Kelly had an interest in gardening at a very young age as she sat on the sidewalk each afternoon waiting for the four o’clocks to open. While still very young she learned plant identification during long walks in the woods. Proper techniques for planting and transplanting became a necessary skill for her life. This love of nature and captivation with plants and flowers has remained a constant in her life. Researching plants was required and fueled by her own children’s interest, as every plant has a story and those that can be eaten became of particular interest.
Her collection of knowledge continued to flourish with more than 30 years in the wholesale water gardening trade. Her experience, paired with dedication has facilitated industry growth through education and has earned her expert status. Kelly is recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a teacher, enthusiastically sharing her expertise at venues including Longwood Gardens, The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS) Symposium, Helix Summit, Water Garden Expo, Pondapalooza, Genesis 3, Cornell University Extension, University of Maryland Extension Pest Management Conferences, Chesapeake Green, Master Gardeners, as well as with garden centers, garden clubs and horticultural societies. More recently she was honored to travel to China to speak at the 4 th Annual Shanghai Lotus and Waterlily Exhibition held at Guyi Garden as well as the 30 th National Lotus Flower Exhibition Symposium in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. While in China she visited a multitude of Botanic Gardens including Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden and Research Facility and the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Kelly’s career has provided abundant opportunity to plan, design, and plant innumerable water features. Her knowledge, expertise and careful attention to detail has resulted in significant praise. Her clients include Anthony Archer-Wills, LLC, David B. Duensing & Associates, David S. Brown Enterprises, Ltd., and Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, to name a few. Her specialty is denitrification through beautification; understanding the plants natural ability to improve the health of aquatic environments. Her insight makes her adept at effective plant use while capitalizing on the architectural appeal. As in all segments of the landscape the ‘right plant, right place’ principles apply in the water as well. Creating artistic balance is her key to success.
She has a strong history infused with numerous research and education projects. Her work includes nutrient uptake and water quality improvement studies with Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS), Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC), Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) and the University of Maryland Horn Point Lab and Sea Grant. The various studies focused on plant and microbial denitrification for aquaculture, storm water and lake management. Plants were used in varying capacity to treat degraded water bodies like fish aquaculture, swine lagoons and storm water to improve water quality and health prior to discharge. In most cases there was an additional priority toward beautification. The results were analyzed and published.
To maintain industry integrity, she compiled and maintains the Aquatic Plant Regulated & Invasive Species List for the nursery trade in the United States. Her list serves as the authoritative reference recognized by the National Plant Board; a non-profit organization of the plant pest regulatory agencies of each of the states, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Kelly is a published author. She co-authored with Paula Biles- The Lotus, Know It and Grow It for the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS). The Lotus book received a bronze award from the Living Now Book Awards. They recognize the world’s best lifestyle and home style books. In 2010 The Lotus was translated and published as a Korean edition by Chris Song. Additionally, she co-authored with Ben Helm on a water gardening book that was published in the US titled Water Gardeners Bible and in the UK as Water Gardens.
She also writes regularly for various trade magazines and other water gardening publications including Pond Trade, Ponds USA, Pond Keeper, Water Gardening Lifestyles, and The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society Journal. In addition to her formidable background with aquatic plants Kelly’s growing interest now includes creating uniquely exquisite works of artistic expression using lotus leaves as an independent art form.
Kelly is often acclaimed for transferring her exuberant enthusiasm to those around her, especially as it pertains to water gardening. She will bring her years of knowledge and expertise to patrons in a way that reflects her style and love of nature.
"The magic is behind Kelly’s Passion for the Lotus.
Without passion we have nothing."
Other Significant Accomplishments
• Serves on the Board of Directors for the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS).
• Chaired the 2017 IWGS Symposium in Kennett Square, PA. Highlights included visits to Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer, Winterthur Museum, North Creek Nurseries and several installations by Turpin Landscaping.
• Consultant to Longwood Gardens for production of an online class on Water Gardening to be released in 2018
• University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Publication UM-SG- SGEP-2009- 01 Urban and Stormwater Pond Management
• Kelly is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist.