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Upcoming lectures provide gardeners with expert advice

About 1,200 restored acres at Shaker Village have become a "big butterfly magnet," says manager Don Pelly.
About 1,200 restored acres at Shaker Village have become a "big butterfly magnet," says manager Don Pelly.

Dig in and delve a little deeper into the world of gardening this fall by exploring ideas and networking with knowledgeable professionals ready to share their expertise.

Upcoming lectures and workshops feature topics that range from choosing and pruning perennials for sustainability, to landscape conservation, native plant restoration, and urban forest enhancement.

Links to websites listed below can lead you to background information about the sponsoring groups and their ongoing programs and projects as well.

Here are three of the upcoming events:

Urban Forest Initiative Seminar Series. Doug Tallamy: Creating Living Landscapes, 7 p.m. Sept. 30.

Fayette County Cooperative Extension Service, 1140 Red Mile Place. Free.

The Urban Forest Initiative, co-directed by University of Kentucky Forestry Department faculty members Mary Arthur and Lynne Rieske-Kinney, is a collaborative venture which includes leaders from various university disciplines, local and state governments, nature preserves, the Arboretum, private sector tree experts and other groups.

Rieske-Kinney says the intent behind the series is heightening the stature and awareness of our urban forest canopy, its importance to the quality of life to urban residents, and its health and care.

"We have a lineup of speakers that address topics that range from manipulating urban landscapes to enhance pollinator populations to the social benefits of urban landscapes, designed to appeal to the engaged public as well as to academics. Hopefully the seminar series as a whole will reflect a variety of perspectives, fill a void in linking popular interests to academic interests, and appeal to many."

University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy, from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, will kick off the series with a talk called Creating Living Landscapes. Tallamy, whose books include Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, will address the need for restoring urban habitat.

"Pollinator populations in particular are imperiled by habitat loss and urban extremes," says Rieske-Kinney, so Tallamy's expertise on insect ecology and biodiversity conservation can be of use to a broad-based general audience.

For more information, visit: Urban Forest Initiative: Ukntrees.ca.uky.edu; UFI Adopt-a-Tree program: Facebook.com, search Adopt a Tree Lexington; Doug Tallamy: Bringingnaturehome.net.

Kentucky Botanical Symposium. Conservation, Restoration and Landscape in the Bluegrass, Oct. 9 and 10. E.S. Good Barn and the Arboretum on the University of Kentucky campus; field trips in Fayette County. $25 covers both days. Registration and detailed schedule at Knps.org

The Kentucky Native Plant Society's 2014 symposium at Bernheim Forest south of Louisville was such a success that they are partnering with Lexington area groups this year. Speakers will fill the day on Oct. 9 and 10 with field demonstrations and trips to Fayette County research and habitat restoration sites. Updates about native plant conservation, grassland, savannah and fescue research, stream and wetland restoration programs, rare species surveys and forest management in the Bluegrass will be discussed.

Keynote speaker Jennifer Ceska, who coordinates the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, will address the need for networking as a powerful conservation tool. One of the presenters will be Don Pelly, who for six years has managed the conversion of pastures into native grass and wildflower habitat at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Mercer County. Of the village's 3,000 acres, Pelly calls the restored 1,200 a big "butterfly magnet." Ongoing research and conservation programs, including bird counts and banding, monarch tagging, and bobwhite and deer counts are carried out in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Resources Conservation Service.

"Innovation and sharing of knowledge were Shaker traits," says Pelly, who continues the tradition by encouraging and helping neighboring farmers, state parks, and interested land owners to learn conversion skills as well as apply for cost-sharing grants to establish their own native prairie grasslands.

For more information, visit: Kentucky Native Plant Society Knps.org; Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill Shakervillageky.org or State Botanical Garden of Georgia Botgarden.uga.edu/conserve.php.

Friends of The Arboretum/Fayette County Extension Master Gardeners Lecture. Tracy DiSabato-Aust speaks on Insider Secrets: Keeping Your Garden Beautiful All Year Long, 9 a.m., Oct. 24; lecture starts at 10 a.m. Calvary Baptist Church, 150 East High Street.

Cost: $10 for Extension Master Gardeners/Arboretum Friends $15 for the public; $5 students with IDs.

The perennial question: to prune or not to prune? DiSabato-Aust, whose first book, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden is being expanded into a third edition, is well-prepared with many ideas and answers.

A frequent guest on national garden television and radio gardening shows, DiSabato-Aust has spoken at England's Royal Botanic Garden-Kew, The Smithsonian Institution, and The Perennial Plant Association. She contributes to Fine Gardening and The New York Times, among others.

She is now working on a community mixed garden design of 2 acres with walking and bike paths at the Edwards Community near Columbus, Ohio, which will include more than 28,000 plants.

DiSabato-Aust's experimentation with more than 400 perennials provided her with a first-hand understanding of how they will respond to pruning.

For instance, popular red Bee balm, or Monarda didyma, can be pruned back heavily, but Lady's mantle, or Alchemilla mollis, which has a woody base, does not survive well when cut way back. DiSabato-Aust demonstrates how to prune to delay bloom time for a special event, or for shaping flowering height.

Leaving seed-heads on certain plants to provide food and habitat for wildlife is also an option. Should you deadhead your hosta scapes, or leave them to mature for junkos to enjoy the seeds?

For more information, visit: The Arboretum Arboretum.ca.uky.edu; Fayette County Master Gardeners Ces.ca.uky.edu/Fayette; Tracy DiSabato Aust Tracylive.com

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