2019 Native Plant Symposium

Saturday, May 18  |  Chestnut Lodge |  8:30 am – 3:00 pm  | SOLD OUT!

Every spring, gardeners, landscape designers, horticulturalists and plant lovers gather at the Southern Highlands Reserve to learn about gardening with plants that are native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The annual Native Plant Symposium is the Reserve’s principal educational event for the year, featuring nationally-recognized native plant and design experts who support our mission to educate others on the importance of native plant conservation and preservation.

We will begin the day with a continental breakfast and spend the morning learning from experts in landscape architecture about their best practices to create and improve resiliency in the landscape.

Following our catered luncheon, guests will enjoy a tour of SHR’s gardens guided by Founders Betty and Robert Balentine and SHR staff.

Registration is $125 and includes continental breakfast, educational sessions, luncheon and tour. Please mark your calendars and register early as space is limited.

Ecological Design: Fostering Resiliency in the Landscape

This year’s symposium will feature topics related to environmental design to promote sustainability. Joining us to discuss ecological design in the landscape are Thomas Woltz, FASLA, CLARB and principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects presenting Designing Hope for a Resilient Future as well as Alfred Vick, the Georgia Power Professor in Environmental Ethics at the University of Georgia presenting Nature Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Biophilic Design for Health and Well-Being

Designing Hope for a Resilient Future  

At this crucial moment, the adaptive efficiency of the ecologies we design, build, and steward is essential to a resilient future. Scientific research helps us understand soils, hydrology, and plant diversity as critical elements to be calibrated to respond to climatic extremes. Cross-parallel to this ecological work, we seek a deeper understanding of the cultural systems that have shaped the landscape over centuries, from the First Nations people, to colonial European settlement, the industrial revolution, and industrial agricultural. The traces of the cultural landscape are fragile and easily lost but can be re-discovered and articulated through the contemporary design process, encouraging stewardship and informing maintenance practices as a basis for a resilient future.

In his lecture, Thomas Woltz, owner of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, will review how deep research into ecological and cultural landscapes shapes the design of every NBW landscape project from private farms to public parks and botanic gardens. Woltz will review a small urban pollinator garden in Brooklyn, New York, a wilderness preserve in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a working sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand.

Nature Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Biophilic Design for Health and Well-Being

In recent decades, an increasing disconnect between humans and nature has had detrimental effects on physical, mental and social health and well-being. As our society becomes ever more urban, it is critical to find or create opportunities to reconnect people with nature in diverse ways. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans have an innate need for contact with nature, and biophilic design builds on this concept to intentionally provide opportunities for this contact to happen.

In this talk, Alfie will present the basic principles of biophilic design, and provide evidence from several projects that biophilic design has a positive impact on human health and well-being.


Speaker Biographies


Thomas Woltz, landscape architect, design, native plantsThomas Woltz FASLA, CLARB, has forged a body of work over the past two decades of practice that integrates the beauty and function of built forms with an understanding of complex biological systems and restoration ecology. As principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), he has infused narratives of the land into the places where people live, work, and play, deepening the public’s enjoyment of the natural world and inspiring environmental stewardship. NBW creates models of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture within areas of damaged ecological infrastructure and working farmland, yielding thousands of acres of reconstructed wetlands, reforested land, native meadows, and flourishing wildlife habitat. Woltz was educated at the University of Virginia and holds master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Architecture. He was named Design Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal in 2013 and one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company in 2017. Woltz currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Cultural Landscape Foundation and the University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation.


landscape architecture, design, gardening, sustainability

Alfred Vick is the Georgia Power Professor in Environmental Ethics at the University of Georgia. He is a licensed landscape architect and a LEED Fellow. His work focuses on preserving and enhancing the functioning of natural systems while effectively and attractively integrating human use. At the University of Georgia’s College of Environment & Design he teaches landscape ecology and sustainable design and collaborates with other researchers in the Sustainability and Landscape Performance Lab. His academic research focuses on green infrastructure and sustainable site design, native plant communities, and American Indian ethnobotany. He has published and presented extensively on these topics. He earned a BS in Engineering Psychology from the University of Illinois and aMaster of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Georgia.He continues to practice and his work has included several LEED-certified buildings, including the LEED Platinum headquarters of the Southface Energy Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. Alfred is past-Chair of the Sustainable Sites Technical Advisory Group for the US Green Building Council, Founding Chair of the Athens Branch of the US Green Building Council and served on the Board of Directors of the Athens Land Trust for ten years.



May 18, 2019 8:30 AM - May 18, 2019 3:00 PM
Southern Highlands Reserve
558 Summit Ridge Road
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina United States
Anna Norton
Southern Highlands Reserve