Bios & Sessions 2022

Keynote: Nature’s Best Hope by Doug Tallamy, Professor of Agriculture, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware

  • Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. To create landscapes that enhance local ecosystems rather than degrade them, we must add the native plant communities that sustain food webs, sequester carbon, maintain diverse native bee communities, and manage our watersheds. If we do this in half of the area now in lawn, we can create a Homegrown National Park, a 20-million-acre network of viable habitats that will provide vital corridors connecting the few natural areas that remain. This approach to conservation empowers everyone to play a significant role in the future of the natural world.
  • Author Photo_Tallamy_by Rob CardilloDoug Tallamy is the T.A. Baker Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 106 research publications and has taught insect-related courses for 41 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home was published by Timber Press in 2007; The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014; Nature’s Best Hope, a New York Times Best Seller, was released in February 2020; and his latest book The Nature of Oaks was released by Timber press in March 2021. His awards include recognition from The Garden Writers Association, Audubon, The Garden Club of America, and the American Horticultural Association.

Breakout Session 1

  • New to Natives Track: Well-Behaved Prairie Plants for Your Home Garden by Grace Johnson, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms.
    • Love native plants? Love prairies? Not ready for the commitment of a full-blown prairie garden? Do not fear! Join us for an overview of some well-behaved, pollinator-friendly prairie plants that require little maintenance and less water. This presentation will cover perennial wildflowers and grasses, native to Colorado and other prairie territories within the United States, and how to care for them. Let your garden serve you AND the beneficial creatures that call it home. 

    • bio photo 3After graduating college with a degree in environmental science, Grace Johnson has worked in ornamental horticulture for more than eight years. Prior to maintaining the prairie gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, Grace worked in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden’s Shaw Nature Reserve where she gardened exclusively with native plants and assisted with prairie restoration. In addition to native plant and water-wise horticulture, Grace has experience in traditional Victorian horticulture, aquatic gardening, seed collection, and propagation. Grace currently maintains the prairie gardens, WaterSmart Avenue, Plant Select® Garden, and historic iris collection at Chatfield Farms. Grace has a passion for ecological and sustainable gardening and hopes to continue creating landscapes that encourage plant diversity and provide habitat for native pollinators. 

  • Knows the Natives Track: Native Plant Production Panel moderated by Youping Sun, Assistant Professor, Utah State University.
In 2005, Dr. Stephen Love of the University of Idaho initiated a native plant domestication project designed to develop water-conserving plants for landscape applications. Sixteen years of research have resulted in collection of over 3,500 accessions, evaluation of over 1,200 species, and release of over 100 nursery products derived from Intermountain West native plants. Products are currently being marketed through our Native Roots, LLC industry partner. Presentation will include a brief description of collection activities, discussion of domestication procedures, and photographic examples of native plant products developed and released. Plant scientists at Utah State University began working with native plants around the turn of the current century and formally initiated the Sego Supreme plant native plant introduction program in 2012. The goal of the program is to develop plant materials native to the interior western states for use in low-water landscaping. This presentation will provide a review of the methods and challenges of selecting, evaluating, and releasing new plant material while highlighting some wonderful plants that have caught our fancy over the years. Shepherdia ×utahensis (hybrid buffaloberry) is a cross between the xeric roundleaf buffaloberry and the riparian silver buffaloberry. The hybrid has stunning silver-blue evergreen foliage with wavy margins, a rounded form, and a relatively slow growth rate. It also fixes its own nitrogen and is extremely drought-tolerant, making it ideal for sustainable landscaping in the western U.S. In this presentation, Dr. Kratsch will describe current research on production and landscape use of hybrid buffaloberry.
In 2005, Dr. Stephen Love of the University of Idaho initiated a native plant domestication project designed to develop water-conserving plants for landscape applications. Sixteen years of research have resulted in collection of over 3,500 accessions, evaluation of over 1,200 species, and release of over 100 nursery products derived from Intermountain West native plants. Products are currently being marketed through our Native Roots, LLC industry partner. Presentation will include a brief description of collection activities, discussion of domestication procedures, and photographic examples of native plant products developed and released. Dr. Larry Rupp retired in 2019 after 35 years in the Plants, Soils, and Climate Department at Utah State University where he was Extension specialist for landscape horticulture and director of the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping.  His research and Extension work has focused on water conserving landscapes and specifically the selection, propagation, and use of native woody plants in low-water landscaping. Dr. Heidi Kratsch is a plant physiologist and extension specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her work over the past 20 years has focused on native plants and sustainable landscaping. She is particularly interested in the many nitrogen-fixing shrubs that are native to the Intermountain West, and is working to understand how these fascinating plants are able to survive the extreme conditions of the Great Basin ecosystem.
Stephen Jones photo Rupp Image Heidi Kratsch

Breakout Session 2

  • New to Natives Track: Watering Native Plants: How Low Can You Go? by Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director, High Plains Environmental Center.
    • As the population of Colorado continues to grow, demands on municipal water supplies are being stretched beyond their limits. Climate change with rising temperatures and prolonged drought is accelerating plant transpiration, drying out soil, and increasing the need for irrigation, adding to the demands on our dwindling water supplies. The use of native plants which are adapted to our climate conditions helps to preserve native biodiversity within our landscapes and is a logical response to the rising costs and the potential of restricted use of water. How much water do native plants require, how much moisture is too much, and how low can you go? This talk will explore these topics based on the trial gardens at the High Plains Environmental Center, and elsewhere, as well as exploring how plants can be arranged in hydrological zones, even within the tiniest landscapes.
    • IMG_9374Jim Tolstrup is the executive director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, CO, a unique model for preserving native biodiversity in the midst of development.  His past work experience includes serving as land steward 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 and has received awards for landscape design from, Plant Select®, American Society of Landscape Architects, Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, and Denver Water. He teaches widely throughout Colorado, has written numerous articles on gardening and environmental stewardship, and is the author of SUBURBITAT: Restoring Nature where we Live, Work, and Play.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Ecosystem Function and Landscape Aesthetics by Ilene Marcus-Flax, Studio CPG.
    • Over the last 40 years, xeriscape guidelines promoting water wise landscapes in our region have focused attention on one aspect of environmental responsibility while development has catastrophically fragmented and marginalized nature and natural processes. Landscape design guided by aesthetics that maximize ecosystem function is essential to establishing healthy, beautiful relationships between nature and culture. Case studies will describe design, installation, and management of landscapes rooted in ecosystem function including provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services.
    • IMF headshotIlene has been practicing landscape architecture on the Front Range for over twenty years. She has a background in ecology and has focused her work on the technical aspects of design and construction in the development of ecologically functional landscapes.

Breakout Session 3

  • New to Natives Track: Profile of a Successful Partnership: Loveland’s Demonstration Gardens at River’s Edge Natural Area by Kathy Maher.
    • This presentation will outline two years in the life of a native plant garden project in Loveland that has successfully engaged the public in land stewardship and environmental education activities since 2019. I will describe how Colorado Native Plant Society members partnered with the City of Loveland and community volunteers to install and maintain the gardens, and how these gardens are being used to promote native plant gardening and to conduct citizen science data collection activities.
    • MaherKathy grew up in Corning, NY, and has an M.A. in Linguistics. After careers in federal civil service, she and her husband chose to retire in Colorado, where they live on 35 dry, rocky acres in the West Loveland foothills. Kathy has prioritized stewardship of that acreage in her retirement, joining the Colorado Native Plant Society, taking Colorado gardening and Native Plant Master courses, and attending Larimer County land management workshops since 2014 to educate and guide her gardening and restoration efforts. She and her botanist daughter, Maddie, are working to catalog all the species growing on the property. Though an amateur, Kathy now has seven years of experience gardening with native plants in unirrigated, hot, sunny, extremely windy locations. Since 2018 she has led efforts to design, fund, install, and maintain native plant demonstration gardens at River’s Edge Natural Area in Loveland and remains involved in organizing environmental education and citizen-science activities at the gardens.
  • Knows the Natives Track: No Plant is an Island: Experimental Insights into Growing Castilleja spp. in Colorado Gardens by Jameson Coopman and Michael Guidi, Denver Botanic Gardens.
    • Castilleja spp., or paintbrush, are aesthetic wildflowers in western North America that are difficult to cultivate and maintain in landscapes. Castilleja are hemi-parasites that utilize host plants for some nutrient and water uptake. Our current study investigates host-Castilleja interactions and effects on the long-term survival of Castilleja in landscapes. We will discuss the methods of production, planting, and cultivation that have been successful and implications for the use of Castilleja in cultivated gardens.
    • CoopmanJameson Coopman is the Horticulture Research Associate at the Denver Botanic Gardens. He is a Wisconsin native who developed a passion for orchids and tissue culture through his horticulture education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and pursued those interests in a master’s at the University of Florida in Environmental Horticulture. After interning at the Denver Botanic Gardens in 2013, he began his career at the gardens in 2017 with an interest in tissue culture, ecology, and research. He likes to joke that he conducts “Horticulture Research and Development” at Denver Botanic Gardens, answering questions about plant production, plant survival, and horticultural interest.
    • GuidiMichael Guidi is a Horticulturist for the Denver Botanic Gardens where he manages gardens that showcase living collections from western North America. He is broadly interested in temperate arid-land flora and ecology and focuses his horticultural ambitions on creating naturalistic, dynamic habitats in the garden. He is currently a master’s degree candidate in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State University. His graduate research investigates plant-insect interactions and ecosystem services in urban horticultural spaces.

Closing Keynote: What Colorado Birds Eat by David Leatherman.

  • David Leatherman will discuss the link between native plants and what Colorado birds eat, based on many years of careful field observations. The diets of birds mostly consist of plant parts and animals associated with plants, particularly insects. This presentation will illustrate via anecdotes important native plant-bird interactions and speculate about how the situation here in the western U.S.might differ in significant ways from that in the eastern portion of the country.
  • leatherman2David Leatherman is the former Colorado State Forest Service Entomologist, and an avid bird watcher. He has written a column on “What Birds Eat” for the Colorado Field Ornithologists for many years, and is well known for his informative and entertaining talks.