Colorado blue columbine, native to the Rocky Mountains. (Photo: Shutterstock).


Deryn Davidson, Colorado State University Extension – Boulder County

Gardening with native plants is not a new concept. There are people who have been doing it for a long time, but it’s not what I would call, mainstream. It is, however, gaining in popularity as people discover that a native plant garden provides much more than just water savings. Gardeners of all types from patio planters to commercial properties can play an important role in helping to increase pollinator and wildlife habitat and bolster biodiversity. Our urban and suburban landscapes can serve as nature preserves if we choose the right plant species. Potential water savings is certainly a plus, as is celebrating the renowned Colorado aesthetic that draws visitors to our national parks and open spaces every year.

Whether you are new to incorporating native plants into your landscape or have been doing it for decades, the 6th annual Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants Conference promises to have something for you. Scheduled on Saturday, Feb. 27 things will look a little different this year as it will be presented in a virtual format for everyone’s safety and convenience.

David Salman, Founder of High Country Gardens will kick things off as the keynote speaker. In his session titled, “A Western Perspective on Native Plants; A Career Bringing Natives from Habitat to Market”, he will regale participants with stories from the past 35-plus years in the industry. He will explain how native plant collections transition from the wild into home horticulture and about how some of his introductions were discovered. The rest of the day will be split into two tracks, “New to Natives” and “Knows the Natives”, along with virtual exhibitor booths for people to visit during breaks.

Opening the New to Natives track is award winning author Susan Tweit speaking on what native plants need to thrive, it might different than what you expect! Amy Yarger of the Butterfly Pavilion will share information on how to choose plants that are necessary to raise the next generation, in her session, “Bringing Up Baby…Bugs”, and Lisa Olsen with Wild Ones Front Range Chapter will be sharing tips on what native plants are available in the nursery trade, where to find them and advice on plant specific preferred growing conditions.

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into the gardening with native plants world, the Knows the Natives track features Alison Peck of Matrix Gardens who will be discussing how native plants can be a vital part of sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gasses in her session, “Natural Climate Solution Heroes: Native Plants”. Jim Tolstrup from High Plains Environmental Center is speaking on how to effectively use native plants in your garden designs and Jennifer Bousselot, Assistant Professor of Horticulture at CSU will round out the track with a discussion about her research on, “Colorado Native Plant Finishing Protocols for the Green Industry”, an important piece of the puzzle for getting more native plants into the nursery trade and available to you.

Finally, the closing keynote is author and native plant advocate Marcia Tatroe who will be sharing her experience gardening with native plants in Centennial, CO over that last 33 years. In her session, “Evolution of a Suburban Garden”, she is sure to have many lessons learned and expert advice to share with participants.

For more information about the conference and how to register please visit or visit

The Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants Conference is brought to you by a coalition of partner organizations: Butterfly Pavilion, Colorado State University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Native Plant Master Program®, Colorado Native Plant Society, Denver Botanic Gardens, Wild Ones Front Range Chapter, High Plains Environmental Center and Susan J Tweit, author.

By Deryn Davidson. Deryn is an Extension Agent – Horticulture at Colorado State University Extension Boulder County. For more information contact CSU Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6386, e-mail [email protected] or visit