Native plants are a beautiful and environmentally friendly landscape option as the snow melts and the spring growing season begins.

Naturalist and author Dave Tylka of Imperial, Mo., will present “Native Landscaping—A Natural Way to Spice Up Life” at workshops on Feb. 25 and 26 at Metropolitan Community College Longview in Lee’s Summit.

“It’s like bringing a piece of your favorite nature back home if you like prairies or forests,” Tylka said.

Several other experts will also make presentations at the “Landscape Design with Missouri in Mind” workshops, which are sponsored by “Grow Native!” and the Metropolitan Community College. Tylka will discuss his book “Native Landscaping for Wildlife and People.”

Native plants add beauty to ornamental plantings but also attract butterflies and birds, Tylka said. Many wildflowers are quite colorful such as coneflowers or butterfly milkweed. Prairie grasses turn brilliant rusty red in autumn. While not maintenance free, native plants can often be grown with less water and fertilizer costs than non-native garden varieties because they are adapted to Missouri’s soils and climate. Planting in small beds is an easy way to get started.

“They are an absolute delight to bring into your landscape,” Tylka said.

Each workshop will provide practical, in-depth information on landscaping with native plants. The workshops will focus on landscape design techniques, plant selection, installation methods and maintenance practices. Joining Tylka as presenters will be natural resource experts from the Missouri Department of Conservation, Powell Gardens, Shaw Nature Reserve and private business.

 Both workshops run from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., but they have different target audiences.

 The Friday, Feb. 25, workshop is for landscaping professionals. It will feature sessions on storm water management and how to use native plants to create low-maintenance landscapes

On Saturday, Feb. 26, is for gardeners, homeowners and landscaping enthusiasts. Sessions will focus on how to use native plants in small-scale landscapes.

“Grow Native!” is a cooperative program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The program’s mission is to help protect and restore Missouri’s biodiversity by increasing conservation awareness of native plants and their effective use.

Seating for each workshop day is limited. The registration fee for each workshop, which includes lunch, is $25 if postmarked by Feb. 14 or $35 after that date.  As part of the registration fee, workshop attendees will receive copies of the MDC book, “Tried and True: Native Plants for You Landscape.”

 To register for the workshop, go to www.grownative.org and click on the events link.  For more information, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation at 573-522-4115, ext. 3833 or 3370, or send an e-mail to Barbara.fairchild@mdc.mo.gov or syd.hime@mdc.mo.gov. _ Bill Graham