Native Plant Garden in bloom

Native Plant Garden in bloom

The 2023 Native Gardening Conference will take place September 10. Mark your calendars and check back for information in May.

“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, citizen science in your garden, garden planting and maintenance, garden pollinators, rain gardens, native plant identification, and the impact of jumping worms.

Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future

Sunday, September 18, 2022, 8:45 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

$65 – early bird rate, through June 30
$70 – starting July 1
$30 – student (with ID)
Register by September 8

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 Shrubs and Trees – 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 – CANCELLED

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 works as a researcher for the USDA and helps lead the Madison Mycological Society’s community science efforts.

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.

Carpenter is the curator of the Arboretum’s native plant garden.

Pollinators in Your Garden –Skye Harnsberger and Jade Kochanski

Learn about native bees and butterflies that you may see in your garden. We will discuss ways to support native insect fauna, show you how to identify some species, and share insights on current pollinator research at UW–Madison.

Harnsberger is a UW–Madison graduate student. She investigates native butterfly communities and their responses to landscape heterogeneity.

Kochanski is a graduate researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology. She studies the effectiveness of prairie restoration for long-term bumble bee conservation.

Multifunctional Rain Gardens – Gail Epping Overholt

Rain gardens are truly multi-functional. Adding one to your yard will help absorb stormwater and recharge ground water, improve pollinator and bird habitat, and provide year-round interest. This presentation will highlight the basics of rain garden design and suitable plants to consider.

Epping Overholt is the Arboretum education program manager.

Lunch: 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Session III: 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Native Plant Identification – Kevin Doyle
This workshop is full.

This talk will focus on how to identify native plants, especially those used in native landscaping, including wildflowers, grasses, sedges, and ferns. We will review terms commonly used in field guides, look at photos of key traits, and head into the field for real life examples.

Doyle is a botanist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation. He focuses on native—specifically, rare—plants and conducts fieldwork statewide.

Impacts and Management of Invasive Jumping Worms – Brad Herrick

Invasive jumping worms can damage ecosystems, from native forests to urban gardens. Herrick will discuss best management practices that minimize spreading jumping worms as well as recent research on impacts and control options. We will also go outside to find and handle jumping worms.

Herrick is the Arboretum ecologist and research program manager.

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.

Gardening with Native Plants of the Midwest – Alan Branhagen

The Midwest offers rich and unique flora that are incredibly beneficial to gardeners and landscapers. The movement to cultivate America’s native flora had its roots in the Midwest, and the popularity of gardening with native plants is tied to values of being green, buying local, and living sustainably. Yet there remains widespread misunderstanding about what native plants are and why they are so important to a healthy environment. This program is an inspiring overview that will help homeowners, gardeners, and landscapers succeed in selecting, growing, and maintaining Midwestern native plants.

Branhagen is the director of operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where he supervises capital improvements, horticulture and natural resources, plant curation, facilities, and information technology. He received a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Louisiana State University. He is the author of The Gardener’s Butterfly Book, Native Plants of the Midwest, and The Midwest Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden. Branhagen is an all-around plantsman and naturalist (specializing in botany, birds, and butterflies).