Past Events

New Directions in the American Landscape has been a pioneering influence in bringing ecology to the fore of landscape design.

Since 1990, our annual two-day conference, co-sponsored by the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and the Connecticut College Arboretum, has been a fixture in the landscape design and management fields.  Workshops and field sessions have supplemented the annual symposium.

NDAL has changed and is changing how things are done in the landscape profession.  With unique vision and dedication, NDAL continues to inspire diverse practitioners.  As one landscape architect said who regularly attends the annual conference, “I go home inspired.”

Key moments in NDAL’s legacy appear in the contextual timeline below, situating these moments within the field’s larger historical context.

A full line-up of NDAL’s past programming can be viewed and downloaded below (you’ll need Adobe Reader).

2020 | The Culture-Ecology Bond: Perspectives for Landscape Designers

Natural Design: An Intensive Two-Day Workshop (February-March Series, CT & PA)

Natural Design: An Intensive Two-Day Workshop (February Series, OH & TN)

Ecology and the Residential Landscape: At Home with Nature (May-June Webinar Series)

Ecology, Culture, and the Designed Landscape: Professional Practice Across Disciplines and Scales (July-August Webinar Series)

2019  |  Ecology-based Landscape Design: What Comes Next? 

Natural Design: An Intensive Two-Day Workshop (March-April Series)

Natural Design: An Intensive Two-Day Workshop (August-September Series)

2018  |  Ecological Complexity in Landscapes for People 

2017  |  Analyzing the Wild, Designing the Garden


2016  |  Zooming In/Zooming Out: Native Design from the Intricate to the Expansive

2015  |  Evolving Strategies for Evolving Landscapes: Beyond the Garden Bed

2014  |  Assessing and Reassessing Ecological Design

Landscape architects Darrel Morrison and Nancy Aten designed to music in front of a live audience at NDAL’s 25th anniversary conference in 2014.

Winter Symposium 2014-02

2013  |  Critical Interactions: Ecological Research into Landscape Design

2012  |  Conversations Across Fields: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ecological Landscape Design  — NDAL deliberately pushes the envelope, offering in-depth explorations of overlooked and forward-looking topics not available elsewhere.  Designers are often asked to present on emerging or unknown aspects of their work.  Speakers and attendees alike commend this format: it enables presenters to refine developing ideas with an informed audience, and students and new professionals benefit from demonstration of process.

2011  |  Uncharted Territory: An Expansive Approach to Ecological Landscape Design

Natural Landscape Design: Meadows and Woods New England — NDAL occasionally offers intensive short courses.

Natural Landscape Design: Meadows & Woods Mid-Atlantic


2010  |  Environmental Design: Learning from Experience  –– NDAL’s deliberately expansive approach draws upon the expertise and practical insights of nursery professionals, horticulturists, and land managers, as evidenced in the 2010 conference.

2009  |  Native Landscape Design: Exploding into the Mainstream

2008  |   Native Landscape Design for the Real World

Landscaping with Native Plants

Out There: Field Explorations in Nature and Garden
NDAL’s occasional field sessions, which always include designers and scientists as co-instructors, provide valuable opportunities to observe techniques and natural processes first hand. 

Nick Novick 6

2007  |  Nature’s Unseen Influences and the Art of Garden Design

The Layered Landscape: Creating Natural Gardens from the Ground Up

2006  |  Native Landscape Design: Reality vs. Perception

Nature in the Suburbs: Ecology for Designers and Planners

2005  |  Linking Parallel Worlds: Landscape Design and the Study of Ecological and Cultural Landscapes  — An interdisciplinary approach is an essential part of NDAL’s mission, as in the 2005 conference exploring design, agriculture, and ecology.  The conference was dedicated to two “Frank” scholars of the American landscape — ecologist Frank Egler and landscape architect Frank Waugh.

2004  |  Natural Design in Context: Intimate to Grand

Digging Deeper: Garden Design, Cultural Context, and Natural Systems

2003 Vegetation and Innovation: Meadows. Woods and Water

2002  |  Plants, People, and Time: Creating a Place

Nick Novick 4

2001  |  Expressing Nature and Culture in a Designed Landscape

2000  |  The Art and Science of Natural Landscape Design  —  For years, NDAL’s annual conferences were one of the few forums offering in-depth explorations of ecology and design.  The 2000 conference featured presentations by such pioneering practitioners as Leslie Sauer, James Patchett, and Gerould Wilhelm.

1999  |  The Historic Landscape – Natural Design in a Cultural Context and Creating Natural Landscapes: Blending Horticulture, Design, and Ecology

1998  |  Finding a Niche: Creating and Marketing Natural Landscapes

1997  |  Capturing Nature’s Visual Patterns in Landscape Design: Observation, Analysis, Implementation  —  The work of scientists has always been central to NDAL programs, as evidenced in the 1996 annual conference in which ecologists critiqued case studies of designed landscapes patterned after naturally occurring ecosystems.  Appropriately, Ian McHarg gave the opening lecture.


1996  |  Ecology for Landscape Professionals: What Every Designer Should Know

Jens Jensen and Beyond

Natural Design as Landscape Art (southeast conference)

Natural Design as Landscape Art (midwest conference)

Natural Landscaping: Inviting Nature Back to Your Property

1995  |  Natural Design as Landscape Art: Innovation with Roots in the Past – NDAL attended to native plants long before their use became a popular concern.  A session at the 1995 annual conference contextualized this growing movement with a presentation by the preeminent landscape architect A.E. Bye.

Designed Gardens as Plant Communities: The Southwest Landscape  — NDAL began offering workshops and regional conferences in 1995, hosted by venues nationwide, including at the National Wildflower Research Center (now Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center).

 Designed Gardens as Plant Communities: The Midwest Landscape

1994  |  Designed Gardens as Plant Communities: Blending Design, Horticulture, and Ecology


1993  |  Landscape Design in the 90s: Staying on the Cutting Edge

1992  Natural Landscape Design and English Textures in American Landscapes

1991 |

1990  |  Underused Plants in the Landscape  — NDAL’s first annual conference!

Winter Symposium 2016

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