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Living landscape: more than plants are alive

Hummingbird moth. (C) Bob Judson/bugwood

Native moths and butterflies will be the topic of one of Doug Tallamy’s talks at the Horticultural Symposium at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Feb. 21, 2015. Above is a hummingbird moth visiting a bee balm (Monarda). (C) Bob Judson/bugwood

When you see or hear the words “living landscape,” what do you think? That all the plants are alive? But the term is much broader than just plants, although flora plays a key role.

Indeed, a living landscape teams with insects, birds and other wildlife.

One of the best ways to support a living landscape is with diverse plantings of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, which provide food and shelter for wildlife and beauty for you.

That’s precisely the topic of the annual symposium by the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Division of Environmental & Historic Preservation.

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 in The Toby at the IMA. Advance registration is required.

Doug Tallamy’s keynote will be about how gardeners can create a biodiverse landscape. He also will speak about the role of moth and butterfly species as pollinators. Tallamy is co-author of The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, published by Timber Press. A professor at the University of Delaware, has been a popular and frequent speaker in Indiana since his award-winning book Bringing Nature Home was published in 2009, also by Timber Press.

Kevin Tungesvick, a restoration ecologist at Spence Restoration Nursery in Anderson, Indiana, will talk about lesser-known native plants that support wildlife. Jim McCormac, an award-winning birder, photographer and author with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, examines the best native plants for feeding the birds.

A lot of gardeners rely on perennials as the native plants in their gardens.

“While many native plant species make good garden plants, certainly not all are ideal,” said Irvin Etienne, horticultural display coordinator at the IMA and a director of the Perennial Plant Association.

“Breeders and plant hunters have come up with many nativars (native plus cultivar equals nativar) that do make excellent garden plants,” said Etienne, who will speak about Nativars – Strangers in a Strange Land.

“Sometimes these are simply selections found out in nature and other times they are planned hybrids. Since these plants are going into ornamental gardens rather than natural areas, their aesthetic qualities become equal to their native heritage. Indeed, sometimes they become strangers in a strange land,” he said.

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