Wild Things:

Toward a More Sustainable Natural Garden
Professor Karen Snetselaar

This course is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  The lectures will be given at the PHS offices, 100 N. 20th Street (20th and Arch Streets), Philadelphia.

This course requires preregistration.

This course is full.

Add your name to the waitlist online here or call 215-763-6529 x23.


  1. Monday, January 27, 2014 - History and Definitions

    Why do we have separate lawns and flowerbeds?  Plants can be native, naturalized, alien, exotic, invasive, and so on - what does it all mean?  What’s the difference between wildflowers and weeds?  What do we mean by “wilderness” anyway?  We’ll discuss overlapping ideas such as ecological landscaping, garden habitats, native gardening, sustainable landscaping, and restoration in this first session. 

  2. Monday, February 3, 2014 - History and Definitions; Biodiversity

    We will continue to explore different approaches to gardening and landscaping, including a discussion of biodiversity, especially as it relates to urban and suburban settings. 

  3. Monday, February 10, 2014 - Changing Lawn and Garden Practices

    Starting with the easiest approaches first, we will discuss simple modifications to conventional lawn and garden practices that can promote biodiversity and sustainability.

  4. Monday, February 17, 2014 - Creating a Wild Landscape

    This class will look at how to create a wild landscape from the beginning.  We’ll discuss the application of ideas from restoration ecology and related fields that can be used to create and manage a wilder landscape on the scale of a typical homeowner’s yard. 

  5. Monday, February 24, 2014 - Changing Lawns to Meadows and Flowerbeds to Woodlands

    This week we’ll use ideas from restoration ecology and related fields to consider more gradual approaches to modifying highly groomed landscapes.

  6. No class Monday, March 3 for the Philadelphia Flower Show.
  7. Monday, March 10, 2014 - Managing a Wild Landscape

    This class will look at ways to gain control of neglected land that don’t involve starting all over.   

The idea of a wilder yard isn’t new, but there is a resurgence of interest in gardens that resemble natural habitats instead of rows of crops.  This course will start by looking at why we have the kinds of lawns and gardens we do, and then consider alternatives.  While there will be practical information about plants that could be used for a more naturally sustainable landscape, the focus of the course will be on helping students assemble the knowledge and resources to manage their own yards and gardens. 

A course website will include lists of resources and presentation notes.

Recommended Readings:

Beck, Travis.  Principles of Ecological Landscape Design.  Island Press : 2013.

Del Tredici, Peter.  Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast.  Cornell Univ. Press : 2010. 

Robbins, Paul.  Lawn People:  How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who

     We Are.  Temple Univ. Press : 2007. 

Robinson, William.  The Wild Garden1870.  Various editions available. 

Kowaraik, I., and Korner, S., ed.  Wild Urban Woodlands:  New Perspectives for

     Urban Forestry.  Springer :  2005. 

Cronan, W.  The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.  Excerpted from Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, edited by William Cronon.  W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1995.





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