What is the Mimsie Lanier Center?
Georgia’s Center for Native Plants
The Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies is the Garden’s headquarters for native plant restoration, conservation, education, production, and safeguarding. At the Center, graduate students, interns, volunteers, and Science & Conservation staff propagate Georgia native plants for use in habitat restoration, endangered species recovery, and introduction to the gardening and green industry community. The Mimsie Lanier Center promotes the use of Georgia’s native plants in home gardens, public display gardens, and ecological restoration projects. These activities support plant diversity and the many animals that depend on native plants.
The Mimsie Lanier Center offers an indoor classroom for horticulture, conservation, and native plant propagation classes for UGA and plant professionals. The surrounding natural areas offer a chance to teach and demonstrate land management and restoration techniques. The planting spaces and native plant collections are used to teach many scientific disciplines including botany, pollination ecology, environmental design and horticulture.
Mimsie Lanier, for whom the Center is named, has been an active member of the State Botanical Garden’s Board of Advisors since 1995. She promotes the conservation efforts of the Garden by raising funds and sharing her vision for plant conservation and native plant programs. She is a friend, mentor, and supporter of plant conservation throughout the State of Georgia, so it is only fitting that her name be placed on the Center for Native Plant Studies.
The Science and Conservation program at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is restoring three plant communities in the Garden’s natural areas: Piedmont Floodplain along the Middle Oconee River, Piedmont Prairie in a utility corridor, and Oak-Hickory-Pine Forest on upland slopes and ridges. Restoration involves both long-term research and daily and seasonal management activities, such as removing exotic pest plants, documenting changes in species composition, augmenting plant communities with natives, and testing ecological restoration techniques. UGA students, Garden volunteers, and land management professionals are involved in our projects which serve as both teaching, research, and land management opportunities.
Thanks to our monitoring procedures, we have documented the changes in diversity that occur when invasive species are removed to make room for native plant diversity. Garden staff, students, interns, and volunteers remove invasive plants and mow, burn, and thin where necessary to manage our plant communities. Take a walk on our trails and mowed paths to learn more about our restoration projects.
Several populations of rare and endangered plants are held – safeguarded – at the Mimsie Lanier Center. Their provenance, or origins, are carefully tracked so they can be returned to the site where they were collected to augment the original population or planted in similar nearby wild sites to increase local biodiversity. Safeguarding collections are a temporary solution for preserving plants that can be easily lost if a plant’s habitat or community is altered.
These plants are not intended to remain in our collections for generations; rather, our goal is to place them in safeguarding sites on protected land. Growing rare plants helps us to learn more about the biology of these largely unknown species. If a plant thrives under our care, we can apply what we’ve learned to help the plant thrive in the wild. Additionally, propagating the plants in our collections can help us increase the plant population, allowing us to help the population navigate potential genetic bottlenecks.
Native Plant Sales
We have native plants for sale! We sell plants daily in the Visitor Center & Conservatory’s gift shop. We also sell plants at the Garden’s Plantapalooza in the spring and at our annual Connect to Protect Native Plant sale in the fall. Because we are a non-profit, all of our plant sale money goes back to supporting conservation at the Garden.
Our Native Plants program focuses on the Georgia Piedmont, but we do grow natives from the Coastal Plain and the North Georgia mountains. Many of the native plants sold by the Mimsie Lanier Center are grown from seed.
We carefully and ethically collect seeds from wild populations, trying to ensure the capture of as much genetic diversity as possible. The identity of each and every species is confirmed by our conservation botanist. Our plants are raised with hearty soil mixes that ensure good roots. Our plants are not forced to grow faster or bloom out of season through aggressive hormone or fertilizer regimes.
We are keen to share our seeds with growers, serving as a point source for seeds that have been collected ethically from the wild. We share our propagation techniques with Georgia gardeners and green industry professionals in order to further the cause of getting more Georgia natives into Georgia gardens and landscapes.