In a time that has felt anything but normal we dedicate the 2021 Turning a New Leaf conference to “Planting a New Normal” , highlighting collaborations that normalize sustainable practices and ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. 

We believe that landscape professionals have a unique opportunity to effect positive change in the Chesapeake Bay region- a task best achieved when we work together.

The conference was held virtually December 8-9, and was followed by in-person field days in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia on December 10.

The 2021 Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award winner is Suzanne Kilby Etgen. Suzanne Etgen is the founding Executive Director of the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy, headquartered in Millersville, Maryland. The Watershed Stewards Academy mission is to train and mobilize community leaders to drive change for sustainable landscapes and clean waters, and Etgen has helped forge strong connections between stewards and landscape professionals in the Annapolis area. She holds a BS in Environmental Science and a MA in Religion and Ecology, and she is also a trained Community Based Social Marketing Technical Assistance Provider, assisting Stewards and organizations in the development of campaigns to change polluting behaviors. Etgen served for several years on the CCLC board of directors and played an instrumental role in establishing CCLC’s Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional certification and training program. She has been recognized for her work with numerous other awards.


Day 1 – Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Session 1. Meaningful Collaborations in Sustainable Landscaping

Panelists will share three different perspectives on how collaborations can strengthen our efforts to improve water quality and habitat in the Bay region and improve working conditions for those in our field: a statewide partnership to promote the use of native plants in Virginia; local government collaboration with residents; and a social justice model for employers.

Virginia Witmer, Outreach Coordinator, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, VA Dept of Environmental Quality

Rod Barnes, Town Administrator, Town of Edmonston

Lauren Wheeler, Principal, Natural Resources Design

Moderator, Kelley Oklesson, Groundsmith Collective



Session 2.

Ensuring Equity in Landscape Design

This session will highlight the panelists’ work with Black and Brown communities to ensure that public spaces are planned and designed to meet the needs of those communities.

Akiima Price

Erin Garnaas-Holmes, Senior Planner, Prince George’s County Planning Department

Moderator, Kelly Fleming


Creating a Forest Garden

Forest gardens produce an abundance of food and supplies while restoring a healthy forest ecosystem. Lincoln and Christine will discuss the principles of forest gardening with examples from Forested and other forest garden projects.

Lincoln Smith, Owner, Forested

Christine Simpson, Forested



Plant It Forward: Helping Others Help Wildlife Through Conservation Landscaping

The Audubon Naturalist Society has been working to transform its headquarters – Woodend Nature Sanctuary – into an oasis of sustainable, healthy, natural habitats that inspires people to learn about and protect our shared environment. With the Plant It Forward program, we are leveraging the expertise of our staff and the green infrastructure of Woodend Nature Sanctuary to equip more people to steward land for wildlife benefit and ecosystem services. We are using demonstration gardens to train home gardeners, as well as landscape professionals, in the specific skills required to install high performing conservation landscapes. In particular, we are reaching out to Spanish-speaking owners and employees of small landscaping companies to add conservation landscaping to their toolkits. In this talk I’ll discuss the lesson learned during our gardening classes, in-home garden consultations, and trainings for landscape professionals. Handouts will include garden templates and a “Garden Ecosystems” guide.

Alison Pearce, Deputy Director, Audubon Naturalist Society


Landscapes for Pollinators

Landscapes that support pollinator biodiversity require designs that take into account the structure of pollinator communities and the resources they depend on.  Science has learned a great deal about pollinators over the last decade.  We have a better understanding of the special ecological structure of plant-pollinator food webs and how they decline.  There is also a better appreciation for pollinator nutrition and the nutritional resources offered by different plants.  Nesting sites and other resources have been explored in great detail.  All these insights are being used to inform landscape design.

Harland Patch, Penn State University


Green Mulch: Plans to Cover Ground and Reduce Maintenance

Green mulch saves time and money, boosts ecological function and reduces the carbon footprint of your garden.

Darlene Robbins, RainScapes Program, Planner, Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection


Session 4. Inspiration: A Selection of 2021 BUBBA Award Winning Projects

The Chesapeake Stormwater Network recognizes outstanding work with the Best Urban BMPs in the Bay (BUBBA) awards. This session features three inspiring projects that were recognized with BUBBA awards in 2021.

Chris Moore, Welspryng, LLC

Aileen Craig, The Nature Conservancy

Adele Kuo, Owner and Principal Designer, Deco Footprint

Moderator, David Wood, Stormwater Coordinator, Chesapeake Stormwater Network


Day 2 – Thursday, December 9, 2021

Opening Session: Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award

Suzanne Kilby Etgen will become the fifth  recipient of the Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award. The award, given by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC), a regional non-profit, recognizes Etgen for her devotion to sustainable landscaping and education within the Chesapeake Bay region.


The Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award was established by the CCLC to honor former Council chair and Maryland naturalist and educator, Marcy Damon. Damon, age 64, passed away in June 2013. Damon spent the last 12 years of her career contributing to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s effort to “Save the Bay,” but it was a lifelong love affair with nature that inspired her personal and professional dedication to sustainable landscaping, habitat preservation, and environmental education. Past award recipients include Ellie Altman, former Director of the Adkins Arboretum, Britt Slattery, Director of Conservation Education at MD Dept. of Natural Resources, Adele Ashkar, former Director of the George Washington University’s Landscape Design Program, and David Hirschman, of Hirschman Water & Environment.


Session 5. Keynote. Beauty of the Wild

In this presentation, Darrel will talk about various people and places that have influenced him as a teacher and as a designer of ecology-based designs. The book, “American Plants for American Gardens” by Plant ecologist Edith Roberts and Landscape architect Elsa Rehmann was particularly influential. He will show landscapes he has designed at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Storm King Art Center in the Hudson River Valley, the New York Botanical Garden, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden as examples of landscapes influenced by naturally-evolving Plant communities.

Darrel Morrison, Autor

Moderator, Beth Ginter, Executive Director CCLC


Session 6. Climate Change Panel: Climate Impacts on Native  Plants, Climate and Social Justice, and Nature-Based Solutions for Resiliency

This session touches on three very different topics related to our changing climate: impacts on native plants, social justice, and nature-based solutions for resiliency.

Fushcia Ann Hoover, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Esi Landston, Environmental Sustainability Manager, City of Norfolk

Jeff Lapp, Branch Chief, EPA

Moderator, Ashley Traut, Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition


Session 7. Growing the Workforce, Connecting with Youth = Conservation Training in Correctional Settings, Working with Youth and the CBLP-A Program, Connecting with Youth at Dikon Wilderness

The future is bright! Panelists in this session will share their experiences working with youth and the incarcerated to expand the workforce of trained environmental stewards and practicing professionals.

Antonia Bookbinder, Conservation Outreach Specialist Special Programs Division, M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County

David J. Hirschman, Hirschman Water & Environment, LLC

Kim Patten, Director, The Wilderness Greenhouse – Diakon Youth Services

Moderator: Larry Davis, Lead Consultant & Green Infrastructure Specialist, Green Mechanics Benefit LLC


8.A Native Cultivars v. Straight Species: Results from Recent Trials

As native plants become more popular, many cultivars are being offered in the marketplace.  But do these cultivars still benefit pollinators and wildlife or are they just decorative items in the landscape? Learn about the results of several trials that have been conducted in the Mid-Atlantic and New England and get some tips on how to choose plants that will most benefit your ecosystem.

Connie Schmotzer, Consumer Horticulture Educator, Retired, Penn State Extension


Plant- Pollinator Interactions

Anahí Espíndola, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park


Leveraging the Ecosystem Services of the North American Beaver as a Took for Restoration

Beaver (Castor Canadensis), once numbering in the tens of millions across North America, were nearly extirpated in the late 1890’s.  Recently, their numbers are increasing in many regions across North America.  Their dams and the water they store provide important ecosystem services, including increased groundwater recharge, floodplain reconnection, significant reductions in peak flow discharges, enhanced wildlife habitat, nutrient processing, sediment storage, and wetland creation.  As a tool for restoration, beaver dams enhance water quality, provide ecological uplift, and provide effective stormwater management benefits.  Long regarded as a nuisance species, beaver have only recently been promoted as an ecosystem engineer.  Research from North America as well as Europe will be shared indicating beaver have a role to play in watershed restoration efforts and as an adaptation for climate change.  Techniques and methods which encourage beaver activity will be reviewed, including planting regimes to develop food sources, floodplain reconnection to maximize stream power distribution across the floodplain, designing for long term aggradation, requiring more expansive conservation easements, and incorporating beaver dam analogs (BDA’s).

Scott McGill, Chief Executive Officer, Ecotone


Working with HOAs

So much has been happening in the field of stormwater management to help improve the quality of runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. This includes the construction of many different types and numbers of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in new residential communities throughout Maryland. Consequently, the knowledge HOA leaders need to have about their private stormwater management systems, and the funding needed for annual maintenance and future replacement of BMPs, has significantly increased. Moreover, HOAs must pass triennial inspections required under County agreements. This seminar will provide some insight on these challenges from an experienced HOA perspective and provide information on recent efforts in Anne Arundel County to provide better stormwater management education for HOAs such as the selection of service providers, as well as some initiatives to improve the hand-off of private stormwater management systems from developer to HOA.

Steve Miller, President, Deep Creek Village POA, Anne Arundel County


The 2019 Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award winner was David Hirschman. Mr. Hirschman is recognized for his dedication to sustainable water resources management and his leadership in environmental education and professional development of stormwater and landscape professionals within the Chesapeake Bay region.


Speakers & Tracks

Keynote Address

Thomas Rainer
Rebuilding Abundance: Planting Strategies for a more Colorful, Biodiverse, and Lower Input Landscapes

Closing Plenary

Nancy Striniste
Creating Outdoor Spaces that Connect Children to the Natural World

Track A: Streams and Surrounding Landscapes

    • Stream Restoration Panel
      Kelly Gutshall, LandStudies

                   Ryan Davis, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

                   Jimmy Dick, EQR

    • Ecology of Streams and Importance of Streamside Trees
      David Wise, Stroud Water Research Center 

    • Utilizing Vegetation to Repair Backyard Streams
      Jennifer Fetter, Penn State Extension
    • Riparian Buffers
      Ryan Davis, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Track B: Landscapes in a Changing Climate

    • Designing for Disturbance
      Rebecca Stack, Design Green, LLC.

    • The Ecological Underpinnings of Design
      Fred Steiner, University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design 

    • Landscape of Urban Streams: Opportunities Born of Disaster
      Tom McGilloway, Mahan Rykiel Associates

Track C: Designing with Plant Communities

    • Designing with Natives / Companion Planting, Layers
      Amy Highland, Mt. Cuba

    • Local Plants in Highly Disturbed Urban Sites
      Lauren Wheeler, Natural Resources Design

    • Native Fruiting Plants for Migratory Bird Nutrition
      Susan Smith Pagano, Rochester Institute of Technology

    • Rain Garden Design for Maintenance Panel
      Darlene Robbins, Montgomery County Department of Environmental ProtectionLauren Wheeler, Natural Resources DesignDave Hirschman, Hirschman Water & Environment, LLC

The 2017 Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award winner was Adele Ashkar, FASLA. Ms. Ashkar, of The George Washington University, was be recognized for her many contributions to educating professionals and promoting sustainable landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay region.


Speakers & Tracks

Keynote Address

Rick Darke
The Design and Stewardship of Living Landscapes

Closing Plenary

Beth Ginter & Shereen Hughes
The Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification: Preparing Professionals to Effect Change

Track A: Putting the Practical in Sustainable Landscape Practice

    • Implementing Sustainable Landscape Maintenance in Private, Public, and Institutional Settings
      Cheryl Corson, Kate Austin, Dave Hirschman, Paul Tukey

    • Early Detection and Rapid Response to Invasive Plant Infestations
      Kevin Heffernan

    • Preserving Trees in Development Projects
      Bill Elmendorf
    • Infiltration Testing For Stormwater BMPs: What Would Mickey Mouse Do?
      Dave Hirschman

    Track B: Plants, Wildlife, & Biodiversity: Understanding Pieces of the Puzzle

    • Thinking about Honey Bees and Native Bees in Landscape Design
      Sam Droege

    • From Seed Production to Your Seed Mix
      Greg Kedzierski
    • Knockout Natives
      George Coombs

    • Plant Lessons Learned from Designed Rain Gardens
      Ann English, Edamarie Mattei, Rochelle Bartolomei, Luke Jessup

    Track C: Communication: What We Talk About When We Talk About Sustainability

      • Talking About Sustainable Landscape Design: Tools and Resources to Help You Connect with Clients
        Steve Raabe

      • The Multiplier Effect of Non-traditional Partnerships: Successes with the Faith Community
        Erin Bennett


    • Getting it Right: Rain Garden Retrofits in Public Spaces
      Kate Austin, Ruth Hocker

    • Landscape Performance to Demonstrate Impact
      Barbara Deutsch

The 2015 Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award winner was Ellie Altman.


Speakers & Tracks

Keynote Address
Planning for the Unplanned: Integrating Ecological Restoration Techniques & Landscape Design
Larry Weaner, Larry Weaner Associates

Summary >>

Landscape Design Perspectives
Soils and Plants: From the Ground Up
New Paradigms in Stormwater Management
Sustainable Management of the Designed Landscape

Work & Play Around the Chesapeake Bay: Case Studies in Sustainability

Julie Dieguez (handout);
Sandi Olek;
Kelly Petrey

Summary >>

Soils is Not Just a Dirty Word: Exploring the Mysteries of Managing Soil Biology

Steve Zien (handout)

Summary >>

Creative Collaboration and Resotration in Baltimore

Ashley Traut

Summary >>

Use of Compost and Microclover to Reduce Runoff and Lawn Fertilizer Use

Mark Carroll

Summary >>

Climate Change Impacts and Landscape Adaptation Strategies

David Tuch

Summary >>

Restoration and Maintaining Native Ecosystems by Control of Non-native Invasive Plants

Marc Imlay (handout & handout )

Summary >>

Regenerative Design: RSC’s, Sand Seepage, and Re-evaluating Stormwater as an Important Resource

Joe Berg

Summary >>

Picking Your Battles: Invasive Plant Control

Larry Weaner

Summary >>

Landscaping With Deer

Kathleen Salisbury

Summary >>

Successful Rain Gardens: Inspired by Wild Plant Communities

Claudia West

Summary >>

Innovation in Industrial Site Stormwater Management

David Hymel

Summary >>

An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Landscape Management

Cheryl Corson, Doug Delano, Joseph Mudd & Janet Weston

Summary >>

Plenary Address
The Challenge of Residential Design & Rating Systems: A Case Study of the Gaddy House
Lauren Wheeler, Director of George Washington University’s Landscape Design Program


The conference was preceded on Friday (November 15) with a dinner which announced the First Marcy Damon Conservation Landscaping Award to Britt Slattery as well as the print edition of Conservation Landscaping Guidelines: The Eight Essential Elements.


Speakers & Tracks

Pre-Conference Dinner Address
Sylvan Kaufman, Sylvan Green Earth Consulting

Challenges in Conservation Landscaping

Keynote Address
Networks for Life: Your Role in Building Biological Corridors
Douglas Tallamy, PhD., University of Delaware

Keynote Summary

Marketing Nature: How to Sell Conservation Landscaping
Innovations in Conservation Landscaping
Flora & Fauna: Applying Ecology to Design
Soil Science Simplified

An Overview of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES)TM

Tom Hall, ASLA, AICP
Susan Hall, Landscape Designer (handout)

Summary >>

Restorative Agriculture

Margaret Morgan-Hubbard, Eco City Farms, Riverdale Park, MD

Summary >>

Water Gardening and Aquatic Invasive Species

Diane Oleson, Penn State Cooperative Extension (references & resources handout)

Summary >>

The Hidden World of Mycorrhizal Fungi

Roger Tai Koide, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Horticulture, Penn State University

Summary >>

Meadowscaping for Large and Small Spaces

Catherine Zimmerman, Author of Urban and Suburban Meadows

Role of Pollinators in Urban Habitat Restoration

Toni Burnham, Urban Beekeeper, Washington, DC (handout)

Summary >>

Maintaining Curb Appeal with Native Plants

Douglas Tallamy, University of Delware (handout)

Summary >>

The Rest of the Story: Carbon, Gardening and Biochar

Dale Hendricks, Green Light Plants, LLC (handout)

Summary >>

Non-invasive, Mostly Native, Ornamental Alternatives

John Peter Thompson, Author

Summary >>

Reducing Urban Stormwater Pollution: RiverSmart Homes Program

Jennifer Guillaume, DDOE

Summary >>

Top Plant Picks for Pollinators

Constance Schmotzer, Extension Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, York County (Pollinator-Attractive Plant Trial, Pollinator-Top Plant Picks Trials, Pollinator-Plant Phonology Trials handouts)

Summary >>

Urban Soil Husbandry and Sustainable Hydrologic Landscapes

Stuart Schwartz, PhD, University of Maryland

Summary >>

Plenary Address

Native Plants in Your Garden: Lessons from Nature and Culture
C. Colston Burrell, Garden Designer, Author (handout)

Plenary Summary

See photos from the conference on flickr: Turning A New Leaf 2013 (photo album)

Doug Tallamy Keynote

Friday, December 2
Willow Valley Doubletree Resort and Conference Center
Lancaster, PA

This one-of-a-kind conference brought together professionals from the landscaping industries, horticulture, planning and education to discuss and learn about current trends, issues and technologies in conservation landscaping. From the science of storm water management to native plant marketing techniques, this conference focused on innovative practices to improve your business and the health of the environment and the Chesapeake Bay.

See photos from the conference on flickr: Turning A New Leaf 2011 (photo album)

2011 Turning a New Leaf Conference attendees in the main hall.

2011 Turning a New Leaf Conference attendees in the main hall.

Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Marcy Damon, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and CCLC Founding Board President
Adele Ashkar, George Washington University Landscape Design Program

Welcome Summary

Keynote Address: D.C.’s Green Initiatives
The Honorable Anthony Williams, former Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Keynote Summary >>

Sustainable Landscape Design: Making Beautiful Practical
Selling Green: Business Models, Planning and Marketing
Getting It Done with Local Governments
The Science of Sustainability: Urban Ecology and New Technologies

Sustainable Sites Initiative and the Design Process

Nancy Somerville, ASLA

Summary >>

Business Models

Luke Jessup, Father Nature Restorative Landscaping

Jeff Potter, J&G Landscaping

Carla Thomas, Nature by Design

Summary >>

Case Study: Corsica River

Lee Edgar, Queen Anne’s Co., MD

Robert McGrory, Town of Centreville, MD

Summary >>

Soil Compaction

Stu Schwartz, UMBC

Summary >>

Sustainable Design in Practice – Developing Performance Landscapes

Faye Harwell, Rhodeside and Harwell, Inc.

Summary >>

Selling Green in a Tough Economic Climate

Stan Sersen, EnviroCenter

Summary >>

Local Government Incentives: Programs and Technical Assistance

Jennifer Guillaume, DC DDOE

Ann English, Montgomery Co., MD DEP

Aileen Winquist, Arlington Co., VA

Ron Bowen, Anne Arundel Co., MD

Summary >>

Lawns, Landscapes and Identity: Current Practices and Adoption of New Stormwater Techniques

David Myers, University of Maryland

Summary >>

Green Roofs and Living Walls: Plant Based Building Systems

Michael Furbish, Furbish Company

Summary >>

Marketing Green

Eric Eckl, Water Words that Work

Summary >>

Projects and Lessons Learned

Anya Zmudzka Sattler, ArtGarden Design

Lauren Wheeler, Natural Resource Design

Adele O’Dowd, Willow Landscape Design

Aileen Winquist, Arlington Co., VA

Daryl Braithwaite, City of Takoma Park, MD

Summary >>

The Urban Canopy

Mike Galvin, Casey Trees

Summary >>

Plenary Address

What THEY Say About Why YOUR Work Matters
Eric Eckl, Water Words That Work

Plenary Summary >>]

Friday, November 9, 2007
Northern Virginia Community College, Ernst Community Cultural Center
Annandale, Virginia

More than 260 participants were drawn to promote and learn about sustainable landscaping practices. From organic lawn care to site-specific stormwater management techniques, from backyard forests to sustainable site design, this conference focused on innovative practices to improve your business and the health of the environment and the Chesapeake Bay.

Keynote speaker Keith Tomlinson addressed ecologically smart landscaping for the Chesapeake basin.

Concurrent sessions covered profitability of green businesses, creative stormwater management, “how-to” workshops focusing on techniques and practices, and designing and maintaining native landscapes.

Closing speaker Doug Tallamy demonstrated the importance of gardening for life by supporting both plant and animal diversity in the landscape.

Friday, November 3, 2006
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
Bethesda, Maryland

Nearly 200 participants were drawn to promote and learn about sustainable landscaping practices. From organic lawn care to site-specific stormwater management techniques, from tree preservation to sustainable site design, this conference focused on innovative practices to improve your business and the health of the environment and the Chesapeake Bay.

Keynote speaker John Knott addressed the art and economics of natural building.

Concurrent sessions covered designing and planning communities; emerging profitability of green businesses; and “how-to” workshops focusing on techniques and practices.

Closing speaker Rich Pais explored how to work with developers to preserve healthy environments.

The conference also featured an eco-marketplace and luncheon networking opportunities.

2021 In-Person Field Days

Stroud Water Research Center, Avondale, PA 

Participants toured the grounds of the Stroud Water Research Center to learn about their beautifully designed stormwater treatment train, wastewater wetland, native meadows, and the riparian buffers that have been instrumental in their research to understand how our landscapes impact the health of local streams.

Audubon Naturalist Society, Woodend Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, MD 

At Woodend, we visited a variety of sustainable practices, including a permeable parking lot, rain gardens, conservation landscaping, a meadow, and the Stream and Trail Restoration Project, a work in progress, which will improve the habitats and visitor experience at Woodend by stabilizing the eroded banks of the stream channel, upgrading the main trail to be accessible, and adding thousands of native plantings to the forest, meadow, and pond habitats.

Paradise Creek Nature Park, Portsmouth, VA 1PM – 4PM

This 40-acre park offers two mile of multi-use, handicap accessible nature trails to explore an urban oasis off Paradise Creek. The park is an excellent example of wetland restoration, part of the on-going restoration of native species underway on the creek since 2001 by the non-profit Elizabeth River Project, the City of Portsmouth, The Port of Virginia, and many other partner. On site participants will tour and interact with a multitude of Best Management Practices from pervious walkways and rain cisterns to conservation landscaping and freshwater wetlands. Participants will learn about maintenance requirements for these practices, the collaborative efforts providing equitable access for the community, and how climate change is impacting maintenance and future planning at the park.