NOTE: All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance, and masks are strongly recommended for all guests and required for unvaccinated guests ages 2 and up. 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 412-437-8308.

Early bird registration costs $40 for Phipps members and $45 for nonmembers. Registrants will be sent a Zoom link at time of registration and any additional handouts closer to the event. After Jan. 7, registration will cost $50 for Phipps members and $55 for nonmembers.

Questions? Contact our Phipps' education team at

This conference counts as a 3.5 hour elective credit for the following Phipps certificate programs: Native Plant Landscapes, Sustainable Horticulture, and Landscape and Garden Design.

Register Now


Thurs., Jan. 27 | 6:30 – 9 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

Leslie Duthie

Leslie Duthie is a lifelong gardener. She was formerly employed at the Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary where she was the horticulturist and plant propagator for over 38 years. An accomplished grower of ferns and wildflowers, Leslie’s love of ferns began when she first learned how to raise them from spore. Now retired, she continues to volunteer at various gardens and works to protect land for her local Conservation Commission and land trust. 

Jess Horenstein

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Juliette Olshock

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Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith is the owner of Land Escapes, a full service regenerative landscape design and build company based in the Boston area where he has worked for 20 years to improve our planet and our community through landscape design and education. As outgoing President of the Ecological Landscape Alliance, Trevor and the ELA work to bring vital information, resources and educational materials to the landscape design community. Trevor is a regular contributor to landscape magazines and newsletters and a regular speaker at industry events. As a company Land Escapes Design Inc. has led the way in green rainwater infrastructure in New England as well as regenerative land care.

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