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Season’s End Summit: Save the Date – October 27, 2021

Wed, October 28, 2020 @ 9:00 am EDT - 5:00 pm EDT

Save the Date for the 2021 Summit
Scheduled for
Wednesday, October 27


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Conference Speaker Sponsor

Healing the Earth That We Steward

As we approach the end of the 2020 landscape season, we reflect upon many highs and lows. The intense weather events of record heat/drought/floods, a worldwide pandemic, and the long-overdue scrutiny of social injustice could not deter the one dependable constant, the tenacity of nature to carry on. While quarantining and isolating this spring, it was the re-greening of the landscape around us that brightened our days and gave us reason to hope. As the growing season progressed and plants and wildlife went through their life cycles, landscape professionals and home owners focused on the landscape with a greater sense of purpose than any prior season.

Alexandra Hay Photo

As landcare professionals, we may not have the tools to heal our medical or societal ills, but we can focus on healing the earth that we are stewarding, one landscape at a time. Join us for this year’s Season’s End Summit for refreshing perspectives and inspiring discussions of the healing landscape tools that empower us to find  solutions as we look ahead to future seasons of stewardship.

Genetic Diversity: Critical in a Changing Climate
Neil Diboll

The fields of agriculture, silviculture, and horticulture have historically focused on selecting “superior” plants to serve the needs of food production, lumber and fiber production, and the human fascination with bigger, longer-blooming, and more colorful ornamental plants. Only recently has the discipline of ecology entered into mainstream gardening. Ecological gardeners tend to be more concerned with creating low maintenance, sustainable, native gardens that provide not only enjoyment for the gardener, but also preserve native plant gene pools while creating habitat for birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other creatures.

Properly designed and installed, native plant landscapes require little if any watering, fertilizing, or pesticides. As concern increases over water usage in the landscape, excessive toxins and nutrients in the environment, and the decline of pollinators, diverse native plant gardens can serve as attractive alternatives to higher maintenance, more expensive traditional landscapes. Neil will share his 40 years of experience in providing native plants and seeds to Midwestern and Northeastern gardeners and restorationists. He will explain why preserving a broad gene pool for each plant species is good stewardship of the planet, and how gene preservation applies to gardening in a time of changing climates.

Neil will also show examples of successful native prairie meadow installations have been successfully installed in the Upper Midwest in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 and 5. Plants that are native to the Midwestern prairies, suitable to the colder state of Wyoming, and equally at home in Northeastern landscapes will also be highlighted.

More than Pollinator Friendly
Uli Lorimer

It is a good thing to be friends with pollinators, yet the phrase too often serves as a bland, general statement lacking specific intent. What makes a plant pollinator friendly? The presence of honey bees, bumblebees or butterflies?

Pollinators are not all created equal and some are considered imperiled, either through lack of preferred native species or through vigorous competition from generalists. There is a great need for better information about the connection between imperiled pollinators and their native plants, but good luck finding it on a plant label at the nursery. This talk will explore the ways in which native plant diversity can directly support imperiled pollination systems and emphasize the need for gardeners and designers to be informed and aware of their choices and their impacts in designed spaces.

Retooling the Role of the Landscape Designer
Heather Heimarck

Designers work synergistically with the client and their property during the planning and construction process. This session is a clear-eyed examination of the overall process, taking a look at where designers most often miss opportunities to increase the ecological functioning of the finished project….the word “finished” being indicative of the problem.  Drawing on a low-tech toolbox, increased active management, and overall team education, we look at changing the business of getting things done.  This session will focus both on individual private properties and initiatives that work on a slightly larger scale.  We will drill down into design and construction opportunities. For example we will take a fresh look at site preparation and soil management, planting, green infrastructure, and management plans.  Concluding in an interactive session, we want to hear from participants how their practices and businesses are changing as well.

The American Garden – A Life or Death Situation
Neil Diboll

The American Garden is evolving from a creation solely for the enjoyment of its owners and tenders, into a biodiverse refuge for the native plants and animals with whom we share the planet.  The wholesale conversion of our wild places into chemically-soaked farm crops, industrial parks, commercial centers, and housing for humans has supplanted the wild habitat and homes that once supported a diversity of native plant communities.

Our gardens and landscapes are becoming increasingly important refugia for pollinators, birds, butterflies and other creatures as their former habitats disappear.  In this presentation, Neil will discuss how creating native landscapes that require few if any chemicals and toxins are the future landscapes of necessity, as joint ventures with nature in our cities and suburbs.  Humans’ very survival will depend upon it.

Speaker Bios

Neil Diboll is a Prairie ecologist with a degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay who also  attended the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, MI (Boot Camp for Biologists). Neil has worked for the U.S. Park Service in Virginia, the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, and for the University of Wisconsin.
In 1982, Neil began his involvement with Prairie Nursery, producing native plants and seeds and designing native landscapes. He has since devoted his efforts to championing the use of prairie plants, as well as native trees, shrubs and wetland plants, in contemporary American landscapes. In addition to helping popularize the use of native plants long before they were “cool,’ Neil developed the first scientific methodology for designing prairie seed mixes. By calculating the relative numbers of seeds per square foot for each species in a seed mix, the resultant prairie plant community could be more accurately predicted. Neil also worked to set industry standards for seed purity and germination to assure customers receive quantifiable, viable seed. Neil’s work includes designs for residential, commercial and public spaces throughout the Midwest and Northeast United States.
The essence of Neil’s philosophy is that we, as stewards of the planet, must work to preserve and increase the diversity of native plants and animals, with which we share our world. The protection of our natural heritage and our soil and water resources is essential to maintaining a high quality of life for today, and for the children of future generations to come.

Heather Heimarck is the principal of HighMark Land Design, a landscape architecture and planning firm based in Somerville, Massachusetts. Her work tests straight forward strategies for restorative design on a variety of projects types including residential design, affordable housing and educational campuses. Heather is a practitioner/educator; recently she was engaged to teach sustainable site design at Northeastern University, School of Architecture. Her talk for this summit, “Restoration Design- Past, Present and Future” draws on research performed by Ms. Heimarck and her students into restorative design in primitive and modern societies. Heather also has the pleasure to serve on ELA’s board and the Community Preservation Committee in Somerville, MA.


Uli Lorimer is the Director of Horticulture at the Native Plant Trust. Uli’s background in horticulture goes back to high school when he worked for local nurseries and noticed that every company was selling the same types of plants. That led him to seek out work with botanical gardens that specialize in growing and displaying plant species not found in most gardens. Thus began his fascination with plant diversity. His position as Director of Horticulture at Native Plant Trust is an ideal fit. Uli holds degrees in botany and horticulture from the University of Delaware which led to positions with the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C., Wave Hill in New York City, and the Brooklyn Botanic garden. During his 14 years with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Uli broadened his native plant knowledge and fascination with where and how native species grow in the wild.

CEUs are being offered by APLD (5.5), MCH (1.0), LA CES (5.5), and NOFA (5.5). Additional CEUs are being sought; check back for status.


9:00 – 10:45Neil Diboll – Genetic Diversity: Critical in a Changing Climate
10:45 – 11:00Morning break
11:00 – 12:00Uli Lorimer – More than Pollinator Friendly
12:00 – 1:00Lunch; small group networking
1:00 – 2:00Heather Heimarck – Retooling the Role of the Landscape Designer
2:00 – 2:15Afternoon break
2:15 – 3:30Neil Diboll – The American Garden: A Life or Death Situation
3:30 – 4:30Panel Discussion – Horticulture Nuts and Bolts: Ask the Experts
4:30 – 5:00CEU processing; networking



Wed, October 28, 2020
9:00 am EDT - 5:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


ELA Office