Bios & Sessions

Keynote: The Meeting Place: exploring the work of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center by Andrea DeLong-Amaya

“The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing that all of us share.” — Lady Bird Johnson, Environmental First Lady

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the State Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas dedicated to inspiring the conservation of native plants. The Center’s gardens and arboretum display native plants from across Texas and serve as a model for creating beautiful, sustainable landscapes. The Center guides the development of urban and rural landscapes across the U.S. that incorporate native prairies, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and other sustainable features. It operates Native Plants of North America, the most comprehensive online native plant resource, and has set aside millions of seeds from Texas native plants for future generations and restoration activities. In addition to educating children and adults about native plants and training citizen scientists to identify and report invasive species, the Center led the development of SITES®, a sustainable landscape rating system now used worldwide. Join Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for a virtual tour of how the Wildflower Center works to improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and enhance human health and happiness. Together we can make the world a better place with native plants

with hat-3DeLong-Amaya manages the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s horticulture programs and is passionate about sharing the value of native plants in planned landscapes.  A staff member since 1998 and with nearly 30 years of experience in horticulture, she guides 15 staff in the design and management of 9 acres of native gardens, 284 acres of natural areas and a native plant nursery.  She teaches classes in native plant horticulture and has contributed gardening articles to Taunton’s Fine Gardening, Rodale’s Organic Gardening, American Public Garden Association’s Public Garden, Neil Sperry’s Gardens magazine and e-Gardens.  She was a member of the design and construction team that recently opened the 4.5 acre Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Wildflower Center that provides a fun, interactive, and safe garden experience for families and incorporates environmentally sustainable landscaping approaches.  She received a B.A. in geography from The University of Texas at Austin, served as vice president of administration for the Native Plant Society of Texas for two years and is a leader in native plant horticulture with the American Public Garden Association.


Breakout Session 1

  • New to Natives Track: Plant It and They Will Come: Habitat Gardening by Susan Tweit
    • In a world of climate change, droughts, heat waves, and imperiled populations of songbirds and pollinators, what can home gardeners do to make a positive difference? Plant habitat! Gardens that mimic the form and composition of nearby natural areas, and are based on native and regionally adapted species will attract and sustain songbirds and pollinators, and make a crucial difference in restoring nature in our everyday spaces. As Habitat Hero program founder Connie Holsinger likes to say, “Plant it, and they will come.” Join plant ecologist and writer Susan J. Tweit to explore how a habitat garden can fit into your landscaping, and learn what plants to use, plus design basics to draw on whatever your style or location.
    • Susan J. Tweit (2)Award-winning writer Susan J. Tweit is a plant biologist who began her career studying wildfires, grizzly bear habitat and sagebrush communities in Yellowstone National Park. She has written twelve books about nature and life, including The Rocky Mountain Garden Survival Guide, hailed as “the instruction book that should have come with your yard.” Tweit’s work has appeared in magazines and newspapers ranging from Audubon and Popular Mechanics to High Country News and the Los Angeles Times. She writes the popular “Whole Life” column for Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine, is Rocky Mountain Native Plants columnist for the home and garden design website Houzz, and co-founder of the Habitat Hero project. Her landscape designs and habitat restoration projects have won recognition from The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Rockies, and the North American Rock Garden Society. Tweit spent 20 years restoring a blighted industrial property and its block of urban creek in Salida, Colorado.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Historic Uses of Colorado Native Plants by Jim Tolstrup
    • For Native Americans and early pioneers, Colorado’s native plants served as grocery store and pharmacy, and also supplied fibers and dyes. Understanding these historic relationships helps deepen our understanding of both plants and people. Join Jim Tolstrup to learn more about cultural uses of native plants, as well as how to cultivate these unique species in your yards and gardens.
    • IMG_9374Jim Tolstrup works to promote the conservation, restoration and landscape use of native plants and is the Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, CO, a unique model for preserving native bio-diversity in midst of development. Jim’s past work experience includes serving as Land Stewardship Director of Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO and running his own landscape design business in Kennebunkport, Maine where he installed gardens at George and Barbara Bush’s “Summer White House.” Jim holds a Certificate in Gardening Arts from the Landscape Institute of Harvard University and the Arnold Arboretum, he has written numerous articles on gardening and environmental stewardship for various publications, and is a past recipient of Denver Water’s Xeriscape Award and ALCC’s Excellence in Landscaping Merit Award and ASLA Land Stewardship Award. Jim is personally committed to bringing together people with diverse points of view; environmentalist, business people and other community members in an inclusive dialogue about preserving the natural world for future generations.

Breakout Session 2

  • New to Natives Track: Integrating Native Plants to Your Existing Landscape by Ronda Koski
    • By now you are thinking that embellishment of an existing residential, commercial, or municipal landscape with Colorado native plants is the “right thing” to do. Perhaps you have your retrofitted landscape all planned in your mind and may even have drawn it out on paper. But how does one turn those ideas into reality? This session will provide you with suggestions to help you be more successful with the integration of Colorado native plants into an existing landscape.
    • 1115180841aRonda received a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Indiana’s Purdue University, and a Master of Science degree in Plant Pathology from Ohio State University.  She has been a Research Associate for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University for over 25 years. Ronda is currently a member of CSU’s Pollinator Friendly Campus Committee, Colorado Native Plant Society, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, the Northern Colorado and Colorado State Beekeepers Associations, and is a Larimer County Native Plant Master.  She enjoys hiking and botanizing in Colorado’s open spaces, and spending time at home tending flower and vegetable gardens, chickens, and honey bees.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Penstemons for Colorado Gardens by Mike Kintgen
    • Mike Kintgen is the Curator of Alpine Collections at the Denver Botanic Gardens where he oversees the Alpine Collection and eight gardens including the Rock Alpine Garden, Mount Goliath and South African Plaza. The drive to see alpines in their native environments has allowed him to observe alpines in Alaska, Hawaii, Argentina, Morocco, Spain, the Alps, and throughout the American West. Recently he completed a master’s in environmental science at Regis University 20120524_mike-kintgen_002exploring precipitation gradients and soil pH in Colorado’s alpine tundra. He is a coauthor of several books published by Denver Botanic Gardens.
    • With over 250 species the genus Penstemon is found in almost every environment in Colorado and Western North America. Most of the Colorado and the surrounding regions species can be grown in gardens and make excellent additions to Xeric, Native, and Rock gardens. We will cover some of the best species for Colorado gardens and some helpful hints to grow them in your gardens.

Breakout Session 3

  • New to Natives Track: Plant This, Not That: Colorado Native Plant Alternatives to Common Garden Plants by Deryn Davidson
    • Now that you know the benefits of using Colorado native plants in your landscape, how do you choose which ones to use? Selecting Colorado native plants can be challenging for gardeners because they are not familiar with their ornamental characteristics. Therefore, this session will list well-known non-native plants and then feature ideal Colorado native alternatives.
    • DerynDavidson (2)Deryn Davidson holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Colorado State University and a Master’s of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona. Her passion for native plants and pollinators grew during her time as a horticulturist at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. Currently, Deryn is the CSU Horticulture Extension Agent for Boulder County, a position in which she is able to help educate the public about the importance of pollinators and their habitat, good design, and responsible horticulture practices.
  • Knows the Nnickdheadshotatives Track: Native Grasses by Nick Daniel
    • Nick will give an overview of some well known, and some not so well known native grasses with horticultural importance. Using native grasses in your landscape is just as important as any other flowering plant in terms of water saving, wildlife value, and aesthetic. Cultural information and design considerations will be the focus of this presentation.
    • Nick Daniel is a Horticulture Specialist at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  He curates the Cactus and Succulent Collections as well as several native gardens.  Nick speaks regularly about Colorado’s native flora, especially that of the Western Slope and Four Corners area. Nick is has co-author a field guide called Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Breakout Session 4

  • New to Natives Track: Native Plants for Year Round Interest by Irene Shonle
    • August 20, 2012 005 Irene (2)Native plants can provide interest all year round, even in winter. We will look at plants that shine in each season, and discuss many winning plant combinations as well.
    • Irene Shonle is the Director of CSU Extension in Gilpin County.  She teaches and writes about native plants all across the state, is very involved with the Native Plant Master Program, and is past Vice-President of the Colorado Native Plant Society.  She gardens (mostly with natives) in the mountains at both her home and in demonstration gardens outside the Extension Office.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Colorado Native Plants on Green Roofs? by Jennifer Bousselot
    • Colorado’s rich native flora provides a proverbial feast for green roof enthusiasts worldwide. The City of Denver has recently passed one of the most aggressive green roof initiatives in the world. You too can have a green roof – on your home or simply a birdhouse green roof. Explore the emerging topic of using native plants on green roofs with one of the worlds few green roof plant experts.
    • Jen BousselotJennifer Bousselot is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University and the outgoing Colorado Native Plant Society (CoNPS) Marketing and Events Coordinator. Jen completed her doctorate research studying green roof species selection, including Colorado native plants, at Colorado State University in 2010 and has remained active in green roof research since then. Jen was on the 2018 City of Denver Green Roof Task Force that helped implement the new green roof ordinance. She is a co-author of the CoNPS published 3rd edition of Common Southwestern Native Plants.


Closing Keynote: The Nature of Colorado’s Native Plant Industry: Unveiling the Mysteries Behind Supply, Demand and Selection by Pat Hayward

  • If the nursery industry was like manufacturing we’d always have a good supply of the species we need; if plants were more like widgets. they’d be consistent in form and size. If our natural world was a controlled biodome, everything would grow beautifully and without losses or failures. In Colorado, however, our horticultural world is dynamic and unpredictable, making our gardening lives more “interesting,” and causing increasing challenges to our native plant industry. In this session you’ll learn about native plant production, gain insights into demand dynamics and discover how new native plant selections come to market. What new techniques are growers using? How is consumer demand for natives changing? And why-oh-why can’t we ever get enough of the new varieties?
  • Pat-Hayward-award-picPat Hayward is a Colorado industry veteran with nearly 40 years’ experience in production and marketing of landscape plants from wholesale to retail arenas. A two-time winner of the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association’s “Person of the Year” award, she was also Director of Plant Select for nine years working with growers around the country to develop supply chains of new and unique plants for our region. She and her husband Joel garden on 4 acres in the foothills west of Fort Collins, growing native and adapted plants, unusual conifers and hardy cacti and succulents. Her company, Phytologic Horticultural Services, focuses on education and marketing consultation.