UW–Madison Arboretum Hosts Native Gardening Conference

Monarch on native prairie thistle

Monarch on native prairie thistle

Promoting Sustainable Gardening Practices and the Use of Native Plants in Home Landscapes

The Arboretum will host its annual Native Gardening Conference, “Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future,” on September 17. 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. and costs $65. Advanced registration is required by September 7. Morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon coffee are included in 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, and are a valuable resource for hundreds of native wild pollinator species as well as honeybees. 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.

Arboretum and UW–Madison specialists and other area experts will lead workshops suitable for a variety of gardens and home environments, from small urban yards to rural acreage. Participants can choose from sessions about native garden design (Evelyn Howell, landscape architecture, UW–Madison), invasive jumping worms (Brad Herrick, Arboretum ecologist), visual tools to enhance your garden (Georgia Gomez-Ibanez, educator), planting and maintenance (Susan Carpenter, Arboretum native plant gardener), landscaping for birds (Mariette Nowak, birder and author), multifunctional rain gardens (Gail Epping Overholt, Arboretum outreach and education coordinator), beneficial insects (PJ Liesch, UW Insect Diagnostic Lab), native plants in school and community gardens (Laura Green, Catholic Multicultural Center; Nathan Larson, Cultivate Health Initiative; and Maria Moreno, Earth Partnership), and a tour of the Arboretum’s Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.

A keynote address follows the sessions. Benjamin Vogt will give this year’s keynote, “A New Garden Ethic.” Vogt will explore ecology, science, psychology, and philosophy while considering how to embrace gardens as places to create change benefiting all species. Through inspiring quotes, new research, and images of wildlife and sustainable landscapes, he’ll lead a soulful journey into gardening on a deeper level. In Vogt’s view, gardening with native plants is an ethical and even moral imperative in a time of changing climate and extinction.

Vogt is from Lincoln, Nebraska, but grew up in Oklahoma and Minnesota. He owns Monarch Gardens, a prairie garden design firm that works with local and regional clients. For nearly five years Vogt has written a native plant and sustainable design column for Houzz.com, for which he’s received a Garden Writer’s Association award, and contributed to dozens of other publications. His book A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future will be out this fall.

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 17, 2017
Registration deadline: September 7, 2017

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