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UW Arboretum hosts native plant gardening conference Sept. 15

August 8, 2019 By Susan Day
Photo: Vast expanse of prairie plants

Native prairie plants surround a commemorative rock marking Curtis Prairie at the Arboretum on a summer morning. Photo: Jeff Miller

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum will host its 2019 Native Gardening Conference, “Native by Design: Gardening for a Sustainable Future,” on Sept. 15.

Held when the prairies are at their seasonal peak, the conference offers a day of expert-led workshops and tours to help all gardeners, from beginner to experienced, learn to create beautiful restorative landscapes that play a broader ecological role and support biodiversity.

The all-day conference runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and costs $65. Advanced registration is required by Sept. 5. 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 adapted to local climate, soil and other environmental factors. Because they evolved with other native species, some perform unique roles in local ecosystems. Native plant gardens use less water and no fertilizer or pesticide. They are a valuable resource for hundreds of wild pollinator species, and they support local food webs and biodiversity as well as migratory animals, including rare and threatened species.

Arboretum, UW–Madison and other area experts will lead workshops suitable for a variety of gardens and home environments, from small urban yards to rural acreage. Session options will cover native garden design; native shrubs and trees; citizen science in your yard; native plants for birds; and more. There will also be a tour of the Arboretum’s Wisconsin Native Plant Garden.

A keynote address follows the sessions. Judy Nauseef will give this year’s keynote, “Native Plants to Love and Learn to Love.” Nauseef, a landscape designer and writer working in eastern Iowa, will focus on how to choose native plants and incorporate them into your garden. She will share how some plants challenge us while others bring early success and how native plant gardening is a process of discovery.

Nauseef is a fellow of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and an Iowa Certified Nursery Professional. She writes about plants and garden design. Her recent book, “Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing the Tallgrass Prairie Home,” provides a guide to adding native plants to the residential landscape.

Information and registration: