Rusty-patched bumble bee on lavender giant hyssop

Rusty-patched bumble bee on lavender giant hyssop

“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 our 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, invasive jumping worms, garden planting and maintenance, beneficial insects, sustainable landscaping, edible restoration, and native plants for butterflies and moths.

Registration for the 2018 Native Gardening Conference is now open.

2018 Native Gardening Conference

Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future

Sunday, September 16, 2018  |  8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Early bird rates through June 30: $60 ($30 student w/ID)  |  Starting July 1: $65
Register by September 6.

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 by Lynn Steiner, garden writer, author of Grow Native: Bringing Natural Beauty to Your Garden and other titles.

Refunds will be given minus a $10 administrative fee until registration closes. After registration closes, a refund of half the paid fee may be given if we have someone to fill the spot. Registration may close before September 6 if capacity is reached. 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.

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 to minimize the spread of jumping worms and the latest research on impacts and control options. We will also go outside to find and handle jumping worms. Herrick is the Arboretum’s ecologist and research program manager.

Native Trees and Shrubs for the Birds and Bees – 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.

Session II: 10:45 a.m.– 12:15 p.m.

Plant & 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.

Beneficial Insects in Your Garden – Jennifer Lazewski

Learn about the insects that benefit your native plant garden—as pollinators, predators of aphids, prey for birds, and more. This presentation will compare the hidden lives and important roles of solitary bees, wasps, flies, and beetles, and will include home gardening practices to foster them. Lazewski is a SouthEast Wisconsin Master Gardener volunteer and the founder of its pollinator group.

Sustainable Landscaping 101 – Frank Hassler *

Most gardeners want to do the right thing for Mother Earth on their property, but it’s hard to know where to start. This talk will cover sustainable landscaping to give you ideas for your home: using native plants to provide wildlife habitat, producing food, reducing water and air pollution, consuming less water and energy, using locally sourced durable materials, and creating rain gardens. Hassler is the founder, ecologist, and president of Good Oak Ecological Services.

Lunch: 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Session III: 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Edible Restoration – Judy Kingsbury

Native plants can offer both beauty and flavor to people, with the bonus of supporting wildlife. Explore ideas for wild edible landscaping of yards large and small, sunny and shady, with samples to taste. Kingsbury is a horticulturist and permaculture designer.

Attracting Butterflies and Moths with Native Plants – Karen Oberhauser

One of the joys of planting, caring for, and observing a native plant garden is providing a home for butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). This session will cover basic lepidopteran biology, plants choices that provide food for both caterpillars and adults, and the amazing interactions between Lepidoptera, other insects, and birds. Oberhauser is the Arboretum director, a UW–Madison professor of entomology, and a monarch butterfly expert.

Native Plant Garden Tour

Explore and discover our diverse gardens. Experts will point out highlights for native plant gardeners and answer your questions.

* Workshops marked with an asterisk may be of particular interest to those wanting a foundation in the topic.

Keynote: 3–4:15 p.m.

Native Plants in Urban Settings – Lynn Steiner

Many gardeners in cities and suburbs want to use native plants but are afraid they will be “too wild” for their traditional landscape. This program points out the many native plants that adapt very well to urban gardens, enabling gardeners to create a beautiful landscape where they can satisfy their love of tending plants without causing further damage to the natural world. Inspirational photos show how to effectively use native plants in more traditional landscapes while also providing habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Lynn Steiner is one of the Upper Midwest’s best-known garden writers and a frequent speaker at gardening and environmental events. She is the author and photographer of several books advocating the effective use of native plants typical home landscape, including Grow Native: Bringing Natural Beauty to Your Garden. Lynn grew up in northeastern Wisconsin. She has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in horticulture with a minor in agricultural journalism from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of The Nature Conservancy, The Prairie Enthusiasts, the St. Paul Garden Club, Minnesota Parks and Trails Council, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.