July Native Plant of the Month: Royal Catchfly


Silene regia


Royal Catchfly is an endangered perennial with sticky-hairy stems and bright red flowers in an open cluster at the top of the stem. Though found across the southeast and midwest, it is very rare throughout its range. There is only one population known in Georgia, in Dade County, and it is not protected on public land.



Found in limestone cedar glades, rocky, sunny openings in woodlands, Royal Catchfly finds its habitat threatened by clearing and conversion to pine plantations, pasture and development. This plant is designed to benefit from wildfires and fire suppression and the resulting encroachment by woody species is limiting growth.  The flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds.


The State Botanical Garden of Georgia Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies is growing this plant and working to ensure its survival. Find out more about what is happening at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to Preserve Georgia’s Imperiled Native Species and how you can help.

UGA, food bank partnership promotes healthy eating

Teaching people to grow, cook and eat healthy foods is the key goal of a partnership between the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

Camaria Welch, a graduate student in the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, has created a curriculum of lesson plans and activities to help people understand the connection between nature and food, and how to develop healthy eating habits.

During a summer camp at the garden, Welch used the curriculum, called Bee Smart Eat Smart, to help 5-10 year olds plant seeds, decorate aprons and read books such as “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey. They also did arts and crafts, and participated in theater, acting out skits dressed as fruits and vegetables.

The campers made eggplant pizza, with a crust made from roasted eggplant, pasta with pesto (which helped disguise the cucumber, kale and other greens mixed in) and mango sunrise smoothies, to introduce the children to fruits they may not have tried.

A camper presents rainbow flatbread, featuring a variety of colorful vegetables.

The importance of pollinators
“My curriculum is divided into five lessons, each featuring a fruit and vegetable, chosen specifically of their role in helping pollinators,” says Welch, who is earning a masters degree in foods and nutrition. “Each day has its own color theme. The first day, for instance, is red, so we’re talking about strawberries and red bell peppers. I want to make kids excited about eating vegetables, and find recipes that make them palatable.”

About two-thirds of crop varieties around the world depend on pollinators, so programs that feature these types of food plants increase awareness of the important role of pollinators and the need for pollinator conservation.

We need pollinators for many plants to grow, and they are in danger, bees in particular. In 2007, the U.S. Senate approved and designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week,” as a step toward addressing the issue of declining pollinator populations. This year, June 18 – 24 celebrates the role of pollinators.

Keber plants a pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies and other animals.

Cooking classes in Northeast Georgia
In addition to the camp, Welch is implementing a modified version of Bee Smart Eat Smart at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s site in Clayton, Georgia. She will lead cooking classes for parents and children in the teaching kitchen on the Food Bank site.

In April, State Botanical Garden Education Director Cora Keber and Heather Alley, conservation horticulturist at the garden’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Species, planted a pollinator garden at the Clayton food bank site, designed to draws bees, butterflies and other native pollinators to the vegetable and fruits growing outside the facility.

The food bank pollinator garden is part of a State Botanical Garden program called Connect to Protect. So far, more than 20 Connect to Protect gardens have been installed in Athens-Clarke County and surrounding areas, as well as in Macon and Atlanta.

At the food bank, the pollinator garden will be part of the lesson plan for local residents, said Cara-Lee Langston, the Food Bank’s teaching kitchen coordinator.

The food bank’s teaching kitchen, where Welch will be presenting a modified version of her curriculum, Bee Smart Eat Smart.

Grow and eat local food
“We’re all about teaching families where their food comes from,” Langston said. “Folks up here understand how important local food is.”

The lesson plans, activities and materials that Welch developed for the Bee Smart Eat Smart program will be distributed to schools where Connect to Protect gardens are planted, and used in the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Alice H. Richard Children’s Garden, which is under construction and should open by early 2019.

Funding for Welch’s graduate assistantship at the State Botanical Garden was provided by the Pittulloch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports programs for children. Foundation President Lynn Pattillo is a member of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia advisory board.

“My organization’s hope is that the State Botanical Garden relays Welch’s work to garden clubs across Georgia, so they can transfer the message into school systems and strengthen relationships with local food banks,” Pattillo says. “Providing on-going education via seminars, speakers, cooking classes and classroom visits will further reinforce the important message that we are what we eat.”

June Native Plant of the Month: Hairy Rattleweed


Baptisia arachnifera

Hairy Rattleweed is an endangered plant now only found in two counties in Georgia, Brantley and Wayne, and nowhere else in the world.  It is a pine flatwood perennial and is named for the white, cobwebby hairs that cover the stems.

Most of the pine flatwoods habitats that support Hairy Rattleweed have been converted to pine plantations. As the pines mature, they block sunlight from reaching the ground and without sunlight Hairy Rattleweed cannot flower and reproduce.

Hairy Rattleweed has an extensive root system that helps it survive fire, which once was a frequent occurrence in pine flatwoods. Fire is needed to keep down competition from shrubs, which will also shade out the plant. It is a “tumbleweed” type of plant – seeds are dispersed when stems break off at ground level and are blown, tumbleweed-style, across the ground.



Only 13 populations of Hairy Rattleweed have been seen in the last 20 years and only one of these is protected on conservation land.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies is growing this plant and working to ensure its survival. Find out more about what is happening at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to Preserve Georgia’s Imperiled Native Species and how you can help.

Commitment to historic land preservation and education earns national award for UGA donors

Longtime UGA supporters and alumni Craig and Diana Barrow were awarded the prestigious Margaret Douglas Medal by The Garden Club of America (GCA) for their commitment and service to conservation education at their Wormsloe estate near Savannah, Georgia.

The national award was given to the Barrows in recognition of their “thoughtful stewardship and generous donation of both land and resources,” said Dede Petri, president of The Garden Club of America.

The Barrows are the ninth generation to live at Wormsloe, located on the Isle of Hope outside of Savannah, since the property was claimed and developed by Craig Barrow’s ancestor Noble Jones in the mid-1730s. Wormsloe is the oldest property in Georgia to be held continuously by the same family.

Wormsloe was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. That same year, the Barrow family donated 822 acres of the property to The Nature Conservancy, which transferred the land to the state of Georgia to be managed by the Department of Natural Resources as a historic site. The Barrows retained Wormsloe House and the surrounding 50 acres of the property.

In 2007, the Barrows founded the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History to conserve the undeveloped land on the estate and to promote research and education programs there.

More than a dozen units across the university have engaged in research and education at Wormsloe. Among them are the College of Environment and Design, the Odum School of Ecology, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

In 2013, the Barrows, through their Wormsloe Foundation, donated 15 acres of the property to the University of Georgia to establish the Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe (CREW). The center provides opportunities for UGA faculty and students to study cultural history and historical land use practices, among other topics, under the direction of Sarah Ross, a member of the faculty of the College of Environment and Design and executive director of CREW. In 2016, UGA dedicated two new cabins built on the property to house visiting students and faculty. The cabins were partially funded by the Wormsloe Foundation as well.



In its recognition of the Barrows, The Garden Club of America highlighted CREW’s research with 400 varieties of vegetables in the UGA Heirloom Demonstration Garden at Wormsloe. Some of these plants, such as peanuts, blueberries and cotton, are leaders in Georgia’s robust agriculture industry. Heirloom vegetable trials on site contribute to profitability for coastal Georgia’s family farms by measuring plant productivity, pest and disease resistance, and flood and drought tolerance as well as documenting the preferred flavor profiles.

GCA also recognized the Barrows’ significant backing of landscape stewardship, habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture research on their historic property—all supported largely by UGA programs on site. In addition, GCA cited the significance of the transdisciplinary approach to education provided by CREW.

“Craig and Diana are certainly deserving of this national recognition,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia is grateful for its enduring partnership with the Barrow family and the many ways they are helping us to expand our reach and impact across the state of Georgia and beyond.”

Craig Barrow credits Ross and College of Environment and Design Dean Dan Nadenicek for the work that led to the award.

“Diana and I were overwhelmed with humility and appreciation to be the recipients of such a prestigious award,” Barrow said. “However, we well know that the vision, leadership and hard work of Sarah Ross were largely responsible, as was the work of Dr. Dan Nadenicek and many others at the University of Georgia. The Margaret Douglas Medal not only endorses the university’s work at Wormsloe but also conveys a huge message of support for our many programs.”

Craig Barrow’s ties to UGA are deep. His great-great-great-grandfather, Alonzo Church, was president of the University of Georgia from 1829 to 1859, the longest-serving UGA president in history. Ten generations of the family have attended UGA. In 2010, the Barrows were named Family of the Year by the UGA Alumni Association.

Craig and Diana Barrow were recognized in 2013 as members of UGA’s 1785 Society, which acknowledges donors who have given more than $1 million in cumulative gifts to the university. In addition to the initiatives and research associated with CREW, the Barrows’ support has benefitted the UGA Libraries, the University of Georgia Press, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Craig Barrow is the current chair of the University of Georgia Press Advisory Council. Diana Barrow is a member of the Board of Advisors for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

The Wormsloe State Historic Site is open to visitors and includes a museum and theater, picnic area, gift shop and walking trails. Visitors enter the site through an allée of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Events there include exhibitions of the tools and skills of colonial Georgians, led by demonstrators in period dress. Guided tours are offered daily. For more information, go to

Writer: Kelly Simmons,, 706-542-2512

Contact: Sarah Ross,, 912-414-2940

Stop and smell the native roses: UGA student creates coloring book for botanical garden

Suzie Henderson has been sketching plants and insects since she was a child. As an ecology major and horticulture minor, she is familiar with Georgia’s native plants—from the bright orange butterfly weed to the ivory yucca.

During her internship with the State Botanical Garden, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, she used her knowledge and creativity to create a coloring book that educates children about the importance of native plants and pollinators.

“Art has been a hobby my whole life,” Henderson says. “I’ve always been drawn to observing nature through art.”

Henderson’s internship at the garden was part of her year as a UGA Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar. The student scholars program introduces students to the public service mission of Georgia’s land-grant and sea-grant university. Participants learn about and visit each of UGA’s eight PSO units during the fall semester before completing a 150-hour internship with one of those units in the spring. Henderson’s internship extended into the following year.

While at the garden Henderson had an opportunity to get involved with Connect to Protect, a statewide program that combines beautiful displays of native plants with educational materials to foster an understanding of the role that native plants play in maintaining biodiversity in urban and suburban areas of Georgia. Numerous Connect to Protect gardens have been planted at schools and businesses in and around Athens, as well as in Gwinnett County, Macon-Bibb County and Rabun County.

“I wanted to teach children and adults about native plants and their benefit to human beings and how they fit in the human web,” said Henderson. “The more gardens we have, the more we can support healthier pollinators, to pollinate our orchards and fields.”

The coloring book features 10 native plant species, each illustration delicately drawn with a corresponding pollinator, such as a ruby-throated hummingbird or Eastern bumblebee. The book provides background information on the plant and pollinator as well as a thought-provoking discussion question. In the back of the book, a page demonstrates the plant and insect life cycles, and most importantly, where these cycles overlap and merge.

“That’s why I loved making this book—I could see the relationship between the flowers, the pollinators, and the whole function of an ecosystem,” said Henderson.

The making of the book was a garden family affair. Public Service and Outreach graduate assistant, Paula Runyon, who worked at the garden, assisted in converting the drawings to a digital file format. Elijah Richardson, a work-study student, designed the coloring key in the back of the book. Linda Chafin, the resident conservation botanist and native plant expert at the garden’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies, helped edit the text. Graphic designer Lisa Nation created the cohesive layout of the book. Caroline Turner, a high school student in UGA’s Young Dawgs high school internship program, is helping Henderson with the second version of the book, which depicts the importance of healthy food, and all the factors that go into growing food.

Cora Keber, education director at the State Botanical Garden, and Heather Alley, conservation horticulturist, helped oversee Henderson’s coloring book from concept to creation.

“The next book will feature illustrations of food crops and pollinators,” says Keber. “It will also include recipes with each plant.”

The Odum School of Ecology, where Henderson is earning her degree, gave the book to 300 people who attended a recent ecology reunion and symposium in honor of the Institute of Ecology, founded at UGA 50 years ago in 1967.

“When we saw the coloring books we immediately decided to give everyone a copy,” said Beth Gavrilles, Odum research communications coordinator and one of the event organizers. “We knew people would love them for their content and execution, and because they were created by one of our students. People, whether kid or adult, really seem to like coloring books.”

After graduation, Henderson hopes to study functional ecosystem health and continue drawing. The process of illustrating the coloring book, she says, has given her the confidence to pursue her artistic endeavors, perhaps in the form of a publication dedicated to conservation.

The Connect to Protect coloring book is available for $7 at the gift shop at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia or online. Please email Cora Keber with requests. Reduced rates are offered for nonprofits and educators.



Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0964

Contact: Cora Keber,, 706-542-6158

State Botanical Garden honors supporter who founded first advisory board and fundraising ball

By Christopher James

Around Georgia, the name Callaway is practically synonymous with gardens.

So it’s no surprise that members of the Callaway family from LaGrange, who created Callaway Gardens, also played a role in developing the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

On Saturday, May 5, at its annual ball, the State Botanical Garden honored Mark Callaway, whose foresight in the 1980s led to the formation of an advisory board to serve as a fundraising arm for the  313-acre preserve, part of University of Georgia Public Service and Outreach. Callaway also helped plan the first ball in 1985.

“We needed people who were willing to step up and make big donations,” Callaway says. “Gardens can be hugely expensive and I think it’s important that you have that support. We wanted to get more people involved.”

The Garden of the Worlds Ball this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. In addition to Callaway, philanthropist Deen Day Sanders was recognized for her support of the garden.

“This being our 50th anniversary, it’s an important year to mark our progress, our goals and celebrate the role the State Botanical Garden of Georgia has at the university and within the state of Georgia,” says Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “We need to remember the beginning of the garden and how it grew from an idea in 1968 to what it is today. A lot of that has to do with the people who have been involved in the garden, over the years.”


Mark Callaway’s involvement in the garden followed that of his grandmother, Alice Hand Callaway, for whom the visitor’s center and conservatory are named. The Callaway Foundation, one of three of the family’s philanthropic organizations, provided money for the facility, which was completed in 1984. The administration building also is named for Callaway.

Mark Callaway’s Morning Star Foundation later sponsored the construction of the International Garden.

Now a senior vice president and financial advisor for the Indigo Group at Morgan Stanley in Atlanta, Callaway says he wanted to establish the garden’s board of advisors to ensure that there would be broad support across the state for Georgia’s primary university-based research garden. Callaway chaired the first board of advisors.

Tom Wight, a charter member of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, says Callaway’s vision has led to successful fundraising that has allowed the garden to continue to expand over the years.

“I take real pride in what’s been accomplished,” says Tom Wight, who served with Callaway on that early advisory board. “I don’t say the board did it all, but we certainly played our role.”

State Botanical Garden honors Deen Day Sanders for 50 years of service

Deen Day Sanders has been planting seeds her entire life. She has supported the State Botanical Garden of Georgia since its establishment 50 years ago.

Sanders’ love for gardening first took root in the small town of Adrian, Georgia, where she planted flowers with her grandmother as a young girl. She knew early on which flowers would attract butterflies. She knew how to shake out seeds from petunias. She recognized which plants were most fragrant and which ones provided the best visuals in landscape design. For her, gardening came almost as naturally as breathing.

As she grew up, she began volunteering, joining the first garden club in 1959 and organizing a neighborhood garden club in 1961.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia was established in 1968, largely due to the efforts of  garden club members and the Garden Club of Georgia (GCG). She was president of GCG  from 1987 to 1989, was president of National Garden Clubs, Inc. from 1999 to 2001, and vice president of World Association of Floral Artists from 2008 to 2011.

Deen Day Sanders will be recognized on May 5 during a 50th Anniversary Celebration at the State Botanical Garden’s annual fundraiser, the Gardens of the World Ball. She and Mark Callaway, another longtime supporter of the State Botanical Garden, are serving as co-chairs for the event. Sanders will be escorted by her husband, Jim Sanders, whom she married in 2002.

A driven philanthropist and lifelong learner, she remained committed to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and provided support for the garden’s plants, trails and facilities.

“Deen stands out as one of our most generous and steadfast supporters,” says Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “When I first met her, we had conversations about what inspires her. What impressed me so much was her love of gardens, her love of art. It seems to come from a deep understanding and appreciation of nature and the beauty she sees in nature.”

“Deen has always been interested in beauty and nature, and she wants to play a part in making things better for future generations,” says Tom Wight, a charter member of the State Botanical Garden’s board of advisors, who has known Sanders his whole life. “Deen leads by example. She leads quietly and supports the things she believes in, both with her influence and financial support.”

Sanders helped develop plans for the Cecil B. Day Chapel, which was named for her late husband. It is a tranquil venue in the woods, used for weddings, receptions, memorial services, and acoustic music performances. Nestled in the overhang of trees, the chapel has an awe-inspiring cypress interior and meticulous wood carvings of delicate vines, leaves and blossoms.

“Gardens offer fulfillment and peace,” Sanders says. “How better are we going to help the next generation understand the importance of plants, if not through gardens?”

Sanders suggested the idea for an accessibility path to the State Botanical Garden’s Shade and Native Flora Gardens, in memory of her late son, Burke Day.

“The path was very much needed, and I don’t know who would have thought of it except Deen,” says Marianne McConnel, a member of the garden’s first board of advisors.

Her philanthropy has been recognized throughout the state. Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson named October 12, 1992 in her honor. She was given the key to the City of Statesboro, Georgia, which annually celebrates a Service to Mankind Award’s Program in her name.

She received the 1987 Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson Award, presented by her friend and former first lady, “Lady Bird” Johnson, in recognition of her contributions to Keep America Beautiful. A cause dear to Sanders’ heart, Keep America Beautiful is an organization dedicated to beautification and litter prevention.

“Volunteering is a life-enriching experience,” Sanders says. “Volunteerism is so needed.”

She is looking forward to upcoming events and new exhibits at the State Botanical Garden, such as the opening of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. Scheduled for completion by early 2019, the children’s garden will provide a space for hands-on, educational activities emphasizing the importance of nature, healthy food and healthy bodies.

“Just like when my grandmother introduced something that would inspire me all of my life, I hope the children’s garden shows children the importance of plants,” Sanders says.

Former State Botanical Garden Director Jeff Lewis, who has known Sanders for 30 years, calls her a good example of how one might ideally live. “She’s not out seeking applause and recognition,” he says. “She’s doing things that will benefit the people of Georgia in a lasting way.”


Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0964

Contact: Jenny Cruse-Sanders,, 706-542-6131

May Native Plant of the Month: Canby’s Dropwart

Canby’s Dropwart

Oxypolis canbyi

Canby’s Dropwort is an important endangered perennial. It’s essential to the lifecycle of the black swallowtail butterflies who lay their eggs on the stems. When the larvae (caterpillars) emerge, they eat the stems and leaves before forming cocoons. These stems can be up to 5 feet tall and the flowers are in flat-topped clusters at the top of the stems, with many tiny white, five-petaled flowers.

Due to loss of habitat from conversion to pine plantations and agriculture by ditching, draining, and destroying wetlands, Canby’s Dropwort is only found in small populations in the Coastal Plain of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware. About 15 populations have been seen in the last 17 years in Georgia’s Burke, Dooly, Jenkins, Lee and Screven counties. Only six of these populations are on conservation lands.



The State Botanical Garden of Georgia Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies is working with this plant and by sponsoring Canby’s Dropwort you can greatly impact the garden’s work to increase numbers and chance of survival. Find out more about what is happening at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to Preserve Georgia’s Imperiled Native Species and how you can help.


Art exhibit featuring the signature plant for the 50th anniversary of the State Botanical Garden

An opening reception for the Southern Flame Azalea Invitational Art Show at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia will be held on Sunday, April 8, from 2-4 p.m.

The exhibition will feature 20 different interpretations of the Southern flame azalea—the garden’s signature plant for its 50th anniversary— created by local artists, who utilized their own unique styles. Artists were invited to participate in the show, which is part of the garden’s anniversary celebration.

The reception will be in the Gardenside Room, in the Visitor Center and Conservatory. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees can votes for the artwork they like the most. The artist with the most votes will receive an Audience Choice Award.

The art, which was donated by the artists, will remain on display through April 27. All 20 pieces will be for sale, with proceeds going to support the State Botanical Garden.

The Southern flame azalea, known for its pleasant fragrance and fiery colors, is native to Georgia and grows throughout the entire state. The plant will be available for purchase at the garden’s gift shop.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of the University of Georgia’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, this year celebrates 50 years of serving the citizens of Georgia. The garden attracts more than 230,000 visitors each year. With walking trails, garden displays and educational initiatives, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is dedicated to inspiring, educating and conserving.

Connect to Protect garden grows in downtown Athens


This fall, downtown Athens gained some biodiversity with the installation of Connect to Protect  flower beds at corners of Washington St. and College Ave. The featured native plants were grown at the garden’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies and were planted by garden staff. The beds have now reached full spring bloom and are enhancing the visual space downtown while also providing an inviting space for pollinators. SBG’s presence downtown was made official last week with the installation of our interpretive sign which explains the importance of native plants in urban spaces. The plant beds feature attractive native plant species favored by native bees, butterflies and birds as well as colorful annuals to beautify our cityscape. This project was completed with the support of Athens Downtown Development, UGA Extension Master Gardeners and the Athens-Clarke Co. Unified Government.