The first Annual Native Plant Summit, led by the Colorado Native Plant Society and the Colorado Springs Horticulture Department, took place in Colorado Springs on Saturday, August 20 at the the city’s Horticulture Headquarters. It was a both a sold-out event and a day to be remembered! Alex Crochet, the City Horticulturist, gave a keynote address covering a wide range of native plant topics including new propagation methods, future plans for demonstration gardens, city plantings, and open space restoration. The morning session was followed by a tour of our new office and bookstore in Colorado Springs. During an informal lunch there, our Executive Director, Maggie Gaddis, spoke about the importance of cooperation between partnering organizations. The new office and the Summit were perfect examples of the progress cooperation can achieve.

Executive Director Maggie Gaddis introduces Alex Crochet, the Colorado Springs city’s  Horticulturist
who gave  the keynote address to a sold-out crowd at the Native Plant Summit.

People from six counties attended the
Native Plant Summit!  Photo: SPD

The idea for the Summit was born out of a mutual drive shared by Maggie and Alex, who were both starting their new jobs at the same time and were deeply committed to bringing awareness and appreciation of native plants to the widest audience possible, and importanly, to making sure that when they are ready to put plants in the ground, plants will be available.

The Summit, which was sponsored by sixteen organizations, drew an enthusiastic crowd drawn from Arapahoe, Boulder, Costilla, Douglas, Jefferson, and Pueblo counties.

 

Remarks by City Horticulturalist
In his address, Alex explained his efforts to engage with rangers; open space staff; highway and bike-path planners; and volunteer groups of many stripes to bring them the message:

“We don’t need to bring in plants from from Asia and the Steppes!”

Alex, who is also a member of the InterTribal Council, went on to outline plans to make Colorado’s beautiful native plants more recognizable, and more well-known, to the general public, and to make certain that appropriate native plant material was more widely available – an effort the Colorado Native Plant Society has contributed to in substanial ways, with seeds, plants, and shared knowledge.

One way Alex got the attention of city officials focused on native plants was by installing a beautiful native garden right in front of the Mayor’s office. The subsequent requests by others for a similar installation was excellent proof that demonstration gardens are worthy efforts.

Innovative new molds created by Alex Crochet to promote successful native plant propagation.
Photo: SPD

Touring the Greenhouses

Attendees enjoyed a info-packed tour of the greenhouses, learning of ways Alex has found to increase space for native propagation while still meeting the numerous requirements, such as poinsettias for Christmas, generated from the city. He explained that his idea for a new  growing medium came from his observation that natives grown in regular pots, usually with high peat content, had a rough time transitioning to life in the wild. 

He developed a mixture of local stone and clay, the materials our natives are accustomed to, that would hold together but allow the free flow of water that our natives also crave. Now he uses these to start seeds in as well. When plants are ready to set out, they can just be placed, with no move from the pot they have been grown in to their new location, a method that has proved highly successful.

New Office and Bookstore
The Summit moved next to the new Colorado Native Plant Society office and bookstore. This space, provided by the city, was obtained through the efforts of Dr. Gaddis, who is providing horticultural assistance; she and our new Membership and Communications Coordinator, Anne Beard, had been busy setting up the new space. We have a physical bookstore for the first time, and we sold almost $600 worth of books that day! 

 Anne Beard makes the first sale in our new bookstore to a delighted Josephine Richardson of Colorado Springs. Photo by Maggie Gaddis

A convivial lunch, provided by the event’s sponsors, was enjoyed by all. Dr. Gaddis took this opportunity to thank the sponsors and emphasize how important partnerships are to growing our Society’s impact and relevance – our effort promote to the public, and to governmental organizations, an awareness of the importance of native plants to the varied ecosystems of Colorado, and their vitality to the quality of our shared future. Maggie’s final declaration was:

“We’re here to tell the world we will help them with this!”

Sue Dingwell
Media Committee
Colorado Native Plant Society