Conference 2019

The Naturally Beautiful Garden Conference 2019

Photo: Phyto Studio

Visionary landscape architect Claudia West, author of Planting in a Post-Wild World, and award-winning garden designer Ben Vogt, author of A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future, will lead a half-day conference on how to design stunning home landscapes that inspire human happiness, provide critical habitat for wildlife and fight climate change.

Science writers are using terms like “insect apocalypse” and “insect Armageddon” to describe insects’ dramatic disappearance across the globe. These effects reverberate up the food chain and even into our food supply. Furthermore, the most recent National Climate Assessment shows that climate change will damage crucial, life-sustaining ecosystems, costing the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century. It’s time for bold action.

Our gardens and landscapes can be part of the solution. The Naturally Beautiful Garden Conference explores how to change the way we garden to provide critically needed habitat for insects and other wildlife, enrich the soil, and capture carbon dioxide, while enchanting human senses.

First, Claudia West, a leading voice in the field of ecological design, will show you how to transform a smaller garden space into the native plant oasis of your dreams. She’ll explain, step by step, the art of arranging native plants – which are aesthetically and functionally very different from typical garden plants — using design principles learned from wild plant communities and archetypal landscapes.

Photo: Ben Vogt

Next, Benjamin Vogt, an award-winning garden columnist for Houzz, will delve into philosophy, science, and psychology to make a case for re-imagining urban landscapes into a network of wildlife refuges. These wild-inspired spaces then become democratic spaces, in the tradition of Olmsted, where all species intermingle while creating awareness and activism for ecological health and social justice. 

This conference is made possible by West Cook Wild Ones members, our plant sale, PlanItGreen, Oak Park and River Forest’s Sustainability Plan, and Triton College Sustainability Center, which will host the conference.