Bios & Sessions 2021

Keynote: A Western Perspective on Native Plants; A Career Bringing Natives from Habitat to Market by David Salman, Chief Horticulturist for High Country Gardens, Waterwise Gardening LLC.

  • Now that native plants are finally getting the recognition and use in our landscapes that they deserve, it’s instructive to take a trip back in time to see how they have come to our attention in the present day.  David has spent over 35 years in the retail greenhouse and mail order catalog businesses and participated in bringing native plants to the gardening public’s attention. He with explain how native plant collections transition from the wild into home horticulture, how some of his introductions were discovered and the future importance of expanding our native plant palette into mainstream availability and use.
  • David is a 1979 graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in Horticultural Science. He was the founder of Santa Fe Greenhouses, a retail greenhouse and nursery in Santa Fe, NM (1984-2012) and the High Country Gardens mail-order catalog in 1993-present. And David is a founding member of Plant Select®. He is currently working with the new owners of the High Country Gardens as Chief Horticulturist and operates a wholesale/retail greenhouse and plant development company, Waterwise Gardening LLC.

Breakout Session 1

  • New to Natives Track: Nurturing Natives: What Native Plants Need to Thrive by Susan Tweit, plant biologist and award-winning author, speaker, teacher.
    • You’ve got your garden planned, you’ve chosen your native plants, and you’re set to plant. Excellent! This session will help you learn how to give those plants the best chance to thrive in their new home. We’ll cover reading the landscape of your yard, identifying micro-environments, why you need to know where each species or variety grows in the wild, watering (more plants die from overwatering than underwatering), whether or not to use fertilizers, and the basics of soil and long-term maintenance (to prune or not to prune? when should you cut back your native perennials?).
    • Award-winning writer Susan J. Tweit is a plant biologist who began her career studying wildfires, grizzly bear habitat and sagebrush communities. 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.” Her much-anticipated new memoir, Bless the Birds: Living with Love in a Time of Dying, is due out in April, and has been praised as “a book to break your heart open.” Tweit’s work has appeared in magazines and newspapers ranging from Audubon and Popular Mechanics, to High Country News and the Los Angeles Times. 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 adjacent block of urban creek in Salida, Colorado.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Natural Climate Solution Heroes: Native Plants by Alison Peck, Matrix Garden
    • We love native plants for their beauty and resilience, and their ability to provide crucial habitat for wildlife. Now there is another reason to treasure them – they can be a vital part of sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gasses. Although each of our yards seems too small to make a difference, there are more than 40 million acres of lawns in the United States: twice as much as the acreage in certified organic farms. If half of every lawn was converted to native plant communities, it would be greater than the combined area of our many of our largest National Parks. Working with the land to reduce atmospheric carbon is called Natural Climate Solutions. Many experts see it as our quickest and least expensive way to reduce global climate change, buying us time to implement other solutions. Our landscapes can reduce greenhouse gases in two fundamental ways. One is reducing greenhouse gas production by reducing fossil fuel use and keeping organic materials out of landfills. The second is sequestering carbon: holding carbon in the soil and in the bodies of plants. Although the carbon sequestering abilities of forests is well known, less known is the fact that prairies hold an enormous amount of carbon in the soil. A recent study by UC Davis found that prairies are a more reliable carbon sink that forests under several climate change scenarios. Come explore the many ways that our native prairie and foothills plants can grow in a landscape that helps solve our global crisis.
    • Alison founded Matrix Gardens in 1984, creating a landscape design/build company inspired by permaculture and edible landscapes. A pioneer in xeriscapes/water conserving landscapes, she has designed a wide variety of abundant, resource conserving landscapes: from homes to subdivisions. Alison received the ALCC 2008 ‘Person of the Year’ award for her work researching and promoting sustainable landscaping. She was a founding member of the ‘Front Range Sustainable Landscaping Coalition’- FRSLC, which presented Sustainable Landscaping symposiums at the Denver Botanic Garden in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She is currently researching effective ways that landscapes can help sequester carbon and contribute to carbon Drawdown.

Breakout Session 2

  • New to Natives Track: Bringing Up Baby…Bugs by Amy Yarger, Director of Horticulture, Butterfly Pavilion.
    • Many gardeners plant natives because they want to create vibrant habitats for birds, pollinators and other wildlife – and those flowers and berries are so appealing! But for the wildlife to stick around, gardeners must consider the lesser-known resources necessary to raise the next generation. This session will provide design and maintenance guidance for creating the diverse and layered “nurseries” necessary for our favorite garden creatures to survive in the long-term.
    • 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: Landscape Design with Native Plants by Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director, High Plains Environmental Center.
    • Designing landscapes with native plants can help to provide an authentic “sense of place,” while restoring habitat in the built environment, and conserving water. Designing with native plants does not however, mean abandoning the principles of good landscape design that have evolved over a period of centuries. This presentation will explore the successful combining of plants based on timing of bloom, color, and other characteristics, off season structure in the garden, and grouping plants based on cultural requirements. Participants will enjoy a colorful “virtual garden tour,” spanning the front range, with a focus on the ways that gardeners have showcased native plants.
    • Jim Tolstrup 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. His past work includes serving as Land Steward of Shambhala Mountain Center, and running his own landscape design business in Kennebunkport, Maine where he installed gardens at George and Barbara Bush’s “Summer White House.” Jim received a Certificate in Gardening Arts from the Landscape Institute of Harvard University and the Arnold Arboretum. He teaches widely throughout Colorado, has written numerous articles on gardening and environmental stewardship, and has received awards for landscape design from, Plant Select, ALSA, ALCC, and Denver Water.

Breakout Session 3

  • New to Natives Track: Finding Native Plants at Colorado Nurseries by Lisa Olsen, Wild Ones Front Range Chapter President.
    • In this New to Natives program, Colorado Certified Nursery Professional Lisa Olsen will highlight native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses that are readily available in the horticulture trade. Lisa will share insights on how to develop a shopping list and manage buyer expectations, tips on where to find plants and what to ask nursery staff, and advice on specific native plants’ preferred growing conditions. This presentation will include a discussion of “nativars” or cultivars of native plants, as well as downloadable plant and resource lists.
    • As a Colorado Certified Nursery Professional working at Highlands Garden Center, Lisa is on the “front line” of the movement toward landscaping with native plants, speaking with people daily about the choices they are making for their yards. From an early age, Lisa has had a passion for wildlife and wild places. Growing up in drought-plagued California, she has long been an advocate for water conservation and recognizes that the future of residential and commercial landscaping must include plants native to the region, benefiting the planet and the pocketbook. Living in Colorado since 2007, Lisa is a lifetime member of the Colorado Native Plant Society, is a certified Native Plant Master, a volunteer native seed collector and crew leader with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, and a Wildscape Ambassador through Audubon Rockies. Most recently Lisa became a member of the Front Range Chapter of Wild Ones, joining the board as programming co-chair in 2019 and stepping into the role of chapter president in 2020; through online and in-person programs and events, the Wild Ones community works to inspire and empower people to plant native plants. Lisa sees potential habitat everywhere, from yards to median strips and parking lots, and knows from experience that “If you plant it, they will come.”
  • Knows the Natives Track: Colorado Native Plant Finishing Protocols for the Green Industry by Jennifer Bousselot, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University.
    • Native plant aficionados often struggle to find Colorado native plants available in the green industry. Often that is due to two things: lack of demand so most producers do not grow them and the fact that many Colorado native plants are not as attractive in containers so most gardeners don’t buy them. Due to this situation, Jen and others have acquired USDA funding and begun plant finishing protocol research on several of the species in Plant Select® that are native to Colorado. Jen will talk about one of her greatest passions – how to ensure that our beloved Colorado native plants become more available in the green industry.
    • Jennifer Bousselot is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. 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 green building ordinance. She is a co-author of the Colorado Native Plant Society published 3rd edition of Common Southwestern Native Plants.

Closing Keynote: Evolution of a Suburban Garden by Marcia Tatroe, author and gardener.

  • This talk looks at how my garden has evolved and changed over 33 years. My best recommendation for natives is that after killing hundreds of plants over that time the natives still survive and thrive. For you, too, going native opens up a whole new world of planting options, as each year more and more varieties join the ever-expanding palette of indigenous plants available commercially that grow better in our region than anywhere else.
  • Marcia Tatroe has been gardening in Centennial CO for over 33 years. Her photography and gardens have been featured in numerous books, magazines and nationally televised gardening shows. Her most recent book is Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West (Johnson Books, 2007). She lectures throughout the West focusing on garden design, rock gardening, xeriscape, and native plants, advocating using drought-tolerant and native plants and indigenous materials to create a gardening aesthetic unique to this region. Her garden was awarded Gold Habitat Hero status by the Audubon Rockies in 2017 as an outstanding urban wildscape.