Who is Kelly?
Kelly D. Norris is a 20-something, award-winning author and plantsman from Iowa and the first horticulture manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre facility in Des Moines, Iowa. He’s popularly known for his book A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts from Timber Press in 2012 and is at work on his next project tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants. As a speaker he has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.
For over ten years, he’s operated Rainbow Iris Farm, a seven-acre specialty nursery with his family, and currently edits Irises: The Bulletin of the American Iris Society, and serves in several leadership capacities throughout the horticulture industry. Kelly is the youngest person to receive the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s Presidential Citation, Award of Merit and Honor Award in the organization’s 150 year history, awards that exemplify service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa. In 2011, he was also honored by the Perennial Plant Association with the Young Professional Award, recognizing early contributions to the advancement of herbaceous perennials in American horticulture. Kelly’s unique 10 years of experience in the industry began at age 15 when he talked his parents into buying a nursery. In that time he’s become one of the few go-to experts on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.
His love for exploration has taken him to southern and central Texas, the Ozarks, the Black Hills, and all over the Midwest in search of new plants for gardens. Kelly holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Iowa State University. In his M.S. program he studied Dirca, a genus of rare shrubs commonly known as leatherwoods.
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