Mark on the road


Mark on the road

Upcoming Talks


September 13, 2019 Sandhills Horticultural Society - Pinehurst, NC

  • Gardening in the South

September 19, 2019 NC State University Speaker Series - Raleigh, NC

  • Gardening in the South

December 2-4, 2019 International Society for Horticultural Science Landscape and Botanic Garden Symposium - Bangkok, Thailand

  • Botanic Gardens as Models for Sustainability

January 13-14, 2020 Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course - Norfolk, VA

  • Life is Too Short for Boring Plants: The New, Rare, and Just Plain Weird

  • Small Trees for Urban Settings

February 4, 2020 Eastern NC Landscape Conference - Rocky Mount, NC

  • Keeping Ahead of the Curve - New Plants for Exceptional Landscapes

February 6, 2020 Piedmont Landscape Association -Charlottesville, VA

  • Life is too Short for Boring Plants: Infusing Living Architecture into the Garden

February 13, 2020 Central Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association - Richmond, VA

  • TBD

March 12, 2020 Botanical Garden Club - Pinehurst, NC

  • Slave to the Goddess Flora, Plants and Plans from a Lazy Gardener

May 25, 2020 Cape Fear Botanic Garden - Fayetteville, NC

  • TBD

June 3, 2020 Northwest Horticultural Society - Seattle, WA

  • TBD

June 12-13 Southeastern Plant Symposium - Raleigh, NC

  • TBD

July 21, 2020 Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee - Nashville, TN

  • Stunning Schefflera & Elegant Edgeworthia Because the South Don’t Do Dormant!

October 16, 2020 International Maple Society - Raleigh, NC

Go to Greatgardenspeakers.com to inquire about a presentation for your group or email Mark at mweathi@ncsu.edu.


Lecture Topics

Lecture Topics

All talks are updated and tweaked depending on the region and audience for every speaking engagement.



*Gardening in the South

This lecture accompanies Mark's new book with the same title.  We'll cover plants, pests, soils, and climate - everything you need to become a successful gardener.

* Slave to the Goddess Flora; 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.

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.

Living Art - Planting for Architectural Interest

Specimen plants are usually selected for their flowers and foliage but form is often overlooked. Plants with extraordinary architecture add year-round interest to the landscape and provide a sculptural element that transforms a good garden to a great one. Whether working with a plant’s natural form or imposing your will to create living walls and sculpture, this seminar will help you get the most impact from the plants in your garden.

A Rose By Any Other Name: Taxonomy for Gardeners

Scientific names don’t have to be scary and they can tell you an awful lot about your plant.  Learn the basics of how to utilize plant names effectively whether you are a green industry professional, a garden communicator, or a home gardener.

Bugging Out: Planting for Pollinators

All bugs aren’t bad.  Learn how to garden for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.



* 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.

On the Razor's Edge; New Woody Plants to Try
Pretty self explanatory, constantly evolving and changing plant list.

* 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.

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.

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.


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 momiji-gari 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.

*Eating Iguana and Tangling with Typhoons; Tales and Travails of a Plant Explorer

Strange food, unpredictable weather, and cultural differences are only the beginning when you depart from the big cities of the world.  It doesn’t really matter if you are poking through the backwoods of Alabama or a remote mountainside in Asia – once you leave the high rises behind, you never know what you’ll find.

Across the Border: Plant Successes from Below the Rio Grande

Mexico is a vastly varied country with a unique flora.  Many of the plants found in the mountains of Mexico thrive in the southern US.  Explore both the wilds of Mexico and the plants that have found a new home in the USA.

Ask about other topics as well.

* Talks I am currently most excited about.


Speaker Guidelines

Speaker Guidelines

Pricing structure (effective 1/1/2018)**

$750 per presentation (no overnight/1 night stay required)

$1000 per presentation (2 night stay required)

$250 per additional presentation at same event


Travel Requirements

Air (or train for northeastern venues)

·      Coach class fare, non-stop flights (when available and reasonably priced)

·      We will book making sure to find the lowest cost flight for the schedule

·      Any presentation made before 5pm will require a flight the previous night to avoid the heartburn of the inevitable delays and cancellations of modern air travel

·      Long-term parking (generally ~$12/day)

·      Vehicle rental if required during visit (will always be pre-approved by the host)

·      Taxi or Uber at actual cost + gratuity for travel in host city as necessary (airport to hotel, hotel to restaurants if needed, hotel to venue, etc.)


·      Mileage reimbursement at the federal rate based on the quickest route between Raleigh and presentation venue



·      Internet access a requirement

·      Reimbursement for internet if not free

·      Hotels are preferred but I will entertain other venues


Lecture requirements

·      High resolution digital projector

·      Wireless projector remote

·      Wireless lapel mike (preferred) or moveable hand held microphone

·      Fully darkened room with an adequately sized screen (typically at least 8’x8’)


* These guidelines are created to ensure there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications and to allow for a pleasurable experience for myself, my hosts, and especially the audience.

** In some cases, I may be able to work with the host to provide a discount on pricing.