Shade Tree Short Course Will Explore Biological Diversity of Managed Landscapes

AMES, Iowa--As thousand canker disease and emerald ash borers edge their way toward Iowa trees and woodlands, organizers of the 55th Annual Iowa State University Shade Tree Short Course are encouraging those interested in trees to “Expand Your Plant Palette.” Iowa State has teamed up with the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association (INLA) again this year to provide the conference scheduled for Feb. 23-25 at the Scheman Building in Ames, Iowa.

“As we await the arrival of the very destructive insect pest, the emerald ash borer, our attention once again turns to improving the biologic diversity of our managed landscapes,” said Jeff Iles, Iowa State University Extension horticulture specialist and conference chairperson. “We have invited some of the most notable landscape horticulturists to the Shade Tree Short Course to talk about expanding the scope of the plant materials that we use.”

Conference speaker Michael Dirr, world-renowned author, teacher and plantsman, will make a case for understanding and appreciating the value of tree resources, especially grand, long-lived stalwarts that provide many benefits for urban and rural environments. Making his first appearance at the short course, Dirr will provide first-hand knowledge and insight into the important and painstaking process of creating, discovering and propagating the next noble tree.

“It is time to stop using the same kinds of shade trees over and over again in our home landscapes, along city streets, in our parks and golf courses,” said Iles. “We want to alert conference participants to the breadth of plant materials available to them.”

Iles said the general sessions all focus on the “expand your plant palette” theme, and some of the workshop sessions are directly applicable to the theme as well. Rick Darke, a widely published author, photographer, lecturer and consultant dedicated to the design and stewardship of the livable landscape will examine the debate and explore the relative merits or pitfalls of using native and exotic plants during the opening session. John Ball, long-time friend of the Shade Tree Short Course, will close the conference by speaking about designing a more resilient urban forest and the positive actions that can be taken before the arrival of EAB from the east and thousand canker disease from the west.

2011 Shade Tree Short Course Schedule

The first day of the conference, Wednesday, Feb. 23, is dedicated to Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association events including Iowa Certified Nursery Professional certification testing and continuing education, and International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist exam.

The program on Thursday and Friday incorporates the INLA’s long-standing trade show into the traditional Shade Tree Short Course educational sessions. The trade show will be held on the first two floors of the Scheman Building; educational sessions, offered throughout the two days will cover a variety of topics that include woodland garden designs, invasive pests and diseases, native landscaping and tree identification. For a complete list, description and location of sessions, visit the Shade Tree Short Course website at

Registration for the Shade Tree Short Course is $150 on or before Feb. 14; after that date the fee is $175. Registration can be made online at Early registration is encouraged due to the multiple workshop format of the conference.