Meet the Authors: Darryl Cheng and Marianne Willburn

Join us on Thursday, September 2 at 7pm ET for a discussion with GardenComm members Darryl Cheng and Marianne Willburn as they discuss their latest books. Darryl’s The New Plant Parent offers a scientific yet practical approach to houseplant care, while Marianne delivers plant-gardener relationship advice in Tropical Plants and How to Love Them.

Darryl will share with us how he grew a social media audience on Instagram to over half a million strong and what he learned while writing and photographing his book. Marianne will discuss the challenge of breathing new life into an ‘old’ topic for fresh audiences – and how to make that topic interesting and accessible without sacrificing valuable information or Authenticity. We’ll also have plenty of time for questions for the audience.

“Meet the Authors” provides a platform for readers and writers to connect with their favorite garden authors. What better way to learn about the writing, publishing, and marketing process than from fellow authors? In addition, “Meet the Authors” events provide an opportunity for members to learn about their fellow GardenComm member’s work. Audience members may discover a new guest for their podcasts or find a partner for their latest project.”

We asked Darryl about what he does and how long he has worked in the horticultural industry. He shared that he started by documenting his journey with houseplants on social media (tumblr then Instagram) – writing about what he was doing with care in his precise engineering style. He eventually published a book entitled ‘The New Plant Parent’ and started giving talks about a more holistic approach to houseplant care.

Darryl also shared that Houseplant care has traditionally been vague and seemingly based on luck. His goal is to bring more science and realistic expectations to maximize the hobby of houseplants.

Register here to learn more from our authors at the September 2 virtual program. If you can’t make it, it will be recorded and sent to all paid registrants.

Speaker Spotlight: C.L. Fornari

C.L. Fornari, The Garden Lady, recalls that as a young adult all she ever wanted to do was “to go in the studio and make stuff. I was a gardener from college on, so it was only natural that the subject of much of my artwork was plants and gardens.”

She has worked as a garden communicator since 1995 “when The Force pulled me out of the art studio and into garden writing. After my first book (The Cape Cod Garden) was published, the promotion led me to speaking, and ultimately to my radio program, podcasting and seven more books.”

When asked what the first garden-related experience she could remember was, C. L. said, “I was blessed to grow up as a free-range child. At that time, children were pushed outside and told not to come back in until it was mealtime. We made our fun in the natural world. I ate flowers without knowing what was edible. We constructed forts out of sticks in the woods, and spent hours up in trees. In second grade, my friend and I took empty flower pots from behind the garage of our rented house, filled them with dirt, and then scampered around the neighborhood picking flowers out of other people’s gardens. We stuck those stems in the dirt and then sold them as potted plants, door to door, often to the same people who we’d stolen them from. Fortunately, in the years since, I’ve learned about the importance of both root systems and ethics.”

The one piece of advice she would give to a new gardener is “View each experience with a plant as a grand adventure, and do it for joy.” But more appropriately for this talk: “If I could give one piece of advice to a new speaker, I would tell them to craft your talks out loud, not by writing them. Then practice out loud, many times.”

If you’re a plant or garden expert, chances are you’ll be called upon to speak in front of people. Speaking will sell your books and add to your bottom line, and the best way to build a speaking business is to polish your presentation skills. This seminar will talk about a few key ways you can improve what you do at the podium (in person or virtual) and give you a checklist of ways to promote yourself as a speaker. From practice to pricing, join C.L. Fornari as we unpack the business of speaking. Her presentation, “Building a Speaking Business – In Person and Virtually,” runs from 2 to 3 pm on Friday, August 13.  

Click here to learn more and register for the conference.

Speaker Spotlight: Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is the owner of Slow Flowers LLC & BLOOM Imprint LLC, which include her Slow Flowers-branded projects. She has been working in horticulture communications since the late 1990s, first as the events and marketing manager for a local independent garden center in the Seattle area, followed by numerous freelance writing positions for daily newspapers, national magazines and now, through my own media companies.

When we asked her about a mistake she made in her garden that turned into an unexpected learning experience, she said, “It’s all a learning experience! Our family joke is that my biggest mistake was asking my spouse to weed. One weeding session that resulted in his removal of young dahlia plants led to a new rule: Only Debra Can Weed! I am definitely paying that price for being a control freak.”

Debra has two distinct early garden memories. “My first-ever gardening memories came from childhood seeing the flowers that my maternal and paternal grandfathers grew in their Midwest gardens. My mother’s father, Daniel J. Ford, grew beautiful dahlias in Hammond, Indiana, and they were taller than I was, an indelible memory. My father’s father, Fred Prinzing, grew what he called “pee-oh-knees” (peonies) alongside rhubarb plants along the gravel driveway of his Villa Park, Illinois, backyard.”

The one piece of advice she would give to a new gardener is, “Lose yourself in the moment. The chores will always be there, but focus on the wonder.”

If you think there’s a book in you, but you don’t know how to get started, Debra and her co-presenters, Robin Avni and Teri Speight, have the checklist to help you launch. They are convinced that visual and verbal storytelling need to be integrated into any successful gardening book. Their presentation, “Growing the Verbal + Visual Narrative” is on Saturday, August 14 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Click here to learn more and register for the conference.

Speaker Spotlight: Katie Elzer-Peters

Katie Elzer-Peters, owner of The Garden of Words, LLC – Business Marketing and Tech for Busy People, has worked in the Green Industry for 20 years. Her marketing firm specializes primarily in email marketing and website design.

Words are her specialty, and, as she says, “They’re not all that interesting to look at on a website. What words need to do is get people to take action. Smile, click, “like,” “share,” buy, cry, go, be. I used words to grow a website from a medium-sized blog to one of the biggest industry voices, moving it from a low five-figure yearly income to a six-figure income.” Her favorite words? “I never open email newsletters, but I always open yours.”

A lifetime gardener, she has learned from what other people might call mistakes and turned them lessons. “I have planted things too close together! I then had to dig things up and re-establish them. What I learned is that oftentimes, you can re-adjust things and then keep moving forward.”

Her first gardening memory was from when she was six years old, “I remember getting in trouble for putting my sandbox sand in my mom’s flowerbed. I told her it improves drainage. (LOL! We now know that isn’t necessarily the case.).

If she had only one piece of advice to give to a new gardener, it would be, “If you kill a plant, read up on it and then try growing it again!”

Have you wished you had six other pairs of hands? Come to Katie’s workshop and learn how to hire, train, and manage remote help for administrative tasks, technology, and more!

Click here to learn more and register for the conference.