Thursday, April 12, 2012

Midwest Native Plant Conference!

Logo: Ann Geise

Registration is now open for the 4th annual Midwest Native Plant Conference. Dates are July 27, 28 & 29, and the venue is the spectacular Bergamo Center on the grounds of Mount St. John in Dayton, Ohio. While the common thread of the conference is native plants, the event is multifaceted with great speakers covering a range of topics, plenty of native flora FOR SALE, field trips, and more.

Two of the standout features of the Bergamo Center is that it has plenty of excellent inexpensive rooms, so conference activities are just steps away from your quarters. And even better are the grounds of this 150-acre nature preserve. Our evening field trips are always a hit. As soon as we step out the doors of the Bergamo Center, we're surrounded by a symphony of nighttime singing insects and lots of other creatures of the night. It was here, at the 2010 conference, where guided by orthopteran guru Wil Hershberger, we think we set the world record for a nighttime singing insect walk - 85 people!

Topnotch speakers are a conference staple, and this year we're fortunate to have Marielle Anzelone, all the way from the Big Apple, New York City. Marielle is a highly regarded and widely known urban ecologist, and she'll talk about her efforts to green NYC.

Ian Adams is a legend in the world of natural history photography, and has had scores of his images reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers and about every other format you could think of. Ian will be giving a program entitled "Gossamer Wings: The World of Dragonflies and Damselflies". Ian's talk will be like watching a National Geographic production full of dazzling imagery.

Finally, our third keynote speaker is the incomparable Dr. David Wagner, of the University of Connecticut. Dave is "Mr. Caterpillar", and no one knows more about the fascinating world of butterfly and moth larvae than Dave. No group of insects is more intimately tied to our native flora than caterpillars, and Wagner weaves a fabulous tale of interaction between plants, caterpillars, and people. This is a must-hear program!

Wagner's first caterpillar book, published in 2005, quickly became a benchmark of natural history books. There was nothing like it.

Dave trumped himself with the release of his second caterpillar book, late last year. It's worth owning just for the pictures, but this book and the other are full of fascinating information.

There are a number of other superb presenters as well, and to read about all of the speakers, CLICK HERE.

This year's conference plant is the royal catchfly, Silene regia, a fitting mascot indeed. These stunning prairie plants can tower to six feet or more, and are capped by dense spikes of brilliant scarlet flowers. Those flowers are a favorite of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, too! Our vendors will have it for sale, along with MANY other outstanding native species.

The Bergamo Center is built in the shape of a big rectangle, with an open courtyard in the center. Vendors pack this space with all manner of plants - it's probably the greatest selection of native flora you could find for sale in one spot in this region.

And, of course, the conference provides ample opportunity for attendees to get out in the field and see lots of plants in their natural haunts. Field trip sites include such iconic natural areas as Cedar Bog, above. Late July is THE time to see the fabulous prairies and fens that occur in the Dayton area, and all of the trips are guided by expert botanists and naturalists.

So, get in on the action now, as space is limited. Registration material is RIGHT HERE!

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