NPILC 2018 – Speaker Notes and Handout

2018-06-23: Updated with more links.

Following is the outline, speaker notes, and references of my talk at this year’s Native Plants in the Landscape Conference. This was to have been published as a speaker handout for attendees, but it never made it to the conference Web site. So I’m publishing it here.

This isn’t intended to stand alone. This post has many links to my blog posts and photos for further reading and viewing. And the presentation itself is available on Slideshare.

About Me

My New York City Gardens

1981-1992: East Village, Manhattan
Lesson: Buildings -> Shade
1992-2002: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Lesson: Concrete -> Containers
2002-2005: Park Slope
Lesson: Weeds and Invasives
2005 to Present: Flatbush, Brooklyn
Lessons: all of the above

Genius Loci

Geography is Destiny

Long Island

PLACE: Long Island Geography > NYC Eco-Regions > Flatbush


NASA Landsat satellite global mosaic image of Long Island, New York


Long Island

Wisconsin Glaciation: ~21K years ago

Bennington, J Bret, 2003. New observations on the glacial geomorphology of Long Island from a digital elevation model (DEM). Long Island Geologists Conference, Stony Brook, New York, April 2003.

Rpm: Roanoke Point Moraine – North Fork
Rm: Ronkonkoma Moraine – South Fork
HHm: Harbor Hill Moraine – North Shore, into Brooklyn and Staten Island
Kd: Kame Deltas

Central Brooklyn

The Wooded Plain

“Flatbush”: Anglicization of old Dutch:
• “vlachtebos” (vlacke bos, vladbos, flakkebos)
Land use History:
• Home of Lenape and Canarsie.
• Dutch “settled” in early 1600s
• Primarily used for agriculture: woodland -> pasture, meadow
• Railways provided access from “the city” (Brooklyn) through “the country” (Flatbush) to beach resorts, e.g.: Coney Island
• 1870s: Prospect Park
• 1880s: Brooklyn Bridge
• One of five townships consolidated into the City of Brooklyn (Kings County) in 1890s.
• Last farms converted to residential in 1890s, early 1900s: pasture/meadow -> savannah
• Excursion railways converted to commuter lines

Ground Truth (My Neighborhood)

My garden is located roughly ½ mile south of Prospect Lake.
Landscape vernacular:
• Mow&Blow
• Green Death

Ecological Regions (EcoRegions)

In these maps, dashed lines are state boundaries.
Bailey (Roman numerals for Levels) v. Omernik/EPA (3-digit #s + letters)
Bailey: Levels I, II, and III

Level I:
8.0 Eastern Temperate Forests
5.0 Northern Forests

Level II:
8.5 Mississippi Alluvial and Southeast USA Coastal Plains
8.3 Southeastern USA Plains
8.1 Mixed Wood Plains

Level III:
8.1.7/59: Northeastern Coastal Zone
8.5.4/84: Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens
8.3.1/64: Northern Piedmont

Level IV (Omernik)

My Garden

Garden Where You Are
Front yard
2011 Garden Tours:
• NYC Wildflower Week
• Victorian Flatbush House (& Garden!) Tour

Garden #4

2009: Certificate in Horticulture, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
2011: National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat #141,173
2012: Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat
2017: NABA Butterfly Garden #2348 and Monarch Garden

My Backyard Native Plant Garden

The Front Yard

I replaced most of the remaining front lawn in 2014.


If you plant it, they will come


Native Plants
Species Acquisitions – “Plant More”
Can you tell from this chart the first year I attended NPILC?!

Insects in my Garden

Cumulative count of my observations of insects in my garden

Common Name
# Species
Butterflies, Moths, and Skippers

Excludes many other arthropod groups, including other insect families not listed here, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, etc.
1st BugGuide post: 2007! Neotibicen canicularis, dog-day/annual cicada
Joined iNaturalist in 2013, but posted my first observation in 2017

Allium triccocum, ramps

Aquilegia canadensis, red columbine


Aristolochia tomentosa, pipevine, Battus philenor, pipevine swallowtail

Coccinella novemnotata, C9

Glossary: Extirpated

Coleomegilla usurps Coccinella as New York State Insect, 2006-06-23
Coccinella novemnotata, nine-spotted lady beetle, aka “C9”, 2016-06-24

1970: Coccinella novemnotata (C9) is the most common lady beetle species in the northeastern U.S.
1980: Nominated as New York state insect.
1980s: Begins rapidly declining. Speculation as to causes includes competition with introduced species, but no definitive answers have yet been found.
1982: Last seen in New York state.
1989: Designated NY State Insect, despite being apparently absent for 7 years.
1992: Last seen in the eastern U.S.
2000: The Lost Ladybug Project initiated as a citizen science project.
2006-06-15: Bill 2005-A06247 passes the NY State Assembly to change the state insect from Coccinella novemnotata, extirpated from NY State, to Coleomegilla maculata.
October 2006: C9 re-discovered in Virginia, first time it’s seen on the East Coast since 1992, 14 years.
2011-07-30: C9 rediscovered on Long Island, first time seen in New York since 1982, 29 years.
2016: Lost Ladybug Project launches program to re-introduce captively bred C9

Gardening for Insects

Stop using pesticides in the garden. Not just insecticides, but herbicides, fungicides, etc.
Grow more native plants, and more varieties of them. Many insects feed on plants in their larval stages, e.g.: caterpillars, and can’t feed effectively on plants with which they haven’t co-evolved.
A variety of native plant species also provides more flowers to provide nectar and pollen for adult insects. Choose plants that have clusters of small flowers, which will attract a larger diversity of insects than big, blowsy flowers.
Leave piles of leaf litter, old logs and branches, standing dead stems of plants. These provide shelter for eggs, pupae, and adults.

Colletes thoracicus, cellophane bee

Dioprosopa clavata, four-speckled hoverfly

Glossary: Adventive

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

• Native
• Hybrid
• Selection
• Cultivar
• Patent

Plant Patent (PP) #15,560
Sandrine Delabroye
“The inventor discovered the new cultivar, ‘Caramel’ as a chance seedling in a cultivated nursery bed in Hantay, France, CT in 2003. Although the parentage is unknown, the characteristics of the new cultivar and the proximity of plants of Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ (not patented) suggests that ‘Autumn Pride’ is a probable parent.”

Impatiens capensis, orange jewelweed

Volunteers and urban habitats – the “moist meadow”

Oxalis stricta, yellow wood-sorrel

What’s a “weed”?
Other native weeds:
• Acalypha virginica, Virginia Copperleaf, Virginia Threeseed Mercury
• Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot
• Amaranthus retroflexus, Redroot Pigweed (Amaranth)
• Conyza canadensis (Erigeron canadensis), Horseweed
• Erechtites hieraciifolius, American burnweed
• Juncus tenuis, Slender Rush, Path Rush, Poverty Rush
• Lepidium virginicum, Virginia pepperweed, peppergrass
• Lobelia inflata, Indian tobacco, puke weed
• Oxalis stricta, Upright Yellow Wood-Sorrel, Common Yellow Oxalis
• Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed
• Plantago rugelii, blackseed plantain
• Solanum ptycanthum, Eastern Black Nightshade
• Viola sororia, Common Blue Violet

Pycnanthemum muticum, mountain-mint

Pollinator magnet

Sphecius speciosus, cicada killer

Viburnum dentatum, arrowwood, Pyrrhalta viburni, Viburnum leaf beetle

Yucca filamentosa, Adam’s needle, Carpophilus melanopterus, Yucca beetle

Why Bother?

Living (and Gardening) in the Anthropocene

Population Urbanization
Habitat Loss
Globalization -> Invasive Species, Emergent Diseases
Injustice and Inequity: Environmental, Economic, Social

Climate Change

2018 = 60th anniversary of the Keeling curve
CO2 has increased by 32% IN MY LIFETIME
65 people died in New York state, 44 of them in New York City, 8 in Brooklyn, as a result of Sandy.

The Sixth Extinction

Extinction Symbol
Lost Species Day of Remembrance: November 30th
Extinct Plant Species of Northern North America

Defiance and Resistance

Related Content

Coleomegilla usurps Coccinella as New York State Insect, 2006-06-23
Coccinella novemnotata, nine-spotted lady beetle, aka “C9”, 2016-06-24

1st BugGuide post: 2007! Neotibicen canicularis, dog-day/annual cicada
Joined iNaturalist in 2013, but posted my first observation in 2017

Flickr: Insects in my Garden


NPILC 2018 – Books

I spoke this year at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The organizers asked speakers for a list of books we recommend.

Just a few of the books for sale at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference 2018

This is my list, grouped roughly by category.


Brian Capon, Botany for Gardeners, 3rd Edition
2010, Timber Press
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-604690-95-8

Steven B. Carroll and Steve D. Salt, Ecology for Gardeners
2004, Timber Press
Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-611-8
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-604694-45-1

James B. Nardi, Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners
2007, The University of Chicago Press
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-22656853-9

See also: Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home


Lauren Brown, Grasses: An Identification Guide
1979, Houghton Mifflin Company
Paperback, ISBN 0-395-62881-4
C. Colston Burrell, Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants
2006, Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-889538-74-7

William Cullina, Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada
2000, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-39596609-9

Eric Lee-Mäder, Jarrod Fowler, Jillian Vento, Jennifer Hopwood, 100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
2016, The Xerces Society/Storey Publishing Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-61212-701-9

Lawrence Newcomb, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide: The classic field guide for quick identification of wildflowers, flowering shrubs, and vines
1977, Little, Brown and CompanyPaperback, ISBN-13 978-0-316-60442-0
Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso, Weeds of the Northeast
1997, Cornell University Press
Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-8014-3391-6
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-8014-8334-9


Eric Grissell, Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens
2010, Timber Press
Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-988-1

Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants
2014, Pollination Press
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-9913563-0-0

Eric Mader, Matthew Shepherd, Mace Vaughan, Scott Black, and Gretchen LeBuhn, Attracting Native Pollinators
2011, The Xerces Society
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-60342695-4

Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson, and Sheila R. Colla, Bumblebees of North America: An Identification Guide
2014, Princeton University Press
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-0-69115222-6

The Xerces Society, Gardening for Butterflies
2016, The Xerces Society
Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-60469598-4


Rick Darke & Doug Tallamy, The Living Landscape: Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden
2014, Timber Press
Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-60469-408-6
Kenneth I. Helphand, Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime 2006, Trinity University PressHardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-59534-021-4 Paperback, ISBN-13 978-1-59534-045-0  
Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, Planting in a Post-Wild World Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes
2015, Timber Press Hardcover, ISBN-13 978-1-60649-553-3

Douglas W. Tallamy & Rick Darke, Bringing Nature Home: How native plants sustain wildlife in our gardens
Timber Press
Hardcover, 2007, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-854-9

Paperback, 2009, ISBN-13 978-0-88192-992-1

Related Content


Event, March 24: GreenThumb Conference

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 24, GreenThumb will hold its 23rd Annual GrowTogether Conference at Hostos Community College in the Bronx:

The theme this year is “Farming the Future.” …

The day will be jam-packed with over 45 workshops, many new this year, more hands on training and loads of opportunities to network and rub shoulders with all the greening groups represented in the tabling foyer. Offering lots of kids and teen programming, this conference promises to be fun for the whole family, and is an excellent educational resource for the city’s many teachers.

Participants are encouraged to sign up before the conference. Please fill out the form and mail the $3.00 registration fee to pre-register. Check-in will begin at 9:00am and a free continental breakfast is provided from 9:00 to 9:45am. All pre-registered participants will receive a lunch box and a t-shirt! Participants may also register on the day of the conference, but we will not guarantee a lunch box, and t-shirts will be $5.00 each.

Via Wendy Brawer at WorldChanging New York.