The annual Lahr Symposium on native plants was held this past Saturday at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. I've gone for the last couple of years, and for more years than that to the native plant sale that accompanies it. It's a great event, and it's held at a great time of year - when spring is just getting underway. I always look forward to seeing the massive cherries in bloom at the Arboretum. Yes, I know they're not native, but aren't they magnificent?
This year two of the speakers, Darell Morrison and Bill Cullina, spoke about aspects of designing with native plants. Morrison, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, talked about some of the large-scale projects he has designed using natives. Cullina talked about different botanical features of plants such as color, form, leaf variegation etc. can be used to advantage in the garden.
The third speaker, Kim Winter, talked about attracting wildlife to the garden. It was particularly interesting to me that she mentioned solitary bees. I had just recently read a short article about using small cardboard tubes as nesting cavities for these bees, and so it was already on my mind. She gave a link to a website I'll be exploring: pollinator.org.
I also got to go on a guided wildflower walk at the Arboretum's newly renovated Fern Hill wildflower garden. It was a chilly but sunny day, and many things were just starting to poke out of the ground, while a few things were already blooming, including Dutchman's breeches, trillium (the red one, I think commonly known as wake-robin), and one of my favorite shrubs, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) which has little yellow flowers and emits a spicy smell when the bark is scratched. Wish I had a place in the yard for one of these guys!