August 6, 2014

A fun weekend at the Midwest Native Plant Conference

Last year we had such a good time at the Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton that we decided to go again this year. Held at the Bergamo Center, a Marianist retreat center in Beavercreek, it features excellent speakers on a wide variety of topics, outstanding field trips and leaders, and a chance to socialize with new and old friends who enjoy learning about the natural world as much as we do. To top it all off, the grounds are lovely and there are a variety of vendors, including many who have lots of native plants for sale.

At a talk by Rick Darke, author of the new book The Living Landscape, we learned about designing our gardens with layers of native groundcovers, perennials, shrubs and trees to maximize their attractiveness to wildlife. Jim McCormac from Ohio's Division of Wildlife gave an excellent talk featuring Ohio's 13 native milkweed species, pollination of milkweeds, and the importance of milkweeds to wildlife, especially monarchs. The featured plant of the conference was white oak, and David Brandenburg gave an outstanding presentation on wood and winter botany, featuring meticulously labeled specimens for study.  Other excellent talks that we went to centered on orchids of the eastern United States, native plant conservation and singing insects. That is a lot of variety indeed!

Saturday night we did a night walk to hear some of those singing insects that we learned about earlier in the day. While I don't think I'll ever be particularly good at identifying all the sounds of the night, I now know a lot more about field crickets, ground crickets, tree crickets, coneheads and katydids! Here is a sword-bearing conehead (what a great name!) captured by our leaders:

And here is a view of it after it was released from the jar:

Sunday was the field trip day and we went to Huffman Prairie, which I described in a previous post. Our leader was Five Rivers Metro Parks' Dave Nolin, who for the past 29 years has been involved in restoring and managing this wonderful resource on the Wright Patterson Air Force Base property. The flowers were still amazing:

Here is one that we didn't see on our previous visit, a drought-tolerant perennial called biennial gaura:

Enjoying all the seeds produced by the multitude of plants in the prairie was this gorgeous indigo bunting:

What a fun weekend! We might have slightly overdone it at the plant sale booths

but we are definitely looking forward to next year's Midwest Native Plant Conference!

1 comment:

  1. Someday you need to do a blog post about your own garden! Maybe you'll attract a sword-bearing conehead!