Plants for a Better Planet with Richie Steffen

Richie Steffen, Chair of Great Plant Picks, will be presenting the keynote lecture, “Plants for a Better Planet.” In a time of shifting climate and adaptive gardening practices, Steffen’s talk will focus on vivid combinations of plant selections that enhance the garden. Workshop participants will learn about the best drought-tolerant plants, garden-worthy natives, and pollinator-friendly gardening techniques, as well as strategies for blending these elements to create year-round diversity and beauty. Renowned for his horticultural expertise and love for plants in the Pacific Northwest, Steffen has an intimate knowledge of our area’s specific needs.

Richie Steffen

As executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, Steffen oversees development of the garden, its programs, and the rare plant collections. With more than 30 years of experience in the horticultural field, he maintains the classic Northwest aesthetic while celebrating the tradition of Elisabeth Carey Miller by discovering, displaying, evaluating, and disseminating information about plants suitable for Pacific Northwest landscapes.

Steffen also supervises the primary educational program of the Miller Garden, Great Plant Picks (  This go-to website is committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding and reliable plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens and is the best information about plants for our region.

Steffen is recognized nationally as well as regionally. He is the current president of the Hardy Fern Foundation, and is past president of the Northwest Horticultural Society, founded by Elisabeth Miller. Most notably, Steffen was the recipient of the American Public Garden Association 2018 Professional Citation Award for his achievements in public gardening.

Steffen, with co-author Sue Olsen, has written The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns. This book profiles 134 plants, with information on growth and propagation, advice on using ferns in garden design, and lists of where to buy the plants and where to view them in public gardens. You will be able to purchase this book at the Spring Garden Marketplace.

“...these photos and more, plus all the knowledge these two fern fanciers accumulated over their years of study, are beautifully presented in 'The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns'.”

Seattle Times 

The Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns