at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus

Alan Branhagen

MN Arboretum Director of Operations

Alan Branhagen is Director of Operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and previously held the position of Director of Horticulture at Powell Gardens, Kansas City's botanical garden. He is the author of The Gardener's Butterfly Book and has written articles for publications including Fine Gardening, Missouri Gardener, Missouri Prairie Journal, Landscape Maintenance, and Restoration and Management Notes. Alan is a naturalist and plantsman specializing in botany, butterflies, and birds, utilizing his background in garden design and management. He is currently creating and restoring a three-acre prairie and woodland garden around his home.

Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden, by regional plant expert Alan Branhagan, features the best native plants in the heartland and offers clear and concise guidance on how to use them in the garden. Plant profiles for more than 500 species of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, ground covers, bulbs, and annuals contain the common and botanical names, growing information, tips on using the plant in a landscape, and advice on related plants. You’ll learn how to select the right plant and how to design with native plants. Helpful lists of plants for specific purposes are shared throughout. This comprehensive book is for native plant enthusiasts and home gardeners in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, northern Arkansas, and eastern Kansas.

Neil Diboll

Prairie Nursery President and Consulting Ecologist

A pioneer in the native plant industry and recognized internationally as an expert in native plant community ecology, Neil Diboll has guided the growth of Prairie Nursery for 30 years. He has dedicated his life to the propagation of native plants and their promotion as uniquely beautiful, ecologically beneficial and sustainable solutions for landscapes and gardens. In 2013, Neil was the recipient of the Great American Gardeners Award from the American Horticultural Society. Neil's love of native plants and their habitat is contagious, especially if you've had the opportunity to witness one of his unique lectures or broadcasts. Check if he will be in your neck of the meadow anytime soon!

Neil Diboll received his degree from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay in 1978. He has since worked for the U.S. Park Service in Virginia, the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, and the University of Wisconsin. In 1982, Neil began his involvement with Prairie Nursery, producing native plants and seeds and designing native landscapes. He has since devoted his efforts to championing the use of prairie plants, as well as native trees, shrubs and wetland plants, in contemporary American landscapes.

In addition to helping popularize the use of native plants long before they were “cool,“ Neil developed the first scientific methodology for designing prairie seed mixes. By calculating the relative numbers of seeds per square foot for each species in a seed mix, the resultant prairie plant community could be more accurately predicted. Neil also worked to set industry standards for seed purity and germination to assure customers receive quantifiable, viable seed. Neil’s work includes designs for residential, commercial, and public spaces throughout the Midwest and Northeast United States.

Thelma Heidel-Baker

Entomologist, Environmental Educator, Organic Farmer

Thelma Heidel-Baker is an entomologist, beneficial insect conservation expert, environmental educator, and organic farmer. Thelma has over 15 years of extensive research experience in biological control and integrated pest management (IPM) for agricultural cropping systems and specializes in supporting beneficial insects within all types of agriculture. She most recently worked for The Xerces Society to promote beneficial insects and creation of habitat on farmland nationwide.

Thelma holds graduate degrees in entomology, specializing in biological control, from University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS), Purdue University (M.S.) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D). She now works with several non-profits to support nature and diversity in the landscapes, including Riveredge Nature Center and GrassWorks, a nonprofit grazing advocacy organization. She brings her passion for land management, insects, and conservation together on her family’s grass-based, certified organic dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin where she actively incorporates wildlife conservation of butterflies, bees, and birds into their farm management. She farms sustainably with her husband, Ricky, and their two young children on their diversified dairy farm, Bossie Cow Farm, near Random Lake, WI.