NOTE: Masks are required for all guests ages 2 and up, and all member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance. Learn more about how you can join us!

Thurs., Jan. 27; 1 – 4 p.m.
Virtual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference

Join national experts for an engaging forum on plants, landscapes and our role as environmental stewards.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ annual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference brings together local and national experts for a forum on plants, landscapes and our roles as environmental stewards. This year’s event will be offered virtually through Zoom, but in the same spirit of community building and sharing that has made previous events a success.

To attend, please register online or by calling 412-441-4442, ext. 3925. Registration is $50 for Phipps members and $55 for nonmembers.

Questions? Contact our Phipps' education team at

This conference counts as a 3 hour elective credit for the following Phipps certificate programs: Native Plant Landscapes, Sustainable Horticulture, and Landscape and Garden Design.

Register Now


Thurs., Jan. 27 | 1 – 4 p.m.

1 – 1:15 p.m.

Introduction and Welcome

1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Certified Organic Ornamentals: The How and Why of a New Approach to Tree Production | Steve Black, Owner Raemelton Farm 
In 2015 Raemelton Farm became the first and only nursery in the United States to sell USDA Certified ORGANIC B&B trees. The Organic market is no longer a hippie thing; consumers now put a value on the way in which plants are produced. In addition to a more valuable end product, Organic production also protects and sustains the farm ecosystem. Healthier soil, cleaner water, more beneficial insects (and animals) all make for continuous improvement in tree production and plant health. The presentation will cover Raemelton’s innovative techniques for pest and weed control, soil conservation, and farm management.  

1:50 – 2:20 p.m.

Spotlight on Native Plants | Jess Horenstein, Phipps Outdoor Foreman
We will spotlight 10 native plants from our collection of Phipps recommended Sustainable Plants. Learn how they grow and where to fit them into your landscape. Then you can pre-order with our Native Plant Pre-Sale and pick up just in time for planting in the spring. 

2:25 – 2:55 p.m.

Sustainable Garden Awards Winners | Juliette Olshock, Phipps Sustainable Landcare
The Sustainable Garden Awards started in 2021 with the goal of inspiring Western Pennsylvania residents to design and maintain gardens that are both environmentally friendly and beautiful. With so many wonderful gardens to choose from this year, it was a challenge to decide on the winners. We are happy to announce the champions from the following categories: Native Plantings and Wildlife Gardens, Micro-Gardens, Abundant Edible Gardens and Gardens for Personal Retreat (large and small!).

3 – 4 p.m.

The Fundamentals of Garden Layers | Benjamin Vogt, Owner Monarch Gardens
When designing any garden, there is an opportunity to eschew the norms of beauty as the only priority. With careful planning, we can create a space that works in harmony with nature, expands biodiversity, builds healthy soil, and nurtures pollinators and other wildlife. Let’s learn from natural plant communities to increase ecosystem function and climate resilience at home in our designed gardens. From the fundamentals of seasonal and yearly plant succession, to using plant reproduction and sociability to fill ecological niches, the right native plant communities make all the difference for beautiful gardens both wildlife and people crave.

About the Speakers

Steve Black

Steve Black is Owner and Operator of Raemelton Farm, Adamstown Md. Raemelton Farm produces landscape-ready B&B trees and shrubs for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern markets. Steve started the farm in 2004 and grows nearly 350 different species and cultivars, including many USDA Certified Organic landscape trees. In addition to farming, Steve is Past-President of the Maryland Nursery, Landscape, Greenhouse Association (MNLGA), he has served on two USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Advisory Boards, and is a member of the board of the University of Maryland’s Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Jess Horenstein

Jess Horenstein is the Outdoor Foreman at Phipps. She worked for several years for a private landscaper before getting hired at Phipps. Before that she worked for the Audubon Society and several zoological institutions in avian care before getting interested in horticulture. She is an avid birder and native plant enthusiast.

Juliette Olshock

Juliette Olshock is the Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where she organizes trainings and educational opportunities for local landcare professionals and homeowners focusing on sustainable landcare principles and practices. Juliette enjoys growing a variety of plants, learning about local wildlife and creating a backyard oasis at her home in Hazelwood. 

Benjamin Vogt

Benjamin Vogt owns Monarch Gardens, a prairie-inspired design firm. His landscapes have been featured in Garden Design, Fine Gardening, and The American Gardener. Benjamin speaks nationally on a variety of topics and is the author of A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future and the forthcoming Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design (fall 2022).


More Events You’ll Enjoy

  • Virtual Native Plant Sale

    Order Now through Mon., March 28

    For the first time, guests are able to order from a curated selection of native plants on our website! This sale features ten plants native to our region that have all been selected as Phipps Sustainable Plants. Order now for pickup the first week of May!
  • Spring Flower Show Member Night

    WED., MARCH 23; 6:30 – 9 P.M.

    Phipps members: Join us for a free, private viewing of Spring Flower Show: Sunshine and Rainbows as a special thank you for your dedicated support throughout the year.
  • Festive Nights of Winter Lights

    Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 14 – 29; 5 – 10 p.m.

    Take another walk through the dazzling light displays in our Outdoor and Children's Discovery Gardens while our indoor spaces showcase orchids, bonsai and more.