Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midwest Native Plant Conference!

A gorgeous painting of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting royal catchfly, Silene regia, is the official artwork of the 4th annual Midwest Native Plant Conference. The piece was created by Ann Geise, who also produced the previous three conference artworks (see below). Royal catchfly is this year's conference plant.

The Midwest Native Plant Conference will be held July 27th thru 29th at the Bergamo Center in Dayton, Ohio. Conference facilities are fabulous, and sited in the center of a diverse 200-acre landscape of forests, prairies, shrubland and other habitats.

Queen-of-the-prairie, Filipendula rubra (bottom) was last year's conference plant, and the year before it was rattlesnake-master, Eryngium yuccifolium (top). Not only can you see any and all of the above plants in living chlorophyll at the conference, you can BUY them, too! A diverse panoply of native plant nurseries will have lots of stock on hand, including species you'll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. And native plants are great for the yardscape - they attract infinitely more interesting animals than nonnative fare. It's no coincidence that Ann has included animals in each of her conference paintings, because those are the sort of things that you can expect to see if you work these plants in the garden.

This was Ann's artwork for the inaugural conference, WAY back in 2009. The primary purposes of the Midwest Native Plant Conference is to offer educational opportunities about native flora, the opportunity to purchase plants, field trips to see interesting habitats up close and personal, meet and network with like-minded people, AND have a good time doing all of the above.

A staple of MWNPC are interesting speakers and their talks. This year, there are a total of eight speakers talking about lots of stuff: coniferous trees; pollinating insects; planting native prairie and other habitats; edible plants, and more. Get the complete speaker lowdown RIGHT HERE.

We are especially pleased to have three topnotch keynote presenters. Marielle Anzelone comes all the way from the Big Apple, New York City, where she has become a legend for her efforts to diversify the concrete jungle with native plants.

Caterpillar enthusiasts, such as your blogger, need no introduction to Dr. David Wagner of the University of Connecticut. Dave is "Dr. Caterpillar" and he has brought the joy and magic of Lepidopteran larvae to the masses via his two books, HERE and HERE. Dave's presentation's our fabulous, and he'll also lead us on a nocturnal foray to find some real live caterpillars. We found the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar on the conference grounds two years ago, and always find interesting cats on our nighttime outings.

The one and only Ian Adams, photographer extraordinaire, will also be in the house to deliver a program entitled "Gossamer Wings: Ohio's Butterflies and Dragonflies". You can be assured Ian's talk will be liberally peppered with stunning imagery. Your blogger recently managed the photo above, of a blue dasher - Ian's stuff is several notches higher on the photographic scale. You'll be dazzled.

Why all of the animals in some of our programs? Because they all require native plants, and by growing native plants you are also growing native animals.

Conference organizers endeavor to create interesting opportunities for attendees to get outside, and one of the advantages of holding the conference in the midst of a 200-acre nature preserve is that one need only step out the door to find cool things. This is a slightly musical conehead, one of many singing insects that grace the grounds. This katydid and many other animals romp among a sea of native flora, as great efforts have been made to plant native species and create native habitats on the property.

Another advantage of hosting the conference in Dayton is the close proximity to some of Ohio's best remaining fens and prairies. Sunday concludes with expert-led field trips to some truly magnificent landscapes, including Bigelow Cemetery Prairie, where this shot of royal catchfly was taken.

Register NOW for the Midwest Native Plant Conference, RIGHT HERE. We'd love to see you there, and can promise you a wonderfully informative great time!

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