7:30pm - Plenary 1 – Bill Finch - Where biodiversity matters: A loud and never-ending
debate between Texas and Alabama
The more we learn about biodiversity in North America, the more we appreciate the
great centers of biodiversity on this continent. Texas commands the land west of the
Mississippi (well, until you get to California). And Alabama and northwest Florida
dominate biodiversity measures in the Eastern U.S. But whose biodiversity is really
greater? How are they different? Whose matters most? Loos does Tejas. Bill does Bama.
10am - Plenary 2 – Falling in Love with Southeastern Grasslands, Paintings from Prairie
to Páramo- Philip Juras
With the lushly forested Southeast as his point of reference, it has been a true journey
of discovery for Georgia artist Philip Juras to step into the rich ecology, gorgeous
aesthetics, and fascinating history of Southeastern grasslands—a journey that coincidentally
began 25 years ago at the Cullowhee Conference! Philip will share that journey through
presenting his landscape paintings and by drawing on descriptions of the presettlement
landscape by early chroniclers and his own studies and adventures in southern nature.
His grassland journey will traverse high mountain balds, grassy Piedmont barrens,
historic Alabama prairies, remnant coastal plain savannas, colorful seaside meadows,
and a few grassy locations outside of the region before returning home. Through all
of these settings his paintings will celebrate a wealth of grassland aesthetics while
also highlighting that these forgotten ecosystems, and the species that depend on
them, are deserving of our attention.
11 AM - Plenary #3 - Southeastern Grassland Initiatie, Dwayne Estes
Thursday Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
Concurent 1A – Clematis with Dwayne Estes
Description coming soon
Concurrent 1B – Matt Candeis- In defense of Plants
Come learn about how In Defense of Plants is working to change the conversation about
plants as well as the work being done to understand how native plants in southern
Appalachia are responding to changes in their environment.
Concurrent 1C – Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center: A Story of Hurricane
Disasters, Recovery, and Resilience
Located in Southeast Texas, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is an oasis
of gardens and nature on the edge of the coastal prairie, flatwoods, and bayous of
the Gulf Coast. It also lies in a highly vulnerable region of Texas that has suffered
devastating impacts from past tropical weather systems. Unfortunately, in late August,
2017 Shangri La Gardens and Southeast Texas were the targets of Hurricane Harvey’s
fury when it inflicted historic flooding as a result of the highest storm-event rainfall
amounts ever recorded in North America. Rick Lewandowski, Shangri La Garden’s Director,
offers a glimpse into the overwhelming power of natural forces as well as the resilience
and survival of plants, gardens, nature, and the people that call the Gulf Coast home.
Along the way, explore some of the takeaway lessons from this and past catastrophes
that offer a sobering but hope-filled perspective of recovery and restoration.
Concurrent 1D – Seat belts, everyone! Channeling Ms. Frizzle to connect people with
There has never been a more critical time to engage people with nature—and native
plants provide an excellent entry point. We can successfully connect people of all
ages with native plants and the natural world by taking chances, making mistakes,
and getting messy! Throughout my varied teaching experiences in formal and informal
settings, I’ve used citizen science, service-learning, field experiences, and writing
to help people appreciate native plants, see the forest for the trees, ask questions,
observe, and think like ecologists. I’ll share some of my favorite teaching moments
and ideas, and hope you will share some of your experiences as well. Copies of my
ecological hiking guide to the Southern Appalachians will be available for sale at
2:45 - Plenary 4 – Emily McCoy – Landscape Commissioning: Verifying Performance in
an era of assumptions
Achieving resilience in the built environment requires a land development paradigm
shift. Rather than assuming that built sites perform as intended—from managing stormwater to increasing employee
retention—sites must increasingly prove their performance as critical, dynamic resources that enhance environmental sustainability,
foster social benefits, and wisely steward financial resources. As one of the largest
public landholders globally, GSA collaborated with Andropogon to investigate the feasibility
of applying a commissioning process – to verify sustainable site performance during
design, construction, and management – for GSA's future developments.
Concurrent 2E - In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit- Andrew Moore
What is a pawpaw, and why has it been so neglected? Andrew Moore offers a brief history
of the pawpaw, the largest edible fruit native to the United States, and offers some
explanations as to why it has been overlooked in modern times. He also provides an
overview of the growers and producers working to raise the fruit’s profile, and how
the fruit tree can be reintegrated into our diets and culture.
Concurrent 2F – Plant Rescue 101 w/ John Clarke & Tom Harville
The North Carolina Native Plant Society has a mission to promote the enjoyment and
conservation of North Carolina’s native plants and their habitats through education,
cultivation and advocacy. When the inevitable development happens, we work with landowners/developers
to obtain permission to rescue native plants ahead of the construction. We have done
that successfully at a number of locations in North Carolina. Rescued plants have
gone to numerous gardens including Duke Gardens, North Carolina Botanical Garden,
the North Carolina Museum of Art for propagation studies and restoration work. We
will focus on our approach to gain approval and our upcoming goals for plant rescues.
Concurrent 2G – Endophytes: The Dark Matter that Binds Life
Endophytes are mysterious fungal organisms that thread into and between plant cells,
as endosymbionts, including the leaves, stems, and sometimes roots. They differ in
their relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, yet their modes of existence have evolved
to benefit the plant with disease resistance, and even insect or herbivore damage.
Many fleshy mushrooms and fungi that create visible fruitbodies can also exist in
an endophyte stage, waiting for an environmental or host change to sequence the next
stages of their developments. Come learn how you may be able to cultivate these fungi
using low tech methods to benefit transplants and cuttings. Understanding and recognizing
these largely invisible organisms will make you appreciate all they do to protect
and harmonize our native plant communities.
Concurrent 2H – Erika Galentin - Not-so-well-known Medicinal Virtues of Appalachian
Join Clinical Herbalist and native plant obsessive in an exploration of native herbaceous
and woody plants of the greater Appalachian region whose medicinal properties are
not so well-known. Erika will cover traditional use as described by colonial physicians
of the late 18th and early 19th century as well as guide attendees through modern clinical use, including the harvest
and preparation of medicinal extracts and commercial trade of these undervalued natives.
2pm - Plenary 5 – Film : Five Seasons - The Garden of Piet Oudolf
Revolutionary landscape designer Piet Oudolf is known for designing iconic works like
New York City’s High Line and Chicago’s Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, public spaces
that help reestablish our connection to nature. This gorgeous, meditative documentary
immerses viewers in his work, taking us inside Oudolf’s creative process. From his
aesthetic theories to his strikingly abstract sketches to the ecological underpinnings
of his designs, the film poetically reveals how Oudolf upends conventional notions
of nature, public space, and, ultimately, beauty itself.
3:15 - Project of Promise:
Bird-Friendly Communities, Kim Brand
Andy Fox on his work at NCSU on coastal resilience planning
Plenary 6 – Claudia West Wild and Neat: Bridging the Gap between Great Garden Design
Our planet is rapidly losing its foundation of life—the very plants that sustain us
and most other creatures on earth. We know that planting more native plants in our
gardens is an important part of the solution. However, many native plant gardens that
focus on ecological benefits often suffer for aesthetic challenges and fail to inspire
the public. Great planting design is an essential part of the solution. Join us as
we dig deeper into inspiring design principles derived from wild plant communities
that resonate deeply within us and trigger stunning emotional responses. We will analyze
archetypal landscapes and translate their principles into smaller garden spaces to
help you create the native plant oasis of your dreams that will blow you away with
Friday Evening Moth Night
With the use of sheets and black lights, we’ll attempt to draw in some of the fascinating
moths of the nighttime world. This will be a good opportunity to get an up-close
look at the beauty and diversity of an incredible group of insects that are often
overlooked and disregarded. Learn about the important roles that moths play in the
environment and discover some of the tips and challenges to classification and identification
while we examine their amazing patterns, colors and shapes. This will also be a good
chance to discover the fun and excitement behind moth nights, which are now becoming
increasingly popular throughout the country, as well as in many parts of the world.
Saturday Morning, July 21
Plenary 7 – Randy Burroughs – Tale of Two Meadows (meadow making)
With habitat loss being the major cause of wildlife decline; and lawn being the #1
crop of that land; meadows are the happy solution to one of our worst cultural habits.
But how does one meadow? The ways are many. We’ll examine two: one for civilized gardeners
and one for gardening naturalists. The “Meadow Garden” evolves from the English Herbaceous Border, with familiar wildflowers drifting in a sea of warm-season grasses, which add structure,
stability and winter appeal. Case studies illustrate design variations & installation.
Bird, bee and butterfly approved. The “Old Field Meadow” springs from abandoned fields,
pastures and waysides where the real wildflowers grow. Local plants are emphasized.
Site analysis will be discussed along with design, plant sources, establishment and
meadow culture. There will be a handout with guidelines, formulas, books, plant sources,
etc. Teachers are welcome to copies of the PowerPoint presentation.
Plenary 8 – Chuck Canon: Adapting to the Anthropocene
We have entered a new era in Earth’s history. One dominated by human beings. Our
population is exploding. Our consumption of resources is increasing, converting the
Earth’s surface to serve our purposes. We are literally pushing our climate into
unpredictable and unprecedented conditions. We should expect continued invasion of
devastating pests and diseases driven by global trade. Many biologists suggest that
we have already entered the sixth great extinction that our planet has experienced.
Fortunately, plants seem particularly resilient in the face of these challenges, even
trees. During the last great extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, fossil evidence
suggests that plant diversity survived relatively unscathed. In this presentation,
I will point out many of the unique characteristics of plants possess which allow
them to adapt quickly and explore how we might utilize these properties to assist
them in their ability to adapt and thrive in the Anthropocene.