bumble bee foraging on native monarda

“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, a keynote speaker, tours of the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden, an extensive resource packet, and ample time for Q&A. Presentations cover a wide range of topics: garden design, native trees and shrubs, citizen science in your garden, garden planting and maintenance, native plants for birds, native plant identification, hardscaping, and understanding garden ecology through art.

2019 Native Gardening Conference registration has reached capacity. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, call (608) 262-2445.

2019 Native Gardening Conference

Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future

Sunday, September 15, 2019  |  8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Early bird rate through June 30: $60
Regular rate,
starting July 1: $65
Students: $30 w/ID
Register by September 5 – registration closed, conference at capacity.

Using the Arboretum’s Wisconsin Native Plant Garden as an outdoor classroom, this conference offers workshops, take-home tips, and living examples to inspire you and help you become a successful native plant gardener.

Experts will lead you step-by-step through developing, maintaining, and improving your garden. Beginners through experienced gardeners are welcome. Come with questions, learn from fellow gardeners, and go home with native gardening resources. Lunch provided. Some workshops spend time outside, so please bring clothing for variable weather conditions and walking.

Keynote address, “Native Plants to Love and Learn to Love,” by Judy Nauseef, landscape designer and author of Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing the Tallgrass Prairie Home and other titles.

Registration may close before September 5 if capacity is reached. Refunds will be given minus a $10 administrative fee until registration closes. After registration closes, refunds will only be given, minus a $10 service fee, if someone from the waitlist can fill the space. We will not issue refunds or add people from the waitlist after noon on Thursday, 9/12. No walk-in registrations.

Session Descriptions

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

Native Trees and Shrubs – David Stevens

Learn about incorporating native woody plants in your home landscape to attract and sustain birds and pollinators. Stevens is the curator of Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, the Arboretum’s woody ornamental plant collection.

Citizen Science in Your Garden – Jessica Ross

A native plant garden is home to birds, animals, pollinators, and other insects. Learn how citizen science practices and principles can help you observe and document garden life—for your own records or to contribute data to a project. We’ll discuss ways to monitor monarch butterflies, bumble bees, dragonflies, fungi, birds, and seasonal changes. Ross is the Arboretum’s citizen science coordinator.

Session II: 10:45 a.m.– 12:15 p.m.

Plant and Maintain Your Native Garden – Susan Carpenter

Explore native gardening in the home landscape from initial planting to long-term maintenance. Learn how to maintain diversity, manage invasives, and enhance plantings as your garden develops. Carpenter is the Arboretum’s native plant gardener.

Fifty Best Native Plants for Birds – Mariette Nowak

Learn about the best plants to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds, American goldfinches, eastern bluebirds, indigo buntings, cedar waxwings and the beautiful wood warblers. Preferred habitats for these birds will also be discussed, along with tips on planting and maintaining your bird garden. Nowak is the author of Birdscaping in the Midwest and the former director of the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County.

Native Plant Identification – Catherine Woodward – FULL

NATIVE PLANT ID IS FULL. Learn to recognize native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants (as well as common non-native and pesky invasive species). You’ll learn about plant features to help you with identification as well as a mobile identification app and other resources. Woodward is a faculty associate in the UW–Madison Department of Botany. She is developing an app for the identification of Wisconsin’s native plants.

Lunch: 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Session III: 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Hardscaping to Enhance Native Gardens and Manage Water – Sean Pratt

Landscape materials and structures (hardscape) can make a garden more accessible and enhance water management. Learn about hardscapes, how to blend them into your native landscape, and how they can improve how your garden functions. Pratt is a landscape designer at Ganshert Nursery and Landscapes, LLC.

Understanding Garden Ecology Through Art – Nancy Aten and Dan Collins

Learn new ways of observing, processing, and explaining the natural world through art. The session will explore how art can communicate vision and challenges for gardening. Most of session will be spent in the field, weather permitting. No experience necessary. Materials provided (ok to bring your own). Aten is a landscape architect and Collins is program manager and restoration consultant for their firm Landscapes of Place.

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.

Native Plants to Love and Learn to Love: How to Design Them into Your Garden – Judy Nauseef

Learn how to choose native plants and integrate them into your garden. Some plants challenge us while others bring early success. Native plant gardening is a process of discovery.

Nauseef is a landscape designer and writer working in Eastern Iowa. She is a Fellow of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and an Iowa Certified Nursery Professional. She writes about plants and garden design. Her recent book, Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing the Tallgrass Prairie Home, provides a guide to adding native plants to the residential landscape.