Native Gardening Conference Teaches Benefits and Use of Native Plants in Home Landscapes

Conference Date: September 21, 2014

The UW–Madison Arboretum will host its 2014 Native Gardening Conference, “Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future,” on September 21. A fall tradition for many years, held when the prairies are at their seasonal peak, the conference offers a day of expert-led demonstrations, workshops and tours for gardeners who want to use native plants in their home landscapes. Participants meet and connect with fellow gardeners and go home with a wealth of practical tips, information and inspiration. The all-day conference runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Advanced registration is required by September 15, and lunch is included as part of the conference fee.

Native plants have many benefits for the home landscape and the broader community. They are better adapted than non-native species to climate, soil and other local environmental factors. They evolved with other native plant and animal species, some of which perform unique roles in local ecosystems. Native plant gardens are hardy, require less water and no pesticides, and they support local biodiversity as well as migratory animals, including rare and threatened species.

Specialists from the Arboretum and UW–Madison will share expertise suitable for a variety of gardens and home environments, from small urban yards to rural acreage. Participants can choose from workshop sessions about native garden design, attracting native pollinators, native trees and shrubs, planting and maintenance, sustainable practices, invasive species management, plant disease, and wild edible landscaping.

A keynote address follows the sessions. Doug Tallamy will give this year’s keynote, “Your Role in Building Biological Corridors: Networks for Life.” Tallamy advocates for sustaining regional biodiversity through native home landscaping, which can provide important habitat connectors. Tallamy argues that it is not only the role of park systems and conservancies to manage habitat and support wildlife – every homeowner can contribute to healthy biodiversity. Tallamy is professor and chair of the Entomology and Wildlife Ecology Department, University of Delaware, and the author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens.

The Arboretum’s Native Gardening Conference can help all gardeners, from beginner to expert, learn to plant a little wild at home, creating a beautiful restorative landscape that plays a broader ecological role and supports biodiversity.

Information and registration

Considered the birthplace of ecological restoration, the UW–Madison Arboretum is a teaching and research facility that conserves and restores land, advances science, offers public outreach, and benefits from community involvement. The 1,200-acre grounds are home to protected prairies, woodlands, wetlands, savannas, springs, shoreline, a notable horticultural collection, and Wisconsin native plant gardens. It also offers 20 miles of walking trails and 4 miles of biking road as well as hundreds of learning and volunteer opportunities. The Arboretum is located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway. The main entrance is at 1207 Seminole Highway. The Visitor Center is open weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends, 12:30 to 4 p.m. Admission is free.