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2016 Oklahoma Garden School: The New American Prairie Garden

On Saturday, March 12, the Myriad Botanical Gardens will host the New American Prairie Garden School in downtown Oklahoma City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Photo by Carl Short, Jr.
On Saturday, March 12, the Myriad Botanical Gardens will host the New American Prairie Garden School in downtown Oklahoma City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Photo by Carl Short, Jr.

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter

On Saturday, March 12, the Myriad Botanical Gardens will host the New American Prairie Garden School in downtown Oklahoma City. The event will be held in the Devon Auditorium, 333 W Sheridan Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Prairie Garden is a great opportunity for participants to learn how to grow a beautiful and sustainable garden in Oklahoma’s varying climate.

Before the 1960’s, the typical American home garden was basically made up of a green lawn, rows of green shrubs along with a few flowerbeds. Then innovative landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden created what is known as the “New American Garden” design style.

This style is characterized by a full variety of ornamental grasses and perennials, the same plants that make up the Oklahoma prairie. This style incorporates sustainability, ecology, and beauty.

Participants of the New American Prairie Garden School will learn how to incorporate this style into their own gardens at home, which are not only beautiful, but also low maintenance.

The event opens at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast, registration and a book signing.

At 9 a.m. Myriad Botanical Gardens Executive Director Maureen Heffernan will deliver a brief overview of the day.

Next, horticulture enthusiast Lisa Delplace, CEO, Oehme, van Sweden (OvS) & Associates, will present the story of the development of the prairie garden

An internationally known Landscape Architect, Delplace will illustrate how this revolutionary style looks today as it relates to the prairie and other ecosystems throughout the United States.

Her accomplishments include the Plant Conservation Science Center, the Trellis Bridge, roof terraces, green roofs, and vertical green screens, and the sculpted shoreline of the Gardens of the Great Basin.

After a brief break, from 10:25 – 11:25 a.m. the topic will be “Great Plants for the Oklahoma Prairie Garden.”

Prairie plant expert Bill Farris will discuss the mysteries of how prairie plants grow and will give tips on maintaining them in the constantly changing Oklahoma climate.

As owner of Prairie Wind Nursery located in Norman, Farris specializes in the use of native plant material including a variety of herbs, perennials and ground covers.

His talk will touch on fertility management as well as irrigation strategies for successful backyard habitats. Bill will discuss his favorite native plants, followed by an audience Q&A period.

Following lunch, from 1 – 2 p.m., Jamie Csizmadia, landscape architect and owner of Olthia Urban Prairie Gardens, in Edmond, will discuss “How to Cultivate Your True Nature at Home.”

Csizmadia will guide attendees through Olthia’s original brand method for creating successful indigenous gardens at home.

With over 15 years of experience as a landscape architect, project manager, and organizational leader, Csizmadia has guided landscape projects, businesses, homeowners, and neighborhoods in their efforts to implement earth-friendly solutions that reconnect them with nature.

Beginning at 2 p.m. Marilyn Stewart, owner of Wild Things Nursery located in southeastern Oklahoma, will discuss the diverse native prairie plants of Oklahoma.

From an early age Steward developed on interest in watching butterflies. She began to collect and raise as many species as possible. While working at a local greenhouse/garden center she realized the importance of native plants and the part they play in preserving biodiversity.

In 2002 Stewart and her husband opened Wild Things Nursery, which specializes in native and wildlife beneficial plants with an emphasis on larval host plants for butterflies and moths.

At 3 p.m. there will be a Q&A, wrap up and book signings by the speakers.

Presented by Devon Energy Corp., the Prairie Garden is sponsored by Meinders Foundation, Calvert’s Plant Interiors, Minick Materials and Richard & Kitty Champlin.

Tickets are $35 for members $60 for nonmembers and $20 students with ID. An optional box lunch is available for $14.  Registration deadline is Tuesday, March 8.  Registration can be made online at

Lisa Delplace
Lisa Delplace
Bill Farris
Bill Farris
Jamie Csizmadia
Jamie Csizmadia
Marillyn Stewart
Marillyn Stewart

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