Talks

Over the past few years, I have given talks to Horticultural Societies, Garden Clubs, Botanical Gardens, Natural History Societies and the like — from Seattle to Anchorage and from Victoria to Calgary. These are carefully prepared (for the most part scripted) and richly illustrated power point presentations, lasting about forty-five minutes.

My fee is what the organization usually pays (provided that is not less than three figures), plus travel expenses and overnight accommodation if necessary. I also appreciate the opportunity of offering books for sale.

Technical requirments are:
1, A dark hall.
2. A digital projector.
3. A lectern with reading lamp.
4. A hands-free microphone.

I bring the show on a USB thumb drive, which can either be attached to my own laptop or to a computer that the host knows to be compatible with the projector.

Here are four possible subjects:

1. Poppies from the Roof of the World.
This is a survey of the Asiatic Poppies, meconopsis, more or less following a portion of the Silk Road, from Kashmir in the West, across the Himalayas (Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet), to central Sichuan Province of China where the world’s highest mountain range comes to an end. This is not a complete survey of the genus — more are discovered almost every year — but represents what I have seen in the wild, and in cultivation in some great Scottish collections and in my own Pacific northwest garden.

2. The Perfect Garden: Plant Hunting in Tibet.
This is an account of a remarkable 2,500km journey by jeep from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province of China to Lhasa, capital of Tibet. While focussing primarily on the Asiatic poppies — including the Himalayan Blue Poppy — many other alpine plants are illustrated. In addition, there’s description of the way of life and the culture of Tibetan people in these very remote regions, and some observations of life under direct Chinese rule. This talk is drawn from my book Beyond Beauty: Hunting the Wild Blue Poppy.

3. The Lizard of Oz, and other stories of plant hunting in south eastern Australia.
Though it does make an appearance, this talk is not about a lizard, but about the unique and amazingly abundant native flora of Australia, photographed in the National Botanic Gardens and the hills and valleys, as well as the “Southern Alps,” in the part of Australia roughly enclosed by Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. The talk also includes some botanical history: the 18th century voyage of James Cook with the botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander — and their astonishing discoveries.

4. Letting Nature take her Course: Simplicity and Serendipity in the Garden.
This talk is somewhat radical and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Taking off from Michael Pollan’s observation “Nature abhors a Garden,” it imagines the gardener enlisting Nature as a partner, then working in collaboration with her and accordingly achieving greater success, with less frustration and a lot less work, through encouraging native plants, aiming for simplicity, and actively encouraging serendipity. These strategies are especially relevant for the aging gardener.

5. Inspired Gardening in the Pacific Northwest.
This talk is a joint presentation with my wife and co-author, Rosemary Bates. It is based on our September 2013 book “Beauty by Design: Inspired Gardening in the Pacific Northwest.” Please search under BOOKS for further details.

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If you are interested in finding out more, or booking a talk, please email me via the CONTACT page on this website.