Our 2023 Lecture Series presents topics from local, regional, and global perspectives. Cross oceans with migratory birds and discover the research behind their astounding navigational and physiological feats. Take notes from a professional ecological landscape designer helping homeowners create functional and resilient home landscapes in the Philadelphia region. Be transported back and learn about the conservation efforts at Mt. Cuba Center, and how you can take part in the local ecological efforts.
These programs take place online.
Pollinators and Native Plant Cultivars
Are native cultivars as valuable in pollinator habitat gardens as straight native species? Native plants are generally recommended for supporting pollinators, but the growing demand for native plants, coupled with the horticulture industry’s desire for plants with unique characteristics, has led to the increased breeding and availability of native cultivars or “nativars.” Annie White was one of the first researchers in the country to evaluate native cultivars based on their ecological value instead of just their garden performance. Informed by both years of rigorous field research and real-world landscape design experience, Annie’s talk discusses both the benefits and challenges of using native species and their cultivars in landscapes.
This program takes place online Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Putting Plants to Work
Join ecological landscape designer Jeff Lorenz of Bala Cynwyd-based Refugia Design/Build for expert tips and insight on creating a native habitat that is immersive, functional, and resilient. In an effort to reimagine their landscapes, homeowners often seek plants that manage stormwater runoff. How can we get creative with design and materials to create a beautiful and multi-tasking outdoor space? Reducing lawn, establishing deep-rooted plantings and integrating permeable hardscaping is key to reducing neighborhood erosion, filtering pollutants, and absorbing dirty water before it enters our precious waterways.
This program takes place online Saturday, January 21, 2023
The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds
Even as scientists make discoveries about navigational and physiological feats that enable migratory birds to cross immense oceans or fly above the highest mountains, go weeks without sleep or remain in unbroken flight for months, humans have brought many migratory birds to the brink. Based on his bestselling new book “A World on the Wing”, author and researcher Scott Weidensaul takes attendees around the globe — with researchers in the lab probing the limits of what migrating birds can do, to the shores of the Yellow Sea in China, the remote mountains of northeastern India where tribal villages saved the greatest gathering of falcons on the planet, and the Mediterranean, where activists and police are battling bird poachers — to learn how people are fighting to understand and save the world’s great bird migrations.
This program takes place online Saturday, February 4, 2023
Mt. Cuba Conservation: Behind the Scenes
While Mt. Cuba Center’s gardens showcase how native plants can enhance formal and naturalistic gardens, behind the scenes, Mt. Cuba conducts conservation programs at many scales, ranging from individual species to whole ecosystems. We monitor and propagate rare plants, cultivate breeding habitat for bird species of conservation concern, and conduct a 100-year reforestation experiment. We collaborate with independent, university, and community scientists to learn more about the flora and fauna at Mt. Cuba, share the results with broader audiences, and contribute data to national community science projects. Dr. Ellen Lake, Mt. Cuba’s director of conservation and research, discusses the range of conservation efforts at Mt. Cuba, ongoing ecological research, and the purpose of Mt. Cuba’s newly constructed greenhouse and plant nursery.
This program takes place online Saturday, March 4, 2023
About the Instructors: Annie White is the founder of Nectar Landscape Design Studio and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Vermont. She earned her MS in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her PhD research on native plant cultivars, done at the University of Vermont, broke new ground on this very important and timely subject. This was one of the first public presentations she ever gave about the results of her study.
Jeff Lorenz is the founder of Refugia Design, an ecological landscape design/build and stewardship firm, based out of Bala Cynwyd, PA. Since 2015, Refugia has been offering distinctive native landscape design for both residential and commercial green spaces throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area and Jersey Shore. Annual major exhibitor and award-winners at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show, Refugia is known for an immersive, naturalistic design aesthetic and meadow expertise at projects ranging in size from city yards to suburban estates.
Refugia’s ground-breaking initiatives include mapping the impact of their 120+ native habitats via the Ecological Greenway Network, designed to promote connectivity for wildlife and restore ecosystem function to neighborhoods. Refugia added 47 ‘stepping stone’ gardens to the Greenway Network in 2021, developing an ecological corridor for native plants and wildlife that is made more powerful by the network’s growing interconnectedness.
Jeff resides in Narberth with his wife and young daughters and he is proud of Refugia’s impact in his community – 70+ properties within 5 miles of Narberth that manage stormwater sustainably, support biodiversity and replace lawn with native habitat that ‘put plants to work’; creating beautiful, functional and resilient landscapes for all.
Scott Weidensaul is the author of nearly 30 books on natural history, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist “Living on the Wind” and his latest, the New York Times bestseller “A World on the Wing.” Weidensaul is a contributing editor for Audubon and writes for a variety of other publications, including Living Bird. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society and an active field researcher, studying saw-whet owl migration for more than two decades, as well as winter hummingbirds in the East, bird migration in Alaska, and the winter movements of snowy owls through Project SNOWstorm, which he co-founded. A native of Pennsylvania, he and his wife now life in New Hampshire.
Ellen Lake, PhD, is the Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She taught environmental education and was the Education Director at the Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Associations. Ellen has a master’s degree in Entomology and Ph.D. in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, where she researched biological control of mile-a-minute weed and how to integrate weed management techniques to restore plant communities. Ellen has extensive experience researching insect-plant interactions, including work for the USDA in the Greater Everglades ecosystem.