Designing and Planting with Native Plants: Creating a Native Plant Garden

by Elaine Silverstein, NPSNJ Bergen-Passaic Chapter Leader

Originally presented at the NPSNJ Annual Conference on March 6 2021 

This workshop covers the steps involved in creating a native plant garden: preparing the site, choosing plants, rudiments of garden design, and maintenance. It also focuses on why it’s important to plant native.  

We Can’t See the Woods for the Trees

To Save Biodiversity We Must Change our Views on Forests

by Dan Duran, Rowan University 

Originally aired on February 15, 2021
Presented by the Southeast Chapter of NPSNJ

Conservationists and others have led most of us to treasure older forests more than other ecosystems. Open-field habitats and young forests, however, hold significantly more biodiversity than closed-canopy forests. Those younger forests are often under-valued and less protected. Dan will sketch some of the differences in these habitats, give us an overview of the conservation issues, and discuss ways that listeners can get involved in helping to create and maintain early successional forest and “edge” habitats.

Winter Botany 101

By Joe Alvarez of the Delaware-Bay Chapter

Originally presented on January 27, 2021.

Winter is a fantastic time to study woody plants. When the camouflage of leaves disappears the true silhouette of a plant is revealed. If you enjoy winter hikes and wondered what you see along the way, then join us for the basics of winter botany. Through examination of some simple keys and field guides you can learn to appreciate and identify the bark, buds, shape, and habitat characteristics of many of the local trees and woody plant species.  

Native Plants for 21st Century Gardens: Ending Invasive Exotic Landscape Clutter

by Carolyn Summers, Author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East

Originally aired on November 18, 2020

Carolyn Summers will discuss native plants, many of which are under-utilized in the landscape industry, that make excellent substitutes for over-used invasive exotics. Emphasis will be on species that work well in common garden settings, including foundation plantings, hedges, and rain gardens.  

Carolyn Summers is the author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East. Most recently, her photographs grace the pages of a new book, The Pollinator Victory Garden, by friend and colleague Kim Eierman. 

After completing her BSLA (Landscape Architecture) degree at CCNY, she began an atypical career with the Trust for Public Land, producing an open space report for the Harbor Herons Project that has guided preservation efforts to create an urban wildlife refuge on Staten Island. Ms. Summers continued environmental work with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection as the agency’s first Director of Natural Resources, including implementation of a new native plants policy for all agency construction/restoration projects. 

Following her work with New York City, she came to the Natural Resources Defense Council, initiating a regional project to preserve and restore wildlife habitat and public access in the New York-New Jersey Bight. 

Ms Summers is currently an adjunct professor for Go Native U, a joint project of Westchester Community College’s Continuing Ed Program and The Native Plant Center (based at Westchester Community College). 

She and her husband have recently opened their country home, Flying Trillium Gardens and Preserve (, for public tours so that designers, gardeners and homeowners will be inspired by the beauty of native plants in both garden and natural settings to create more of the same.  

Contact information:  ,

It starts off with an introduction to the NPSNJ and then proceeds to the presentation followed by Q&A.

Using Plant Habitat Preferences To Your Advantage

by Joseph Russell, owner, Summersweet Native Plants

Originally aired on November 16, 2020
Presented by the Southeast Chapter of NPSNJ

The Southeast Chapter’s final webinar of falls 2020 features one of our Chapter’s most knowledgeable advocates for native plants. Joseph Russell, owner of Summersweet Native Plants Nursery in Mays Landing, will be sharing tips on how to match particular native plants to your landscape. 

Joe holds degrees in biology and natural resources and has trained in landscape design, plant propagation, plant identification, and control of invasive plants through the Ecological Gardening Certificate program at the Mt. Cuba Center. He has published papers on native plants management and state wildlife management areas.  

His nursery focuses on plants native to the mid-Atlantic and northeastern regions.  

In this presentation, Joe will explore different environmental conditions that you may have in your yard. He will focus on plant communities, eco-regions, environmental factors affecting plant growth, and plant characteristics that make some plants better suited than others for your landscape. 

Included here is a very nice summary in outline form of the concepts and plants mentioned in the webinar. Also included are books and other resources. webinar summary.

Of the plants mentioned, this website has some excellent Plant Profiles & Photos on: Spicebush,   Common Milkweed,   Cardinal Flower,   Silky Dogwood.  

The recording starts off with an introduction to the NPSNJ and then procedes to the presentation and followed by Q&A.  

Contact information:  ,

Designing Tidy Native Gardens

by David Hughes, Weatherwood Design LLC

originally aired on October 20, 2020

Many think of native plant gardens as wild and untended landscapes which can buck the social norms of a neighborhood with manicured lawns. Ecological garden design has techniques, that if used in a mindful way, can cross the bridge between habitat-based gardening with the more controlled urban landscape. This presentation will review new perspectives of native plant gardening and how they can be successfully incorporated into the traditional standards of the gardening community.  

David Hughes is a Registered Landscape Architect and owner of Weatherwood Design LLC that specializes in native plant-based garden design, ecology and natural habitat conservation. He has worked in the green industry for 30 years designing landscapes that focus on bringing back ecological functions to the site and its surrounding community. His designs improve the pathways in which water flows through a property with rainwater harvesting techniques like rain gardens, bioswales, ephemeral pools and natural ponds.  

This recording and the slides and images contained therein are copyrighted work of David Hughes. It is available to you only for your personal viewing and is not to be copied, distributed, or sold in any manner. Please be respectful that the webinar recording is the property of the owner.

It starts off with an introduction to the NPSNJ and then proceeds to the presentation.  

Webinar Recordings

In 2020 COVID-19 prevented us from meeting in person so we initiated a series of Webinars. We intend to continue with these and have a large library of videos, listed below. You can also follow our YouTube channel here.

2/21/2023Tom BiebighauserVernal Pool Construction and Restoration
1/17/2023Jared RosenbaumWild Plant Culture: Restoring Native Edible and Medicinal Plant Communities
12/6/2023Bob SpragueOrchids of the New Jersey Pine Barrens
11/4/2023Pedram DaneshgarMaritime Forests: New Jersey’s Most Threatened Ecosystem
(2023 Fall Conference)
11/4/2023Hubert LingRare & Uncommon Plants of the Piedmont
(2023 Fall Conference)
11/4/2023Noah CharneyReading Our Landscapes: The Highlands
(2023 Fall Conference)
11/4/2023Emile D. DeVitoFrom Canada to Carolina—700 Miles Crammed into One State!
New Jersey’s Rich Forest Biodiversity.

(2023 Fall Conference)
10/18/2023Garrett WhiteRestoration at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
09/20/2023Deb EllisSustaining Wildlife in Fall & Winter Gardens
09/19/2023Erin CordGardening For the Bats of New Jersey
05/17/2023Eve BeaurySeeding Ecosystems for the Future
04/19/2023Randi EckelWho’s In Your Garden? The Life And Times Of Insects And Others All Around Us
03/15/2023Uli LorimerNative Plants for Your Garden: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard
03/04/2023Carlos Martinez RamirezThe Fire Nation
(2023 Annual Meeting)
03/04/2023Sam DroegeWild Bees are Picky: How the 450 Native Bees in New Jersey Divide up the Plant World
(2023 Annual Meeting)
03/04/2023Becky LaboySoil – The Foundation of Life on Earth
(2023 Annual Meeting)
03/04/2023Kristi MacDonaldUrban Biodiversity: The New Jersey Meadowlands
(2023 Annual Meeting)
03/04/20232023 Annual Meeting Entire Proceedings
02/15/2023Steve KutosPartners for Life: Fungi & Plants
01/18/2023Elaine SilversteinNaturescaping Based on Nature
11/05/2022Teri SpeightDependable Beauty for the Urban Gardener
11/05/2022Sue BartonStrategies for Sustainable Landscaping
10/19/2022Sam HoadleyKnock Out Natives
09/22/2022Pandora YoungHome Landscapes for Our Changing Future
05/18/2022Mike Van ClefNative Plants and the Invasive Plants They Replace
04/27/2022Kate Brandes Native Plants for the Small Yard
03/05/2022Doug Tallamy The Nature of Oaks
03/05/2022 Jay KellyAddressing the Impacts of Overabundant Deer and Invasive Plant Species in Northern New Jersey: Strategies for Forest Restoration
03/05/2022Don Torino Creating a Certified Wildlife Garden
03/05/2022Rebecca McMackin Brooklyn Bridge Park Lessons (so far!) in Constructed Ecology
02/16/2022Joe AlvarezAn Introduction to Xeriscape Gardening
02/09/2022Steve Kutos Partners for Life: Fungi & Plants
01/18/2022Bobbie J. Herbs & Randi V. Wilfert Eckel Backyard Transformation in Just 3 years: Re-creating Nature
01/12/2022Becky Laboy Unique Plants and Wildflowers of Barrens and Bogs
12/07/2021Becky Laboy Meet and explore Jersey Friendly Yards. Learn how to attract and sustain natural habitat for bees, butterflies and birds!
11/23/2021Charlotte LorickMilkweed to Meadowlarks: How Private Land Stewards can Lead the Way in Biodiversity Conservation
11/09/2021Mary Anne Borge Plant Ecology: Why Are Plants Important?
11/06/2021James Boyer The Dawn of Ecosystems
11/06/2021Joan Maloof Recognizing and Protecting Ancient Forests
11/06/2021Nancy Slowik Basic Plant ID
10/19/2021Mary Reynolds We are the Ark – Acts of Restorative Kindness to the Earth
09/22/2021Tom Knezick & Fran ChismarBring on the Bugs! The Importance of Native Plants & How to get your Neighbors Onboard
08/12/2021Becky LaboyWildlife-Friendly Native Shrubs and Trees for Your Backyard
07/24/2021Becky LaboyDon’t Treat your Soil Like Dirt!
06/16/2021Rachel MackowNative Plants For Moths
05/17/2021Sara WebbThe Diverse Forests of New Jersey: Ecology, Threats, and Restoration
05/05/2021Mary Anne Borge Spreading the Word Beyond the Choir
04/21/2021Deb EllisBloodroot, Bluebells and Butterflies: Spring Beauties for Biodiversity
04/19/2021Lucia RuggerioRain Gardens: Can You Dig It?
03/30/2021Dennis HillerudNative Gardening for Beginners
03/15/2021Marilyn SobelPlants of the Pine Barrens
03/10/2021Elaine SilversteinSustainability in the Home Garden
03/06/2021Elaine SilversteinDesigning and Planting with Native Plants: Creating a Native Plant Garden
03/06/2021Leslie SauerNurturing Nature During Climate Change
02/15/2021Dan DuranWe Can’t See The Woods For The Trees: To Save Biodiversity We Must Change Our Views On Forest
01/27/2021Joe AlvarezWinter Botany 101
11/18/2020Carolyn SummersNative Plants for 21st Century Gardens: Ending Invasive Exotic Landscape Clutter
11/16/2020Joseph RussellUsing Plant Habitat Preferences To Your Advantage
10/21/2020David HughesDesigning Tidy Native Gardens
09/16/2020Mike Van Clef Deer-Resistant Native Plants for Your Garden