Kirk R. Brown

» Botanical Travel, History (33)
» Garden Design (67)
» Organic, Sustainable (61)
» Photography, Art (17)
» Program Packages (11)


6211 Vista Terrace Orefield, Pennsylvania 18069

Kirk entertains and educates audiences of business owners, garden clubs, and history lovers with his energetic and passionate, horticulturally-related presentations. His personifications of John Bartram and Frederick Law Olmsted are electrifying.




Additional Information

Frederick Law Olmsted is available for keynote addresses, dedications, and award's ceremonies.


Mr. Brown's Resume Includes the following distinctive accomplishments:

Kirk travels the country wearing the mantle of two of America's foremost practitioners of the Art of Gardening: John Bartram and Frederick Law Olmsted. Additionally, he delivers design and garden history lectures as himself.

A recipient of the Pennsylvania Nursery and Landscape Association ”Green Achiever” Award for advancing horticulture in Pennsylvania, Kirk served as business manager of award-winning Joanne Kostecky Garden Design, Inc.  He was inducted in 2008 to the “1885 Club” as a distinguished alumnus of Bangor Area High School.

His book, “Landscape Contractor” is distributed to high school guidance programs throughout the US and Canada. 

Kirk is immediate Past President of GWA: The Association of Garden Communicators. He is current President of their non-profit Foundation. He was on GWA's National Symposium Committee for the Brandywine Valley.  As a national director, he has organized meetings and tours at the National Arboretum, National Botanic Garden, American Society of Landscape Architects, Phipps Conservatory, Rutgers University Arboretum, Longwood, Chanticleer, Conard/Pyle, Morris Arboretum, Nemours, Mt. Cuba, Hagley Museum, Haverford and Jenkins Arboretums.

He has been chairman of the Penn State/PLNA winter education conference committee.  He has served on the marketing committee for the American Nursery and Landscape Association.

He has served as a judge of major exhibits for the Philadelphia Flower Show.  He has also judged exhibits for the Penn Allied Nursery Trade Show and the Allentown Flower Show.

Gardens that he has designed and installed have been presented with “Outstanding Design Awards” by PLNA.  Gardens that he designed, installed and maintains at Asbury United Methodist Church were presented with a Pennsylvania Green Award by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Pennsylvania Green Commission.

 He is a graduate of Cornell University.

Lecture Experience:

 His lecturing has received outstanding accolades from audiences of his peers.  He has done keynote addresses for The American Nursery and Landscape Association Management Clinic, The Florida Landscape and Nursery Growers Association, Pennsylvania Nursery and Landscape Association, Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association, Ohio Short Course at CENTS, Genesee Landscape and Nursery Association, Eastern States Landscape Conference (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Perennial Plant Association, Pennsylvania Garden Club Federation—Eastern District, Temple University—Ambler Campus, Philadelphia Flower Show, The Smithsonian Institution, and Garden Writers Association.  He has spoken to numerous garden clubs, high school guidance programs, regional nursery associations, churches, and service clubs on a variety of horticultural, theatrical and business topics (current available lectures are available.)


Articles by him and/or over his byline have appeared in the following:  Homestyle and Gardening (A Family Circle Magazine), American Nurseryman, Green Scene, From the Ground Up, Pleasure of Gardening (ANLA), New Ideas (ANLA), How to Work with the Media (ANLA), Quill and Trowel (GWA), The Morning Call, Parkland Press, Emmaus Press, Builder/Architect: Eastern Pennsylvania Edition, and Featured Views (The newsletter he produces for Garden Design)

Curriculum Vitae:

For Asbury United Methodist Church, he has written over 25 produced original dramas, comedies, and musicals with a number of collaborators over the last 35 years.  Several of his Christian musicals have been published and achieved a national audience for a variety of productions.

Currently, he is working towards certification as a Lay Preacher for the United Methodist Church.  

As an actor and playwright, Kirk has produced, directed, and designed over 100 productions in the years since his appearance at Bangor in ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’ (where he met his future wife, Sara Stine, playing Rosie to his Albert).  He has served on the board of Directors at Civic Theatre in Allentown, founded ACTS (Asbury Chancel Theatre Society) where he has produced an original drama or musical every one of the last 25 years, and .  He serves as a coordinator and designer for the Arts in Worship Committee.

He is a leader and Merit Badge and Eagle Scout counselor for the Boy Scouts of America in Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, Fine Art, Theatre, Communications, and Business Management.



Sense and Sustainability__Sustainability is a hot topic for our world.  It is an “Inconvenient Truth” that this planet is in big trouble.  What are the steps that we can take to minimize the risks and maximize our world’s life expectancy?  The people and associations interested in living “green” should be leaders in the world-wide need to solve the environmental dilemma.  This discussion will focus on the ways and means to achieve those goals ultimately save the planet.  (This topic can be one break-out session, opening key note or double session.)

Sustainability and the American Dream__Can the path to sustainability be accelerated?  Can our view of the natural world be reframed?  Can society be restarted on a path to ecological responsibility?  And can we afford the price tag?  A few thoughts with many challenges for an audience in the horticultural industry that wants to meet its own needs for the present without compromising the ability of future generations to succeed.

John Bartram, The King's Gardener__John Bartram welcomes you with the horticultural history of America as it began in Philadelphia and Penn’s Woods.  His story starts at the very beginning of the international world of plant discovery and identification.  His humor, his passion and his achievements will entertain, inspire and awe as he shares his hope for the future of the earth.  (This session is designed to be a costumed, stand-alone opening keynote on the subject of sustainability and green earth awareness.)  What Hal Holbrook is to Mark Twain so is Kirk Brown to John Bartram!”

Hot Pots:  Secrets of Successful Container Gardening__Small lots, large decks, inside gardening, and annuals, annuals, annuals! How easy it is to garden in small spaces with a wealth of new plant material and architectural details. Container gardening is the latest frontier for the avid plant collector! More plants per square inch and more color per month in a seasonal retrospective of best and the brightest!

Olmsted: Environmental Visionary__ A dramatic presentation on the life of the father of Landscape Architecture who created cities out of the American wilderness and began a conservation movement still challenging the world today.  Frederick Law Olmsted comes alive in this first person presentation on the issues that will save the planet!

Small Garden Smarts__Designing small gardens, whether in a courtyard or a 40 acre estate, can maximize the impact while minimizing the budget.  With the perfect combination of plants, hardscape elements and outdoor lighting for the client’s after-hours enjoyment, small gardens can deliver ultimate client satisfaction.  From courtyard through pocket retreats to verandas and containers, this lecture is lavishly illustrated with dozens of design solutions for those hard-to-treat areas

No Watering Required: Water-Wise Garden Design__All the latest tips and techniques to bring your residential landscape into the Green Millenium.  The Three “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle) make for sensible garden designing in combination with practicable water management.  The lecture covers a breadth of current-event landscape design topics:  Rain Gardens, Rain Barrels, Storm Water Bioretention, Green Roofs, Dry Stream Beds, Latest Plant Introductions—Natives and Species Hybrids, and new to design and install Water Features.

Landscape Design Primer__Through the use of actual transformations, landscape designs will be examined for the value they can add to a property—both financial and esthetic.  Before and after pictures will illustrate exactly how a property can be improved through the elements and principles of design.  Learn how to define a property’s hidden assets through creative landscape design approaches.

Cornerstones of the Garden__Everything you need to know about designing with the right plants in the right places for the right reasons.  This is a back-to-basics, no-nonsense approach to the elements and principles of design.  The talk is illustrated with photos of gardens from one of the country’s most award-winning landscape design/build companies.  This hour lecture can be expanded into a half or full day concentration in how to get the details right in landscape design.

No Watering Required:  Artsy Stuff in the Garden__Since the Greeks put marble fauns in the landscape, people have been accessorizing their gardens with non green “stuff” that adds to the appeal of living outdoors.  Walk through your garden with thoughts developed in this—sometimes humorous—look at artistic exterior creations.  From watering cans through containers to stained glass, crafts, stone, metal, and truck tires with supplies from the basement to the attic this presentation will excite you with the possibilities waiting to happen for your next season out in the back forty!

Who Ya Gonna Call:  Landscape Design Resources__The landscape professional has an arsenal of tools with which to work.  From professional credentials and industry recognition to knowing what to buy from whom, this talk delivers names and addresses of a vast array of support organizations and trade providers for the dedicated professional or the passionate amateur.

History of Landscape Gardening in America: 1560 to 2011__

Preservation of Historic Landscape Sites and Structures

Other hour-long topics Mr. Brown has delivered and been officially recognized by the National Federated Garden Clubs in their accredited Design Course:

Development of Landscape Design in Early America

Development of Landscape Design in America:  1840 to 1940

Design on the Land; Regional Expression

Landscape Design Resources

Landscape Design Elements and Principles

Preservation of Historic Sites and Structures

What the audience says about Kirk R. Brown as John Bartram:

“It was great to meet the man who brings John Bartram alive.  Thank you for coming to Athens, GA.  You were great!  A teacher’s skill to be sure.  My best in life and the garden.”

                              Michael Dirr,  Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

 “Kirk's portrayal of America's first world-class plantsman is a masterful blend -- passionate, humorous, moving, educational but never pedantic. Meticulous research and an obvious affection for the subject enables him to fully inhabit the role, not just the costume.  John Bartram took a skeptical audience first by surprise and then by storm.” 

John Friel, Green Leaf Perennials/Yoder Brothers

Program Chair Perennial Plant Association

“Kirk Brown doesn't just portray John Bartram— he IS John Bartram. His performance is remarkable, believable and most enjoyable. Bravo!”

Robert LaGasse, Executive Director, Garden Writers Association

 “If only history were taught with such significant information, tying specific incidents with the general atmosphere of the times, many students would pay much more attention!  The story of John Bartram as portrayed by Kirk Brown was easy to understand and was delivered with an ‘on the edge of your seat’ performance!”

 “I've known Kirk Brown for many years as members of the Garden Writers Association. When Kirk is in costume as John Bartram, he IS John Bartram to the point that I forget he’s Kirk! Any audience from ages 9 to 90 will not only be captivated and entertained but will feel a part of our past as they walk back in time with John Bartram. What a wonderful way to learn history! I highly recommend Kirk Brown as a wonderful human being and as the historic gardener, John Bartram.”

Brent and Becky Heath, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

 “Kirk Brown did not imitate John Bartram, he actually became him. His gallery of pictures and quotes and his performance added up to an electrifying and edifying performance. Anyone who has an interest in history or horticulture will be spellbound by this presentation.” 

Stephanie Cohen  Author/lecturer

 "John Bartram came back to life with a captivating lecture presented by his alter ego, Kirk Brown. The chain of history has a new link added with this lively presentation of Bartram's botanical discoveries, complete with fascinating stories of his life and times.

 Knowing that Bartram was of relatively modest means, Collinson urged him to dress appropriately for important meetings, so as not to reflect badly on Collinson.  Clearly, Kirk Brown took this under advisement when choosing his apparel for Philadelphia Botanical History, presented by John Bartram, presented to the PPA. It was very well received and given enthusiastic applause.

 Judy Glattstein, Author/lecturer

 “John Bartram may have passed away in the year of 1777, but I feel as if I know him.  Some of his wisdom has been imparted to me.  The greatest compliment I can give for this transcendent moment is that Kirk left me with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye.”  

Jimmy Turner, Director, Horticultural Research Dallas Arboretum

 “On behalf of the Friends of the Monmouth Museum I can't thank you enough for coming to Bingham Hall and giving us such a wonderful presentation. Perhaps presentation is not the most accurate word, for we all felt as if we had been thrown back in time as we followed John Bartram over his lifetime.  It was ‘time traveling!’  It was such a lovely day and quite a success for The Friends. I feel it was one of the best programs that we have put together, and a great way to end our fund raising season.”

 Monica Ragolia, Chair, Friends of The Monmouth Museum

 “I've seen Kirk do John Bartram on several occasions now, and each time, just when you think he couldn't be more believable, it gets better. Most recently at Gardenwriters Symposium in Raleigh NC, Kirk did a performance and received a standing ovation. Of course we were already standing :-) but seriously the applause seemed to never end. The Power Point Presentation that accompanies his performance is continually tweaked and is of a broadcast quality, something that you would expect from a production company at The Discovery Channel or The History Channel. If you have the opportunity to see this performance, do it, you will be impressed.”

Barry Glick, Sunshine Farms and Gardens, Plant Collector Extraordinaire

 “As a professional speaker myself, I have very high standards when it comes to public presentations. I want a talk to be concise, informative, humorous, well illustrated, perfectly paced, accessible to the entire audience, and whole-hearted. Kirk Brown's John Bartram presentations are all of these and more. Kirk understands how to tailor a talk so that it's meaningful to the group that he's speaking to, yet he does this seamlessly and without pretense. He is amusing and quick to respond to his audience, always remaining in character. Audiences come away from one of Kirk's John Bartram presentations with a better knowledge of horticulture and American history, and with inspirations and ideas that they can apply to their own lives and work.”

C.L. Fornari, Speaker, Writer, Consultant,

 “You got the highest marks of any of our speakers in the evaluation questionnaire from the attendants.  We all had a wonderful time.”

 Pat Dygulski, Monmouth Museum

 “I am so glad that John enjoyed himself.  He certainly charmed and delighted the 70 guests that attended yesterday’s event.  It was the first time in my many years of coordinating special events that I did not get one complaint!!!  They are looking forward to visiting John’s garden.  Thanks again.”

Mary R. Suszkowski, Special Projects Coordinator, Monmouth Museum

 “And John was the best of guests! Everyone loved your story, and for me, I was completely in the 18th century, for a while there I forgot where I was. Thank you.”

Kathy Pojawa, Monmouth Museum

“If you ever have the opportunity to see Kirk Brown’s portrayal of John Bartram, grab it! The costume, the dramatics, the history, and the humor: it was a perfect kick-off for the conference. It was interesting to learn how Bartram arranged his expeditions (some fairly close to home, and others as far off as Florida – possibly to escape his family of 9 children?), and find out about the kinds of plants that his supporters back in England were interested in (magnolias and pines, especially). Here’s a great article about Kirk channeling John Bartram: Bringing a Legendary Gardener Back to Life

                    Nancy Ondra, Gardening Gone Wild

“I would like to formally thank you for bringing John Bartram to life for us during your presentation on February 3.  It was an amazing presentation that had everyone in the audience enthralled.  It was fabulous to travel back in time and to have history literally come to life!  John is extremely fortunate to have someone so utterly devoted to telling his story, snake and all.  I know you broadened the knowledge of many of my coworkers and absolutely delighted the woman working on Franklinia at the National Arboretum!”

Janet Draper, Smithsonian Institution

 “What Hal Holbrook is to Mark Twain so is Kirk Brown to John Bartram!”



Allentown, Pennsylvania, PA, United States, North America

Photo Gallery

  • Kirk Brown photographer in Rome
  • John Bartram (Kirk R. Brown) in Mount Vernon
  • Kirk and Sara Brown
  • Sara and Kirk Brown

Click here for Slideshow. You can also click on any of the photos to start slideshow.

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Audience Reviews

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Excellent Instructor

Nancy Dombrosky from PA - 10/23/2017 19:13:06

I had the pleasure to attend 3 semesters of LandEscape Landscaping certificate program. I had always gardened as a hobby, but Kirk's enthusiasm, experience and carefree approach to the topic has lit a fire in me to learn more and plant, plant, plant!! Thank you Kirk for being my instructor and becoming my friend.

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Williamsburg May 2015 Educational Conference

Angie L Smith from Franklin, TN - 07/25/2015 22:52:07

Kirk is an endearing and brilliant speaker and has developed his characters in a way that I felt I was in the same time period as the historical men he portrayed.
I was fascinated to hear his lecture and the detail of his research and the beauty of his visuals and subject he chose to present.
He engaged with us throughout the conference as we took garden tours and gathered in between meetings.
I would highly recommend him. I hope to be fortunate to hear Kirk Brown again soon.

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Dynamic Speaker

Robert Wyatt from Bishop, GA - 07/20/2015 20:31:56

Kirk Brown recently attended the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, the oldest and largest such gathering in the Southeast. His conference-opening performance as Frederick Law Olmsted was spellbinding-- informative and entertaining. He participated fully in the four-day conference, interacting with the diverse range of attendees focused on native plants. Kirk also spoke at the end of the conference, reviewing 400 years of history in the use of native North American plants. He left attendees inspired to go out and continue to encourage gardeners and landscapers to use native plants in a more ecologically sustainable manner.