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March Into Spring 2023 - A Symposium for Gardeners
West Chester University Sciences and Engineering Center & The Commons
155 University Avenue
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19383
United States
Saturday, March 18, 2023, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM EDT
Category: Annual Events & Programs

March Into Spring 2023 - A Symposium for Gardeners

"Gardening Guided by Science - The Science of Gardening and Its Practical Applications"

The 2023 March Into Spring will be a Hybrid Event - In-Person and Virtual Options. We are so excited to have an In-Person option for our Symposium this year. The Online Auction will remain online. Members and non-members welcome.

Important: This event will not be recorded. 

We will be at a New Location this year: West Chester University in West Chester, PA. Our fabulous vendors and our book sales will be back as we resume March into Spring at an In-Person Venue.
Please note that this is not a West Chester University-affiliated event.

Registration fee through February 14, 2023 is $80 members & $90 non-members. After February 14th, the registration fee is $90 members and $100 non-members.

Sign-up today for the early bird discount! Registration is open!

Click here to register for the In-Person Option. Registration closes on March 9, 2023. Maximum in-person attendees is 320. A Box Lunch is included and selection options are on the registration form.

Click here to register for the Virtual Attendance Option. Registration closes on March 9, 2023. Maximum virtual attendees is 100.

Online Auction: 

Our Online Auction has been very popular. We need your help to again make this a successful event. Offering unique and one-of-a-kind items and experiences can help us all plan for the new gardening season and make the auction more fun for all. If you have something special you would like to donate, or suggestions of new donors to contact, please send an email to [email protected].

Click here to go the the 2023 Online Auction Calendar event page.


BPK Photo - Floral and nature photography mounted on wood.

Cymron Cottage - Hard to find perennials and small shrubs.

Cairnsgrove Gardens & Apiary - Raw local honey, beeswax candles, beeswax hand cream, all natural soap.

Ryeland Gardens - A selection of shrubs and perennials, and a few choice concrete garden statues.

Triple Oaks Nursery - Hellebore, ephemerals, trillium, Jack in the pulpit, Lithocarpus henryi, Persea borbonia.

Gettysburg Gardens - Hardy Cyclamen, Primula, trees + Shrubs.

Schedule for the Day: 

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Registration and refreshments
9:00 AM – 9:15 AM Welcome and Logistics
9:15 AM – 10:15 AM Bryce Lane presents "If You Build It, They Will Come: Understanding and Improving Garden Soils"
10:15 AM – 10:45 AM Break, Shopping with Vendors and Book signings
10:45 AM – 11:45 AM Claudia West presents “Smart Planting Management”
11:45 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch, Vendor Shopping and Book signing
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Susan Pagano presents "Native Fruit Nutrition and Migratory Birds: Observations from the Field and Lab"
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Break, vendor shopping and book signing
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Roy Diblik presents “Cultivating Healthy, Social Plant Communities”
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Closing Remarks & Farewell


"If You Build It, They Will Come: Understanding and Improving Garden Soils" with Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University

As gardeners, we spend most of our time thinking "above ground." We ruminate about plants, combinations, color, texture, and about light exposure, water, temperature, and climate. Gardening success is equally dependent on what is going on below ground. A scientific understanding of soil chemistry, biology, physics, and fertility makes a good gardener a "master" gardener! This talk will help us understand basic soil principles, and how we can use that understanding to improve our garden soils, properly prepare garden beds, reduce fertilizer inputs, compost, and maximize success in our gardens!

Speaker Bio:

Bryce Lane discovered his passion for plants and telling others about them, while working at a small Massachusetts garden center throughout high school and college. After earning his BS and MS in Horticulture, he came to the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University as an Instructor and Undergraduate Coordinator. He spent 34 years teaching and advising over 20,000 students. Bryce retired in 2014, but still teaches part-time in the department. For 11 seasons, from 2003 to 2014 he hosted and produced a three-time, Emmy winning, UNC TV public television show called “In the Garden With Bryce Lane”.
He now spends his time giving horticulture talks, doing leadership, and communication training, teaching part-time at NC State, and at the JC Raulston Arboretum. He has also worked for the past 6 years helping to train Extension professionals in video production.
An avid gardener, Bryce has gardened on the same one quarter acre plot for 39 years. He and his wife of 45 years also spend plenty of time with their 6 grandchildren!


"Smart Planting Management" with Claudia West

Please note: All garden pictures in this section courtesy of Rob Cardillo Photography.

Gardeners love nurturing their plantings but get frustrated when maintenance needs become overwhelming. Join Claudia for an eye-opening deep dive into the root causes of high maintenance gardens. We will discuss recent discoveries in plant community science and link them to some of the biggest challenges gardeners face. You will leave with practical thinking models and tools to help you balance your garden’s needs with your busy lifestyle and budget. Nurturing an inspiring, ecologically rich garden should not be a burden!

Speaker Bio: Picture courtesy of Jason Varney
Claudia West is a leading voice in the emerging field of ecological planting design. Known for her passionate advocacy of plant-driven design, Claudia is a widely sought out speaker and consultant who applies the technologies of plant systems to bring essential natural functions back into our cities and towns. She has worked on all sides of the green industry—as a designer, a grower, installer, and land manager—grounding her innovative work in pragmatic solutions that address the realities of our urbanizing world. She is the co-author of the critically acclaimed book, Planting in a Post-Wild World (Timber Press, 2015).
Having grown up on a family-owned nursery, florist business, and design/build firm in eastern Germany, Claudia was propagating plants before she could walk. Her love of American native plants brought her to the U.S. where she worked at Blue Mount Nurseries in Maryland and immersed herself in the study of American flora and mid-Atlantic ecosystems. Claudia holds a Master’s Degree of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Her intense studies of plant habitats and the science of of plant community-based design strategies at the renowned school for horticulture in 

 Weihenstephan, Germany built a solid foundation for her current work. Before co-founding Phyto Studio, Claudia was ecological sales manager at North Creek Nurseries, a wholesale perennial grower in Landenberg, PA. Her work was focused on bridging the gap between growers, designers, and land managers as well as introducing more functional and beautiful ecological plants into the nursery trade.



"Native Fruit Nutrition and Migratory Birds: Observations from the Field and Lab" with Susan Smith Pagano

Native fruits are extensively utilized by songbirds and may help to support the high energetic demands of long-distance migration. But fruits can vary in their nutrition and biochemical content, and there may be nutritional consequences for birds associated with the introduction of non-native fruiting shrubs. Habitat management for migratory songbirds could incorporate many native plants that produce calorific, high-fat, and antioxidant-rich berries. These high-quality foods may help to promote the rapid fat deposition necessary to allow birds to fill up their fuel tanks before continuing migration.

Speaker Bio: 

 Susan Smith Pagano, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Biology at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on avian ecophysiology and emphasizes the dynamic relationship between physiological condition and diet in migrating songbirds at stopover sites. Since arriving at RIT in 2010, she has engaged in projects that investigate the nutritional quality of native fruits for birds and the potential implications of non-native plants for migratory bird health and migration success. In addition to her work at RIT, she is a fellow of the American Ornithological Society and is affiliated with the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory in Rochester, NY.


"Building Beautiful and Healthy Social Plant Communities" with Roy Diblik

Roy will share his experience of growing mostly native perennials since 1978 and his observations of how plants live socially in the remnant prairie in and around the Chicago area. These observations have led Roy to create design-magazine-worthy gardens that are achievable at home. The first goal of the ‘know maintenance’ garden is to understand the conditions the plants need to live healthily in community with other plants. By knowing the needs of each individual plant, we can make beautiful combinations that allow plants to thrive together with less labor. Knowing the plants’ growth rates and growth habits from youth to maturity determines their lifestyle but more importantly determines the human inputs needed.

Speaker Bio:

Roy Diblik is a nationally recognized perennial plant expert, grower, designer, speaker, and author. Having spent 44 years growing traditional and Midwest native perennials, Roy has amassed a wealth of knowledge which he applies to his current area of specialization, i.e., creating highly aesthetic, sustainable plant communities for all seasons, while reducing maintenance through design. He believes that gardens should be thoughtful, ecologically directed, emotionally outreaching and yet very personal.

Roy is the author of the wildly popular book, The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden. He demonstrates how knowing your plant’s growth habit and growth rate allows you to combine plants to create self-sustaining communities requiring less maintenance.



HPS/MAG COVID-19 PRACTICES AND POLICIES: All HPS/MAG In-Person Events shall be subject to all COVID-related requirements imposed by any state, local and/or federal agency.  Guests and invitees should apprise themselves of any such requirements prior to attendance.  All HPS/MAG In-Person Events shall also be subject to the COVID-related requirements, if any, of the garden host.  All attendees must bring a mask for every In-Person Event, in case it is required. 

Non-vaccinated attendees at events must sign a COVID waiver. Click here for the waiver. Please bring it with you to the event.

Contact: Stephen Rifici at [email protected]