Conferences & Symposia
Creative Approaches for Ecological Landscaping
The 24th Annual Land Ethics Symposium
Thursday, Feb. 15, 8 am – 1 pm
Held virtually via Zoom
Can't make the symposium's livestream? All registrants will receive the recording after the event for later viewing.
Join us for the 24th year of this all virtual symposium geared towards homeowners, landscape architects, designers, contractors, land planners and municipal officials. Learn how to create ecologically sound and economically viable landscapes through the use of native plants and sustainable practices.
2024 Symposium Speakers
- Larry Weaner, FAPLD, founder of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates and New Directions in the American Landscape
- Breaking the Rules: Ecological Landscape Design and Traditional Landscape Methodology
- Justin Park, PLA, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect of Biohabitats
- Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative: Reimagine What is Possible With Native Plants
- Samantha Bean
- Growing Relationships With Native Plants
- Jim MacKenzie, President of Octoraro Native Plant Nursery; John Mark Courtney, Owner of Kind Earth Growers; Fran Chismar and Tom Knezick, hosts of Pinelands Nursery's Native Plants, Healthy Planet Podcast; Donna Dahringer, Nursery Manager of Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve
- The Past, Present, and Future of Native Plants: an Industrial Perspective
Continuing Education Credits
- Association of Professional Landscape Designers - 4.0
- ISA - International Society of Arboriculture - Management, Climber Specialist, ISA Certified Arborist, Utility Specialist, Municipal Specialist Aerial Lift Specialist - 5.0
- LA CES™ - 4.0
- NJ Nursery & Landscape Association, Certified Nursery & Landscape Professionals
- Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative - 1.0 Design
- Growing Relationships - 1.0 Plant
- Past, Present, and Future of Native Plants - 1.0 Professional
- Breaking the Rules - 1.0 Environment
- Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association - 5.0 (VCH)
The 2024 Land Ethics Symposium has applied for the following professional credits. The page will be updated with their approval.
- Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association
- Maryland Nursery & Landscape Association
- Society for Ecological Restoration
2024 Symposium Programs
Breaking the Rules: Ecological Landscape Design and Traditional Landscape Methodology with Larry Weaner
Using native plants requires more than simply expanding the conventional design palette. Based on observation of how native plants develop in nature, new design, implementation, and management techniques emerge, many of which are diametrically opposed to traditional horticultural practice. This presentation examines how alternative approaches on everything from selecting, arranging, and spacing plants to the simple act of weeding can yield more easily maintained landscapes that express the beauty and ecological richness of our native landscapes.
Larry Weaner, FAPLD, founded Larry Weaner Landscape Associates in 1982 and established New Directions in the American Landscape in 1990. He is nationally recognized for combining expertise in horticulture, landscape design and ecological restoration. His design and restoration work spans across the U.S. and in the U.K. and has been profiled in numerous national publications. His book Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change (Timber Press, 2016) received an American Horticultural Society (AHS) Book Award in 2017. In 2021 he received AHS’s Landscape Design Award and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Award of Distinction.
Growing Relationships With Native Plants with Samantha Bean
A homeowner's perspective on the benefits of going native. Hear about how they got started using native plants and the journey that followed. Learn how one-and-done landscape design customers transformed into repeat clients who are vocal advocates for native plants and their landscape architects.
Samantha Bean loves to chronicle her discoveries about creatures that share her home while describing the habitats that exist for them on her blog. Blending the exhilaration of learning all about native plants that pique her curiosity every day with her love of writing, Flutter By Meadows is what she calls her home, her passion, her blog and her hobby. Watching the changes that take place just steps from her house, Bean is continually documenting those moments, inspiring others on the year-round magic of native plants.
Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative: Reimagine What is Possible With Native Plants with Justin Park, PLA, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect of Biohabitats
PANEL DISCUSSION: The Past, Present, and Future of Native Plants: an Industrial Perspective with Jim MacKenzie, John Mark Courtney, Fran Chismar, Tom Knezick and Donna Dahringer
The nursery trade has seen quite a change over the past five years. From growing and propagation technology to retail trends, nurseries are evolving and responding to increased awareness of native plants and demands for a healthier and greener future. This panel will explore the evolution of consumer focus from purely ornamental gardens to those that are biodynamic and ecologically responsible. It will also explore what trends we expect to see over the next five years, and what they might mean for American landscape design.
Jim MacKenzie graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture in 1986. He worked subsequently in the field and related professions in Philadelphia and Warren, PA and Driggs, ID until 1993. In 1994 he became co-owner and president of Octoraro Native Plant Nursery. The nursery has been growing native plants for conservation and environmental restoration since 1990. MacKenzie is actively involved with the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA), serving previously on the PLNA board of directors for 13 years and continues on the government relations committee. In 2003, then Governor Rendell appointed MacKenzie to the statewide water resources committee where he served as vice-chair until 2008.
John Mark Courtney is an avid plantsman, professional grower and lover of all things wild. He is the founder and owner of Kind Earth Growers LLC, a native plant nursery specializing in aquatic, wetland and upland perennials in Upper Bucks County, PA. After completing his B.S. in environmental design from Delaware Valley University in 1998, Courtney pursued his passion for growing native plants and environmental stewardship first at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and then at Aquascapes Unlimited Inc., as the head grower and operations manager for 20 years. Courtney has helped educate and inspire others through published articles, lectures, keynote addresses and appearances on radio programs and Martha Stewart’s television show.
Fran Chismar likes to talk — and with over 30 years of nursery industry experience, Fran has a lot to talk about. He insists he is not an expert on anything, but knows just enough about everything to be dangerous. Fran brings his experience with music podcasting, and joins it with his industry knowledge in restoration and native plants, to help guide you through Native Plants, Healthy Planet.
Tom Knezick is naturally inquisitive, and his role as production analyst requires him to pull things apart and figure out how and why they work. Coupling this with growing up on a native plant nursery and his love of podcasts is what makes Tom a natural host for Native Plants, Healthy Planet.
Donna Dahringer, nursery manager of Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, has done planning and propagation for a floriculture venture, graphic design work for landscape architects in NJ and PA and nursery sales and landscape design at Rutgers Landscape and Nursery. While completing a M.A. in landscape architecture at Rutgers University, she did extensive research into optimizing ecological function on agricultural sites. Dahringer has designed native plant gardens for Duke Farms and a garden that combined native and ornamental plants at the New Jersey Pinelands Commission's headquarters.
Purpose of Award:
The Land Ethics Award honors and recognizes the creative use of native plants in the landscape, sustainable and regenerative design, and ethical land management and construction practices.
Who is eligible for nomination:
Nominations may be private individuals, businesses, design professionals including landscape architects and site engineers, conservation and preservation organizations and local, state and federal agencies involved with environmental protection. School groups may also be nominated for relevant team projects.
Individuals, non-profit organizations, government agencies, community groups, and business professionals are encouraged to apply. Application projects must be a minimum of six months year and a maximum of four years old.
The recipient will be selected by a jury of professionals in the field of design, preservation and conservation. The Land Ethics Award will be presented at the Land Ethics Symposium on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023.
One highlight each year is the announcement of this year’s Land Ethics Awards, which honor and recognize the creative use of native plants in the landscape; sustainable and regenerative design; and ethical land management and construction practices.
With the recent push to revitalize the landscape on a more local and individual scale, this year’s judges chose winners whose actions reflect that ethos. No matter the size of your own landscape, the Preserve encourages you to use native plants, exhibit a strong land ethic and promote sustainable designs that protect the environment.