Bio: Jessica DeGraaf is an avid gardener who has spent her entire life in the horticulture industry. Growing up in her family's small garden center in Northern Michigan, she quickly learned the value of hard work and in the process was bitten by the plant bug! Passionate about people and plants, Jessica is an industry veteran with prior work in sales and marketing for Benary Seed Company, C. Raker and Sons, and Walters Gardens. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from Michigan State University. In her role at Proven Winners, Jessica focuses on the needs of independent garden centers, creating partnerships and building innovative programs to support this vital segment of the gardening industry.
Director of Product Development and Promotion ~ Proven Winners
Bio: John Gaydos joined Proven Winners in 1998. In his present role, he is responsible for product development and promotion of the Proven Winners line, and acts as the company’s spokesperson at trade shows, conferences and industry events. John is the main contact for cultural information, new product development and variety testing. He also serves as the liaison for information exchange between Proven Winners members and the industry.
A graduate of Ohio State University, John brings more than 40 years of horticultural experience with hands-on knowledge of all aspects of the industry, from crop production through retail sales. His passion is innovation, whether in plants, production, marketing or management. He stays involved with the industry through his roles with the AmericanHort, The Ohio State Hort Alumni association, Floriculture Foundation and various other national horticultural organizations. John resides in Rochester, Michigan.
Topic: Only the Best for Your Garden Proven Winners is dedicated to bringing only the best plants to the gardens of North America. Working closely with plantsmen and breeders from around the world, new and innovative potential Proven Winners plants are vigorously trialed for years before introduction. You will hear how new products are developed and will be among the first area gardeners to see the new introductions for 2017, as well as learn a few of John's favorites.
Owner/Sales & Customer Service ~ Garden Crossings
Bio: Heidi Grasman has been busy fostering her love for all kinds of plants over the past 25 years with her husband Rod. Together, they have owned and managed Garden Crossings, a mail order and retail garden center in Zeeland, Michigan since 2002. Their three children are growing up in the business too, helping out at the nursery after school and on Saturdays. Heidi’s hands-on experience in the garden helps her relate easily to customers who are drawn to her passion for premium quality plants. Garden Crossings is known for offering only the very best varieties that deliver proven garden performance. Their extensive line of over 1,000 kinds of annuals, perennials and shrubs includes many Proven Winners branded plants. Follow Heidi on social media @GardenCrossings.
Horticulturist & Author ~ Spring Meadow Nursery
Bio: After working as landscaper while she earned her degree in linguistics from the University of Michigan, Stacey Hirvela realized her calling was in the garden. She attended the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture in Bronx, New York, interning as a rooftop gardener in Manhattan for designer Jeff Mendoza. Upon graduation, she became the second female to serve as horticulturist at the former Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. In 2005, she joined the editorial team at Martha Stewart Living, where she developed, wrote, and edited garden content for the magazine and co-hosted Homegrown, a call-in program on Sirius Satellite Radio. In 2011, she joined the marketing team at Spring Meadow Nursery, the company behind Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs, located in West Michigan. Stacey aims to educate and inspire gardeners of all levels of skill and experience. She published her first book, Edible Spots and Pots, in March 2014.
Topic: Pruning and Shrub Care
Gardening Personality ~ Garden Answer
Bio: Laura LeBoutillier is quite simply an emerging force in the field of gardening. She started Garden Answer in 2014, a YouTube how-to gardening vlog filled with style, expertise and helpful gardening knowledge.
From the time she was a child, Laura was surrounded by her Ontario, Oregon family garden and family business, Andrew’s Seed Co. Today, she attracts over 100,000 YouTube channel subscribers and has generated over 9 million views of her gardening videos. Laura's Facebook page has over 125 million followers and over 50 million video views. She has become quite the sensation in just a short period of time, and these numbers are continually growing!
She can’t wait to meet you, chat about all things earthy, and share some of her expertise with you firsthand!
Refund Policy: We are happy to refund the price of your ticket if you contact the main office one month prior to the event date. If it is after that time frame, we will be unable to refund the ticket and suggest giving or selling it to a friend or family member who would like to attend. Thank you for your understanding.