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2019 Ecological Plant Conference

Fri, December 6, 2019 @ 8:30 am EST - 4:30 pm EST

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, 990 Washington Ave
Brooklyn,NY11225United States

This Conference is Sold Out


Brooklyn Botanic Garden is host to the Ecological Landscape Alliance (ELA) fourth annual Ecological Plant Conference at  Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York.

See below for conference schedule.

Click here for conference discount at NU Hotel in Brooklyn.
Hotel discount through 11/13/19

– Click here for Sponsorship Opportunities.

As environmental pressures mount, it is refreshing to take time from busy schedules to surround ourselves with beauty and learn lessons toward more resilient design solutions. Join us for a day at Brooklyn Botanic Garden with friends and colleagues who share your passion for plants and the planet.

Five plant masters will educate, delight, and inspire us: Ethan Dropkin, Shannon Currey, Justin Bowers, Michael Nadeau, and Carolyn Summers.

Mark your calendars and register early for this sell-out conference!

Native Annuals: An Underutilized Resource
Presented by Ethan Dropkin

When there is a suggestion to plant “annuals,” many people envision tropicals like begonias, impatiens, and coleus but struggle to come up with any examples of native annual plants.

This talk focuses on the definition and life-cycles of true annuals, biennials, and short-lived native plants, their growing conditions, and their use in the landscape, exploring selected species in more depth. The goal is to provide a greater understanding of these short-lived native species and how they can be used in design.

Grasses and Sedges for Every Layer in the Landscape
Presented by Shannon Currey

Widespread interest in green infrastructure, native plants, and progressive planting design are driving new demand for grasses and sedges. They are integral to today’s purposeful landscapes, particularly the layered approach used in designed plant communities. From low-key groundcover to seasonal superstar, grasses and sedges play many roles.

They shine in rain gardens, meadow and prairie plantings, and as alternatives to mulch or traditional lawns. Native species support pollinators, birds, and small mammals. They reduce the need for maintenance, fertilizer, and pesticides. Their ability to anchor the soil and help manage storm water gives them a workhorse reputation, but their aesthetic qualities make them essential for looks as well. With a focus on functionality and purpose, learn about grasses and sedges for every layer in the landscape.

Climate Resilient Planting Palettes
Presented by Justin Bowers

This presentation will introduce the Forest Identification and Restoration Selection Tool (FIRST) developed by the Natural Areas Conservancy as part of a project to create climate resilient planting palettes for New York City forest restoration projects. The project utilizes NAC’s own Ecological Assessment data collected from over 1,100 research plots in New York City, as well as data from the US Forest Service Climate Change Tree Atlas and the New York City Parks Departments Forestry restoration team. Using this data NAC created a tool which guides users through identifying a forest community and selecting a palette of species to plant within that community that is both ecologically appropriate and predicated to be resilient to future climate conditions. The presentation will provide background on the NAC and the FIRST tool, explaining how our climate adaptive planting palettes were developed, what data was incorporated into the analysis, how the tool was created, and how to utilize it.

Weed Management Without Synthetic Chemicals
Presented by Michael Nadeau
Through many years of hard-fought experience in the landscape, Michael Nadeau has developed successful strategies for coping with weeds. In this presentation, Michael will share his experience and discuss the why and how of organic weed control. Using extensive observation, he has learned to identify and exploit the Achilles’ Heel of exotic invasive plants without resorting to synthetic chemicals. Using reference to many specific weeds and procedures, Michael will describe how to manage weeds in this manner. Embarking on the process with novel methods, materials, and tactics requires a willingness to look beyond conventional approaches. Michael will teach us that successful control of many plants can be obtained through keen observation of natural processes, implementation of new strategies, and persistence. The result and reward is a healthier landscape achieved with minimal site disturbance.

Conference Restoration Sponsor

Fantastic Forgotten Natives
And Why We Should Use More of Them
Presented by Carolyn Summers
There are so many plants – and so little space. Then why do the same plants appear often on designs?

Lucy Birkett Ahearne Photo

Carolyn Summers will introduce us to a selection of underutilized native plants that merit wider use. Her list will include plants for tough places, pollinator season extenders, edible natives, and some that are simply drop-dead gorgeous. A range of perennials, shrubs, and trees will be covered. Attendees will expand their repertoire of native plants and pick up horticulture and design tips.





Speaker Bios:

Ethan Dropkin was born in New York City but grew up in the fold between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains in southern New York State. It was in this rural setting that his love of native plants and landscapes was cemented from an early age. He works as a Landscape Designer at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates and before that was at Michael Van Valkenburg Associates, also in a designer role. He has a Master’s in Landscape Architecture and a Master’s of Professional Studies in Horticulture, both from Cornell University. While at Cornell, he co-authored the paper, Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices, a free resource for laypeople and professionals on creating planted stormwater retention systems.  He has interned at Cornell’s Botanic Garden in the Mundy Wildflower Garden, Minn’s Garden (Cornell’s Horticulture Department display garden), worked as a gardener for the New York City Parks Department in Brooklyn, N.Y., and co-taught a Landscape Design course through Cornell’s cooperative extension service. He delights in native plants, landscapes, and wildlife and strives to work in support of all three.

Shannon Currey is Marketing Director for Hoffman Nursery, a wholesale nursery in North Carolina specializing in ornamental and native grasses. She began her work life as a social scientist but changed fields in the early 2000s to pursue a career in horticulture. She trained as a landscape designer and horticulturist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. Shannon began working at Hoffman Nursery in 2007 and has had a range of responsibilities—coordinating the plant evaluation program, managing the sales team, and overseeing the marketing program. She writes articles for national trade publications and gives talks to design professionals, industry organizations, and at public gardens. She currently serves as Southern Region Director for the Perennial Plant Association.

Justin Bowers, Project Manager, began working at the Natural Areas Conservancy in 2014, where he focuses on ecological restoration and research in New York City’s natural areas.

Justin has over 10 years of experience working in ecology and spatial analysis in the New York City metropolitan region. Justin holds an MEM in Ecosystem Science and Conservation from Duke University and a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic.

Michael Nadeau has been intrigued by and working in the landscape and tree business since the age of 12. With a great respect of Nature, Michael was an early proponent of sustainability and worked with NOFA to develop the first-ever Standards for Organic Land Care and the Organic Land Care Accreditation Course which he also teaches. Michael (and brother, Dan) co-founded Plantscapes Organics, Inc. in 1982. A few years ago, he retired from that business and went on to create Wholistic Land Care Consulting, LLC, a nature-based landscape consulting firm, where he continues to learn from Nature. With more than three decades of Nature-based landscape experience, Michael is passionate about educating land care stewards about the overdependency on synthetic chemicals, the environmental consequences of their use, and natural alternatives for land management.

Carolyn Summers is the author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East. After completing her BSLA (Landscape Architecture) at CCNY, she began an atypical career with the Trust for Public Land, producing the Harbor Herons Project  that guided an urban wildlife refuge on Staten Island. Carolyn continued environmental work with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection as the agency’s first Director of Natural Resources, continuing work on restoration projects. She then worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council, initiating a regional project to preserve and restore wildlife habitat and public access in the New York-New Jersey Bight. Carolyn  is currently an adjunct professor for Go Native U, a joint project of Westchester Community College’s Continuing Ed Program and The Native Plant Center (based at Westchester Community College). Most recently, she and her husband have opened their country home, Flying Trillium Gardens and Preserve to public tours. By sharing the beauty of native plants in both garden and natural settings, Carolyn hopes to inspire designers, gardeners, and homeowners to expand the use of native plants in their own projects.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) have been requested for this program from:

Conference Schedule – December 6

  • 8:00 – 8:25     Registration & Networking
  • 8:25 – 8:30     Welcome and announcements
  • 8:30 – 9:30     Native Annuals: An Under-utilized Resource
                                   Presented by Ethan Dropkin
  • 9:30 – 10:30    Grasses and Sedges for Every Layer in the Landscape
                                   Presented by Shannon Currey
  • 10:30 – 11:00   Break
  • 11:00 – 12:00   Climate Resilient Planting Palettes
    Presented by Justin Bowers
  • 12:00 – 12:15   Now for Something Completely Different:
    Piquing Our Interest ~ Challenging the Norms
  • 12:15 – 1:30       Lunch, Networking, and Exploring BBG Gardens
  • 1:30 – 2:30       Weed Management Without Synthetic Chemicals
                                   Presented by Michael Nadeau
  • 2:30 – 3:30       Fantastic Forgotten Natives: Why We Should Use More of Them
    Presented by Carolyn Summers
  • 3:30 – 4:00       CEU Processing


Fri, December 6, 2019
8:30 am EST - 4:30 pm EST
Event Category:


Penny Lewis


Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
990 Washington Ave
Brooklyn,NY11225United States