Native Plant Garden in bloom

Native Plant Garden in bloom

“Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future” is held every September at the Arboretum. This Native Gardening Conference promotes sustainable gardening practices and use of native plants in home landscapes. Expert-led workshops inspire and inform gardeners, homeowners, and landowners to create and maintain native gardens or small-scale restorations on their own property. The program welcomes people with a range of interests and experience.

The all-day event features expert-led workshops, lunch, a keynote speaker, tours of the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden, a resource packet, and ample time for Q&A. Presentations cover a wide range of topics, such as: garden design, native trees and shrubs, garden planting and management, native plant identification, invasive plants, pruning deciduous and evergreen shrubs, and nature journaling. The keynote, by Heather Holm, will be about creating and managing landscapes for native bees.

The 2023 Native Gardening Conference will take place September 10 in the Visitor Center auditorium.

The 2023 conference is full and registration is closed. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, call (608) 262-2445.

Early bird: $65, through July 23
Regular rates: $70, starting July 24
Students (with ID): $35

Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future 2023

Welcome and Introduction: 8:45–9 a.m.

Session I: 9–10:30 a.m.

How to Design a Native Garden – Evelyn Howell

Learn how to begin a native garden, including how to analyze your site, employ basic design principles of native gardening, and choose the right combination of plants.

Evelyn is a professor of landscape architecture at UW–Madison. Her background is in plant community ecology.

Native Shrubs and Trees – David Stevens

Learn about incorporating native woody plants in your home landscape to attract and sustain birds and pollinators.

David is the curator of Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, the Arboretum’s woody ornamental plant collection.

Session II: 10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Plant and Manage Your Native Garden – Susan Carpenter

Explore native gardening in the home landscape from initial planting to long-term management. Learn how to maintain diversity, manage invasive species, and enhance plantings as your garden develops.

Susan is the curator of the Arboretum’s Native Plant Garden.

Nature Journaling in Your Garden – Jacki Whisenant

Journaling is a rewarding way to document your garden, and to focus attention at large or small scales. Discover how art and observation are linked through nature journaling. (Note: you will receive a list of supplies to bring.)

Jacki is an artist and nature journaling teacher and mentor.

Invasive Plants in Your Garden – Chelsea Camp and Balin Magee

What are invasive plants? Learn about examples you may find in your garden, and how to manage them to reduce their impact on desired species. Discover native species that can substitute for invasive species like buckthorn, honeysuckle, burning bush and more.

Chelsea and Balin are natural resource specialists at the Arboretum.

Lunch: 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Session III: 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Native Plant Identification – Jessica Ross – FULL

Learn important characteristics, terms, and tools that are used to identify plants. This session will focus on plants blooming in the garden now, like goldenrods, asters, and grasses.

Jessica is a scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Rare Plant Monitoring Program.

Pruning Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs – Lisa Johnson

If you are wondering how and when to prune shrubs, this session will cover general principles, methods, and details. (Note: We will not make any pruning cuts during the workshop, as fall is not pruning season.)

Lisa is the Dane County Extension Horticulture Educator and oversees the Dane County Extension Teaching Garden.

Native Plant Garden Tour

Explore and discover our diverse gardens. Experts will point out highlights for native plant gardeners and answer your questions.

Keynote: 3–4:15 p.m.

Creating and Managing Landscapes for Native Bees – Heather Holm

When creating and managing thriving habitats for native bees, many factors such as seasonal phenology, nesting strategies, and flower preferences must be considered. With approximately 3,600 bee species in North America (north of Mexico), there are many unique aspects to keep in mind when managing successful landscapes.

Heather will explore the nesting habitats, life cycles, pollen collection, brood rearing, and general characteristics of some of the most common native bees in eastern North America, while highlighting the pollination of native plants and the mutualism between native plants and native bees. Learn about pollen specialists, floral resources, and how bees’ physical characteristics can influence their effectiveness as pollinators. She will also discuss ways to manage landscapes to enhance bee diversity, plant selection considerations, and ultimately how to think like a bee!

Heather Holm is a pollinator conservationist, garden designer, and award-winning author. She passionately informs and educates audiences about the fascinating world of native pollinators and beneficial insects, and the native plant communities that support them. Heather’s expertise includes the interactions between native pollinators and native plants, and the natural history and biology of native bees and predatory wasps.