The annual Perennial Plant Association Symposium, held this year in Denver, drew horticulturists and perennial plant fanatics from across the country and around the world. Themed “How High Can You Steppe?”, the event focused on the unique climate and growing conditions of the high, arid country that dominates the Rocky Mountain region — and the unique plants that thrive there.

The program included a broad selection of tours focused on growing, landscape design and retail operations, as well as visits to public and private gardens and trips to high altitude sites.

Regional symposia will be held in Baltimore and Chicago in February.

Read more: 2017 Perennial Plant Association Scholars

Symposium attendees reunite at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms following a day of separate grower, landscape and retail tours.

Visitors at a stop on the grower tour are fascinated by the potting machine.

Attendees Dr. Denise Adams and Moti Kopilovitch are among those who ventured up into higher altitudes; they’re pictured here at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden in Vail.

Dr. James Klett, professor of landscape horticulture, ornamentals and nursery management at Colorado State University in Fort Collins as well as member of the board of Plant Select, leads PPA visitors through the CSU Trial Gardens.

Little Valley Wholesale Nursery in Brighton hosts PPA visitors as part of the grower tour segment.

Symposium attendees learn about production at Greenhouse Growing System™, a Colorado Industrial Hemp Company.

Panayoti Kelaidis, the Denver Botanic Garden’s Senior Curator and Director of Outreach, takes attendees through the steppes — the unique, midcountry region as well as sister steppes across the globe — to find plants best suited to high and dry climates.

Two industry icons were recognized for their service to the industry at the PPA Symposium: Steven Still, executive director of PPA, is scheduled to retire this year, and Stephanie Cohen, known as the Perennial Diva, celebrated her birthday.

Three lions of horticulture — George Pealer, owner and general manager of Millcreek Gardens LLC in Ohio; Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and recipient of PPA’s highest honor, the Award of Merit; and Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach at Denver Botanic Garden — compare notes during a break between sessions.

Succulents grow happily in the Steppe Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens, tucked among rock slabs in a crevice garden setting.

Image Courtesy Of Sally Benson

If word of mouth, oohs and aahs and Facebook posts are any indication, this plant — moon carrot (Seseli gummiferum) — was the clear favorite of PPA visitors to the Denver Botanic Gardens.

A unique fountain graces the crevice garden section at Denver Botanic Gardens.

PPA visitors to the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street stroll the O’Fallon Perennial Walk on their way through the 24-acre site.