Do you Have Nature at Home with you?
KWG Curator, John Manion
I’d like to bring to your attention something about which I am very excited, have worked very hard on and that is near-and-dear to my heart. It’s Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Central South Native Plant Conference on Friday and Saturday, November 4 and 5. This year for the first time, we have as our co-sponsors Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, Jefferson County Master Gardeners, Shelby County Master Gardeners, Alabama Wildflower Society and the Blanche Dean Chapter of the Alabama Wildflower Society. Members of all these organizations receive our member discount on registration.
About a year ago, I was invited to be program director for this event which is only held every three years. Because it is an infrequent event, and because it was my first whack at developing programs, my goal was to make the event so wonderful that participants would eagerly await the next conference.
I wanted to lay the foundation for the conference by selecting a heavy hitter for our keynote speaker. That was an easy decision for me, and if you are attending the conference, you will see why. This individual’s work and writings are so influential, that once I was able to engage him as a presenter, I chose to develop the entire conference theme around his philosophies.
Doug Tallamy, with his very influential book Bringing Nature Home, has prompted a significant paradigm shift in the way people view and understand our world of nature. If there were ever a book that I thought should be required (not just recommended) for anyone interested in nature, this book would be my top choice. I divide my own years of being involved with plants into “pre-Tallamy” and “post-Tallamy” stages. Some of the comments I receive from people who have read his book are amusing, with an almost religious fervor about them…comments such as “he changed my life!” or “I’ll never see the world the same again!” Anyone that has read the book will completely understand these sentiments.
An example of my pre-and post-Tallamy stages: before reading Doug’s book, if I found something munching some of my plants, my knee-jerk reaction would have been to quickly figure out how to halt the process. Now, when I see this process in motion, I celebrate, realizing that it is a sign that “the system is intact.”
The overarching theme of the two-day event is: Native Plants: The Bigger Picture – How Native Plants Complete the Puzzle.” In addition to discussing many native plants and their related topics, this conference will focus on the numerous important roles they play in our ecosystems and how we can help keep those systems intact. We will address the interrelationships of native plants to the myriad of life forms…birds, bees, butterflies, bugs – and humans!
In addition to Tallamy, we will have 26(!) other presenters ranging from speakers to workshop and field trip leaders. We are excited that Gil Nelson, noted author of the recently published Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens will also speak, as will Rick Lewandowski, the director of one of the pre-eminent native plant gardens worldwide, the stunning Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware. Two other plenary speakers will be our own director of education, Henry Hughes, who will speak about the legacy of native trees in public parks, and Dan Long, the very popular nurseryman who studies, speaks about, grows and sells vines, numerous among them, native species.
To read the full line-up of lectures, break-out sessions, workshops and field trips, see: http://bbgardens.org/central-south.php. Four of our speakers who have authored popular books will have them for sale and will be available for signings.
Please forward this announcement to any individuals or groups you think might be interested.