Planning Team

Renee Byrd: Landscape Design Consultant

Renee Byrd: Landscape Design Consultant

Renee Byrd’s interest in design and nature began at a very young age in central Alabama, where she spent countless hours building forts in the woods behind her home. Her parents’ careers in landscape design and residential custom home construction inspired Renee to pursue a future that would similarly combine the fields of art, science, and design. She earned a B.S in Horticulture with a minor in Urban Forestry from Clemson University while running cross country and track for the Tigers, and continued her education at Clemson for a M.S. in Plant and Environmental Science, with a focus on sustainable landscape design. Renee then worked as a research associate at Clemson, teaching landscape design classes and working with the Cliffs Communities to design a public botanical garden for one of their properties. For the past 10 years, she has run her own business, Byrd Landscape Design, and now works full time designing residential landscapes and chasing her highly energetic 3-year old daughter through the fields behind their home in Pickens, SC. She looks forward to sharing her appreciation of the nature and background in art, landscape design, and construction with students from many disciplines at Clemson University.

Karen Hall: Native Plant Advisor/Consultant

Karen Hall: Native Plant Advisor/Consultant

Karen Hall grew up on 50 acres in the mountains of North Carolina. In this land that once belonged to Cherokee people, her grandmother tossed her outside to play and this was the impetus for a career tied to nature and culture. Karen earned her B.S. in Biology (Western Carolina University), M.S. in Botany and Ph.D. in Plant Physiology (Clemson University).  Her dissertation work with Cherokee people focused on learning about their use of plants as medicine so that they might continue that aspect of traditional identity. Currently, Karen serves as the Director for the SC Master Naturalist program and state coordinator of the SC Master Gardener programs.  She hopes her background will infuse inspiration from nature, joy, fun and little research-based thinking into both programs!

Adrienne Gerus

Adrienne Gerus: Client, Landscape Services Director

Adrienne Gerus grew up outside of Philadelphia and Erie, PA where she and her brother spent most of their childhood free time exploring neighboring woods and streams. She has been fascinated by plants and animals for as long as she can remember and caused her to pick a career in horticulture. Adrienne earned her B.S. in Agriculture (University of Kentucky) and her Master of Agriculture (MAg) from Clemson University.  She first worked for Greenville Technical College as a Landscape Superintendent and then moved to Landscape Superintendent and then Director of Landscape Services for Clemson (the first woman to ever hold that job!).  She was environmental long before it was fashionable. Reducing inputs of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and maintenance have always been high on her agenda. She strives for a balance between natural and enhanced landscapes in Clemson’s park-like setting.  What excites her about this job is seeing dirt patches transformed into lush gardens and seeing saplings turn into majestic trees. She is thankful for all of the learning opportunities that present themselves in her position and she is still learning from the good people she works with daily. 

Cory Tanner is a horticulture extension agent for Greenville, Pickens, Oconee and Anderson Counties and Master Gardener coordinator for Greenville County

Cory Tanner

Cory Tanner is a horticulture extension agent for Greenville, Pickens, Oconee and Anderson Counties and Master Gardener coordinator for Greenville County. His responsibilities include assisting nursery growers and landscapers with their production and maintenance needs by providing educational programs and consultation services, managing the Master Gardener volunteer training program, providing home gardening advice, and writing horticultural columns and fact sheets.A life-long gardener, Cory earned a B.S. and an M.S. in horticulture from Clemson University. Prior to employment with Clemson Extension, he worked in the nursery trade, producing quality landscape trees and shrubs for Ray Bracken Nursery, Inc.Cory continues to garden in Easley, where he lives with his wife, Stephanie.

Ellen Vincent: Project Leader Sustainable Landscape Instructor

Ellen Vincent: Project Leader
Sustainable Landscape Instructor

Ellen Vincent grew up in the beautiful Hudson River Valley of New York State where she was immersed in art, architecture, and agriculture. Ellen earned her B.A. in American Culture (SUNY New Paltz), M.S. in Agriculture/Horticulture (Northwest Missouri State), and Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning (Clemson University). Her dissertation work examined the therapeutic benefits of nature on health. Currently, Ellen serves as Environmental Landscape Specialist for extension in SC and teaches HORT 308 Sustainable Landscape Garden Design; HORT 309 Drawing laboratory; and HORT 461 Advanced Landscape Design and other classes for the department of environmental horticulture at Clemson University. 

Sarah White: Plant/Water Quality Advisor/Consultant

Sarah White: Plant/Water Quality Advisor/Consultant

Sarah White grew up on 60 acres in the foothills of South Carolina, where she first experienced and enjoyed the flowers, forests and streams that she now works to enhance and protect.  Sarah earned her B.S. in Horticulture (Clemson University), M.S. in Horticultural Science (Virginia Tech), and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology (Clemson University).  Her dissertation work assessed the use of constructed wetlands to cleanse nutrient contaminants from agricultural runoff. Sarah serves as the Nursery Extension Specialist for SC and her extension programs focus on utilizing ecologically based systems (constructed wetlands, floating wetlands, vegetated riparian buffers, rain gardens, etc.) to cleanse agricultural and stormwater runoff.  She hopes to promote harnessing “plant power” to provide solutions for cleansing water for a healthy environment. 


Whitney Blue FraserWhitney Blue Fraser: Garden Design

Whitney Blue is a senior in the Horticulture program at Clemson University.  She discovered her love for plants in her high school AP Biology course her senior year where she learned binomial nomenclature and classification of common plants.  She loved working on the design of the Sustainable Landscape Demonstration Garden with Suzie Lombardo; they had a similar vision and played off each other very well.  The incorporation of native plants was important to them, they wanted a sustainable garden that included plants already adapted to the area.  Whitney Blue and Suzie also wanted year round interest so they included varieties of blooms, textures, colors and foliage in order to achieve that goal.  Whitney Blue hopes to continue working with small-scale landscape design after her graduation in May of 2013.

Allison Kelly: Garden Design/Installation

Allison KellyAllison is a horticulture major at Clemson University. Allison first became interested in horticulture through the master gardener program in Virginia. She would help neighbors and friends with their gardens while also designing and maintaining her own. Allison helped with the installation process in the Sustainable Landscape Demonstration Garden on Clemson campus and she said that her favorite part was the passersby who stopped and asked questions about plants. She was able to educate them on what was happening within the garden. Allison was previously a music teacher so she enjoys the educational aspects of the garden because education is her “comfort zone”. Along with music Allison also enjoys spending time with her family and taking care of her organic vegetable garden at home. Allison is not exactly sure what she wants to do with her future horticulture degree when she graduates but she is looking into landscape design or maybe working in the Botanical Garden where she can work with the plants and also educate others on sustainability and organics.

Suzie LombardoSuzie Lombardo: Garden Design

Suzie Lombardo graduated from Clemson University in December 2011 with a bachelor’s of science in Horticulture. She owns a floral design company called Statice which she started during her college career at Clemson. She now lives and does business in Greenville SC and hopes to continue expanding her business in the upstate area.


Tip Reburn: Garden Design

Tip Reburn is a forestry and horticulture student in Clemson's College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences

Tip Reburn is a forestry and horticulture student in Clemson's College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to study in college but suggests, something pulled him towards that path, perhaps because he liked sticks so much as a boy, or perhaps because he knew nothing about forestry and plants and I wanted to endeavor to learn something new. Basically, it was a wild risk that turned out very well. He is co-chairman of Clemson's Forestry Conclave team, a runner, a summer camp counselor of six years, plays the trumpet with gusto, writes poetry and stories, and likes to wander around in the woods without shoes on his feet.



Installation & Maintenance

Patrick Blakely: Garden Maintenance

Patrick Blakely: Garden MaintenancePatrick is a senior forestry major at Clemson University. Patrick first became interested in nature through time spent outdoors as a child. Patrick and his father went fishing often and sometimes they would explore the surrounding woods. Patrick enjoyed exploring and observing nature and trees. Patrick helped with the maintenance part of the Sustainable Landscape Demonstration Garden on the Clemson campus along with being in charge or surveying students about their opinions on the garden. Patrick’s favorite part about working in the garden was seeing everything return after it dies back in the winter. Patrick enjoys being outdoors whether it is hiking, backpacking, or fishing; he likes being immersed in nature so he can simply observe. Patrick hopes to start a career with a timber management organization, private not federal, after his graduation in May 2013.

Elizabeth Clarkin: Garden Maintenance

Elizabeth Clarkin: Garden MaintenanceElizabeth is a senior architecture major and a horticulture minor at Clemson University. Elizabeth first became interested in architecture while traveling; she was fascinated by the buildings and how they differed in color, material, and size depending on location. Her interest in nature peaked while taking Horticulture 101, when she walked through the greenhouses and learned about the broad variety and diversity the field of horticulture has to offer. Elizabeth helped with the maintenance part of the Sustainable Landscape Demonstration Garden on the Clemson campus along with communications by conducting student interviews for the Website. Elizabeth’s favorite part of being in the garden was working outside, she works mostly inside during the week due to her class schedule so just being outside pruning the plants was a very enjoyable experience for her. She liked learning from the plants; this was one of her first experiences with actual garden maintenance. Elizabeth enjoys playing outdoor sports whether it is tennis, running, or swimming in the ocean as she likes to stay active. Elizabeth hopes to get an internship or job with a landscape design firm before moving on to graduate school when she graduates in May 2013. 

Kendall Cochran: Project Manager

Kendall Cochran: Project Manager

Kendall is a senior in horticulture and started working at the SC Botanical Garden as a temporary worker the summer before he started college. The following fall he entered Tricounty Technical College as an Electrical Engineering major but after that one summer at the Botanical Garden he knew he wanted to work outdoors. Kendall entered Clemson University as horticulture major and has worked at the Botanical Garden for six years. He appreciates the variety and challenges that exist at the Botanical Garden. The landscape changes every day and seeing the positive results of his work is rewarding.  Kendall has learned a lot from working on this native garden and enjoyed seeing every step.  He hopes to see this garden grow and benefit the landscape for many years to come.

Alex Smolka: Garden Maintenance

Alex SmolkaAlex is a senior at Clemson University, his major is biological science and his minor is horticulture. Alex really enjoys being outside and all that the outdoors has to offer including hiking, camping, and the plants. Alex said that “the outdoors fits his personality”, he enjoys examining plants in their natural environment instead of in a lab. Alex was involved with the garden installation process and his favorite part of participating in the Sustainable Landscape Demonstration Garden was the interaction with people and talking about the plants. He enjoyed when someone would ask him a question because it not only offered a break in the work but it also allowed him to teach people about plants. Alex is on the rock climbing and sailing teams at Clemson and almost all of his hobbies involve being outside. Alex holds strong interests in plant breeding and research and  he worked in the USDA vegetable lab during the past three summers. He is graduating in May and just accepted a post-graduate position with Amy’s Kitchen, an organic foods company based in California who is moving into the southeast production market.