Native Plant School

Native Plant School

Upcoming Sessions

Register Now

 Native Plant School is a year-round series of mostly outdoor learning sessions in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve. They will cover various aspects of native home landscaping and prairie/savanna/wetland re-establishment. Please bring your questions, comments, photos, drawings, plant specimens, etc. for these three-hour discussion sessions. Scott Woodbury and guest experts will lead the discussions, hands-on tours and demonstrations. Participation from the audience is encouraged.

Class Information

Registration: Registration is required. Please register and pay online. If you are unable to register online, call Rachel at Shaw Nature Reserve at (314) 577-9526.

  • Registration starts February 1 for classes in March through August.
  • Registration starts August 1 for classes in September through February.

Time: All classes are Thursdays from 1–4 p.m.

Location: All classes will begin in the classroom behind the Joseph H. Bascom House, except for plant propagation which will gather in the Greenhouse.

Fees: $17 for non-members; $14 for members.

Continuing Education Credits: CEU’s available on request (three per course).


Upcoming Sessions

registration starts February 1, 2018
March 8, 2018
NEW Pruning Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines  
James Faupel
Thinking about pruning this winter? Come learn the art of pruning. Learn how to remove large branches safely, prune dead and damaged wood and crossed branches. Also learn how to thin densely-branched trees and rejuvenate shrubs. Learn when to prune, how much to prune and explore strategies to keep plants short and dense or tall and graceful. Mostly outdoor/dress for the weather.
April 12, 2018
Native Wild Edible Plants  
Jen Sieradzki
Did you know that many native plants are edible and delicious too? Together, class members and Whitmire Wildflower Garden horticulturists will identify some common native edible plants, view them in a garden setting, discuss different ways to utilize them in recipes, and sample them too! This will be a fun and interactive class for gardeners and cooks alike. Indoor/outdoor. 
May 11–12, 2018
Shaw Wildflower Market
May 7, 2018
NEW Gardening Under a Black Walnut Grove 
Scott Woodbury
Eighteen years ago we planted two fringetrees in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden. One ten feet from the base of a mature black walnut tree, the other beneath a chinquapin oak. The one beneath the oak is approaching 15 feet in height and spread whereas the one under the walnut is five feet tall and wide. Both have attractive branch structure and flower well. This dwarfing affect looks pleasing on single or multi-stemmed trees but it can make certain shrubs look scrawny. This class will show you what native plants grow well or poorly under black walnuts. Indoor/outdoor.
June 14, 2018
The Art of Combining Native Perennials 
Scott Woodbury
Success with native perennials in the garden comes with choosing the right plant for the right location. It also depends on how you creatively combine them to best emphasize color, texture, form and size. These are the visual elements, the tricks of the trade, that make gardens attractive to people. Indoor/outdoor.
July 12, 2018
Flower Arranging with Native Plants 
Terri Brandt
Bring a small to medium vase and something to carry it in (box) to class and bring it home full of beautiful native flowers. Learn how expert flower arranger, Terri Brandt, (added comma) creates beautiful floral arrangements using a wide-array of plant materials and flowers. Indoor: greenhouse area.  
August 9, 2018
Pondscaping with Native Plants 
Jen Sieradzki
Permanent water features like ponds and water gardens attract more wildlife than any feature in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden. They are home to wetland birds, dragonflies, frogs, salamanders, turtles, and the predators that eat them, including snakes and hawks. Ponds and water gardens with permanent water have special needs and plants. Come learn which plants grow in water and which grow just beyond the water edge. Also learn how to manage for problems associated with duckweed, algae, invasive species, pond leaks and erosion. 
Registration starts August 1, 2018
September 13, 2018
Rainscaping Practices
Scott Woodbury
Rain gardens function like miniature natural watersheds. They slow down, capture and absorb water using elements similar to those in nature: plants, rocks, shallow swales and depressions that hold water temporarily rather than let it quickly run away. They provide beauty, natural diversity and wildlife habitat in areas that otherwise would be a monoculture of lawns, pavement, concrete culverts and storm drains. This class will show you how to plan, install and maintain rain gardens and will touch on other rainscaping practices like lawn alternatives, permeable pavers, rain barrels, trees, mulch and green rooftops. 

September 7, 2018
Shaw Wildflower Market
October 19-20, 2018
Fine Gardening Symposium
15 local experts and Shaw Nature Reserve Staff 
Friday includes light food and beverages in the garden followed by welcome and introduction by Dr. Quinn Long and keynote by Scott Woodbury. Saturday includes keynote and breakout sessions held throughout the garden. Lunch is included. 
November 8, 2018
Success with Native Landscaping 
Scott Woodbury
In need of the tools necessary to transform your yard into a beautiful and functioning landscape that enhances life for you and wildlife and fits into the neighborhood! This class will go into basic design styles, planning methods and plant selection that maximizes wildlife potential while also fitting in with the neighborhood. Come learn how to select, arrange, install and maintain native plants for optimal owner, neighbor and wildlife satisfaction.
No December class. 
January 10, 2019 
Invasive Plant ID and Control 

James Faupel 
nvasive plants like bush honeysuckle, burning bush and wintercreeper are a threat to native ecosystems and landscapes because they compete with native plants for light, nutrients and moisture. Many natural and landscaped areas are severely infested with invasive plant species due to decades of neglect. Control methods described in this class are designed for both homeowners and large landowners who are having problems with invasive plants.
February 14, 2019
Greenhouse Propagation of Native Plants
Terri Brandt
Growing native perennials, grasses, trees and shrubs from seed isn’t a mystery. This class will introduce the basic propagation methods that involve stratification, scarification, timing, soils, containers, fertilization and basic insect management. Class will be held in the Shaw Nature Reserve Greenhouse area. Check in at Visitor Center for directions.