His passion for plants carries Mark around the world in search of new plants for gardens. High-energy presentations summed up by his personal mantra, “Life is Too Short for Boring Plants”, inspire audiences to get out and garden.
Mark Weathington is the Director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University where he is passionate in his work to connect plants to people. His career in public horticulture has also included the Norfolk Botanical Garden where he served as Director of Horticulture and the Atlanta Botanical Garden as a horticulturist.
Mark travels extensively searching for new plants to diversify the American landscape and lecturing on a variety of topics in horticulture to further the JC Raulston Arboretum’s vision of “Planning and Planting a Better World.” His explorations and speaking engagements have taken him to China, Taiwan, Japan, Ecuador, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, and throughout the US.
Mark has just published Gardening in the South, A Complete Homeowner's Guide, a modern guide to gardening in the southeast, for Timber Press.
He has recently revised and updated the Propagation Guide for Woody Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum and has been published in Horticulture, Carolina Gardener, American Nurseryman, VA Gardener, and HortScience magazines as well as The Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists.
Mark gardens at home in Raleigh near his wife and two teenagers and in spite of his plant-eating dogs.
All talks are updated and tweaked depending on the region and audience for every speaking engagement.
* Gardening in the South
This talk accompanies Mark's latest book from Timber Press - Gardening in the South, A Complete Homeowner's Guide. Topics covered include soils, climate, design, plants and pests - everything you need for success in the garden. Expect all the information you'll need to create your own corner of paradise delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.
* Planting a Better World; 40 Years of Collecting, Evaluating, and Distributing Plants
The JC Raulston Arboretum has spent the last 4 decades collecting new plants and evaluating them under landscape conditions. The cream of the crop are promoted and distributed to nurserymen, public gardens, and the public. Some of the best known of the many introductions include ‘Emerald Pagoda’ snowbell and Chindo viburnum.
Keeping it Green Up Top
Green roofs are a great method to add value, utility, and beauty to a structure all while doing a world of good for the environment. This talk looks at some history, benefits, and types of green roofs.
* Low Maintenance Gardening; Plants and Plans From a Lazy Gardener
Gardening is easy – don’t let the experts tell you otherwise! Find out shortcuts and techniques to take some of the work out of gardening and make it a more enjoyable pastime.
The Role of the Botanic Garden in the 21st Century
Botanic gardens have continued to evolve since their inception several centuries ago. Their role is even more important in the face of climate change, increasing urbanization, and rising disassociation with the land. This talk looks at where we’ve been and where we need to grow.
* Stunning Schefflera and Elegant Edgeworthia – the South Don’t Do Dormant
There’s no reason to put the garden to bed for the winter in zone 7 gardens. Winter flowers, exciting evergreens, and low humidity make the winter one of the best times to garden in the south and with the influx of fascinating new plants, we’ve only scratched the surface of what can be done in the “off” season.
Southern Style, A Modern Guide to Plants for the Southeast
Southern gardens have long seasons and mild winters meaning we can grow almost anything. Here are some of the best of the best for the south.
On the Razor's Edge; New Woody Plants to Try
Pretty self explanatory, constantly evolving and changing plant list.
Green Screens, Or Life After Leyland
Options for hedging and screening plants beyond the ho-hum options often recommended.
* Shady Characters, Plants for the Woodland Garden
Choice herbaceous and woody plants for shade gardens.
Life is Too Short For Boring Plants; The New, Rare, and Just Plain Weird
Why should our gardens all look the same? This talk explores some of the cutting edge plant material coming to market, some great plants that have been overlooked and some things that may just make you scratch your head.
Plant Lust: Variegation
Who needs flowers? Variegated plants add color and excitement throughout the year providing interest and brightening shady corners. This talk takes a look at some chlorophyll-challenged specimens that will have your friends green with envy.
* Plant Lust: Drool-Worthy Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials
New plants are always exciting and are what makes the industry hum. This talk looks at some plants just entering the market to whet your appetite for the next big thing. Caution: not all of these plants will be available in your local garden center!
Planting a Better World; Superior Plants for Superior Landscapes
While the new and different is always exciting, tried and true plants are the workhorses of the landscape. This talk looks at some of the best of the bunch for ease of growth, disease and insect resistance, and year-round appeal.
Ahead of the Curve or Behind the 8-Ball; New, Rare, and Unusual Perennials
We tend to concentrate on woody plants here at the JCRA but many don’t realize how significant our herbaceous plant collection really is. This talk looks at some of our favorites from the perennial and woodland gardens.
That Hits the Spot, Plants for Problem Places
We all have the problem spot whether it is just too dry and shady or the deer just won’t stay away. Well, there’s a plant for that! This talk looks at some of the challenges in the landscape and recommends plants to fit the niche.
Some Like It Hot; Water-Wise Plants that Pack a Punch
Water is an increasingly precious commodity and its use in the landscape should be minimized. That doesn’t mean our gardens need to be boring though, plenty of plants can take the heat and still put on a dazzling show.
PLANT COLLECTING/ TRAVEL
Bring 'Em Back Alive; Confessions of a Plant Wrangler
This outlines more specifically what it takes to go collecting - equipment, legalities, getting around, dealing with weather, locals etc. Can be very technically oriented towards professionals or more fun for a general audience.
Plant Collecting in the Mother of Gardens
China has been called the Mother of Gardens because of the incredible wealth and diversity of its temperate plants. This talk focuses on the plants, challenges, and excitements of collecting in China.
* Asian Adventures; Plant Hunting in the Far East
Japan, China, and Taiwan are some of the richest areas for collecting plants suitable for western gardens. Join a tour of the plants, places, and people encountered on collecting trips throughout the East.
The Road Goes Ever On, Travels in New Zealand
New Zealand is noted for its incredible gardens and strange plants. This talk looks at some of the majestic beauty of the North and South Islands taking in the finest botanical gardens, astounding natural features, and some interesting spots on a journey from Aukland in the north to Dunedin in the south.
* Eating Iguana in Ecuador; Living with the Chachi
Supposedly the Inuit have 100 words for snow (not true) but the Chachi have NO words for privacy in their language. This talk details a month living with this fascinating Ecuadorian people exploring their food, plants, and culture .
Maple Hunting in the Land of the Rising Sun
The Japanese have always had a fascination with horticulture and plants. The momijigari season or maple hunting season when the city dwellers head to the mountains to see maples turning brilliant colors is a tradition still alive today. This talk explores both the natural beauty and the horticultural diversity of this nation of gardeners.
Ask about other topics as well.
* Talks I am currently most excited about.
Dawn Alleman from Virginia Beach, VA - 05/16/2016 20:12:42
We've hosted Mark to speak to home gardeners and professionals alike, and he is the real deal of horticulture. A plant passionate & knowledgeable expert, he can excite anyone- gardening around their home or professionals working day-in + day-out in landscapes. Topics technical or creative, Mark can speak with hard-earned practical experience to back it up.
Tim Law from NC - 02/19/2016 13:00:20
Definitely passionate about his job, extremely knowledgeable, and very funny!