Mark Weaner

LWLA’s educational affiliate New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) offers year-round educational programming on a range of topics that are framed by the creative integration of science and design. We asked NDAL’s Executive Director Sara Weaner Cooper to share an overview of the organization’s 2023 workshops and field sessions.


Each year, excitement about ecology-based practices in landscape design and management seems to grow; and with this energy has come increased interest in the how. As these concepts are not taught in traditional horticultural programs, NDAL can feel how eager many folks are for this void to be filled. Over the summer and fall of 2023 NDAL continued to provide practical, science-based educational content that helps professionals and gardeners steward lower maintenance native landscapes.

Mark Weaner

Intensive Course for professionalsthe nitty gritty

In NDAL’s 6-part, virtual Intensive Course (now held twice a year), landscape designer Larry Weaner (LWLA and NDAL founder) dove into foundational environmental concepts–such as succession, disturbance, and habitat fidelity–and their applications to ecology-based landscape design. Native plant expert Ian Caton provided characteristics about specific meadow and woodland plants and how they each interact within their respective plant communities.


Field Programs for professionalsseeing concepts in action
Each summer, NDAL holds in-person field sessions in various locations throughout the eastern and midwestern U.S. that showcase ecology-based methods like those discussed in the Intensive Course. While these programs often exhibit impressive landscapes like the restored Greene Prairie in Madison, Wisconsin or the organically managed landscape of Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, instructors also expound upon the challenges and what has been learned from managing these environments.

Steve Ford - Shaw Nature Reserve

Restoration to Garden programs for professionalsplace-based ecology & wildlife

In October, participants learned about design and management in New England landscapes at the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill near Boston, Massachusetts, and others learned about managing for wildlife in the Atlantic Coastal Plain in Cape May Point, New Jersey.


Virtual Series for professionals and non-professionalsdesign and garden with ecology

In October and November, NDAL held a variety of online presentations ranging in topics from Lenape native gardening to managing spontaneous vegetation in small residential spaces.

Cape May Point Science Center

It’s been a fantastic summer and fall helping science and practice get better acquainted. By tying together ecology, culture, restoration, and landscape design, NDAL plans to continue filling that science-practice void with educational programming as long as the need exists!