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17 -19

2017 National Meeting

Doubletree Inn by Hilton - East Syracuse, NY


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Form to download and print: National Meeting Registration 2017

UPDATE: Special Dennis Dodge grafts will be offered at live auction on August 19

UPDATE: 2019 National Meeting voucher to be included in live auction on August 19

In 2007 the Northeast Region of the ACS visited Sycamore Hill Gardens, Topiary Gardens & Mango Gardens in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of Central New York State. ACS Members are invited to revisit these and other gardens for the upcoming ACS National Meeting, August 17-19, 2017. The best gardens always grow, change and adapt becoming ever more beautiful and interesting. Come see for yourself what 10 years of new ideas, new conifers and Mother Nature can accomplish! If you have never been to these gardens, or, indeed, this area, be prepared to visit one of the most beautiful regions of the United States. (In fact, why not make this a real vacation and extend your stay by visiting the many nearby attractions. You’ll find some highlights here: Pre and Post Opportunities 2017.)

Our base will be the newly renovated Doubletree Hilton in Syracuse, with 5-star amenities, including an award winning chef, outdoor and indoor heated pools and an expanded patio with fire pits. A complimentary shuttle will whisk you to & from nearby Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

Book your hotel room

We’ll begin with cocktails and dinner on Thursday, August 17. Robert Fincham, a founding ACS member, plant propagator extraordinaire and author will give the Keynote Address: ‘Something New Is Not Always Something Better’. He will also address some of his incredible Picea abies ‘Acrocona’ x ‘Gold Drift’ work.

Friday we visit Sycamore Hill Gardens, Dianne Bordoni’s Gardens, and Mango Gardens. Sycamore Hill Gardens is a 40-acre private estate designed by Karen and George Hanford., and boasts several new coniferous exclamation points including a 100’ long “George’s Dragon”, composed of 32 large specimens of Picea pungens ‘Glauca Procumbens”. This is only the head—you need to attend to see the rest!

The head of the dragon by Karen Hanford


Dianne Bordoni’s Gardens show what can be done on a smaller scale with the clever use of conifers to enhance and make this landscape unusual and unique. Thirty-one years in the making, the Bordoni Gardens excel at “layering” plant material, much the way plants grow in nature. The site features a small pond and several wooden structures using repurposed material from the property and, of course, many conifers of specimen quality.

A venerable juniper by Dianne Bordoni


Dr. Mango’s garden has hosted tours by numerous plant societies. Many a happy bride and groom have celebrated their wedding in the gardens of this extensive estate. The Mango Gardens promise us some exquisite conifer plantings with maximum “drool factor”.

Cones on Abies procera ‘Glauca’ by Jerry Kral


Sycamore Hill will also be the featured lunch venue on Friday. The Chicken Bandit, a local food truck, will be at the “TENT” where you can enjoy lunch with a sponsored wine tasting and pour.

            Friday evening Christie Dustman, an award winning garden designer in the Boston, Mass. area will give a presentation on using conifers in your gardens. To quote Christie, “Conifers are uniquely qualified to be living sculptures in your landscape. They have a stately and commanding presence that just isn’t paralleled with deciduous plants. Conifers provide substance and assist in composition. See your conifers differently by looking through the lens of a landscape designer”.

Saturday morning offers a presentation by the famous (or infamous) tag-team of Janet Macunovich & Steven Nikkila on “Planting When the Roots Aren’t Right”. To quote Janet and Steve, “Today we have an unprecedented choice in plant species and variety. However, we are also in the midst of a perfect storm of production practices and economic realities that likely mean the plant that you buy will not have a good root system. It is particularly sad to see dreams ruined and years wasted when a dwarf conifer fails in what may appear to be inexplicable manner.” To quote Michael Dirr, considered by many the world’s guru of woody plants, after attending a talk by Janet; “What a great presentation. And no one told me you’re also a comedian”. You will be royally entertained.

A lunch catered by Jolle’s French Bistro, featuring an olive oil and bread tasting, will again be at the TENT at Sycamore Hill. A sponsored wine tasting and pour will feature wines from the Finger Lakes Region. Saturday will also feature visits to Topiary Gardens, the gardens and nursery of Diana Smith and the Kraft Gardens on Crooked Lake.

Topiary Gardens is a collector’s paradise. In addition to conifers, the Gardens boast 700+ varieties of maples and 100+ varieties of Asiatic, longiflorum, Oriental and other species lilies. The conifers and Japanese maples complement each other perfectly. Topiary is a working nursery that specializes in some of the very latest (and rarest) Japanese maple and conifer cultivars.

          Picea asperata ‘China Blue’ by Jerry Kral


The Kraft Gardens are situated on a Hillside overlooking Crooked Lake. Both house and gardens are designed to take advantage of this unique landscape feature. Crooked Lake is 70 feet deep and covers an area of 105 acres. It is one of the Tully Lakes, a group of six lakes (along with Tully, Tracey, Mud, Green and Song) called “kettles”. Each lake was formed from large chunks of glacial ice that melted and left a depression. You may get to see some of these lakes as we travel to the Kraft Gardens.

Part of the Kraft Gardens sloping towards the Lake


This unique setting is the perfect backdrop for the Gardens. Donna Kraft, our hostess, discovered the beauty and grandeur of weeping conifers many years ago. The Gardens are anchored by at least a dozen mature and unique specimen conifers. The steep hillside allows conifers to cascade and tumble down several terraced paths. No artifice is required to display the beauty of these conifer ‘’Beasts”. The Kraft Gardens are enhanced by the conifers rather than dedicated to the display of conifers. A water feature with rapids and falls adds sound and serenity to an exquisite display of plants.

Saturday evening brings, of course, the silent and live auctions, including a rare offering from the famous Dennis Dodge Collection (held in reserve just for this meeting), followed by Sunday morning’s tailgate sale.

Conifer College Details

Conifer College Registration Form



                                             CONIFER COLLEGE



Sunday is also very special because we are offering a full day Conifer CollegeCentral New York Style! Requiring a special Registration and perhaps an extra night’s stay, this event combines access to some of the best conifer information available along with an incredible sight-seeing opportunity. All of our main speakers—Fincham, Dustman, Macunovich and Nikkila—will be offering classes. Other classes will feature several ACS notables of regional, national and international expertise. Conifer College will also include afternoon field trips to observe several styles of conifer pruning, as well as the design and planting of conifer rockeries in large, frost-proof ceramic containers using miniature conifers. The day will end with a special Dinner Cruise on Skaneateles Lake. Thanks to the support of several sponsors, this once in a lifetime opportunity will be offered for an incredible bargain price. Check out the Dinner Cruise Menu!

One of the College presenters, Christie Dustman, was just featured with her garden in The Boston Globe (3/31/17): West Roxbury Garden Shows off the Beauty of Trees.


We thank our sponsors for helping to arrange a wonderful meeting: Christie Dustman, Finger Lakes Wineries, George & Karen Hanford, Harbor View Wine and Liquors, Bergen Water Gardens and Jerry & Karen Kral.



  1. anneburton commented

    sounds wonderful. when will the registration forms be available? Received winter newsletter on line but no registration forms were in it.

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  2. Jerry Kral commented

    Hello Anne,

    Our target date for Registration Form Availability (Both the Main Meeting & Conifer College) is February 15th, 2017. Forms should be in your Winter Issue of the CQ (due out Mid-February) and the Website about the same time. The NER Newsletter published too early to include the forms. Thank you for your comment and interest.
    Jerry Kral
    Co-Event Planner ACS National 2017

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  3. Jerry Kral commented

    The Winter Issue of the Conifer Quarterly has two articles with details of the 2017 National in Syracuse and the second ever Conifer College.

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  4. Sara Malone commented

    The online registration form is up! Click on the meeting on the home page and you’ll see it.

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  5. Jerry Kral commented

    It is with great pleasure that we welcome Bergen Water Gardens as the newest member of our growing list of sponsors.

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  6. Sara Malone commented

    I can’t wait to visit the Finger Lakes area. I haven’t been there for years and I remember it as being absolutely gorgeous. Great spot for a September meeting and vacation.

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  7. Janice LeCocq commented

    I got a error trying to register online. I’m the only attendee…filed out the meal request for myself but when I tried to “continue” I’m required to enter a “friday meal”…which I already did. I’m wondering whether it thinks I’m registering “attendee two”. Anyway, thought you should know. I’m just mailing in the paper form.

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  8. Jerry Kral commented

    Conifer College- CNY Style-Update
    Frank Goodhart, past president (1996-1997) and recipient of the Award of Merit for Development in The Field of Conifers (2008), will be presenting a class on, “Great American Trees” for Conifer College. Frank submitted a couple of photos just to give an idea of what you can expect to see during his presentation. (See Pics in the Photo Gallery). The photos are of Pinus flexilis, above 9000 feet, South of Breckenridge, CO.

    “Great American Trees”:
    To round out your conifer knowledge, national past president, Frank Goodhart, will present a class featuring an overview of our great Native American trees. He will demonstrate their importance in the landscape and their influence on conifer selections currently available. The talk begins with the giant redwoods of the west and ends with the pygmy pine forests of the east. Frank will include information about some selected dwarf conifers that intrigue us all. His class is: “Great American Trees”.

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