The Vital New Role of Your Garden

By Carol Niendorf

Do you know how vitally important what you plant in your garden is to the health of our environment? To learn how your garden, no matter its size or location, can help preserve other forms of life and the crucial role they play in human sustenance, the Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter invites you to attend the Toward Harmony With Nature conference at the Oshkosh Convention Center on Saturday, January 25.

During two morning sessions, keynote speaker Dr. Douglas Tallamy, award-winning author of “Bringing Nature Home,” will clarify the important role of native plants and how easy and rewarding it is to create healthy, biodiverse corridors in your neighborhood. Following a buffet lunch, the afternoon sessions of the conference will feature six expert guest speakers who will teach you how to do native plant gardening in whatever conditions your site provides. There will be three speakers for you to choose from in each of two breakout sessions. Susan Carpenter, James Reinartz, and Dan Traas will be featured in the 1:15-2:30 p.m. session.

Susan Carpenter, the native plant gardener at the UW Madison Arboretum, will describe how Arboretum staff and volunteers plant, maintain, and monitor the beautiful native gardens that serve as a valuable pollinator site. Reinartz, Director of the UWM Field Station, will illustrate how thoughtful landscaping with native plants can help reduce the loss of genetic diversity. Traas, an arborist and the President of Ranger Services, will help you learn which native trees are best for your landscape.

Following a half-hour break, during which you can visit and network with conference exhibitors, vendors, and other conference goers, the 3:00-4:15 p.m. breakout session will offer you a choice of three speakers: Cheryl Bauer-Armstrong, Connie Ramthun, and Tom Wedel. Bauer-Armstrong, director of the UW Arboretum’s Earth Partnership Program, will provide practical suggestions and examples such as rain gardens to help you transform your landscape into a water- and wildlife-friendly place. Ramthun, owner of Kettle Moraine Natural Landscaping and Director of the UW Fond du Lac’s Gottfried Prairie, will give a presentation on “From Seed to Flower: Growing Your Own Native Plants.” Wedel, a retired United Airlines Pilot, will trace how he and his wife Eva gradually transformed a former farm into a prairie and savanna restoration.

The public is warmly welcomed to this full day of learning and interacting with other gardening enthusiasts at the ideal time of year for dreaming and planning for your healthy, pollinator-attracting garden. Or, even if you have no garden at all, come and see what others are doing toward bringing nature home to our environment! To request a conference brochure and registration form, call Carol at 920-233-4853; or visit the conference website at

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