Landscaping With Colorado native plants conference goes virtual

By Deryn Davidson

Gardening with native plants is not a new concept. There are people who have been doing this for a long time, but it’s not what I would call mainstream.

However, it is growing in popularity as people find that having a native plant garden offers a lot more than just water savings. Gardeners of all kinds, from patio planters to commercial properties, can play an important role in improving the habitat of pollinators and wildlife, as well as in enhancing biodiversity.

Our urban and suburban landscapes can serve as nature reserves if we choose the right plant species. Potential water savings are certainly a plus, as is the famous Colorado aesthetic that draws visitors to our national parks and open spaces every year.

Whether you’re new to incorporating native plants into your landscape or have been doing so for decades, the sixth annual Native Plant Landscaping Conference in Colorado promises to have something for you.

Scheduled for February 27th, things will look a little different this year as they are presented in a virtual format for everyone’s safety and convenience.

High Country Gardens founder David Salman will be the keynote speaker. At his session, entitled “A Western Perspective on Native Plants; A career that brings locals from their habitat to the market, ”he will spoil the participants with stories from over 35 years in the industry.

He will explain how native plant collections are transitioning from wild to home horticulture, and how some of his introductions were discovered. The rest of the day will be divided into two tracks, New to Natives and Knows the Natives, as well as virtual exhibitor booths that visitors can visit during the breaks.

Award-winning author Susan Tweit opens the title “New to Natives” and talks about what native plants need to thrive – it might be different than expected! Amy Yarger, of the Butterfly Pavilion, will share information on how to choose plants that will be needed for the next generation in her Bringing Up Baby … Bugs session. And Lisa Olsen, with Wild Ones Front Range Chapter, will provide tips on what native plants are available from nurseries, where to find them, and advice on plant-specific preferred growing conditions.

If you want to dive a little deeper into the world of native plant horticulture, on the Knows the Natives route, find Alison Peck at Matrix Gardens, who talks about how native plants can be an integral part of scavenging carbon and reducing greenhouse gases in their session “Natural Climate Solution Heroes: Native Plants”. Jim Tolstrup of the High Plains Environmental Center will speak about how to use native plants effectively in your garden designs, and Jennifer Bousselot, assistant professor of horticulture at Colorado State University, will lead the way with a discussion of her research on Colorado Native Plant Finishing Protocols for the green industry ”, an important piece of the puzzle to bring more native plants into the nursery trade and make them available to home gardeners.

The final keynote will be from native plant writer and advocate Marcia Tatroe who will share her horticultural experience with native plants in Centennial over the past 33 years. In her Suburban Garden Evolution session, she certainly learned many lessons and expert advice to share with participants.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit or go to landscaping with

The Colorado Native Plant Landscaping Conference is presented by a coalition of partner organizations: the Butterfly Pavilion, the CSU Horticultural and Landscaping Department, the CSU Extension, the Colorado Native Plants Masters Program, the Colorado Native Plant Society, the Botanicals Denver Gardens and the Wild Ones Front Range Chapter, the High Plains Environmental Center and author Susan J Tweit.

Deryn Davidson is the horticultural expansion agent for the Colorado State University expansion in Boulder County in Longmont.

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