Gene Bush, Speaker

For well over 20 years I have been giving talks on shade gardening to gardeners and their related organizations. Using personal experience gained from my mid-western garden, and my own photographs taken of plants I have grown, I feel that I “speak shade gardening.”

While my talks relate to a niche of gardening, it is a much-needed niche that is often neglected. Gardening in shade is what I do; the only thing I do.

This has worked well, for my presentations have been well received at Wisconsin’s Olbrich Botanical Garden, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Morton Arboretum in Illinois, and Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, Michigan. I have been popular with Master Gardeners, giving talks at their annual state conferences over the years as well as at organizations such as Perennial Plant Association, Kentucky Landscape Industries winter conference, Indiana Nursery & Landscape Association and many others.

Overview & Testimonials

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Coming Soon!


Garden Design by Sarah N. Dippity

A light-hearted but informative look at garden design for the rest of us.

Colorful Combinations for Shade Gardens

The original concept for this presentation also began as an article for Fine Gardening Magazine. The article and many of the slides appeared in the March/April issue of 2005 under the title “Combinations Made in the Shade”. The slide presentation greatly expands upon the concept of great garden companions and their behavior over the full gardening season. Subtle, and not so subtle, combinations bring out the best in each other and prove that there is no shortage of color for shade gardens.

This title has consistently been very popular over the years since it was first presented. It is in the process of being updated for the coming year with fresh as well as additional slides.

Ten Months of Bloom in the Shade Garden

This extended period of bloom is neither an impossible, nor difficult, goal for the mid-western gardener. There is no shortage of plants for creating color in the garden almost year-round. Despite this there does seem to be a lack of awareness of the perennials that can be enjoyed over an extended period in a shade garden.

Using a mix of native and non-native perennials for the shade or woodland garden, your garden can begin in early March, then watch the final blooms fade in early to mid-December depending upon your local climate.

The presentation is arranged month-by-month with several slides depicting each period I particularly enjoy in my zone 6/5 garden.

Ten Months of Bloom is my most requested presentation.
Recently Revised

Nine Months of Natives in Bloom

No need for native plant enthusiasts to feel overlooked and neglected. My “Nine months of Natives in Bloom” presentation presents plenty of bloom and color in the shade garden from March through November. If someone did not point out the fact they were native to our eastern U.S., one would simply see another well-planned perennial shade garden.

Our native perennial woodland plants are, in some aspects, easier to grow than other plants from around the world. What grows here locally has been working at survival since long before gardeners came along to notice their existence. There is a saying about a prophet in his home town being ignored and having to go to another village to be appreciated. What grows all about us is often the loveliest, the easiest to find gardening success with; but is also often ignored in favor of finicky foreign plants. Hopefully this presentation will change how you see our native woodland perennials.

Recently Revised

Hosta Companions: Before, During & After

Mention shaded gardens and the converstion soon turns to the plant Hosta. Most gardeners have several varieties, often becoming collectors. But great design calls for more than just hostas, no matter how varied in leaf and color. What companions, other than just another hosta, can a gardener choose?

Gene has some answers. He covers not just plants to accompany hostas in leaf and bloom, but also plants to provide a show before and after hostas arrive at their peak. Sharing photos taken in his hillside shade garden, Gene suggests spring-performing perennials to use before hostas emerge, plants to best show off a hosta garden at its peak, and ways to continue the show after frost when hostas have gone dormant.

Let Gene’s thirty-plus years of first-hand shade gardening experience help you make the most of your hostas. Join Gene for an hour of plant eye candy, perhaps an eye-opener or two, and above all, a good time talking plants—with a bit of humor thrown in.

A Gardener Grounded: Alternative Gardening to Meet Life’s Challenges

How does a gardener meet the challenges of aging and ill health? For a passionate gardener, acceptance of their limitations—both physical and emotional—is not enough. Changes are called for to enable a gardener to continue gardening.

Gene has met these challenges, both accepting their limitations and making them his garden companions. Rather than standing in the way, the restrictions of age and illness travel with Gene as he spends time in his hillside garden. This talk follows Gene’s thinking, his feelings, and his discoveries in finding the necessary compromises.

Drawing on thirty years of experience and photographs from his garden, Gene recounts how he is coming to terms with his new garden companions. This presentation is based upon his book, A Gardener Grounded: Meeting Life’s Challenges Post Diagnosis.