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Large-Scale Landscapes Symposium: Exploring Ecological Options

January 13, 2016 @ 8:30 am EDT - 4:30 pm EDT

$85 - $110

Symposium Sponsor

Large-Scale Landscapes - Greenway PHLOn January 13, 2016 (Snow Date January 14), join ELA and Wellesley College for a symposium on the development and maintenance of large-scale landscapes that utilize fewer inputs, are designed and maintained with the environment in mind, and become more sustainable over time. Experts who work daily in successful, sustainable large-scale landscapes will lead four presentations and one panel discussion.   Click here for event schedule.

If you are a landscape professional responsible for planning and maintaining the landscapes of college campuses, municipal parks, cemeteries, public gardens, land trusts, private estates, or other large landscapes, join ELA as we explore ecological options for large-scale landscapes with a distinguished lineup of presenters.

Addressing “Wear and Tear” in High-Use Areas (Ronnit Bendavid-Val, Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Compaction - Before and After Photo by Chuck Sherzi

Compaction – Before and After Photo by Chuck Sherzi

Large landscapes that service large numbers of visitors suffer inevitable “wear and tear” and require ongoing upkeep to maintain optimum form and function. Of the many issues, compaction is one of the most serious problems facing landscape managers. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) consists of 52 acres of specialty gardens, plant family collections, and outdoor grounds and hosts more than 725,000 visitors annually. During this presentation, Ronnit Bendavid-Val (Director of Gardens and Grounds) will describe some of the “wear and tear” challenges faced by BBG and will provide practical tips for how to address these issues on other large landscapes.Sponsorship Graphic

Overgrown Bench Photo Courtesy of Gilly Walker www.gilly-walker.com

Photo Courtesy of www.gilly-walker.com

Maintaining the Maturing Landscape (Panel Discussion)
Mark Richardson (Horticulture Director, New England Wild Flower Society); Ray Oladapo-Johnson (Director of Park Operations Emerald Necklace Conservancy); Sue Pfeiffer (Arnold Arboretum Arborist), and John Olmstead Wellesley College Landscape Manager)

The original landscape design intent is often lost to over-zealous growth of some plants and the decline of others – and this is just one of the many maintenance challenges of a maturing landscape. With increasing pressure, the squeeze is on to keep large landscapes flourishing with fewer inputs, dwindling staff, and shrinking budgets. Cost, functionality, accessibility, and safety are just a few of the additional maintenance considerations. Landscape professionals with decades of cumulative experience with large-scale landscapes will tackle these issues and more in this panel discussion.

Bioswale Photo by Thomas Le NgoDesigning Rain Gardens for Long-lasting Success (Clay Larsen, Clay Larsen Landscape)

Rain gardens, bio-swales, and other low-impact development (LID) practices are gaining in popularity to control stormwater run-off. When stormwater is conveyed off-site via conventional methods, it sends pollutants and sediment into streams. Rain gardens and bio-swales use vegetation and soil to manage rainwater on site by slowing it down, spreading it out, and giving it time to soak in to replenish groundwater.  To ensure long-term success, proper design and installation are essential elements of these LID techniques and will be discussed in this presentation by Clay Larsen.

Transition to Natural Lawn - Photo Courtesy of Osborne Organics

Photo Courtesy of Osborne Organics

Healthier and Lower-Cost Lawns (Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics)

Lawns encompass one of the biggest elements of most large landscapes – big in terms of area, problems, and especially budget. With growing concern about traditional, chemical-intensive lawn programs, more landscape managers are seeking healthier alternatives. Chip Osborne is nationally recognized for helping clients (including college campuses and National Parks) transition to healthy, chemical-free lawns and turf. In this presentation, Osborne will discuss the process of creating a sustainable landscape. With many years of experience and many success stories, he demonstrates that organic management produces beautiful and more drought-tolerant lawns and turf that require less maintenance and save money over time.

Activating the Landscape Rose Kennedy Greenway PHLReawaking Large Landscapes: Activating the Space (Sandy Vorce, Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary)

Large landscapes pose challenges – but also opportunities. In this wrap-up presentation, Sandy Vorce invites us to expand our landscape vision to more fully engage visitors. Through sights, sounds, and design options (beyond plant material), landscapes can educate, entertain, and inspire. There are many ways to activate the space, draw visitors in, and enrich the experience: from easily implemented ideas such as expanded signage, pollinator gardens, and edible landscape elements to surprisingly effective options like on-site bee keeping or the use of goats and sheep to control invasive plants.

Recertification Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) are being sought for this symposium.

Presenter Bios

Ronnit Bendavid-Val is the Director of Gardens and Grounds at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) where she directs horticulture staff and leads horticultural design, maintenance, and best practices for the 52 acres of public gardens. Bandavid-val has decades of experience in public gardening and sustainable horticulture, including more than ten years with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, where, as director of citywide horticulture, she oversaw  gardener field training and was responsible for defining unified gardening methods and standards in all five boroughs. During her time with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation where she collaborated with Brooklyn Botanic Garden staff on the department’s master gardener program. Most recently, Bendavid-Val served as vice president of horticulture and park operations for Friends of the High Line in New York.

Clay Larsen is a landscape designer, construction supervisor, nurseryman, teacher, and artist. Larsen’s experience includes design, permitting, hands-on construction experience, and training on projects in sensitive natural resource areas such as river fronts, flood plains, and wetlands. With his additional knowledge of erosion and sedimentation issues, Clay’s goal is to knit back together damaged ecosystems. He has worked on Rain Gardens, Green Roofs, and Rainwater Harvesting Systems and other types of low impact development tools to help address flooding and pollution in rivers and streams.

Charles “Chip” Osborne has 35 years of experience as a professional horticulturist and over 10 years of experience in creating safe, sustainable, and healthy landscapes and athletic fields through natural turf management. Osborne’s personal investigation, study of conventional and organic soil science practices, and hands-on experimentation led him to become one of the country’s leading experts on growing sustainable, natural turf. He is a board member of Beyond Pesticides and Chairman of the Marblehead, Massachusetts’ Recreation and Parks Department. Osborne co-founded The Living Lawn Project in Marblehead, MA, one of the country’s first natural lawn demonstration sites. It is a nationally-recognized, living example that beautiful, healthy grass can be grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Sandy Vorce is the property manager at Mass Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. Sandy tends everything from gardens to goats and enjoys working with volunteers of all ages and backgrounds in caring for the property and its’ inhabitants. She is a former ELA board member and now participates with local Land Trusts and Friends groups.


January 13, 2016
8:30 am EDT - 4:30 pm EDT
$85 - $110


Penny Lewis


Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481 United States
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