Evenings With Experts

A Free Public Lecture Series


  • This free program is open to all and features some of the nation's best experts on the ecology of native plant landscaping.
  • Since its inception in 2010 and throughout our first decade, we presented 4-5 programs each year at the Cambridge Public Library. With the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 we moved the lectures online, and now in 2023 look forward to a mix of virtual, in-person, and hybrid experiences.
  • Thanks to all who have helped to make this major educational initiative so much a part of our community and our history, and such a success. Together, we are building much greater public engagement in the need for ecological landscaping and knowledge about new methods for stewarding landscapes that help to protect biodiversity and to mitigate climate change.
  • CEUs Available for Lectures: APLD (1.5 credits); LA CES (1.5 credits); NOFA-AOLCP (1.5 credits).
  • Thank you to our program partners: Mount Auburn Cemetery, and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

2023 Programs

Doug Tallamy.

The Nature of Oaks

Doug Tallamy, Author, The Nature of Oaks; Nature's Best Hope

  • February 1 | 7:00 - 8:30pm

Where: Online (By Zoom Webinar)


Scary headlines about the decline of the natural world that serves as our life support have spurred people across the country to take action by planting natives to help reverse this trend. No plant will achieve this faster than one of our 91 species of oaks.  Oaks support more species of animals, sequester more carbon, protect our watersheds, and nourish soil communities better than any other plant genus in North America. Doug will illustrate these capabilities by sharing his observations of the many fascinating things that are happening on the oaks in his yard each month of the year. His hope is to impart knowledge about oaks that will generate interest in them, and, with any luck, compassion for these magnificent trees.

Doug Tallamy is a renowned advocate, researcher, best-selling author, and a professor at the University of Delaware. He is the co-founder of Homegrown National Park, a non-profit dedicated to galvanizing individuals and communities to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants, with an initial goal of 20 million acres of native plantings across the U.S.

Mary Reynolds

We Are The ARK

Mary Reynolds, Author, We Are The ARK

  • March 4 | 1:00 - 2:30pm

Where: Online (By Zoom Webinar)


Our current environmental crises are born of modern humanity’s destructive re-shaping of Earth to suit our short-term interest. We have become so profoundly detached from the natural world that we have forgotten that we too depend on the web of life. Author and activist Mary Reynolds envisions a healing process where humans embrace our role as caretakers with Acts of Restorative Kindness to the Earth, or ARKs. Join us to learn how an ARK is different from a typical wildlife garden, and what principles to follow to create true sanctuaries for our shared kin, the rooted and the unrooted. Together, we can step up and become weavers of the web of life, re-stitch the threads we have broken, and build a patchwork quilt of life to restore our planet.

Mary Reynolds is a reformed, internationally acclaimed landscape designer. In 2002 as a complete unknown, she won a gold medal for her garden design at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show in London, the story of which was made into the 2016 movie Dare to Be Wild. Best-selling author of The Garden Awakening, Mary is a motivational speaker and founder of the global movement We Are The ARK.

Rebecca McMackin headshot.

The Language of Flowers: Understanding Pollination Ecology

Rebecca McMackin, Loeb Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Design

  • April 12 | 7:00 - 8:30pm

Where: Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

Registration details coming soon.

The vast majority of plants rely on pollinators to reproduce. From bees, to butterflies, to birds and bats, these pollinator partners shaped the evolution of flowers, giving us so much of the beauty we appreciate today. However, these exciting dynamics, in which a flower’s pollen is carried to a stigma, are fraught with trickery, bribery, thievery, and wild sexual acrobatics. Join Rebecca McMackin to learn the essentials of pollination ecology. Why do plants have flowers? How did they evolve? Why are they so pretty and smell so good to us, non-pollinating primates? By the end of the lecture, you will be able to “read” flowers and come to know the true desires of the organisms you cultivate.

Rebecca McMackin is an ecologically obsessed horticulturist and garden designer. Currently a 2023 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she formerly served as the Director of Horticulture at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Her writing on landscape design has been published by and featured in the New York Times, the Landscape Institute and on NPR.

Edwina von Gal

Messy or Magic? Biodiversity and the Perception of Beauty

Edwina von Gal, Founder, Perfect Earth Project

  • May 17 | 7:00 - 8:00pm

Where: New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA

This event will be streamed live on Zoom Webinar! Registration details coming soon.

Landscapes built along conventional standards of beauty, such as the pristine American lawn, are typically ecological dead zones, and often maintained with chemicals that are harmful to humans as well as wildlife. Given catastrophic declines in biodiversity, it is imperative that we make room for nature in our neighborhoods. But habitat-rich native landscapes are still commonly read as “messy,” a barrier to the widespread cultural embrace of this movement. Edwina von Gal discusses how we can change the perception of what a “good” garden is, where healthy habitat is not disparaged as untidy but appreciated for its richness, complexity, and life-giving magic.

Award-winning designer Edwina von Gal has been the Principal of her eponymous landscape design firm since 1984. In 2013 she founded the Perfect Earth Project, promoting nature-based, toxic-free landcare practices for the health of people, their pets and the planet. She is the 2017 recipient of Guild Hall's Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award for the Visual Arts.