Convention 2021

ASA 2021 Convention
“Carolina in My Mind”
Charlotte, NC and Beyond • April 15-18, 2021
Kevin McCorkle

“They came on one of April’s most brilliant days—a day as sparkling as a newly-washed lemon…a day when even the shadows were a mélange of blue and orange and jade, like the shadows that poured from the tipsy brush of Monet.”
― Beverley Nichols, “A Thatched Roof”

The Central Carolinas Chapter invites you to join us for the 2021 ASA Convention, April 15-18, in Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas. This event will differ from conventions of years past, including the following:

  • There will be no tour busses. Each attendee is responsible for his or her transportation to and from the field trip venues and elsewhere.
  • There will be no indoor sit-down group meals, banquet dinner, or annual meeting and awards program.
  • There are no indoor speaking engagements or workshops scheduled at this time. Instead, the docents, garden owners, curators, or other knowledgeable individuals will take the role of speakers in each garden.
  • To assist with maximizing social distancing and field trip venue manageability, attendance will be limited to the first 80 ASA member registrants.
  • Many of our field trip venues are parking challenged. Registrants may be asked to consent to a carpool of a minimum of 3 masked persons per vehicle for short duration travel from a designated carpool rendezvous spot located near the associated venue.

The following is a summary of our current agenda. The safety of our members is paramount, so we reserve the right to cancel the event if conditions should warrant.

By their nature, the gardens on tour are unfortunately not fully accessible for persons with disabilities or persons that use a wheelchair so please take this into consideration regarding attendance.

Thursday, April 15—Optional Open Garden Day, Welcome, and Plant Sale Social

We have partnered with Juniper Level Botanic Garden (JLBG), located near Raleigh (2.5 hours from our convention base hotel), to reserve an Open Garden Day for ASA Convention attendees on Thursday, April 15. Scheduled tours of the garden will be led by celebrated plantsman Tony Avent and/or garden curator Amanda Wilkins. Plant Delights Nursery will be open to our group for browsing and plant sales during that day.

Thursday evening will feature the opening of the Collector’s Plant Sale in an outdoor setting at the base hotel, along with an informal outdoor social to allow old friends to reconnect and new friendships to be formed.

Friday, April 16—Explore a Living Museum—The R.A. Bartlett Research Arboretum

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to spend the day enjoying the Bartlett Research Arboretum, which is not open to the public. During the morning hours, our speaker in the garden will be curator Greg Paige as he leads us on an overview of the grounds. After lunch outdoors on the grounds, everyone will have the opportunity to re-visit their favorite area on their own for a more in-depth exploration.

The private accredited Level IV Class arboretum contains an extensive collection of tree and plant species from around the world. With over 21,000 accessioned plants, the arboretum includes some of the best collections of rhododendrons, oaks, and conifers on the East Coast, the largest collection of magnolia cultivars in the world, and the third largest collection of holly in the United States.

ASA members that register for the convention will be provided with an aerial grid map of the arboretum that will key the grid location of a specific plant from the list to an area on the ground.

Please note that due to current conditions and required social distancing, this will be a walking tour and adventure. Attendees should be prepared for extensive walking over regular and uneven ground, rain, or shine.

One of many inclined paths leading up ‘Rhodie Hill’,
Bartlett Research Arboretum
Photographer: Kevin McCorkle

A glade within the Bartlett Research Arboretum,
flanked by evergreen and mature deciduous azaleas and specimen trees
Photographer: Kevin McCorkle

Saturday, April 17–Sunday, April 18—Scheduled Tours

University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens. The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens has 10 acres of outdoor gardens, and 5,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse display. If conditions at event time will allow, this scheduled tour will be led by botanical gardens staff, knowledgeable volunteers, and Director Emeritus Dr. Larry Mellichamp, who has worked with the gardens for 45 years. The outdoor gardens represent three distinct themes.

  1. The Van Landingham Glen is a seven-acre native woodland garden in a north-east facing, gently sloping creek valley with informal gravel and wood-chip paths. Started in 1966, the glen contains over 1,000 species of native plants of the southeast, including all the southeastern native azaleas and many hybrids. It is a spring garden, with bountiful wildflowers at their peak in mid-April.

  2. Wooden footbridge through deciduous azaleas within the Van Landingham Glen,
    UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
    Photographer: Kevin McCorkle
  3. The Susie Harwood Garden is a three-acre semi-formal garden started in 1980, displaying exotic trees, shrubs, and flowers from around the world. It has an eclectic feel with bridges, a gazebo, moon gate, and an Asian garden. Decorative rockwork, a lively pond, stone steps, and other unique features adorn the garden.

  4. A room with a view: the pond within the Susie Harwood Garden,
    UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, as viewed from the gazebo
    Photographer: Kevin McCorkle
  5. The Mellichamp Natives Terrace is a half-acre garden devoted to demonstrating the uses of southeastern species in a variety of typical homeowner situations (such as rain garden, sunny border, patio, deck, lawn, rock wall, contemporary setting). The play of light and texture in this carefully constructed garden is enjoyable. This may be the only such public native plant garden of its type in the Southeast.
    1. Other Scheduled Tours—Saturday, April 17

      The magnificent private garden of Margaret and Price Zimmermann, a few miles north of Charlotte in Huntersville is also available for touring. Designated Pian del Pino (meaning a level spot among pines), their 30-year-old estate has a European flavor with Italian architecture and statuary. Hundreds of rare woody and herbaceous plants are discovered throughout a delightful walk on moss-covered paths in formal and informal settings. Many evergreen and deciduous azaleas will be seen in garden context.

      Ostrich ferns along the edge of the woodland garden at Pian del Pino
      Photographer: Kevin McCorkle

      Sunday, April 18

      MapleWalk, the garden of Lib and Tom Nunnenkamp is a two and one-quarter-acre labor of love located in southeast Charlotte. In the words of Tom and Lib: “Little did we know when we bought our home in December 1990 that our plans for the property would take on a life of their own. While our garden is named MapleWalk to reflect the over 90 different Japanese maples, it has become much more, with hundreds of perennials, over 20 different dogwoods, nine varieties of redbud, a myriad of dwarf conifers, deciduous azaleas, and many unusual trees and shrubs.

      Additional gardens may be added as unguided side tours on Sunday pending availability based on conditions at the time of registration.

      The Collector’s Plant Sale

      The location of the plant sale has been chosen to be both convenient to attendees as well as more conducive to ventilation and social distancing. Located on a rooftop terrace at the base hotel, the location has a commanding view of the University Place Lake and provides an ideal location for both the plant sale and a place to socialize outdoors. A complete list of plants will be made available to registered attendees prior to the sale.

      Gregory Bald seedling ‘Full Spectrum’ (GBS 19-6),
      one of several selections micro-propagated for the convention plant sale
      Photographer: Andy Whipple


      We have chosen the Hilton Charlotte University Place as our recommended base hotel. The hotel is located along the northeastern edge of the city and is close to and easily accessible from I-85 and I-77. Attendees will be able to travel to and from the hotel and the field trip venues via major highways without having to enter the more urban areas of center city.

      A courtesy block of rooms has been reserved for us by the hotel and a specialized web page will be provided for ease of registration for attendees: We request that attendees wait until the hotel registration website is published at the time of convention registration rather than reserve accommodations in advance. Parking at the hotel is complimentary, except for valet parking.

      The Hilton Charlotte University Place has stated that rooms reserved via the courtesy block are refundable if cancelled the day before the reservation date.


      More information about registration, including venues, registration fees, hotel rates, and a more detailed schedule will be forthcoming soon on this webpage.

      The opening of registration will be delayed beyond that of past conventions, as we monitor and assess conditions with everyone’s safety in mind. We expect registration to open in early 2021 but no later than Feb 1, 2021. An email or mailed reminder will be sent to all ASA members in advance of the opening of registration.

      We hope to see you in Charlotte in 2021 and together we will enjoy April’s most brilliant of days.

      “In my mind I’m gone to Carolina
      Can’t you see the sunshine?
      Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
      Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
      To hit me from behind?
      Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.”

      ―James Taylor