Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Education in Native Plants


This week I attended a Native Plant Symposium sponsored by the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Garden Club. I heard six speakers that shared their vast knowledge on gardening with wildflowers, trees and other native plants, landscaping and design, conservation, and gardening for wildlife. It was very informative and I came away inspired and excited to get back out in my garden and start incorporating more natives into my landscape.

Of course there were native plants for sale and of course I had to buy some! I am sure that I will blog about my purchases over the next year once they become established and I can show more of the plant than the stalks and minimal foliage that currently grace the containers.  


There is one plant that I am so  excited to have in my possession I will give you a little preview now. Why you ask? Well, it is a native plant to Georgia which is listed as threatened. It is the Georgia Aster 'Symphotrichum georgianum'.

Photo credit: Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources

This is a perennial herb native to Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina. These flowers require cross pollination in order to set seed so I purchased two plants. It is differentiated from the other late blooming asters by its dark purple flowers and white centers.

There are only 30 populations of these plants that have been observed in Georgia but only 15 of these small populations have survived. Eight of them are in State or National Forest lands. Habitats have been destroyed from the use of herbicides along roadsides, the invasion of non-native invasive plants and development. 


The Georgia Aster is threatened and is a candidate to be federally protected so I was issued a certificate showing that the species I purchased was collected legally.



This is just a taste of what I am going to get as I have enrolled in a certification program in native plants from the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. It is a knowledge based, field directed program which requires 80 hours of course work, electives, field trips and volunteer service to complete. My first class starts tomorrow and covers winter tree identification; something I admit I could use some extra study in. Stay tuned...

21 comments:

  1. good for you, karin! i just finished unc charlotte's certificate program in native plants in december and had a great time, learned all sorts of things. i bet you will love it, too. i look forward to hearing about it as you go.

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  2. That sounds fascinating!! I would love to do something like that. I'll probably have to wait til I retire. Grr.... I'm so glad you bought the Georgia aster. It will have a happy, safe home in your garden. :o)

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  3. How interesting! Not to ask a stupid question, but what will you be certified to do at the end of the course exactly? Is this primarily to teach you how to identify native species in your region?

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    1. The purpose of the program is to educate individuals so that they can become advocates, help in the restoration of habitats either on private land or designated public lands and conserve native plants. I really got interested in native plants during the Master Gardener course a few years ago and I think this will build on that knowledge.

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  4. How exciting to have a native plant that is threatened! I hope it thrives and spreads in your garden. Good luck with your courses. They sound like they will be very interesting.

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    1. Thanks! I feel like I really need to take care of these plants! They will get special attention to ensure they survive.

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  5. You will certainly enjoy your course and most probably come away with some wonderful knowledge on your native landscape and critters. I can never get enough of asters. My whole garden would be them if I and the rabbits let it.

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  6. Hey Donna, so glad you were able to post a comment! I added a lot of asters this year and really love that they continue to bloom so late in the year. Especially important when the pollinators are still out.

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  7. It seems that you have much more education on gardening in the U.S. I had never heard of master gardeners until I started blogging.

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  8. I can see why your are excited about that beautiful plant. Having your addition to the garden will certainly help it become less rare...hopefully. I am slowly adding native plants into the garden beds. I look forward to reading more about your native plant experiences.

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  9. Sounds like a great experience! I love those learning opportunities, and garden lessons are the best!

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  10. Now that's a brilliant flower, Karin - great that you're going to help preserve this little native beauty. It'll do well under your care.

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  11. Karin this is fab...I wish we had this here...I am involved in native plant groups and am on my journey...I love the natives...hopefully someone will put together a program in NY closer to me....can't wait to read more!!

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    1. Donna, we have native plant rescue groups also. Fortunately, I don't live too far from our State Botanical Garden and they put classes on regularly. It is wonderful to have this available. I am also only 1 hour drive from the Atlanta Botanical Garden so the opportunities are many! I hope there will be something close to you soon!

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  12. Native plants have been a boon in my garden. I'm excited about the classes that you're taking. Looking forward to you sharing your new insights.

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  13. This is really exciting! Good for you taking on this class. That sounds really intensive but such a great learning experience. Can't wait to read some of the information you will pick up in your classes.

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    1. I attended my first "elective" course on Winter Tree Identification. Fortunately I had studied the basics in the Master Gardener class because this was a much more in depth lesson. Saturday it poured with rain but we still did 1 hour of the lesson outdoors. We were soaked but learned a lot!

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  14. I came over here by way of Daricia's Charlotte Garden. Don't know how I missed reading you before this. We are very close..I am in SC on Lake Greenwood. Looking forward to reading your posts...especially those on native plants.

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    1. So glad that you stopped by to visit! I love meeting new gardeners & photographers and it is a bonus when we are in the same zone!

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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