Conference Theme: Reading Our Landscape
Landscapes tell us stories. Reading our landscape reveals the nature and history of the land. We connect to a place by understanding the richness embedded there. Stone, soil and seasons, water and weather begin the story. Layers of life—from soil organisms and fungi, to plant, animal, and human populations—provide the actors. These elements weave into food webs, communities, and an ecosystem.
“Interpreting this reading matter, in place, on the land, seeing living things in their total environment, is an adventure…(in) ecology.” (Reading the Landscape of America, May Theilgaard Watts, 1957)
In learning to read these stories we become better designers and stewards of our landscape. We recognize the many ways our small, local spaces connect to and create larger patterns of water, land, and ecosystem.
Keynote Speaker: Darrel Morrison
Landscape Design as Ecological Art: Merging Art and Science in Regional Landscapes
Darrel Morrison has advocated for learning from native plant communities as models for designed landscapes since his days as a grad student, and then a faculty member, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1970s. He will present a variety of naturally-evolving landscapes as sources of inspiration for designed landscapes. Locations range from the Texas, to Utah, Wisconsin, and New York City. He continues to work on projects where native plant communities and natural processes provide inspiration and useful information. These include native tallgrass plantings at Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park in the Hudson River Valley; a small woodland garden at New York University (“Yes, native woodland plants will grow in the city!”); an early-successional woodland planting at the Old Stone Mill on the Bronx River in the New York Botanical Garden; and eastern grassland and pine barrens plantings in the Native Flora Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Future Conservation Gardens, Large and Small
Reading the landscape around us is becoming a critical skill. Each garden, large or small, can be important to survival in a changing climate. “Although not exactly traditional gardens, the seventeen million acres of highway rights of-way or roadsides I oversaw are conservation opportunities. Installing a roadside planting in my own front yard has taught me the importance of each home garden as the climate warms our earth.” Bonnie Harper-Lore will describe the ecosystem services of native plants in gardens of all sizes, and how we can read our landscape and use an adaptation strategy to support life in the future.
Creating a New Normal Across Our Regional Landscape
Over seventy public and private entities have joined in surprisingly successful partnership to support local environments and local economies. Blue Thumb-Planting for Clean Water® is an educational program that makes it easy for residents to plan, purchase and plant native gardens, raingardens and shorelines. Dawn Pape will trace this program’s success engaging members in planting projects and creating lasting water quality and habitat improvements. She will offer steps to bring about a “tipping point” where a critical mass of gardeners says goodbye to purely aesthetic ornamentals and hello to beneficial, multi-functional plantings such as edibles, natives and raingardens.
Ecological Design: One Yard and Garden at a Time
Designing with native plants becomes easier as we learn to read our landscape. We develop an awareness of the natural signs to look for, even in altered landscapes. “When preparing a design, I look to see how a site relates to larger patterns of water and land, and to the native plant communities and ecosystem that originally existed there.” Diane Hilscher will describe how she analyzes a site and its microclimates, matching plants to their habitat, and incorporating native plant communities into her designs for long-term success. Her examples include landscaping for a new home with sustainable architecture on the St. Croix River, creating a center space for education at Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings, and designing plantings for the St. Croix Falls Public Library.
Darrel Morrison, FASLA, has been an advocate of learning from native plant communities as models for designed landscapes since his days as a grad student and then, for fourteen years, as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Landscape Architecture in the 1970s. His emphasis was on native plants, native plant communities, and landscape restoration. Subsequently, he taught in the School of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia where he served as Dean from 1983 to 1992. Currently, Darrel lives in New York City where he continues to work on projects where native plant communities and natural processes provide inspiration and useful information. These include native tallgrass plantings at Storm King Art Center, a sculpture park in the Hudson River Valley; a small woodland garden at New York University (yes, native woodland plants will grow in the city!); an early-successional woodland planting at the Old Stone Mill on the Bronx River in the New York Botanical Garden; and eastern grassland and pine barrens plantings in the Native Flora Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Bonnie Harper-Lore’s love of plants began at age twelve with a set of Golden Nature Guidebooks. From a blufftop of wildﬂowers on her parentsʼ farm she could see forever. Twenty-five years later she studied restoration ecology at the University of Wisconsin, only to learn her thinking place was a remnant xeric prairie. Graduate school led her to many plant-related jobs including residential design work and teaching ecological design at the University of Minnesota. At the Minnesota Department of Transportation she began one of the ﬁrst wildﬂower programs in the country. This led to meeting Ladybird Johnson, an Act of Congress, and Bonnieʼs management of the federal/state roadside wildﬂower program. During her federal work, Bonnie helped found three plant organizations: The Plant Conservation Alliance (15 agencies to protect native plants), the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (16 agencies in unprecedented cooperation) and, Weeds Across Borders (3 countries united to stop the spread of invasives).
Dawn Pape started planting gardens when, in third grade, she was awarded a packet of seeds by her teacher. She hasn’t stopped planting since. Dawn claims she may have been the only college student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to plant flowers at the places she rented. There she earned undergraduate degrees in Education, German Literature and Environmental Studies. She later earned her Masters degree in Environmental Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For the past seventeen years Dawn has worked as a high school teacher, at a non-profit helping schools develop nature areas on their school grounds, and as an environmental education coordinator at a Rice Creek Watershed District where she started the Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water program®. Dawn is the author of A Lawn Chair Gardener’s Guide to a Balanced Life and a More Balanced World and a local newspaper columnist. She is currently staying at home with her two young sons and running her own business called Lawn Chair Gardener where she enjoys speaking and writing about functional gardening, including growing natives and edibles, and planting to improve water quality.
Diane Hilscher’s love of nature developed as a child playing outdoors in woodlands of Wisconsin. Today her love of nature is reflected in her enthusiasm for hiking and canoeing, and in her work. Diane has honed her skills in ecological landscape design and construction project management over 30 years. She holds degrees in Landscape Architecture and in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After working for the National Park Service and National Forest Service while in college, and for seven years at landscape architecture firms, Diane founded her own firm, Hilscher Design and Ecology in 1991. Here she focuses on integrating natural systems and native plants into uniquely beautiful and functional landscape designs. These have included projects for St. Croix Public Library, Carpenter Nature Center, Karges Faulconbridge Engineering headquarters, and residential projects in our region. Diane has served as Chapter President of Wild Ones-St. Croix Oak Savanna for the past five years. She lives with her family near Stillwater, Minnesota where she enjoys gardening and restoration on three acres of oak savanna.
About the Conference
Wild Ones Annual Design With Nature Conference has been held for the past thirteen years. The conference is presented through a partnership of Wild Ones-Twin Cities and Wild Ones-St. Croix Oak Savanna chapters working each year with several organizational partners. This year’s partners include Blue Thumb-Planting for Clean Water®, Audubon Minnesota, and Horticultural Society of Minnesota. Attendance at this year’s conference is limited. About 325 native plant enthusiasts and 30 exhibitors are expected to register. The conference is planned and staffed entirely by volunteers.
Conference registration includes morning snacks, lunch, and afternoon dessert. Registration by mail is recommended, and a mail-in registration form is available here. On-line registration is available through the conference website. Early registration discounts extend until February 15th: Wild Ones members, $50; non-members, $55; and full time students, $25.
Registration increases to $60 after February 15th. Conference registration closes February 25th, or when space has filled.
Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. Wild Ones is a national, not-for-profit environmental education and advocacy organization founded in 1979. There are six Wild Ones chapters in Minnesota and over fifty chapters nationally.