Kelly Norris

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Kelly D. Norris is an award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the Director of Horticulture and Education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized public garden in Des Moines, Iowa.  Throughout his career, his work has been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Garden Design and in numerous local and regional media appearances.

At the Botanical Garden, Kelly is responsible for leading and directing a team of horticulturists and educators in all aspects of design, curation, programming, and garden management, after serving as the principal horticulture consultant to the $18 million renovation project completed in 2014. He is the Artistic Director of the popular Spring Garden Festival, a four-day pop-up retail plant sale and garden show. From 2013-2017, he was the Editorial Director for the organization’s award-winning member magazine Bloom.

As a writer and photographer, he regularly contributes to popular gardening magazines like Country Gardens, Fine Gardening and The American Gardener and is a contributing editor to Greenhouse Grower, an industry trade magazine.  He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press, which won the 2013 American Horticultural Society Book Award.  His most recent book—Plants With Style—debuted in December 2015.  As a speaker, he has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.  Kelly’s career began at age 15 when he talked his parents into buying a nursery (Rainbow Iris Farm), and since then he’s become one of the few gurus on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150-year history; awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa.  In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture.  In 2013, he won the Iowa Author Award for Special Interest Writing, the youngest Iowan to be recognized in the history of the awards program.  His curatorial work at the Botanical Garden was recognized by the Chanticleer Foundation with a 2015 Chanticleer Scholar Award that will fund two years of fieldwork in support of the garden’s permanent living collections.

Kelly holds a Bachelor and Masters degree in Horticulture from Iowa State University.

Sessions

Track: Plants
Jan 28 2019 - 10:00am

Gardeners need chic, sustainable, thriving plants for modern lifestyles. Why settle for lackluster gardens filled with dull, ho-hum plants? Plants after all are the very essence of fashionable gardening. In this spirited, provocative lecture, 20-...

Track: Plants
Jan 28 2019 - 11:00am

With all of the interest in the New Perennial Movement and a market shift towards sustainable gardening, a new palette of plants has emerged at the intersection of form and function. Perennials used in this style of gardening thrive in social...

Track: Landscape Design/Build, Plants
Jan 28 2019 - 1:40pm

Modern landscapes have to be more than beautiful. Gardening with purpose is the new mantra for 21st century consumers. Gardens have to be aesthetically interesting, while serving multiple purposes—benefiting wildlife, feeding us, providing safe...

Track: Grower
Jan 28 2019 - 1:40pm

The basic fundamentals for growing plants are fertilizer, substrate, and water. A nutritional management and monitoring program starts with knowing what is in the container. In-house nutrient monitoring provides you with key pH and EC values...

Track: Grower, Landscape Design/Build
Jan 28 2019 - 3:40pm

Kelly’s love for native plants and his experiences with wild plant communities have shaped his career in profound ways. As a so-called hort-ecologist, Kelly strives to interpret native ecosystems into beautiful, functional landscapes in the urban...