2014 Speaker List

Click here for our list of over 70 additional speakers presenting at the 2014 MAHSC!

Keynote Speaker


Kelly D Norris
Horticulture Manager,
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Iris Expert

Kelly D. Norris is a 20-something, award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre facility in Des Moines, Iowa.  He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press in 2012 and is at work on his next project tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants.  As a speaker he has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.

For over ten years, he’s operated Rainbow Iris Farm, a seven-acre specialty nursery with his family, and currently edits Irises: The Bulletin of the American Iris Society, and serves in several leadership capacities throughout the horticulture industry.  Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150 year history, awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa.  In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture.  Kelly’s unique 10 years of experience in the industry began at age 15 when he talked his parents into buying a nursery.  In that time he’s become one of the few go-to experts on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

His love for exploration has taken him to southern and central Texas, the Ozarks, the Black Hills, and all over the Midwest in search of new plants for gardens.  Kelly holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University.

On Monday, January 13 at 8 am Kelly will be presenting:

“HortiCULTURE: The Gardening Revolution”

Kelly Norris will offer his perspective on how to better engage audiences in the horticulture industry with exciting plants and passionate experiences. Norris will touch on how we connect people, plants, and passion together at a cultural level to inspire a greater awareness of the value of gardening in our daily lives. All levels of the profession have a role in elevating the culture in horticulture to greater esteem. From retail to public horticulture, when we inspire people to want what they don’t yet know they need, we can build beautiful, diverse gardens that engage customers beyond the sales floor.

Capstone Speaker


James Hitchmough,
Professor of Horticultural Ecology,
Dept. of Landscape, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

James is a teacher and researcher in the leading landscape architecture school in the UK. His research over the past 20 years has been to find new ways to design ecologically based  herbaceous vegetation that is highly attractive to human beings but also low cost to establish and   manage and yet supporting much native biodiversity.  He has also used environmental psychology approaches to explore what people think of this vegetation.  As the research has  developed it has been applied to practice via consultancy, most notably at the London Olympic Park.

On Wednesday January 15 at 2 pm he will present his Capstone Address:

“North American Prairie and similar bedfellows at the London Olympic Park “

This talk will look at the philosophical context behind the use of native and non-native meadow-like vegetation on a huge scale at the London Olympic Park, and the practicalities of  how these vegetation types were designed, implemented and managed to huge public acclaim.


Click here for our list of over 70 additional speakers presenting at the 2014 MAHSC!