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2023 Native Plant Symposium

Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48105 United States
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August 18 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

2023 Native Plant Symposium

Celebrating Biodiversity and Native Plants of the Great Lakes Region
We welcome you to register for our 2023 Native Plant Symposium: Celebrating Biodiversity and Native Plants of the Great Lakes Region on Friday, August 18, 2023.

Join us as we explore:

  • Why conserve biodiversity and what are we conserving
  • How to approach biodiversity conservation in urban/suburban settings
  • Thoughtful approaches to native plant conservation at multiple scales – local to landscape scales

Our panel includes local and national experts in the field of conservation who will provide thoughtful and manageable goals that support biodiversity in urban and suburban settings. Our micro-actions can have macro effects, and we hope guests will leave feeling empowered to take these steps in their own communities.

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SOLD OUT!  Please consider joining us virtually.

$40.00 Early Bird pricing
$50 after July 18
Students: $20


9:00 am – 9:15 am

Featuring MBGNA Director Anthony Kolenic and Associate Curator Mike Kost

Individuals and Native Plants

9:15 am – 10:30 am
Nature’s Best Hope

Keynote Speaker, Doug Tallamy
Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. To create landscapes that enhance local ecosystems rather than degrade them, we must 1) remove the invasives on our property and 2) add the native plant communities that sustain food webs, sequester carbon, maintain diverse native bee communities, and manage our watersheds. If we do this in half of the area now in lawn, we can create Homegrown National Park, a network of viable habitats throughout the U.S. that will provide vital corridors connecting the few natural areas that remain. This approach to conservation empowers everyone to play a significant role in the future of the natural world. It is also enormously restorative for those who take action.

10:30 am – 10:45 am
10:45 am – 12:00 pm
Creating and Managing Landscapes for Native Bees

Keynote Speaker, Heather Holm
When creating and managing thriving habitats for native bees, many factors such as seasonal phenology, nesting strategies, and flower preferences must be considered—and with approximately 3,600 species in North America (north of Mexico), there are many unique aspects to keep in mind when managing successful landscapes for bees.

Join Heather as she explores the nesting habitats, life cycles, pollen collection, brood rearing, and general characteristics of some of the most common native bees in eastern North America, while highlighting the pollination of native plants and the mutualism between native plants and native bees. Learn about pollen specialists, the presentation of floral resources, and how the physical characteristics of bees can influence their effectiveness as pollinators. Heather will also discuss ways to manage landscapes to enhance bee diversity, plant selection considerations, and ultimately how to think like a bee!

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Lunch (provided), self-guided garden stroll

Community, Sovereignty, and Native Plants

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Good Forest Relations

featuring Michigiizhigookwe (Robin Clark)
Great Lakes Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadomi peoples) maintain long-standing and dynamic relationships with forest relations: plant, animal, and other beings. Much of my work has focused on Giizhik (Northern white cedar; Thuja occidentalis), a primary plant relative and teacher in Anishinaabe communities. This talk will share some of the lessons learned from Giizhik, Anishinaabe peoples, and the diverse forest communities that we can co-create.

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Native Plants and Food Sovereignty 

featuring Akello Karamoko

We’ll explore the roles native plants can play in the food sovereignty movement.

2:00 pm – 2:15 pm

Industry and Native Plants

2:15 pm – 2:45 pm
Design with Maintenance in Mind

featuring Bill Schneider from Wildtype Design, Native Plants & Seeds Ltd.
When designing your landscape the first thing to think about is how it will be maintained. All landscapes, including the best native landscapes, require maintenance but there are a number of problems to avoid or minimum when starting with a sound design.

2:45 pm – 3:15 pm
The “How” of Creating Native Urban Gardens

featuring Shannan Gibb-Randall, InSite Design Studio, Inc.
What makes a native garden work on the multiple levels of ecological health and human acceptance?  Hear about the history and process for the development of the Great Lakes Garden, as well as other projects and lessons learned from InSite Design Studio in the region that bridge the worlds of ecological integrity, beauty and acceptance from a wide audience.

3:15 pm – 3:30 pm

Public Institutions and Native Plants

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Why is the Great Lakes Region Flora Special?

featuring Tony Reznicek
Unlike most other glaciated temperate lowlands, the Great Lakes region is unusually rich in species that occur nowhere else (endemics) and species occurring in the region in small, special zones, with large gaps between the Great Lakes occurrences and the primary range of the species (disjuncts). While some of these species are inconspicuous, others are among our most sought after flowers. We’ll have a look at some of these, look at the patterns, and try to understand how the Great Lakes make this region special for plants, and delve somewhat into what climate change may do for our special plants.

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Concept, Design, and Conservations Implications of the Great Lakes Gardens

featuring Bob Grese
Showcasing native plants in American gardens has a long history, but showcasing plants in ecological associations in gardens and arboreta has its roots in the late 19th and early 20th Century along with the developing science of ecology. Grese will explore this history and discuss how these traditions came to be reflected in the development of the Great Lakes Gardens.

4:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Closing Remarks


Doug Tallamy in a green shirtKeynote Speaker: Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, where he has taught insect taxonomy, behavioral ecology, and other related subjects. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.

Doug won the Silver Medal from the Garden Writer’s Association for his 2007 book, Bringing Nature Home, widely recognized as one of the most important books of its kind. More recently, he authored another book, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden with Rick Darke (2014). To date, he has written 90 research articles. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd Jr. Award of Excellence in 2013 and the 2018 AHS B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Health Holm stands in front of a gardenKeynote Speaker: Heather Holm

Heather Holm is a biologist, pollinator conservationist, and award-winning author. She passionately informs and educates audiences nationwide, through her writing and many presentations, about the fascinating world of native pollinators and beneficial insects, and the native plant communities that support them.

Heather is the author of four books: Pollinators of Native Plants (2014), Bees (2017), Wasps (2021), and Common Native Bees of the Eastern United States (2022). Both Bees and Wasps have won multiple book awards including the American Horticultural Society Book Award (2018 and 2022 respectively). Heather’s expertise includes the interactions between native pollinators and native plants, and the natural history and biology of native bees and predatory wasps. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and many local publications. Heather is also an accomplished photographer and her pollinator photos are frequently featured in print and electronic publications.

Heather is a National Honorary Director of Wild Ones. She also serves on the boards of the following non-profits: Friends of Cullen Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, Friends of Minnetonka Parks, and her local Wild Ones chapter, Prairie Edge. In her spare time, she is an active community supporter, writing grants, and coordinating and participating in volunteer ecological landscape restoration projects. The latest project is a 13-acre oak savanna restoration that will provide thriving habitat for pollinators, birds, mammals, and passive, nature-based opportunities for people.

Michigiizhigookwe outside in a knit black hat and black coat Michigiizhigookwe (Robin Clark)
Assistant Professor at Lake Superior State University

Michigiizhigookwe (Robin Clark) is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives with her partner and two teenagers in their community at Bawating. Robin is passionate about Anishinaabe forest relations and supporting community health through our relationships with plants and other manidoog. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a Master of Science in Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies, from Michigan State University. In 2021, Robin earned a doctorate in Forest Science from Michigan Technological University and continues research that supports and engages Anishinaabe sciences for good forest relations.

AKELLO KARAMOKO standing outside Akello Karamoko
Farm Manager, Keep Growing Detroit

Akello Karamoko is a farmer at the Keep Growing Detroit Farm. He is a native Detroiter that has always had a green thumb. He planted his first apple tree at 11 years old and sold peppermint and sage at his church when he was thirteen. Farming as a career path was hardly on the minds of other youth growing up in Detroit, but he sought out programs to learn how to plan, grow, harvest, and sell his own organic crops. He’s trained in programs like 4H Gardens with Dr. Wesley Godfrey, KGD’s Urban Agriculture Youth Apprenticeship program, MSU’s Organic Farmer Training Program, NFU’s Beginning farmer institute. He has worked for the Food Warrior Program with Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) and City Food’s Good Food Ambassador program. His purpose is to provide similar opportunities for others. He also wants to inform others about their rights to healthy and culturally appropriate foods. He recognizes that while America’s agricultural sector is shrinking, exposure has always inspired innovation. He plans to provide the next generation with the spark to partake in organic agriculture.

Bill Schneider in a red coat and tan winter hatBill Schneider
Owner of Wildtype Native Plants/ Ecological Services

Bill Schneider, founder and owner of Wildtype, received his MLA in 1994 from the University of Michigan SNRE- Landscape Architecture Program and his BS in 1980 from Michigan State University – College of Agriculture.

Wildtype Native Plants • Ecological services LTD., was established in 1996, and provides ecological design & consulting services for public, commercial and residential projects focusing on restoration and preservation of native landscape.  Wildtype also operates a nursery growing over 300 species of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and emergent wetland plants.

GibbsShannan Gibb-Randall
InSite Design Studio, Inc.

Shannan GibbRandall is principal of InSite Design Studio.  Her background in art history, ecology, and landscape architecture form the scaffolding of her design approach.  Shannan’s work has focused on ecologically-sensitive design – from stormwater management and conservation planning, to native plant design.  In 2018, her firm was chosen to collaborate with the renown Piet Oudolf for a garden on Detroit’s Belle Isle. Her work lives and thrives in highly urbanized settings to rural landscapes, each uniquely tailored to the ecological opportunities, design and program parameters, and distinct visual preferences of each client.

Tony Reznicek
Curator Emeritus, University of Michigan Herbarium

Professionally, my “day job” – recently (June 2020) retired – was Curator of Vascular Plants at the University of Michigan Herbarium where, besides taking care of the Herbarium collections and doing some teaching, I researched sedges, especially Carex, in the New World with a focus on Mexico. As well, I worked with the flora and biogeography of the Great Lakes region and the northeastern North American flora generally, with a strong interest in rare plant conservation. I am primarily responsible for the Michigan Flora online website and still serve as Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for Plants for Michigan’s Threatened and endangered species law. I have also served a term as Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens long in the past. In addition, I am an avid gardener with varied interests, including rock gardening, native plants, and ecologically sustainable gardening.

Robert GreseBob Grese
Professor Emeritus in the School for Environment and Sustainability

Bob Grese is a Professor Emeritus in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the former director of the University’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.  He is an honorary member of the Garden Club of America and serves as the past president of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Wild Ones.



August 18
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48105 United States
+ Google Map
(734) 647-7600