10th Annual “Plant Natives 2021” Programs To Be Held March 19-21 and March 27

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Wild Ones is holding its 10th annual event, “Plant Natives 2021.” This year, there are big changes – an exciting and expanded lineup of speakers AND a new way to obtain a great variety of native plants for spring planting. “Plant Natives 2021!” will consist of three components:

- Virtual Special Seminar | Friday, March 19 | 9 a.m.-noon
- Virtual Symposium & Expo | Friday-Sunday, March 19-21 
- Outdoor Native Plant Marketplace | Saturday, March 27 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

This annual event brings gardeners, conservationists, landscape professionals and policy makers together for inspiration and education and focuses on the importance of native plants as the foundation for preserving and promoting biodiversity. The symposium schedule features seven recognized speakers in the field of native plant gardening and responsible landscaping who will present live webinar programs. 

Virtual Special Seminar: 
On Friday morning, March 19 from 9 a.m.-noon, a special seminar will be offered: “Native Trees in a Time of Climate Change” with Tom Kimmerer, PhD. Unlike a typical webinar, the format for this seminar will allow plenty of opportunity for discussion. This discussion will be divided into three parts: a description of the trees of the past and present in Tennessee; how the current climate crisis might favor some trees and cause the loss of others; an examination of what we, as native tree enthusiasts should do in the face of the climate crisis. Kimmerer is a consulting forest scientist, working with landowners and with other scientists and natural resource management professionals to ensure a future for the woodland pastures of Kentucky and Tennessee. He also consults on sustainability issues related to forest management and wood utilization, including carbon sequestration in forests and wood products. He is the author of Venerable Trees - History, Biology and Conservation, and is working on a second book, A Time for Trees. Kimmerer has a B.S. in Forest Biology (Botany) from SUNY ESF and a PhD in both forestry and botany, with a specialization in tree physiology and biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tickets for the special seminar are $30 for Wild Ones Members, $40 Non-members. To register visit SPECIAL SEMINAR – Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones (tnvalleywildones.org).

Virtual Symposium and Expo: 
Live webinar sessions are scheduled for Friday, March 19, 12:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday, March 20, noon-5 p.m., and Sunday, March 21, 12:30-4:30 p.m. All sessions will be held on Eastern Daylight Savings Time and will be recorded and available to registrants for six months. The symposium will begin on Friday with Benjamin Vogt, PhD, owner of Monarch Gardens LLC, a prairie garden design firm. His presentation is “Fundamentals of Garden Layers: Plant Communities, Ecosystem Function, and Climate Resilience”. Dr. Vogt has contributed to books such as Lawn Gone! And Pollinator Friendly Gardening. He has been interviewed for dozens of podcasts, articles and books while speaking nationally on environmental activism and sustainable urban design for wildlife. He is author of A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future and the forthcoming (2022) Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design. He also runs the Facebook page Milk the Weed, a lively space where 12,000 folks share the joys and purpose of gardening for wildlife. Dr. Vogt has an M.F.A. (Ohio State) and Ph.D. (Nebraska) in English and has taught over fifty college classes for which he has received multiple awards. He is also the author of three poetry collections. 

Following Dr. Vogt is Michael Gaige, an independent consulting ecologist based in upstate New York. His presentation is entitled “Historical Ecology: Using Plants to reveal the Past”. He earned a B.A. in natural history from Prescott College (Arizona) and a M.S. in conservation biology from Antioch University (New Hampshire). In his work, Mr. Gaige explores the intersection of nature and history at the landscape level. He works with organizations, private landowners, and design teams on park and landscape projects, historical ecology inventories, and conservation planning for natural areas. He teaches field studies programs for several colleges and universities. 

On Saturday, the symposium continues with James T. Costa, PhD, who is the executive director of the Highlands Biological Station and Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Western Carolina University. He will present “If You want to Feed the Birds, First Feed the Bugs!: Toward an Ecological Appreciation of Insects in Your Garden.” Dr. Costa has authored numerous research papers, reviews, magazine articles and seven books, most recently Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory (W. W. Norton, 2017) - a finalist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Prize - and the co-edited volume, An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion (Chicago, 2019). His many interests include insect behavior and ecology, environmental history and philosophy, conservation biology and the history of science. His research has focused in recent years on Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and the
history of evolutionary thought.

Next is Patricia Kyritsi Howell, author of Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians and the director of the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in northeast Georgia. She is herbalist in residence at the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Mountain City, Ga., and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. Her presentation, “Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians”, explores the rich history of many regional plants and their current uses as a vital part of natural healing.

Author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (2016), J. Drew Lanham, PhD, will also present on Saturday. In his program, “Coloring the Conservation Conversation”, Dr. Lanham will discuss what it means to embrace the full breadth of his African-American Heritage, deep kinship to nature and adoration of birds. Candid by nature - and because of it - Dr. Lanham will examine how conservation must be a rigorous science and evocative art, inviting diversity and race to play active roles in celebrating our natural world. Dr. Lanham is a professor of wildlife at Clemson University, where he holds an endowed chair as an Alumni Distinguished Professor and was named an Alumni Master Teacher in 2012. A South Carolina native, Dr. Lanham is active on numerous conservation boards and is a member of the advisory board for the North American Association of Environmental Education. His research focuses on songbird ecology, as well as the African-American role in natural-resources conservation. Dr. Lanham received his B.A. and M.S. in zoology, and his Ph.D. in forest resources from Clemson.

Speakers on the final day of the symposium include Doug Tallamy, PhD, well known for his influential book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, published in 2007. In his presentation, “Let It Be an Oak”, Dr. Tallamy will compare oak species to other popular shade trees in terms of their ability to support animal diversity, protect watersheds, sequester carbon dioxide, and restore lost plant communities. Dr. Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored eighty research articles and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, and other courses for 32 years. His later books include Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard and The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees. Dr. Tallamy also coauthored with Rick Darke, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden. He is currently leading “Homegrown National Park,” a grassroots call-to-action to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks.

The symposium concludes with Larry Mellichamp, PhD, who has been a professor in the Biology Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 1976 and is the director of UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. His presentation is entitled “Fundamentals of Garden Layers: Plant Communities, Ecosystem Function And Climate Resilience.” In the Southeast, there are many new examples of favorite plants to discover - ferns, small trees, shrubs, woodland wildflowers and sun-loving perennials. The trend is towards using more natives, not just because they are better adapted to warm southern climates but because they support native butterflies and birds and give a sense of place to the garden. Dr. Mellichamp has co-authored Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden (2014) and The Southeast Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden (2020). Mellichamp’s research specialties include biology of rare and endangered plants, native plants in the Carolinas and their landscape use, and Natural Areas Inventories.

In between symposium speakers, short videos will provide information about native plant nurseries, garden design professionals, artists who draw inspiration from nature and organizations committed to conservation. These video presentations will form the Expo component that, in the past, has physically accompanied the speaker portions of the annual TVWO “Plant Natives!” event. 

The cost for the symposium is $65 for Wild Ones Members and $75 for the public for registrations made before March 10. After the early registration discount period, cost will be $75 for members and $85 for non-members. Cost for students with a valid college student ID is $30. Registration includes access to recordings of all webinar sessions for a period of six months after the symposium. For more information and to register, visit www.tnvalleywildones.org/plant-natives-2021/ For persons interested in becoming a Wild Ones member, go to www.members.wildones.org/login/. 

Outdoor Native Plant Marketplace: 

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones will present an Outdoor Native Plant Marketplace on Saturday, March 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Location is the First Horizon Pavilion, 1801 Carter St., Chattanooga, Tn. 37408. Free and open to the public, the marketplace will feature 10 local and regional native plant nurseries, plus artists, vendors and exhibits from regional organizations that support native plant gardening and responsible landscaping. Parking is available near the First Horizon Pavilion. Please note that masks will be required. Visit https://tnvalleywildones.org/plant-natives-2021/marketplace2021/ for information. As nurseries, vendors and exhibitors are confirmed, additional information will be posted on this page. 

The Wild Ones is a national non-profit organization with over 55 chapters in 17 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 2021!” go to www.tnvalleywildones.org, email tnvalleywildones@gmail.com or call 423-847-2012 and leave a message.

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