Dogwood in full bloom


Living Landscapes Conference

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Understanding the Ecological Benefits of Ornamental Horticulture

This full-day, in-person workshop explores the beauty of designed landscapes while emphasizing their ecological role.



7:30 AM – 8:15 AM: Sign-in and light breakfast provided

8:15–8:30 AM: Welcome and Announcements
Mina Vescera, CCE Suffolk, and Vinnie Simeone, Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park

8:30 – 9:30 AM Plants that We Love to Hate…and Their Desirable Alter Ego:s
Vinnie Simeone, Horticulture Director, Planting Fields Arboretum

This presentation will provide an in-depth look at some of the trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers that have wreaked havoc or caused unavoidable stress to our cultivated landscapes andwill provide kinder and gentler alternatives to each. Special emphasis will be given to native and non-invasive exotics plants that provide exceptional ornamental value, superior landscape function, adaptability, deer resistance, and benefits to wildlife.

9:30 – 10:30 AM: How to Know High Quality Compost
Jayne Merner, Owner/Manager, Earth Care Farm, Rhode Island

Not all compost is created equally. Yes, there is compost that can make gardens sing with fertility! There is also compost that can leave gardens withering for years to come. Let’s dive into what differentiates compost qualities, what to ask your composter, and what to look for in compost.

10:30 – 11:00 AM: Stretch Break

11:00 – 12:00 PM: Living Mulch: Incorporating Native Ground Covers into the Landscape
Missy Fabel , Ecological Landscape Designer, Westchester County

Are you tired of buying and spreading traditional mulch in your garden beds? Learn how to break out of this endless cycle using native ground covers. Missy will discuss why green mulch is a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option than traditional mulch and how it increases biodiversity for birds, pollinators and other fauna.

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Lunch included with registration
Lunch will be catered by The Sexy Salad.

1:00 – 1:30 PM: Appreciating Planting Fields Arboretum
Celebrate fall in the Arboretum by exploring the many collections.

1:30 – 2:30 PM: Baby, Light My Fire—But Not My Backyard
Joyann Cirigliano, Senior Coordinator, Audubon Bird Friendly Communities

Are you informed of the disruptive effects poorly designed and excessively bright night lighting has on plants and wildlife? In this presentation, landscape professionals will learn how excessive night lighting disrupts habitat rhythms and changes plant biology.

2:30 – 2:45 PM: Stretch Break

2:45 – 3:45 PM: Best Design Strategies to Reduce Light Pollution
Betsy Bibla, founder of EF Bibla Landscape Architect, PLLC and the Outdoor Lighting Company in Huntington, NY

This presentation will review aspects of exterior site lighting design including ‘Dark Sky’ lighting- what is it and how do we design for it; dark sky initiatives and regulations; and dark sky lighting equipment

3:45 – 4:00 PM: Closing Comments & Distribution of CEUs


$85 per person. $100 per person after October 11th. No Walk-ins.


Courtney Fenyo
AG Program Administrative Assistant


Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
1395 Planting Fields Road
Oyster Bay, New York 11771

Last updated October 17, 2023