Get ready, all you native plant and garden enthusiasts, your dreams are coming true. The “Living Landscapes Native Garden Conference and Native Plant Sale” takes over Dominican University’s Lund Auditorium from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 17. The conference is being put on by West Cook Wild Ones.
"If you enjoy spending time outside in your garden, you will enjoy it even more when you start choosing plants that are not only beautiful, but provide habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife," Pam Todd, president of West Cook Wild Ones, says. "If you’re not already a native plant enthusiast, you’ll become one after you see how it can bring your yard to life again.”
Doug Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home,” will be the conference's keynote speaker. He’s currently professor and chair of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. Tallamy has a vision to create a “Homegrown National Park” — a wildlife corridor of native plant habitat in backyards all over the country. He believes that's the best way to slow the rate of extinction of bird and butterfly populations. The urban garden may be the “the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S,” he says.
After Tallamy’s speech, seven expert-led workshops will offer more information and inspiration — and immerse you deeper into topics that range from rain gardens to stormwater management to butterflies, of course.
Other speakers include landscape architect Trish Beckjord of Midwest Groundcovers on designing beautiful native gardens; PhD candidate David Lowenstein on beneficial insects for food gardens; Illinois Native Plant Society President Christopher David Benda on rare plants of the Chicago region for the home garden; Possibility Place Owner Connor Shaw on landscaping with native shrubs and trees; Landscape Designer Julia Bunn on rain gardens; Monica Buckley and Denise Sandoval on playing host to butterflies and moths; and Pizzo Marketing Manager Grace Koehler on native plants for green roofs.
If you ordered plants online in advance during West Cook Wild Ones’ Annual Plant Sale, pick up your purchases at the conference.
Also, you can attend the conference for free by signing up for a volunteer shift. If you are volunteering, be sure to check out the workshop descriptions, so that you are helping out at the session you would like to attend: http://westcook.wildones.org/workshops/