Traveling Talks

We bring educational programs to you— to your local library, workplace, garden club, or community center. Full of great imagery and good explanations of complex ecological issues, they also provide concrete tools for action. Typically, we like to have two hours to do a program, so that we can cover a subject thoroughly and have generous time for Q&A to help meet participants' needs. We are happy to discuss formats and possibilities, including participation in larger conferences. If you are interested in organizing a program for your community or colleagues, please contact us at

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    You Ask, We Travel

    Our founder, Claudia Thompson, has taught workshops and given more than 80 Traveling Talks in recent years— at New England locales from Connecticut to New Hampshire, and throughout most of Massachusetts. We bring additional staff or Grow Native volunteers to these programs to make our sessions as interactive as possible, enrich the Q&A period with multiple perspectives, and to provide additional resources and materials for participants.

  • Programs Available for Booking

    Why Native Plant Landscapes Matter

    This is a wonderful introduction to the ecological importance of native plant landscapes, and the issue as a whole. Using our founder's urban garden as a case study, it illustrates how much of importance can be achieved in a relatively small landscape. Full of fabulous photographs and inspirational.

    Landscaping for Bird Diversity

    This program teaches the essential principles and actions required to create successful bird habitat, and examines the importance of the issue in the context of declining native bird populations. A thorough and engaging dive into the subject.

    Lessons from the Garden: What Native Plants Have Taught Me

    For audiences that already understand why native plants are important, this program explores in-depth how best to work with them in the landscape. Much success comes by moving away from conventional garden practices, understanding plant adaptations, learning about soil and plant community relationships.

    Nature is Not Out There: Changing the Conservation Paradigm

    This is a call to action with the context of history as its frame. Here, we consider the rise of the modern conservation movement, the odd cultural conception that nature is set aside away from human activity, and what must become the new paradigm for conservation in the 21st century if we are to sustain biodiversity and life as we know it.

    Upcoming Traveling Talks: All are Welcome

    The following programs are being presented in cooperation with the host organizations listed. They are open to the public and you are invited to attend.

For focal point test

Why Native Plant Landscapes Matter to You

Claudia Thompson, Founder, Grow Native Massachusetts
Hosted by: Wayland Garden Club

  • March 24 | 10:00 - 11:30am

Where: Trinitarian Congregational Church, 53 Cochituate Road, Wayland, MA

Free and open to all.

Native plants are increasingly recognized as important to gardens and landscapes, but why? Claudia will give us an overview of their essential role in ecosystem health— starting with the concept of co-evolution between plants and animals, and ending with a visual tour of her urban garden in Cambridge, MA.  She will explain the differences among native, naturalized, and invasive plants; and explore the food web that links plants to insects to birds, wildlife, and humans.  Her garden serves as a valuable case study, illustrating what happens when we convert a conventional landscape to a largely native one— and demonstrating the positive impact on birds, butterflies, and on biodiversity as a whole. By the end of the program you will “get” why this issue is so important and understand what you can do to support the health of local ecosystems—in your gardens and in your community.

Our founder's native plant garden.

The Power of Native Plants and Ecological Gardening

Claudia Thompson, Founder, Grow Native Massachusetts
Hosted by: Holliston Garden Club

  • April 7 | 7:00 - 8:30pm

Where: Holliston Senior Center, 150 Goulding Street, Holliston, MA

Free and open to all.

Come learn how you can garden to improve the health of your local ecosystem— supporting life for birds, butterflies, and pollinators! Claudia will give an overview of native plants and their essential importance, explain the co-evolution of plants and animals, and discuss how our landscapes are part of the food web that links all life together. Using her 7,000 square foot garden in Cambridge, MA as a case study, she will discuss the principles for stewarding landscapes that are places of both beauty and biodiversity, with a special focus on creating habitat for birds. She will give us practical tips for taking action, connect us to lots of resources to learn more about native plants and ecological gardening, and give us tips for sourcing native plants from the nursery trade. Her program shares the joy that comes with using native plants, and it will equip you with knowledge to use many more of them throughout your landscape projects.

Native river birch trees just planted.

Native Trees: The Heart of Your Landscape

Claudia Thompson, Founder, Grow Native Massachusetts
Hosted by: Lynnfield Conservation Commission and Public Library

  • April 23 | 7:00 - 8:30pm

Where: 1714 Meeting House, 617 Main Street, Lynnfield

Free and open to all.

Of all the native plants you can add to your landscape, trees are one of the most valuable. They provide the foundation for local food webs, improving biodiversity and providing needed habitat for birds and wildlife. Their canopies capture carbon and reduce the heat island effect of our cities and suburbs. If you want to improve environmental quality and the health of your local ecosystem, plant more native trees! After a quick refresher on why native plants are so important generally, we will explore more than a dozen native tree species in detail — all of which are excellent choices for a variety of landscape conditions. Come learn about their unique ecological contributions and adaptations, as well as their varying soil, moisture and horticultural requirements. Leave equipped and excited to add more of these essential plants to your gardens and streetscapes!

Rhodora in bloom in spring.

Why Native Plant Landscapes Matter

Claudia Thompson, Founder, Grow Native Massachusetts
Hosted by: Reading Public Library and Reading Garden Club

  • April 28 | 7:00 - 8:30pm

Where: 64 Middlesex Avenue, Reading, MA

Free and open to all.

Re-establishing healthy native plant landscapes is essential to stemming current losses of species— of birds, pollinators, and wildlife— as well as to mitigating climate change. Come learn more about why native plants are so valuable and important, and how each of us can create healthy landscapes that are places of both beauty and biodiversity. We will explore differences among native, naturalized, and invasive plants; and the important co-evolutionary relationships that link plants and animals within our ecosystems. Demonstrating the capacity that each of us has to make a difference, Claudia uses beautiful photographs to take us on a tour of her small urban garden, showing us how she transformed a conventional yard into habitat that supports life for more than 80 species of birds.  She will give us tips for working with and sourcing native plants, and equip us with plenty of resources for continued learning. You will leave energized and inspired.