8th Annual Symposium “Plant Natives 2019! Partnering With Nature” To Be Held March 16 At The UTC University Center

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Wild Ones is holding its eighth annual native plant symposium "Plant Natives 2019! Partnering with Nature" on March 16 at University of Tennessee Chattanooga University Center starting 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 8 a.m.

“Plant Natives 2019 Partnering with Nature” looks at conventional gardening’s counter-productive practices like tilling, weeding, irrigating and fertilizing that cause perpetual disturbances that create an irresistible invitation to invasive species.  There are powerful environmental reasons for bringing our gardens into a sounder relationship with nature.

. . but at the core is the concept of economy of effort.  Instead of fighting nature, we will learn how to have a healthier, more dynamic landscape.  In nature, nothing is static, and maintaining artificial harmonies results in a relentless struggle.

Keynoting the symposium is Larry Weaner, principal and founder of Weaner Landscape Associates of Philadelphia, Pa., with his presentation “At Home with Native Plants.”  Discover how to use your region’s native flora to achieve landscapes that are diverse, beautiful, and low-maintenance. Through a series of case studies, this presentation explores the dynamic ecological processes that occur in our native woodlands, shrub lands, and meadows, and illustrates their direct application in a variety of residential landscapes. Examples will feature effective solutions to common landscape situations including entrance areas, screen and bank plantings as well as techniques for establishing native wildflower meadows and woodland gardens in various contexts.

Mr. Weaner will present a second topic “The Self Perpetuating Landscape: Setting a Process in Motion.”  Nature has spent millennia perfecting plants’ abilities to reproduce and proliferate on their own, and yet we often go to great effort and expense placing every plant in our designed landscapes. How can we capitalize on plants’ reproductive abilities, and actively encourage planted as well as existing and new species to colonize our landscapes? Join Larry Weaner as he discusses principles and protocols for creating dynamic, ecologically rich landscapes where nature does much of the “planting.” The lecture will include detailed case studies that demonstrate how practical, concrete strategies for assisted plant proliferation can be applied at diverse scales, from the most intimate garden to large multi-acre landscapes.

After lunch, Dwayne Estes, Ph.D., Executive Director at Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI), will present “The Southeastern Grasslands Initiative: Bringing Chicago-Style, Community-Based Conservation to the South to Restore our Forgotten Grasslands.” Grassland loss is the single greatest conservation issue currently facing eastern North American biodiversity. Our precious Southeastern grasslands are nearly extinct and the species that depend on them are fading fast. Known as “The Prairie Preacher,” Dr. Estes will highlight the historic range of native grasslands in our area and show how we can bring back grasslands in our landscapes, including suggestions for great native grasses, sedges and rushes for our region.

Jennifer M. Cruse-Sanders, Ph.D., Director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, brings the presentations to a close with “The Role of Botanical Gardens and Partnership in Conserving Biodiversity in the Southeastern U.S.”  Dr. Cruse-Sanders will describe her actions to regain habitat lost to development in our urban and suburban corridors.  She brings a message of hope, including her recent initiative to increase the supply of native plants through a collaboration between nurseries and botanical gardens in the Southeast including her own at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Mr. Weaner’s approach to landscape design combines his expertise in horticulture, environmental science, and the traditions of garden design.  His design and restoration work spans more than ten states and has been profiled in national publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design, American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, and ASLA’s “The Dirt” blog.

Mr. Weaner has received numerous awards for his work, including the Landscape Design Award from the New England Wildflower Society for use of native plants in “exceptional and distinctive landscape compositions” and the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award from The Native Plant Center.  The Garden Club of America awarded him an honorary membership in 2015.  Weaner recently authored Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change with Tom Christopher (Timber Press, 2016).  Their book received a 2017 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society.  The book will be available for purchase and signing at the symposium.

Dr. Estes is a Full Professor of Biology, Director of the APSU Herbarium, and Principal Investigator for the Center of Excellence for Field Biology. In January 2017, he co-founded SGI with colleague, Theo Witsell. Under his leadership as director of SGI, the fledgling organization has secured more than $2 million dollars in funding, and in the past five years he and his collaborators have been awarded three grants from the National Science Foundation. Dwayne’s research interests include the flora, ecology, history, biodiversity, and biogeography of the Southeastern U.S. with emphasis on grasslands. He has published over 20 publications and co-authored the Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee published in 2015 by the University of Tennessee Press. He enjoys mentoring his six graduate students and working hand-in-hand with a dedicated SGI team. He has been active in building diverse support for Southeastern U.S. grasslands conservation, including bringing together philanthropists, government agencies, non-profits, corporate and small-business partners, private landowners and ranchers, historians, educators, and citizen scientists.

Dr. Cruse-Sanders has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia, and she completed her B.A in Biology at Boston University. Until 2017 she served as the Vice President for Science and Conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden where she launched the Center for Southeastern Conservation and helped to host the inaugural Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation meeting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and GA Department of Natural Resources. She is the recipient of the 2016 Marsh Award for International Plant Conservation from Botanic Garden Conservation International, the 2016 Carl N. Becker Stewardship Award from the Natural Areas Association, and 2015 USDA Forest Service, Wings Across America International Award for Urban Communities in Conservation. Through collaborative partnerships, she has helped to build networks for conservation across the southeastern U.S. and develop community sustainability programs to establish native plants and pollinator habitats in greenspaces.

Throughout Saturday, the Native Plant Marketplace and Expo will offer for purchase native plants from area nurseries, artwork, garden inspiration and opportunities to talk with representatives from area environmental nonprofit organizations and sustainable landscapers. The Marketplace and Expo is free and open to the public from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Saturday.

The cost for the symposium is $55 for Wild Ones members, $65 for the public if you register before March 1 or $75 at the door on the day of the program.  College students are $20 with a valid student photo ID.  Lunch is included in the registration fee and there will be door prizes, exhibitors and plenty of friendly people to meet.  For more information and to register, go to  www.tnvalleywildones.org/plantnatives-2019 .  Wild Ones memberships will be taken at the registration desk or persons interested in joining may go to www.wildones.org/membership for more information and to become a member.  The University Center is located at 642 E. Fifth Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Wild Ones is a national non-profit organization with over 50 chapters in 13 states that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities. For more information about the Wild Ones, go to www.wildones.org.  For more information about the Tennessee Valley Chapter or “Plant Natives 2019!” go to www.tnvalleywildones.org, email membership@tnvalleywildones.org or call 423-847-2012 and leave a message.

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