Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood


Explore eco-friendly landscape design, biodiversity and more with the nation's leading experts.

Our annual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference brings together national experts on plants, landscapes and our roles as environmental stewards. Presented in conjunction with University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and held at William Pitt Union on the University campus, this one-day forum will explain how a well-designed landscape can be a place of beauty while fulfilling important ecological functions.

To attend, please register online or call 412/441-4442, ext. 3925. Registration costs $90 for Phipps and Osher members and $100 for nonmembers on or before Oct. 11. After Oct. 11, the cost is $105 for Phipps and Osher members and $115 for nonmembers.* Registration includes morning coffee and light breakfast items, as well as a lunch buffet with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Questions? Please contact us at

This conference counts as 3.75 hours credit hours for ASLA and PCH, as well as elective credit for Phipps’ Native Plant Landscapes, Sustainable Horticulture, and Landscape and Garden Design Certificates.


8:30 – 9 a.m.


9 – 9:15 a.m.


9:15 – 9:30 a.m.

Setting the Scene: Local and Historical Context for the Day
with John Totten

9:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Looking at the Layered Landscape
with Rick Darke
Rick Darke will discuss the living layers in local and regional landscapes, both as they naturally occur and as they are often modified by humans. This exploration will provide a basis for understanding the essential characteristics of healthy layers and how they can be conserved and enhanced in home gardens and shared landscapes.

10:45 – noon

Specialized Relationships in Nature
with Doug Tallamy
Doug Tallamy will explain how specialized relationships between animals and plants work; why these relationships determine the health of local food webs that support animal diversity; why it is important to restore biodiversity to our residential properties; and what we need to do to make our landscapes function as ecosystems.

Noon – 1 p.m.

Lunch and Book Sale

1 – 2:15 p.m.

Designing and Maintaining the Living Landscapewith Rick Darke
Rick Darke will illustrate and discuss how an understanding of living layers and relational biodiversity can be put to practical use in creating and maintaining residential gardens and community landscapes. He will also present detailed strategies for employing organic architecture in building beautiful, highly functional layers.

2:10 – 2:40 p.m.

Panel Q & A           

2:40 – 2:45 p.m.

Concluding Remarks


Rick Darke is an author, photographer and design consultant whose work blends art, ecology and cultural geography in the design and stewardship of livable landscapes. He has been featured in publications like The New York Times, and his books include The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest, In Harmony With Nature: Lessons from the Arts & Crafts Garden, The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes, and The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition. His latest work, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, was written in collaboration with fellow conference presenter Doug Tallamy.

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 80 research articles and taught courses for 32 years. Chief among his goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, is a seminal work for native plant enthusiasts. In 2014, The Living Landscape, a new book co-authored with Rick Darke, was released.

John Totten holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment. He is co-owner of the landscape gardening firm Gardens! LLC and has taught classes on native plants at Phipps, Chatham University and The Pennsylvania State University.

* Cancellation policy: In order to receive a full refund, less a $10 administrative fee, you must cancel by Oct. 24. After this date, there will be no refunds. No-shows will not be refunded.

Photos © Rick Darke  

Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Summer Flower Show
May 10 – Oct. 5, 2014
The whimsical miniature world of Garden Railroad takes center stage at Phipps this summer. With themed railroad displays in multiple exhibit rooms enhanced by unique plantings, interactive features and more, this show will bring the wonder of childhood to visitors of all ages.
Romero the Corpse Flower
Turns Over a New Leaf
Last year, he wowed thousands with his inimitable odor, and this year, he’s back with an amazing new look. After 10 dormant months, Romero has produced an enormous leaf to collect energy for his next big bloom. Visit the Tropical Forest Conservatory to see his transformation firsthand.
Farmers at Phipps
Wednesdays, June – October 2014
2:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Refresh your food shopping experience! Visit our sustainably managed front lawn to browse organic and Certified Naturally Grown fruits, vegetables and more from local farms.
Members-Only: Peek Behind the Petals
Sept. 27, 2014
9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
Take a fascinating look at the global adventures of our Botany in Action Fellows at this edition of our members-only Peek Behind the Petals series. This event is free for members; however, space is limited and reservations are required by Sept. 20. To reserve, please contact us at 412/622-6915, ext. 6505 or
Botany in Action: Meet the Scientists
Sept. 27, 2014
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Our Botany in Action fellows will be stationed throughout the Tropical Forest India exhibit to display their research tools, answer your questions and offer intriguing details about the work of field scientists.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Oct. 2, 2014
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Oct. 3, 2014
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
BETA Art Tours
First and third Saturdays, July – October 2014
Next Tour Oct. 4
11 a.m. – noon
Discover the BETA Project, a new collection of art at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes designed to enhance and restore the bonds between people and the natural world. Tours are free for members; however, space is limited and reservations are required by the Thursday prior to each tour date. To reserve, please contact us at 412/622-6915, ext. 6505 or
Fall Flower Show
Oct. 18 – Nov. 9, 2014
In celebration of the harvest season and its changing hues, this colorful exhibit showcases beautiful chrysanthemums, vibrant foliage and other festive flowers as tiny trains wind their way through many of the Conservatory’s display rooms.
Garden Railroad
Now Open
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you to Phipps Prehistoric Park — a whimsical world where dinosaurs are brought back to life! Full of surprises, detailed models, moving parts and trains, this can't-miss exhibit is a thrilling adventure for all ages.
Tropical Forest India
Now Open
Explore our new exhibit showcasing one of the most botanically rich regions of the world. Highlights include an Ayurvedic healing garden, spice and tea market displays, a stunning temple facade on Special Events Hall, and more!