA honorary member Roy Diblik, GCA scholar Dr. Cassandra Quave, and club members of the GCA offered a variety of garden tours, workshops, lectures, and live Q&A sessions with participants on a variety of horticulture topics. Tributes to the event's founder, Shirley Meneice, and a memorable compilation of testimonials from “Horticulture Heroes”, were deeply appreciated by attendees.

The GCA made a rapid pivot beginning in late spring 2020 from destination-based, in-person events to virtual gatherings. Teams of volunteers have been engaged in learning strategies for creating and presenting educational content for member clubs in this new way. First up was the 2020 Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference held September 22 and 23. Next is the Conservation Study Conference in November, followed by conferences dedicated to floral design, photography, national affairs and legislation, and the organization’s annual meeting.

Opening events up virtually — now to ten-fold the attendance of past years — is a silver-lining during challenging times. To quote one attendee, with hundreds of similar comments from others, “So fun for us to share this time together, yet apart.”

Camellia japonica ’Shirley Meneice’, Shirley Meneice camellia



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