EcoLOGICAL Gardening Symposium

This symposium is designed to encourage ecologically-minded gardening and landscape practices.

Danae Wolfe

The Secret Role of Insects and Spiders in the Garden

From pollination to pest control, insects and spiders are essential to the balance of nature. But have you ever stopped to think about the role these creatures play in your garden? In this talk, we’ll explore the diverse roles that insects and spiders play in the garden ecosystem. You’ll learn about some of the different types of beneficial arthropods, their habits and behaviors, and how to attract and support them in your own backyard. This talk will change the way you think about insects and spiders and their role in the garden, and will offer practical tips for creating a healthy and thriving ecosystem for a variety of wildlife.

Photo of Danae Wolfe

Danae Wolfe

Conservation Writer and Photographer

Chasing Bugs

Danae Wolfe is a writer, photographer, and content creator focused on fostering appreciation and stewardship of backyard bugs. Through her website, social media, children’s books, public speaking, and column in The American Gardener magazine, she has reached global audiences with science-based education about the importance of gardening for wildlife. Her community conservation initiative, Chasing Bugs, reaches millions of people monthly through Facebook and Tiktok and has inspired people to adopt homegrown conservation practices in support of nature and wildlife.

John Manion

The Best of the Unknown Native Perennials

Most of us are familiar with the “meat and potatoes” native plant species we should already have…the Purple Cone Flowers, Cardinal Flowers and the Black-Eyed- Susans. But how about a treasure chest of less-than-common species that will not only add charisma to your plantings, but also broaden the smorgasbord for pollinators.

Photo of John Manion

John Manion

Education & Outreach Coordinator

Overhill Gardens

John Manion, though born in Georgia, spent his youth growing up in rural upstate NY where he was one of five children raised by his father, a forester – and his mother, an avid gardener. He has lived in many places in the U.S. and abroad, and after working in several careers (the longest as an emergency/trauma nurse) he realized his true passion was for plants. After earning an undergraduate degree in plant science at State University of New York at Cobleskill, he was awarded a fellowship to earn a master’s degree in Public Garden Leadership at Cornell University. John has interned and worked at several botanical gardens and arboreta, including the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. After working as Historic Gardens Curator at the Atlanta History Center for two years, John became the Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator at Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Alabama, where he spent 11 years developing and refining a seven-acre collection of native plants – the most comprehensive in the state. Since early 2022 John has been the Education/Outreach Coordinator at Overhill Gardens in Vonore, TN. He is passionate about sharing his love for, and extensive knowledge about – our native flora and all its related topics; his position at Overhill allows him to do all of this.

Andrea Ludwig

Working with Water in the Landscape with Rain Gardens and Wetland Ponds

Tennessee is a wet state, and with over 48 inches of annual rainfall can come some challenges on how to manage it in our landscapes. This presentation will provide ideas on how to work with water instead of against it and recommendations on plants that thrive in water affected areas. It will present practical guidance on how to plan, design, construct, and care for residential rain gardens and wetland ponds. These practices can be applied to solve drainage issues at the lot or community scale, and when adopted across a watershed, can act as a nature-based solution to prevent urban water quality degradation and protect our valuable water resources.

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Andrea Ludwig

Associate Professor of Ecological Engineering & Extension Specialist

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Dr. Andrea Ludwig is an Associate Professor of Ecological Engineering in the Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science Department at the University of Tennessee and has served as the Stormwater Management Specialist for UT Extension since 2010. She is the Program Director for Tennessee Smart Yards and co-leads Backyard STEM curriculum development for Tennessee 4H. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Bio & Ag Engineering and Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Arkansas, and a PhD in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech. She is a Past President of the American Ecological Engineering Society and serves on the Board of Directors for the Universities Council on Water Resources. She is an avid trail runner and mountain biker and a budding naturalist.

Sharon Jean-Philippe

Information coming soon.

Julieta Trevino Sherk

Residential Landscape Design for the 21st Century

Residential landscapes can provide important hidden values as we explore ways to adapt to a design expression that is ecologically sound and culturally sensitive. This talk will describe how we can balance landscape design needs like beauty, and comfort with those of the natural and cultural systems in the development of our residential garden designs.

Photo of Julieta T. Sherk

Julieta Trevino Sherk, PLA, ASLA


NC State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,

Department of Horticultural Science

Landscape Architect and Professor Julieta Sherk teaches landscape design in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State, in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, and is an associate faculty in the department of Landscape Architecture in the College of Design.

She has executed a variety of service-learning projects with her students in communities across her state and around the world.

Julieta is dedicated to working with her students to create natural and stimulating places that improve the health and well-being of the community and the environment simultaneously. Along with her students, she is particularly interested in tackling challenging sites and evaluating the results of her efforts. She also focuses on the use of art forms and the use of plants as design elements and believes in the critical role they play in health and enhancing the human/nature experience. To this end, she is interested in opportunities to protect and enhance natural, social/cultural resources while incorporating living infrastructure such as bioretention gardens, pollinator, edible and ornamental landscapes that provide multiple benefits to vulnerable people’s daily lives and to the voiceless; plants, soil, and water. She has executed 36 service-learning projects with her students across communities in NC, and internationally. She publishes in peer-refereed journals and delivers presentations locally and globally.

Landscape Architect and Professor Julieta Sherk fosters critical thinking,enhances problem solving for her students by infusing service learning,and uses evidence-based approaches in her teaching.  She teaches seven different classes in landscape design, landscape architecture and conducts research with her graduate students.