UW–Madison Arboretum Native Gardening Conference Promotes the Benefits and Uses of Native Plants in Home Landscapes

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The UW–Madison Arboretum will host its 2015 Native Gardening Conference, “Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future,” on September 20. 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. Cost is $60 for the general public, $54 for Friends of the Arboretum members, and $30 for students. Advanced registration is required by September 10, 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, creating children’s garden spaces, planting and maintenance, managing your land for birds, how to use ornamental natives, collecting native seeds, native trees and shrubs, and a tour of the Arboretum’s Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.

A keynote address follows the sessions. Nancy Aten will give this year’s keynote, “Wild Gardening with Art and Purposefulness.” Aten will explore some intriguing models for thinking about wild gardening. Cathedral builders, for example, have periodically embraced innovation, local participation and knowledge, design patterns and templates, contributing to a vision and process one might not see completed, borrowing proven methods, and leaving a community legacy. She will use examples of designed landscapes to share how these ideas can be loosely adapted to creating wild gardens and community spaces. Nancy Aten grew up in Wisconsin helping her parents ‘learn by doing’ in an oldfield restoration. Her award-winning firm, Landscapes of Place, offers hands-on ecological restoration planning and design, in long-term engagements. Nancy has taught environmental literacy and field classes on plant communities. In her Master of Landscape Architecture she studied with Darrel Morrison, and she has a Master of Science from Stanford University.

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.

Conference Date: September 20, 2015
Registration Deadline: September 10, 2015

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 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Arboretum admission is free.

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Media contact: Susan Day, Communications Coordinator, (608) 265-3355, susan.day@wisc.edu