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“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 and maintenance, selecting native plants, children’s garden spaces, gardening for birds and pollinators, native ornamentals, trees and shrubs, and seed collecting.

Registration for the 2015 conference is closed.

2015 Native Gardening Conference

Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future

Sunday, September 20, 2015  |  8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  |  $60 ($54 FOA, $30 student w/ID)

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. Dress for the weather.

Keynote address by Nancy Aten from Landscapes of Place, LLC. Read a profile of Nancy Aten in SER News, June 2015.

Session Descriptions

Session I

How to Design a Native Garden, with 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.

Dr. Howell is a professor of Landscape Architecture at UW–Madison. Her background is in plant community ecology.

Native Pollinators in Your Garden, with Christy Stewart
Learn about the importance of insect pollinators (particularly native bees) in home gardens and how to attract them.

Christy Stewart is a bee expert and research technician with the USDA Agricultural Research Service working on vegetable breeding and genetics.

Creating Children’s Spaces in Gardens, with Jennifer Mitchell
Children love to play and create in the garden. Visit the Children’s Garden to look at and discuss ways to make play spaces.

Jennifer Mitchell coordinates the Arboretum’s Earth Focus Day Camp and Earth Partnership for Families programs.

Session II

Planting and Maintaining Your Native Garden, with 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.

Susan Carpenter is the Native Plant Gardener at the Arboretum. She works with students and volunteers to install, maintain, and monitor the gardens.

How to Manage Your Land and Backyard to Help Birds, with Victoria Piaskowski
Discover the important food and habitat native plants provide for birds year-round. Learn other ways you can help birds.

Victoria Piaskowski is an ornithologist and federally licensed bird bander who has conducted research in the U.S. and Belize.

How to Use Ornamental Native Plants in the Landscape, with Phillip Stutz

There is a place for native plants in every garden. Discover how you can use ornamental native plants in the landscape and become inspired to plant native plants in your garden.

Phillip Stutz is a horticulturist at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. He manages several areas at the Gardens, including the Perennial, Shade, and Meadow Gardens. He trained at the University of Texas at Austin and worked at Missouri Botanical Garden.

Session III

Collecting Native Seeds, with Susan Kilmer
This hands-on workshop will guide you through the basics of  seed collecting including when to collect, how to determine ripeness, and how to store seeds of your favorite native plants.

Susan Kilmer is the Arboretum horticulturist and grows native plants for restoration, research and the native plant garden.

Native Trees and Shrubs, with Molly Fifield-Murray

Using nature’s example you can create beautiful, diverse gardens drawing upon species adapted to our area. We will cover plant choices, planting tips, and using woody plants to increase bio-diversity.

Molly Fifield-Murray is the outreach and education manager at the Arboretum. She was trained in and has taught landscape restoration and design.

Native Plant Garden Tour
Experts will lead the group through our diverse gardens, pointing out highlights for native gardeners and answering your questions.

Keynote Address

Wild Gardening with Art and Purposefulness, with Nancy Aten

Nancy 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. Aten 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. For her Master of Landscape Architecture she studied with Darrel Morrison, and she has a Master of Science from Stanford University.