Bios & Sessions

Keynote: Native Plants in the Garden: a Problem or Panacea? by Panayoti Kelaidis

This talk will present a few of the challenges encountered establishing native plants at Denver Botanic Gardens (and similar institutions) such as the difficulty of procuring germplasm, how hard they can be to establish and maintain and the often negative reaction to poorly designed native plantings. Panayoti will then show solutions to each of these challenges that intelligent design and proper maintenance can obviate: a successfully established native garden can be a panacea in our urban spaces—minimizing irrigation and runoff and reaffirming our connection to Nature in every sense.

PK at SoapstonePanayoti Kelaidis is a plant explorer, gardener and public garden administrator associated with Denver Botanic Gardens where he is now Senior Curator and Director of Outreach. He has designed plantings for many of the gardens at DBG, he is particularly noted for the plantings of the Rock Alpine Garden.  He has introduced hundreds of native ornamentals from throughout the Western United States to general horticulture. He has taken seven collecting trips to Southern Africa researching the high mountain flora there, as well as travels to the Andes, Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Mongolia), the Himalaya (from both Pakistan and China) as well as travels throughout much of Europe from Spain to Turkey and most recently, New Zealand. Many of his plant introductions are available through Plant Select®, (a plant introduction program he helped launch along with staff from Colorado State University and nurseries across America). He has lectured in over 140 cities in twelve countries, and has been featured in dozens of television, newspaper and magazine pieces. He has published widely in popular and technical horticultural journals.

In recent years Panayoti has been honored with the Boulder History Museum’s 60 Year Living History award in 2004, in 2003 by being inducted into the Garden Club of America as Member-at-Large, in 2002 he received the National Garden Clubs Medal of Honor and in 2000 he received the Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal from the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College. He has received four awards from the North American Rock Garden Society. In 2004 he was inducted into the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association’s Hall of Fame. In 2009 he received the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award of the American Horticultural Society.

Breakout Session 1

  • New to Natives Track: Habitat Gardening – How and Why by Amy Yarger
    • Any part of your landscape, from large meadows to container plantings can provide food, shelter and other resources for butterflies, bees and birds. Amy will provide design tips and native plant recommendations that will turn your garden into an oasis for wildlife.
    • Amy Yarger (2)Amy Yarger has worked in the public horticulture field since 1996.  She received a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine and then went on to study plant-animal interactions at the University of Michigan.  Her master’s thesis concerned the effects of noxious weeds on pollinator-plant relationships.  Her work at the Butterfly Pavilion, where she has worked since 2000, touches on many of her passions: plants, insects, habitat conservation and science education. She is currently on the board of the Colorado Native Plant Society, where she serves on the Horticulture and Education and Outreach committees.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Weeding and (Not) Watering by Susan Tweit
    • What do you need to know to help native plants thrive in your landscape? First, know your weeds, and how to eradicate them. (A “weed” in this case is a non-native, invasive plant.) Second, understand what conditions your natives are adapted to, and particularly how much or little water they need once they’re established. Join plant ecologist and author Susan J. Tweit, a certified native-plant-restoration nerd, for a lively session on what to do, and what not to do, to make sure your native plants thrive and form a healthy garden community.
    • 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.

Breakout Session 2

  • New to Natives Track: Planting for a Purpose by Larry Vickerman
    • Native plants are beautiful and they add incredible texture and color to a garden.  The real benefit is the amazing array of other beneficial life forms they support.  We will look at developing a native garden from the ground up, including site selection, weed control, soil preparation, utilizing transplants, choosing seed and seeding techniques.  I will also cover replacing a lawn with a native garden by removing sod and creating a relatively weed free planting bed.  Everything you need to know to get your natives growing!
    • _RCS9169 Larry Vickerman (600x800)Larry Vickerman obtained a B.S. from Colorado State University in Landscape Management in 1990 and a M.S. in Not-for-Profit Management from University of Washington in 1993.  For the past 12 years he has served as Director of Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, a 700 farm and public garden, in Littleton, Colorado. His professional background includes landscape/production horticulture, prairie restoration and consulting for the past 25 years in Washington, Kansas, Colorado and internationally.  He is co-author of Steppes: The plants and ecology of the world’s semi-arid regions. Larry’s current focus is creating ecologically relevant gardens and implementing habitat/riparian restoration at the farm.  He currently serves as President of the San Isabel Land Protection Trust, based in Westcliffe, Colorado.  He is a 4th generation Coloradoan, having growing up on a large cattle ranch in the Wet Mountain Valley.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Walking Away from Natives and Crevices by Kenton Seth
    • Unirrigated, native, and crevice gardens all promise incredibly low care, but there are specific methods to keep this true and avoid backfire.  Learn how to leverage special techniques to fool the landscape and plants into letting you walk away with great results. Kenton Seth At raulston by bobby
    • Kenton J. Seth is a warped plant addict who lives and plays in Grand Junction. There and anywhere he consults, designs, lugs rocks to build crevice gardens, and shamelessly stalks native plants to get their seeds. is his all-native, unirrigated landscape company supplemented by a micro nursery.  All the madness is shared at

Breakout Session 3

  • New to Natives Track: Plant This, Not That by Jennifer Bousselot
    • 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.
    • Jen BousselotJennifer Bousselot is the Colorado Native Plant Society (CoNPS) Marketing and Events Coordinator and teaches classes and advises online students at Colorado State University in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Jen completed her doctorate research studying green roof species selection, including Colorado native plants, and substrate compositions at Colorado State University in 2010. Jen has taught both homeowner and college-level horticultural courses and managed Master Gardener programs in two states over the past 15 years.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Soil Savvy for Successful Native Plantings in the Landscape by Jean Reeder
    • Over 80% of all plant problems observed in landscapes are related to the condition of the soil, and yet soil is the resource that gardeners usually know the least about.  This presentation discusses the concept of developing soil savvy:  understanding and using soil properties (such as pH, organic matter content, texture, and degree of compaction) as part of the criteria for making decisions on native plant selection and landscape management.
    • Jean ReederDr. Reeder worked for over 30 years with the USDA Agricultural Research Service as a Research Soil Scientist conducting studies on soil properties in native rangelands, Conservation Reserve Program lands, and revegetated strip-mine coal lands.  Since retiring, she works as a consultant to the CSU Soil Testing Laboratory, and as a soils instructor for the Denver Botanic Gardens and the CSU Extension Master Gardener Program.  Her passion these days is to help gardeners know as much about their soil as they do about their plants, and to use this knowledge of soil properties as a tool in both plant selection and landscape management.

Breakout Session 4

  • New to Natives Track: Native Plants for Year Round Interest by Irene Shonle
    • August 20, 2012 005 Irene (2)In this session, we will look at natives that shine at different times of the year so that your garden will have something of interest all year round.
    • 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: Activate Your Landscape with Passive Rainwater Harvesting by Deryn Davidson
    • When it rains it pours and under the new CO rainwater harvesting law you can only capture 110 gallons in rain barrels at any given time. In this session you will learn how to effectively capture and utilize the rest of the water that falls on your property to benefit your landscape.
    • 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. While in Arizona she worked designing rainwater harvesting systems and educating the public on rainwater harvesting strategies. 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.

Panel: Propagating Interest in Natives

  • Jim Tolstrup, Mikl Brawner, Katy Wieczorek, Kelly Grummons, Patricia Hayward