Design with Nature Conference - opening

Saturday, February 20, 2016


James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall, Anderson Student Center, St. Paul Campus
University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul  MN  55105

Good Design Matters

Consider your day.  What do you do?  What do you use?  Everything in our life depends on design from technology to daily rituals.  All are more enjoyable when well-crafted.
In our landscapes, design is compelling when beauty aligns with the needs of those living on the land or passing through it.  As Aldo Leopold observed in his Land Ethic,
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise. (Sand County Almanac, p 124)
Heather Holm, author of Pollinators of Native Plants, understands how design matters through her patient focus on the life cycle of insects and the places where they thrive.  We are privileged to see the world of pollinators through her eyes.  Heather's fascination has led to asking “how might we enhance our landscapes for food and habitat for these valuable creatures?”  She shares recent insights from an on-going research project with Karl Foord, University of Minnesota Extension, to investigate just this question.

Shifting our view to the pleasures of a winter landscape, Benjamin Vogt discusses the rewards of using a lighter hand in the fall cleanup ritual.   Leaving dried material in place provides habitat for winter homes.  A landscape consultant and author, Benjamin believes, "
the fall garden is -- BY FAR -- the most beautiful period of the year with decaying leaves and lovely stark heads, well, that's the soul of the landscape coming forth. Give me the echo, the negative space, over the lush insanity of green any day."
Wrapping up the day, we are treated to a unique opportunity of seeing above and below-ground dynamics of natural landscapes.  Chris Behringer and Arlys Freeman's present case studies on floating islands.  Many of these islands have been in place for years.  Chris, a landscape designer focuses on selecting native plants for their ability to survive and attract specific wildlife species.  Arlys, president of Midwest Floating Island focuses on the results of using the natural processes of microbes and plants to clean our waterways and create habitats.  These man-made islands have become havens for birds, pollinators, turtles, frogs, fish, and other wildlife.
We hope you come away with a new view of the opportunities nature offers.  In addition to our speakers, many exhibitors are present to continue the discussion prompted by the presentations, and to help you create natural landscapes for your home or projects.  Please join the conversation.