Go Wild with Your Gardening

Ecological steps along the path to a garden for nature

January 29 | 9AM-4PM

How we garden at home and in the community makes a big difference in the natural world.

Practical lessons learned and shared by published authors, educators, and citizen scientists will open your eyes to what is possible in gardens large and small. This symposium is your opportunity to get to know the nature trying to live alongside us in our gardens and greenspaces and what you can do to nurture each living landscape for tomorrow. If you are thinking about making the first step toward creating a native garden or if you have been on this path for some time, these speakers will appeal to you at all points of your native garden journey.

Enhance your own connection with nature, learn about garden allies, and how to make your garden positively contribute to our natural Georgia network.


>> Registration includes keynote speakers, general sessions, light breakfast, boxed lunch from Big Oak Tavern (vegetarian option), vendors, and opportunities to gain knowledge and connections.

 >> Center-wide policies and procedures have been implemented to offer the best experience possible. Click here to learn more.

General Public $75/CNC members $60. 

Symposium Schedule

Keep scrolling to learn more about the speakers

8AM: Doors Open for Registration
& Vendor Booths Open

Coffee and pastries will be available. “Garden Allies” by Frederique Lavoipierre and other relevant gardening books will be available for purchase.

9AM: Garden Allies. An Introduction to Life in the Landscape with Frederique Lavoipierre

There are a great many phenomenal organisms – from soil-dwelling microorganisms to beetles, bees, bacteria, and bats – who are our natural allies in our gardens. In demystifying these fabulous creatures, Lavoipierre will inspire us as gardeners to stop, look, listen, learn, and may be put away the toxic chemicals.  Make friends with the creatures that fill your garden and consider them your allies.  Open your eyes to the natural history all around us and learn about the layers of life in your garden.  The reward is a renewed sense of nature’s beauty and a garden humming with activity. 

10-10:30AM: Break | Vendor Booths Open and Book Signing

10:45AM: “Stop Killing Your Trees:  Ignorance, Blame & Regret Are Not Good!” with Dr. Kim Coder

The 266 native trees of Georgia are wonderful as ecological assets, curiosity centers, and focal points of aesthetic bliss.  Anywhere trees are cared for and sustained must provide great life resources, healthy soil space, and long-term safety for these valuable plants.  Trees are not replaceable – with big trees not replaceable across three generations.  We plant new trees for the future and maintain existing trees for the present.  Unfortunately tree illiteracy surrounds us and causes damage to trees and their sites.  We are the instrument of damage and death to our trees.  Let us look at how we are killing our trees at home and within our communities.  Are you tree literate?

11:45-12:45PM: Lunch

12:50-1:30PM: The Georgia Standards of Excellence | 21st century stewardship of gardens & greenspaces Kendall Xides

Simple lessons found in the curriculums of third graders show that new best gardening practices are needed for all stewards of all home landscapes and greenspaces.  Growing a nature garden isn’t rocket science but gardening for nature does take patience, perseverance, and most of all a willingness to adapt.  It is time to think differently about old gardening habits accepted without question since the 1900’s and to start gardening in support of the natural lifecycles happening all around us.  What are your 21st century standards when it comes to living alongside nature?  

1:30PM: FROM LAWNS TO LANDSCAPES | Converting any piece of land into a biodiverse native habitat for local wildlife with Alex LoCastro

Turfgrass lawns make up over 63,000 square miles in the United States– an area larger than the entire state of Georgia. They require intense watering, fertilization, chemical spraying and maintenance while providing virtually no ecological benefit. At the same time, our native plants communities and the animals that depend on them are suffering. Habitat loss and degradation are the two main drivers of bird population decline and today North America has three billion fewer breeding birds than we did in 1970. By turning our yards into native meadows and forests, we can reconnect and enhance native habitats while creating a source of wonder, inspiration and education for ourselves and generations to come.

2:30-3PM: Break | Vendor Booths Open and Book Signing

3PM: We are the garden: The yard and home as places of belonging and connection with David Haskell

The garden is a place of discovery, both about the living world around us and about ourselves. Haskell will discuss the many ways that our relationships with gardens can be instructive and joyful. Using examples from his own life and from humanity’s long relationships with gardens, he will suggest ways to cultivate both our gardens and our sense of belonging. From the practical (building soil by saving leaves) to the philosophical (thinking about the ecological roots of seasonal celebrations), we can build vibrant and life-giving homes and connect more fully to both nature and culture.

3:55-4PM: Closing Comments & Symposium Ends

About the Speakers


Frederique Lavoipierre

Keynote Speaker and Published Author

As the Director of Education at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Frédérique led the Landscape for Life program. At Sonoma State University, she was the founding director of the Sustainable Landscape Professional Certificate Program, established an Entomology Outreach Program, and revived the Garden Classroom. Frédérique holds a Masters degree in biology, with an emphasis on ecological principles of sustainable landscapes. She writes, speaks, and works as a consultant. She serves on the board of Pacific Horticulture, and on the editorial advisory group for the American Public Gardens Association.

Dr. Kim D. Coder headshot

Dr. Kim D. Coder

Professor of Tree Biology & Health Care, Warnell School of Forestry, UGA

Dr. Kim Coder is Professor of Tree Biology & Health Care and University Hill Fellow for Distinguished Outreach, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. 

An international lecturer and consultant on tree biology and structure, community tree planting, and urban ecosystems Dr. Kim Coder is Professor of Tree Biology & Health Care and University Hill Fellow for Distinguished Outreach, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Coder is also a recipient of the Arbor Day Foundation’s highest award — the J. Sterling Morton award.

Xides Kendall Headshot

Kendall Xides

GA DNR Conservation Teacher of the Year 2021-2022

Environmental Educator and Lifetime Master Gardener Kendall Xides is the GA DNR 2021-22 Conservation Teacher of the Year grant winner!  Devoted to her students, Kendall takes Garden Based Learning to the next level always meeting others with a smile, wherever they are in their journey to understanding the value and the potential of their greenspaces.

Alex LoCastro Headshot

Alex Locastro

Conservation Program Coordinator, Georgia Audubon

Alex LoCastro is an environmental educator, entomologist and artist from Orlando, Florida. Before joining Georgia Audubon, she worked as an Interpretive Ranger at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, leading educational programs and engaging in habitat restoration in the largest urban old-growth forest in the Piedmont region. Alex is most passionate about insects and the many vital roles they play in our environment, including keeping our native birds fed and pollinating our beautiful native flora. She is currently helping Georgia Audubon in their mission to expand the statewide Wildlife Sanctuary program and to get more native plants into peoples’ yards.


David Haskell

Keynote Speaker. Author of The Songs of Trees and The Forest Unseen, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN

David Haskell is a writer and biologist. His The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees are acclaimed for their integration of science, poetry, and rich attention to the living world. Among their honors include the John Burroughs Medal and finalist for Pulitzer Prize. His next book, Sounds Wild and Broken, will be published in March 2022. Haskell received his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Cornell University. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Find him on social media @DGHaskell (Twitter), DavidGeorgeHaskell (Instagram and Facebook).

“He thinks like a biologist, writes like a poet, and gives the natural world the kind of open-minded attention one expects from a Zen monk rather than a hypothesis-driven scientist.” James Gorman, The New York Times. 

rates per program

Native Plants for the Home Landscape Program – $150

Base Program Cost covers 10 participants and is due at time of reservation. Additional Participants are $15.00 each (MAXIMUM of 25)

Vegetable Gardening – Growing from Seeds – $250

Base Program Cost covers 10 participants and is due at time of reservation. Additional Participants are $25.00 each (MAXIMUM of 15)

Flower Arrangements from Your Backyard – $250

Base Program Cost covers 10 participants and is due at time of reservation. Additional Participants are $25.00 each (MAXIMUM of 12)

Group Rates for 15 or More

>> Programs are Rain or Shine

>> Programs are designed for ages 16+

>> Program price includes General Admission to CNC

>> Everyone should arrive 10-15 minutes before your starting time so that the program may begin promptly as scheduled. Unless otherwise instructed, please meet your at the Scheduling Office Porch.

Cancellation Policy

If a class is cancelled for any reason you will receive a full refund. If you wish to cancel your reservation, please contact our office at least six business days prior to your scheduled program. $20 of your registration fee will be retained by CNC. You will receive confirmation when we receive your cancellation. If you do not receive confirmation within one business day, we have not received your cancellation. No refunds will be given for cancellations made fewer than 6 business days prior to your scheduled program.

Questions? Contact Jacqueline McRae, Manager of Horticulture and Gardens j.mcrae@chattnaturecenter.org