Garden Spark kicks off 6th season with exciting new speakers

August 10, 2022

Garden Spark returns for his 6thm Sept. 22 kicks off the season, a new series of entertaining speakers — garden designers, authors, landscape architects — who will share their expertise and ideas at private events here in Austin. This season we will be inspired to reclaim our front yards for our own enjoyment; We will learn about African Americans in the world of floriculture; We will be encouraged to create ecosystems, not just gardens; And we’ll learn how baseball — yes, baseball — can teach us something about effective plant selection. If you love gardening, design and learning, these talks are for you.

Discussions are held on Thursday evenings in Burton Springs Nursery’s outdoor classroom (or indoors if weather permits). The exact time is announced when the discussion goes on sale, about a month in advance. I hope you will mark your calendars for the following dates and plan to join us!

Note: Tickets must be purchased in advance, and talks sell out quickly, so don’t miss out. Subscribe to the Garden Spark email list to be notified as soon as tickets go on sale. Just click on this link and ask to be added.

Michael and Lori Kinler

September 22 – Laurie Kinler and Michael Kinler

Reclaim the front yard: From show-only to private retreat

Most front yards are strictly visual. Even the owner doesn’t use it. Given up to public streets, these expanses of lawn waste little but resources and energy. Let’s reclaim our front yards as a space to be actively enjoyed! Laurie and Michael Kinler of Kinler Landscape Architecture will show us projects that rethink traditional front yards – from lawns to foundation plantings to driveways and more. By trimming or removing lawns and perhaps reconfiguring parking, we can make our approach home more inviting. By using native plants instead of typical foundation shrubs, we create a sense of space and resilience. A yard full of seating and plants gave us reason to hang out and enjoy the front yard.

Speaker bios

Lori has always loved art, so after finishing high school in Texas, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Hunter College in Manhattan. Living in New York City helped him understand how people and places shape each other. Art and its relationship with the environment led her to the University of Texas at Arlington, where she earned a master’s in landscape architecture and met her future husband, Michael, a talented designer in his own right. He continued his studies by interning at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa and worked at the SWA Group. Lori has worked with many notable architects in Fort Worth/Dallas and led the redesign of the plantation at the Amon Carter Museum.

Michael was born in Kitchener, Ontario and has lived in Ogden, Seattle (he still loves the Mariners and Seahawks), Portland and Fort Worth. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Texas A&M, he moved to London and discovered the joys of not needing a car, as well as the world of art and design. He met Lori at the University of Texas at Arlington, and they are an unstoppable force as owners of Kinler Landscape Architecture (formerly Radenter Landscape Design) in Fort Worth.

Teri Speight

October 20 – Teresa Speight

Black Flora: Our Ancestral Seed

Teresa Speight, author of black flora, a new book about African Americans in the world of floriculture, tells the stories of farmers, florists and other floral creatives who answered the call of flowers, tapped into their passions and listened to their hearts. African American and other people of color have a rich, beautiful, complex and diverse narrative in the flower market. It is long past time to recognize their excellence and contribution to cut-flower farming and floristry, as they sow the seeds for generations to come.

Speaker bio

Author, podcaster, and garden writer Teresa J. Speight is a proud native of Washington, DC, as well as a mother, grandmother, garden writer and history lover. With roots in ancestral crops grown in North and South Carolina, he feels deeply connected to the earth. He has honored those roots through his work as head gardener in the Virginia city of Fredericksburg; As the founding farmer of an organic CSA farm; As founder and president of the Jabali Amani Garden Collective, an online African American garden club focused on “beautifying the urban areas of our community”; And as an estate gardener. Teresa works to reconnect people with the soil by providing one-on-one garden coaching and curated garden experiences for small groups.

Author of Teresa Black Flora: Profiles of Inspired Black Flower Growers + Florists and its co-authors Urban Gardens: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City. In her podcast Cottage on the Court (available on Anchor or Apple Podcasts), Teresa introduces interesting people, discovers unique places, and adds a little poem to remind everyone to embrace the garden, because it’s here for us.

Jennifer Orr

November 17 – Jennifer Orr

Less garden, more ecosystem!

Austin is tough — our soil is tough — and now we have to design for a 10- to 110-degree world for our already challenging climate. Jennifer Orr, founding principal of Studio Balcones, will talk about designing functional landscapes that provide habitat, are symbiotic and can survive the harsh Central Texas elements. By prioritizing soil, grading, shading, and plant communities, we can create gardens that not only last but thrive. Textures that transition into more natural wilderness and beyond, and that transform degraded areas into prairie-plant landscapes. Well-developed ecosystems are key to setting up our landscape for success.

Speaker bio

A founding principal of Studio Balcones, Jennifer brings her playful design knowledge, extensive plant knowledge and deep understanding of ecosystems to each project. Jennifer’s experience ranges from large-scale green infrastructure projects to small-scale residential gardens, both urban and rural, public and private. He has 20 years of experience in the field and thrives on creating integrated, functional, attractive and beautiful resilient landscapes. Jennifer is active in her community, a mother of two, and has a great love for the unique and often challenging features of the Texas landscape. He is thrilled to be working in his beloved city.

Mark Ward / Photo Credit: Nicole Mlaker

23 February – Mark Ward

Susceptibility versus causation: The influence of baseball on plant selection processes

Choosing the “right” plants for your garden means looking beyond the basics of function, maintenance and site adaptability. Sensitivity, appropriateness, culture and neighborhood attitudes also come into play. Austin designer Mark Ward explores ways we can create successful gardens without a statistics-driven approach.

Speaker bio

Mark Ward’s interests in art, graphic design and botany led to a 35-year career designing commercial and residential landscapes. The work of his Austin-based company, Word + Carr Design Group, is noted for its focus on place-making and sensitivity to regional character.


How to participate

Subscribe to Garden Spark for first dibs on tickets! Just click on this link and ask to be added.

Sponsor Thank-you

Thank you to Burton Springs Nursery for sponsoring Garden Spark, for the use of their beautiful space, and for their hospitality!

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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