March 16 - March 17, 2018
23rd Annual Herbal Forum at Round Top
Featured Presentations by Judy Barrett,
Gayle Engels, Bill McKinley,
Heidi Sheesley, Lois Sutton
August to April Series

2018 Herbal Forum Brochure Artwork
Ginger – Our Herb for 2018

23rd Annual Herbal Forum: Saturday, March 17, 2018
with Optional Workshops on Friday, March 16

Dedicated in Memory of Lucia Bettler

Join us as we explore the world of herbs and grow in knowledge and understanding while learning exciting new ways to utilize these ancient plants.

Presenters: Judy Barrett, Gayle Engels, Bill McKinley, Heidi Sheesley, Lois Sutton  Biographies below.

Click here to view Herbal Forum brochure.

Registration Fee:  $80.00 (required for participation in forum attendance, workshops, meals)
Friday Buffet Lunch:  $18.00 plus tax (optional)
Friday Presenters' Dinner:  $42.00 plus tax (optional, space is limited)
Workshop (per session):  $40.00 (optional, space is limited)
Plant Sale is open to the public.

Forum proceeds benefit the Gardens of the Round Top Festival Institute and The Herb Society of America-Pioneer Unit Educational Activities

Three workshops are being offered on Friday, March 16, starting at 1:00 pm and again at 3:30 pm. Participation in the workshops is limited to Herbal Forum registrants and is by reservation only on a first-come first-served basis. Each workshop is limited to 20 participants. See description of Workshops below.

The Herbal Forum begins at 8:45 am on Saturday, March 17, in the Festival Concert Hall with a welcome by Henry Flowers, Herbal Forum Director, and Karen Cornwell, Herb Society of America, Pioneer Unit Chair. Five exciting and informative presentations are scheduled throughout the day. See description of Presentations below. The midday break includes the traditional Blessing of the Gardens followed by the complimentary Garden Buffet Lunch on the rear lawn of the Menke House.

     The last event of the day on Saturday, "Wonderful Ways with Herbs," includes demonstrations by some of our fellow herb enthusiasts on the many ways in which herbs can be utilized--in foods, in crafts, in medicine, and more. (If you would like to be a demonstrator for this program please contact Henry at

The famous Plant Sale and "Thyme Well Spent" Gift Shop are open to the public from 9-5 on Friday and 8-5 on Saturday.

     Garden Gazebo at the Plant Sale - While at the plant sale make sure to visit the gazebo for a variety of garden-related items such as garden signs, birdhouses, gourds, and hypertufa creations.

     "Thyme Well Spent" Gift Shop - Be sure to visit the Thyme Well Spent Gift Shop in Room 9 in the School Building for handmade items prepared by the Herb Society of America, Pioneer Unit. Volunteers have spent many hours preparing a large array of items that will help to bring the wonder of herbs to your kitchen, bath, and home. (We recycle 8 oz. jelly jars and would be glad to receive any that you no longer need.) In this room there will also be a table of donated garden-related books and magazines being sold to support The HSA National Herb Garden Internship. We hope that you will browse this table and purchase an item or two to help support this cause. Donations of books and magazines are welcome.

Registration for the forum and optional workshops, and reservations for the Friday meals may be made here online by clicking the "View Prices and Purchase" button above (after registration opens at 9 am on Monday, January 22) or by calling 979-249-3129. Payment may be made with MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, or by check payable to The James Dick Foundation. Deadline to register is Friday, March 9, 2018.

Registration fee includes complimentary Saturday lunch and participation in all Saturday events. Registration Fee is Required to Purchase Friday Meals and Workshops. You are NOT included in the Friday Meal or Workshop count until you pay your Registration Fee. An extra fee of $40 per workshop is required to participate in the workshops.

For information regarding the 23rd Annual Herbal Forum, please contact Henry Flowers, Herbal Forum Director, at or leave a message at 979-249-3129.

Accommodations at Festival Hill:
Enhance your experience by staying overnight on the campus of Round Top Festival Institute. Most rooms are within easy walking distance of the Herbal Forum activities; all have private baths and air conditioning. Rates include all linens and a continental breakfast served in the Menke House Dining Room from 8 am to 9 am. Email or call 979-249-3129 to make your reservations.

Cancellation Policy:
A 20% fee will be deducted from all refunds requested on or before March 9, 2018. No refunds can be given after March 9, 2018.

Office/Information/Reservations: 979-249-3129

Concert Hall Location: 248 Jaster Rd, Round Top, TX 78954
      Google Map      #6 on Campus Map


Variety is the Spice of Life – Diversifying Your Plant Palette
     Presented at 9:00 a.m. by Heidi Sheesley

     An overview of some wonderful plant treasures to add to your garden.

Gingers—Venerable and Versatile
     Presented at 10:15 a.m. by Dr. Lois Sutton

     An overview of the wonderful array of plants belonging to the great ginger family. This family contains a vast wealth of culinary, medicinal and ornamental plants and thankfully many will grow in and add beauty to our Southern gardens.

The History and Mystery of the Zingiberaceae Family
     Presented at 11:15 a.m. by Gayle Engels

     Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and its relatives have been used as food and medicine for millennia and, in fact, are some of the earliest examples of food as medicine. The significance in medicinal use of ginger, turmeric, galangal, and cardamom coevolved with their culinary use and their traditional uses have stimulated numerous studies supporting these benefits. This presentation will explore safe and effective applications for both traditional and evidence-based medicinal uses of ginger and its close relatives.

When Good Gardens Go Bad
     Presented at 1:45 p.m. by Judy Barrett

     Gardens do not take care of themselves. Poor soil, pests, disease, fungus, and inclement weather can ruin plants and a gardener's zeal. This presentation will offer safe, practical, and inexpensive advice for handling common garden problems and challenges.

Making Ginger Snap
     Presented at 2:30 p.m. by Bill McKinley with a special appearance by James Dick, Founder and Artistic Director of Round Top Festival Institute

     Creative flower arranging, incorporating the use of herbs, set to the accompaniment of classical music. Finale piece will be created along with a live piano piece performed by Mr. James Dick.


Fun With Hypertufa
     Presented by Barbara Hemmer and Henry Flowers, Members of HSA Pioneer Unit

     Hypertufa is an ancient and fun way to make your own garden containers or decorative items. It is a durable product made with natural materials and can be used in many creative ways. Participants in this workshop will each create a hypertufa planting container and a decorative garden mushroom. The process of making draped hypertufa containers will also be demonstrated.Participants should bring durable rubber gloves and wear work clothes or a durable apron as this process can be messy. All other materials will be provided. $40 participation fee (includes materials). Each workshop is limited to 20 participants.

Designing Gingerly
     Presented by Bill McKinley, Director of The Benz School of Floral Design at Texas A&M University

     Participants of this workshop will create their own floral design from an assortment of flowers and plants, including both flowering ginger and ginger root. The design concepts of parallelism and basing, along with the elements of design line and form will be emphasized. Participants must bring their own snips/pruners for cutting stems. All other materials will be provided. $40 participation fee (includes materials). Each workshop is limited to 20 participants.

Ginger—The Root of Fabulous Flavor
     Presented by Billi Parus, Owner of Lavender House in Virginia Beach, Virginia

     Ginger is one of the most versatile of herbs. It can be used to flavor everything from soup to nuts, appetizer to desserts and beverages to boot! A fabulous array of tastings and recipes will inspire you to make ginger a part of your everyday culinary repertoire. $40 participation fee (includes materials). Each workshop is limited to 20 participants.


Judy Barrett is a long-time gardener and the editor/publisher of HOMEGROWN: Good Sense Organic Gardening, which has been published for 20 years as a magazine and online. She is also the author of several books, including What Can I Do With My Herbs?, What Makes Heirloom Plants So Great? and the newest When Good Gardens Go Bad. She and her husband live in Taylor, Texas.

Gayle Engels is the Special Projects Director for the American Botanical Council (ABC) where she has worked since 1995. She currently manages the development and maintenance of ABC's website, coordinates the development of content on special projects, writes for ABC's publications, guides its education department and the development of its medicinal demonstration gardens. She enjoys using her Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education from the University of Texas at Austin in a nontraditional educational setting giving presentations to educational groups and plant-oriented organizations, including tours of ABC's gardens, demonstrations, study groups, and lectures on various aspects of herbs and plant-based medicine.

Henry Flowers is the Garden Director at Round Top Festival Institute and coordinator of the Herbal Forum. He has degrees in Horticulture and Floriculture from Texas A&M University and received the Joanna McQuail Reed Award for the Artistic Use of Herbs from The Herb Society of America in 2009.

Barbara Hemmer is a retired medical technologist who majored in biology at the University of Texas and University of Houston. She is a member of the HSA Pioneer Unit and currently oversees the gardens and Art Department at WCHLA in Brenham and the Gazebo during the Herbal Forum plant sale.

William (Bill) McKinley, AIFD, CFD, ICPF — Bill is the Benz Endowed Chair and Senior Lecturer at Texas A&M University. He shares his enthusiasm for educating others not only through his higher education classes, but also through seminars conducted at state shows, wholesale house programs, garden club workshops and symposia throughout the United States and abroad. Bill is active in the AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers), where he has served on their National Board of Directors and is currently the Online Education Administrator, and also serves on the Education Committee, Educational Partner Committee, International Committee and the South Central Board of Directors. Bill was inducted into the Illinois State Florists' Association Hall of Fame in 2009 and was awarded the prestigious AIFD Distinguished Service to the Floral Industry Award in 2010.

Billi Parus resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband John, where they maintain a large herb garden containing several collections of herbs. She loves to experiment and cook with herbs and lectures on a wide variety of herbal topics all over the country. She stays busy with teaching, running her business, Lavender House, and quilting and smocking. She is a member-at-large of The HSA, an affiliate member of the Pioneer Unit and is also a Master Gardener and Master Food Volunteer. In 2009 Billi was awarded a Certificate of Achievement from The Herb Society of America.

Heidi Sheesley is the owner of Treesearch Farms, Inc. – a wholesale grower specializing in plants for the upper Gulf Coast. Treesearch Farms grows unique and unusual plants including many types of natives, perennials, trees, shrubs, citrus, fruit trees, hummingbird, butterfly and other habitat plants for birds and bees. Since 1983, when she decided to turn her love of plants into a commercial venture, she has dedicated her business life to propagating and growing out-of-the-ordinary plants that do well in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast. She is committed to education and works extensively with Master Gardener Associations and other organizations to promote water-wise horticultural practices in landscape management. She is a self-described "plant nut"! Boring plants are not in her vocabulary!

Lois Sutton comes from a family of avid gardeners and has had a passion for gardening since her early childhood. She received a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine and was a member of the faculty for both Baylor College of Medicine and Lamar University and a Clinical Director for The Methodist Hospital. She joined The Herb Society of America in 1983 and was an active member of both the South Texas and Pioneer Units. She served HSA as president from 2008-2010 and currently serves on the Society's investment committee and chairs the The Herbarist committee. She and her husband Andy (and three pampered cats) lived in Houston for 35 years and just moved to Asheville, NC a year ago, where she is on the herb garden learning curve again.

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