Spring Wildflower Symposium
Wellness From the Forest
Virtual Lectures • In Person Walks Saturday, May 15
LIVE webinar with Director, Doug Coleman Friday, May 14 at 6pm followed by access to programming  

Our Native Plant greenhouse will be open Saturday, May 15th from 10am to 4pm. You can order plants by email ahead of time for pick up or take the time to stop in and shop.


We’re excited to bring you the 41st annual Spring Wildflower Symposium! This year’s event will be a hybrid model of both in person walks and virtual lectures.

Topics covered by our leading experts share one commonality: the natural world has proven to be the key to our well-being. Presentations cover the wellness of the forest, acoustic archeology, and forest food for the soul and mind. There are lots of options!

You can attend the Symposium in your pajamas, barefoot, with a glass of wine or with your hiking boots laced up and ready to go.

  • The lectures will be virtual, but we are offering in person, socially distanced walks led by Symposium instructors on Saturday, May 15.
  • Your registration allows you a playlist of the lectures and workshops, so you don’t have to attend a particular weekend.
  • You can register for the Symposium, and then add the in person walks you wish to attend, but you must be registered for the Symposium to attend the walks.
  • We do anticipate the in person programs will fill up quickly, so if you do not receive our weekly email, sign up for it on our website or contact specialevents@tnfw.org or call (434) 325-7451.


Register online

Event cost: $60 & $15 for each walk. Please make sure to include your email when you register. To register by phone, please call 434-325-7451. For more information, please contact specialevents@tnfw.org or call 434-325-7451.




Friday, May 14: Access to programming opens with opening remarks by Executive Director Doug Coleman.

Saturday, May 15: In person, socially distanced and masked moderate-to-easy walks led by Symposium instructors.

  • 8am-10am: To the Trees with Josh Palumbo. Walk rating – moderate.
  • 10am-12pm: Geological Sites of Wintergreen with Dr. Chuck Bailey. Walk rating – moderate.
  • 10am-12pm: The Use of Native Plants in the Landscape – Devil’s Backbone landscape Tour with TNFW’s John James and DB landscape architect, David Anhold. Walk rating- easy.
  • NEW! 1pm-3pm: Treasures of the Trillium Field – wildflower identification walk with TNFW’s Executive Director, Doug Coleman. Walk rating – easy.
  • 1pm-3pm: Local Landscaped Home with Cole Burrell. Walk rating – easy.
  • 2pm-4pm: Finding the Ferns with Dr. Chip Morgan. Walk rating – moderate.
  • 3pm- 5pm: Seeing with Your Ears: Acoustic Archeology with Dr. Carole Nash. Walk rating – moderate.


Presenter Bios & Programs


Dr. Chuck Bailey, professor of Geology at the College of William and Mary, teaches courses in Earth’s Environmental Systems, Weather & Climate, Field Methods, and Earth Structure & Dynamics. Dr. Bailey is a Structural Geologist whose research focuses on the geometry and tectonic history of deformed rocks as well as the physical and chemical processes that control rock deformation. His study sites include Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the low deserts of southern Arizona, the high plateaus of Utah, the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, and most recently Oman.

The Uniqueness of Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Dr. Bailey will discuss how the Blue Ridge Mountains were formed by tectonics and differential erosion between Wintergreen and Rockfish Gap.

Geological Sites of Wintergreen
This walk will leave from Trillium House parking lot and will last 2 hours. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – moderate.

C. Colston Burrell is an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer and photographer. The author of 12 gardening books, Cole has twice won the American Horticulture Society Book Award. A certified chlorophyll addict, Cole is an avid and lifelong plantsman, gardener and naturalist. He is a popular lecturer internationally on topics of design and plants, and ecology, sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with professional and amateur audiences for 40 years. He escorts garden and natural history tours throughout the United States and abroad through Garden and Nature Tours with C. Colston Burrell. He is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design. In 2008 Cole received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for his work promoting sustainable gardening practices. His work is part of the Smithsonian Archive of American Gardens. His garden resides on 10 wild acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Native Plants in Your Garden: Lessons from Nature and Culture
Native plants are currently the height of fashion, but do we really know what is native, and where? When we plant a floodplain species in an upland situation, are we gardening ecologically? Are cultivars native? These are a few of the questions Cole will explore as he examines the current popularity of landscaping with native plants from an ecological perspective. This lecture focuses on techniques for working with seasonal rhythms, structure and dynamics of native plant communities to design sustainable native gardens of unique and lasting beauty.

Local Landscaped Home
Join Cole for a tour of a variety of native gardens. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – easy.

Doug Coleman, Field Botanist and Director of The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen, Doug has been a regional expert in Southern Appalachian ecology for over 25 years. While he has co-authored many books on the region’s flora, including The Vascular Flora of the James River Gorge and The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Rare Plant Management Manual, he is perhaps best noted as a speaker and designer of programs and preservation concepts for the resort development community of Wintergreen in Nelson County, Virginia as well as several other similar communities. These programs and concepts have been the recipient of at least two national awards and have been published in many national magazines. Doug was instrumental in founding The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen in 1994, a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Devil’s Backbone Landscape Tour
The Use of Native Plants in the Landscape – Greenhouse Tour
Join John James, prominent Landscape Architect and David Anhold, the Landscape Architect who designed the gardening space at Devils Backbone Brewery, as they explain the thought process behind installing native plantings to this commercial space. Learn what techniques you can apply to your own outdoor space from experts in the landscaping field. This walk will conclude with a tour and a brief explanation of native plant propagation with Doug Coleman at The Nature Foundation greenhouse. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – easy.

Emily Ferguson first developed her love for Virginia’s flora and fauna while working for The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen as the Youth Program Coordinator. In 2004, she conducted a floristic survey to earn her M.S. in Botany from the University of South Florida. As an active Master Naturalist, Tree Steward, and Beekeeper, Emily enjoys teaching tree identification and botany as a way to share her joy of the natural world. She can often be found out with her dogs, hand lens, and a field guide. Emily serves on TNFW’s Board of Directors.

Bountiful Botany
Our early blooming wildflower species provide an array of floral colors and characteristics to behold. By reviewing basic floral terminology and morphology, we can note similar arrangements and differences between flowering families. This floristic foundation will prepare us for this year’s wildflower abundance.

Cindy Lane has had a passion for insects and spiders since early childhood. She earned a BS in Biology with an ecology emphasis and a MS in Environmental Studies, with a special interest in introduced species. Recently retired to Oak Island, NC, she is a former naturalist and college instructor from Lynchburg, Virginia.

Debunking Popular Bug Myths
Entomologist Cindy Lane will discuss popular bug myths such as: Are Daddy-Long-legs the most poisonous spiders in the world and are their fangs too short to bite humans? Are Periodical Cicadas about to invade my hometown? Is that a Murder Hornet in my backyard? Is it true that Assassin Bugs might kill me? Cindy will provide facts about bugs that have had a bad reputation and discuss the role of certain bugs in the health of ecosystems.

Bonnie Miles is a certified Virginia Master Naturalist and Virginia Wildlife Rehabilitator for bats. Bonnie’s field experience includes the 2010 Bat Conservation International Workshop at the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, AZ where she learned capture techniques, species identification, threats to bats, acoustic monitoring, and decontamination procedures. In 2011, Bonnie attended the Bat Conservation International Workshop at Carter Caves State Park, KY to study bat species of the Eastern U.S. with an emphasis on the threat of White-nose Syndrome and the serious decline of cave bat population. Bonnie’s most recent field experience was in 2019 in Texas to learn under Dr. Merlin Tuttle, am expert in US bats. Bonnie is an active member of Bat Conservation International.

Bats: Be Afraid!
Bats remain a vital part of the health of ecosystems throughout the world. With over 1400 species of bats, each with a certain specialty, they are vital in insect control, as pollinators, and as seed dispersers. Bonnie will share general information about the natural history of bats, including the benefits they provide to people and the many threats bats are facing.

Chip Morgan is a retired ophthalmologist, Flora of Virginia Board member and collaborator, and a leading local expert on Pteridophytes (The Ferns). Chip is someone that appears on participants’ bucket list every year.

Finding the Ferns
Journey into Wintergreen’s woods with one of the best naturalists in this region. Learn how to identify one fern from another and understand why ferns are so important to our ecosystem. Any chance to get in the field with Chip is something you should jump at. This walk will leave from Trillium House parking lot at 2pm sharp and will last 2 hours. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – moderate.

Dr. Carole Nash, Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), is a specialist in the archaeology and historical ecology of the Appalachians and has 40 years of experience in the archaeology of the Middle Atlantic region. Her main research interests are the long-term environmental and cultural history of upland Native American cultures. She has taught at James Madison University for 31 years, where she is Associate Professor in the School of Integrated Sciences. University students and life-long learners have worked in the field with her on long-term projects for Shenandoah National Park and The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen. She is the author of over 175 technical reports, scholarly papers, and publications, including co-author of Foundations of Archaeology in the Middle Atlantic (Routledge 2018). She is an appointed member to the Society for American Archaeology’s International Committee on Climate Change Strategies and Archaeological Resources Committee. A practitioner of citizen science, Carole co-directs the Archaeological Technician Certification program for the Archeological Society of Virginia and the Department of Historic Resources.

Acoustic Archaeology in the Blue Ridge: Listening to the Past
Learn about new archaeological research into the role of waterfalls as sound-focused sacred landmarks for the Indigenous peoples of the Blue Ridge.

Seeing with Your Ears: Acoustic Archeology
Join Dr. Nash for a holistic and scientific walk along Wintergreen’s acoustical trails. This walk will leave from Trillium House parking lot at 3pm sharp and will last 2 hours. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – moderate.

Nina O’Malley is a medicine maker and mushroom grower dedicated to helping the earth and people heal. Nina spends her time building relationships with plants and fungi. A co-founder of Mush Luv, a small mushroom company based in Charlottesville, Nina offers local, handcrafted medicinal products and educational workshops to the community in central Virginia and wherever the fungi call her.

Forest Food For the Soul
In this workshop on springtime weeds and tonics, participants will be introduced to several common but amazing plants that are likely growing right outside their doorstep. Participants will learn about some of the medicinal qualities of the plants, their growth habits, and simple ways to include them in a springtime diet. Nina will also demonstrate the step by step process of how to make medicinal preparations for immediate use or to keep on hand to enjoy throughout the year!

Josh Palumbo grew up outside Annapolis, Maryland fishing the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay and wandering the woods behind his house. He attended Virginia Tech and received a degree in Forest Resource Management. After spending a few years in the wilds of the Adirondacks, he came to The Nature Foundation as the Forest Management Coordinator. When not busy shuttling one of his four children to various activities, he can be found canoeing a lovely Virginia river, traipsing through the woods, coaching high school wrestling or on a date with his lovely wife.

To the Trees
Join Josh Palumbo as we venture across the Wintergreen landscape in pursuit of all things woody. This walk will be a crash course in woody plant identification and an in-depth look at the forest health at Wintergreen. The walk will lead to the most diverse locations for woody plants to increase knowledge and appreciation of a healthy forest. This walk will leave from Trillium House parking lot at 8am sharp and will last 2 hours. Space is limited to 10 people, we will maintain social distance and everyone is expected to bring a mask. Participants will drive separately. Walk rating – moderate.

Laura Rogers has enjoyed being a naturalist for over 20 years and a yoga instructor for over 15 years. As a certified yoga instructor Laura has provided yoga classes for groups of all ages. Laura works for Fenner Nature Center in central Michigan and lives with her husband Norm, their cat companions Sammy and Abigail, and snake Oliver.

Virtual Yoga
Forest Flow
Breathe in, breathe out … surround yourself with the serene healing energy of the forest during this gentle yet invigorating yoga flow that is perfect for all levels. Namaste! Additional information: the session can last from 30-45 minutes, longer if needed (up to 75 mins), yoga mat recommended (also suggested: blocks, strap/hand towel, chair, blankets).

Janet Steven is broadly trained in botany and is currently an Associate Professor teaching botany and environmental science at Christopher Newport University. She also serves as the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Master’s in Environmental Science. Her research investigates the life history and population genetics of ferns and flowering plants. Janet particularly enjoys introducing students of all ages to the world of plants, and regularly lectures to Master Gardener groups. Janet received a BS in Biology from Davidson College and a PhD in Botany from the University of Wisconsin. She served on the faculty at Sweet Briar College prior to joining CNU and is Co-chair for TNFW’s Science Advisory Committee.

Identifying Ferns is Easier Than You Might Think
We will identify the common ferns of Wintergreen and introduce the basic elements of fern morphology and reproduction.