Annual Gardening Symposium | LSU Hilltop Arboretum

Revolution Natives! 

Ecological Restoration Meets Traditional Garden Design

Sponsored by the Arlene Kestner Educational Fund

Saturday, January 27, 2024, 8:30am—1pm
EBRP Main Branch Library Conference Room

7711 Goodwood Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806
(Views of Independence Park Botanic Garden and Free Parking)

Featured Speakers:

Larry Weaner, Dr. Malcolm Vidrine, Dr. Charles Allen, 
and Swamp Fly Native Landscapes

Hospitality, Books Sales, and Vendor Booths
Open throughout the Event

Registration Fee

$70 Friends of Hilltop Members
$80 Non-Members
$35 Students

*CEU’s available for Master Gardeners and Landscape Architects


What does it mean to live in a liberated landscape? Do you dream of ditching the weeding, fertilizing, and watering? Have you ever wondered how to make the shift from traditional garden design to ecological landscape design? During this symposium, we will explore what it means to have a successful garden- one that is rewarding, stimulating, and environmentally friendly- and how the incorporation of natives into the designed landscape can change the way you think about what a garden should do and be.

Keynote speaker, Larry Weaner, will share his insights on “Ecology Based Design with An Artistic Overlay,” expanding on his book, Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change. Larry will present a series of landscape case studies that draw jointly from the fields of ecological restoration and fine garden design. He will illustrate how gardens that incorporate ecological processes and wild plant characteristics like succession, disturbance, self-proliferation, and conservatism can also be visually appealing to individuals with a wide variety of garden style preferences.  

Dr. Malcolm Vidrine will share his experiences of “Rewilding Acadiana’s Cajun Prairie Ecosystem” and explore what it means to act in a manner that curbs foreseeable impacts of global climate change while living in Louisiana.

Dr. Charles Allen will educate us on “Selecting Native Plants to Rewild Your Property,” and provide notes on characteristics and hints on succeeding.  

Caitlin and Ashlee of Swamp Fly Landscapes will inspire us with their work as creators of residential landscapes that bring ecological wonder and sensorial beauty while providing nourishment and connectivity to the non-human world.


Larry Weaner


Larry Weaner, FAPLD received his Associates degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Pennsylvania College of Technology.  He founded Larry Weaner Landscape Associates in 1982, a firm with a national reputation for its work combining environmental science and the traditions of garden design. His projects have spanned more than 20 states and the U.K., been featured in regional and national publications (including The New York Times) and included in garden tours sponsored by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, The American Horticulture Society, and The Garden Conservancy. In 2008 one of his residential projects received the top three annual awards from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and a Landscape Design Honor award from the Perennial Plant Association.

Photo Credit: Kim Sokoloff

Larry is active as a guest lecturer and instructor for numerous horticultural and environmental organizations throughout the United States, including the New York Botanical Garden, the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Texas. He also speaks regularly to chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He has written for various professional publications, both regional and national.  

Larry developed New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) in 1990, a national conference series dedicated to the study of natural landscape creation and restoration. Event co-sponsors have included the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the Connecticut College Arboretum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Atlanta Botanic Garden, Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts, the Brandywine Conservancy in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Morton Arboretum in Chicago, Illinois. NDAL’s influential programs have developed a dedicated following within the professional landscape design and management community. 

Larry is Emeritus Board of Directors Member and Environmental Chair of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.  His book Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change (Timber Press, 2016) received an American Horticultural Society Book Award in 2017, and in 2021 he received American Horticultural Society’s Landscape Design Award and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Award of Distinction. He also composes music.

Malcolm Vidrine headshotMalcolm F. Vidrine Ph.D. joined the LSU Eunice faculty in 1984 and has taught there for 39 years. As a Professor Emeritus of Biology, he continues to teach and conduct research on a variety of themes. He was named the Louisianian of the Year for Conservation in 2022 by the Louisiana Life Magazine, awarded the James William Rivers Prize for Louisiana Studies for 2022 by the Center for Louisiana Studies, and named the Caroline Dormon Award winner as Outstanding Louisiana Naturalist of the year 2023 by the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association. He has published 118 articles and 20 books on prairies, mussels, and mites. He and his wife, Gail, landscaped their yard, ‘Cajun Prairie Gardens’ –a 2-acre restored Cajun Prairie. His work is available at and


Dr. Charles Allen leaning against a treeDr. Charles Allen is a retired professor of Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and as a Senior Research Associate at Fort Polk, La thru Colorado State University’s Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands.  He and wife Susan own and operate Allen Acres B and B where he teaches plant id classes including grasses/sedges and rushes, edibles, etc.  He has published Grasses of Louisiana, Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Louisiana, Louisiana Wildflower Guide, Edible Plants of the Gulf South, and Butterfly/Moth Gardening. He is a past president of the Louisiana Native Plant Society and has been a member of Native Plant Society of Texas since 1999.  He has presented to the annual meeting for both native plant organizations on several occasions.  

Ashlee Brackeen standing in gardenAshlee Brackeen, co-owner of Swamp Fly Native Landscapes, is a native landscape professional committed to preserving Louisiana's natural heritage. With hands-on experience in landscaping across diverse settings and her studies in Landscape Architecture at LSU, she merges practical knowledge with science-based design methods and ecotype strategies. As a Katrina kid born in New Orleans and raised throughout South Louisiana and Mississippi, Ashlee intimately recognizes the importance of safeguarding vulnerable ecosystems and is dedicated to doing so. Ashlee is certified as a Louisiana Prescribed Burner and serves on the board at the Acadiana Native Plant Project.


Caitlin Robbins standing in gardenCaitlin Robbins, co-owner of Swamp Fly Native Landscapes, brings a multidisciplinary approach to ecological planting design. As a licensed Landscape Horticulturist with a background in Anthropology from LSU and a master's in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane, she intertwines her expertise to create functional native landscapes that resonate with people. Caitlin's commitment lies in understanding the intricate connections between the well-being of wildlife, communities, and the environment. Through her work, she strives to enhance Swamp Fly's capacity to provide holistic and sustainable services, aligning with her passion for fostering harmony between people and their natural surroundings.

Vendor Booths  

The following vendors will provide resources, information, and plants for sale during the event:

Garden Revolution book coverBook Sale 

Larry Weaner’s book, Garden Evolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change, will be available for purchase during the symposium. Also for sale, Dr. Allen's books: Louisiana Wildflower Guide, Edible Plants of the Gulf South, and Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines of Louisiana.


 Registration Details

$70 Friends of Hilltop Members
$80 Non-Members
$35 Students


Online registration closes Thursday, January 25th at 10:00pm.
Walk-in registrants welcome.

 Questions? Call 225-767-6916 or email