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Getting buggy at the 12th Annual Johnstone Lecture

If you’re into bugs, don’t miss the Johnstone Lecture at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia on Sept. 26.

The speaker will be Jaret Daniels, associate professor of entomology at the University of Florida and director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity.

His talk, “Backyard Bugs,” is inspired by his recently published book, “Backyard Bugs: An Identification Guide to Common Insects, Spiders, and More.”

Daniels trained as an insect ecologist before focusing on conservation-related work, including pollinator conservation and declining butterfly species.

The book “is something I’ve wanted to do for some time because it’s a great way of encouraging young people to pay attention to the biodiversity that they find in their own landscapes,” Daniels said.

Daniels’ lecture will continue on the same track.

“I’m planning on doing a sort of virtual backyard tour of all the interesting insects that you might find,” said Daniels. Alongside a virtual tour, attendees will be given more detail about the histories and biologies of insects that can be found in a typical environment.

One example of an insect that could be uncovered is the Monarch butterfly, which Daniels calls  the “most iconic butterfly,” but is aware that not many people know the background and detailed story of them.

Daniels hopes people leave the lecture with a better appreciation for insects and a motivation to look closer at the biodiversity in their own landscapes. He also hopes that his book, and his lecture, will help get people outdoors and looking at the important insect biodiversity that is around them.

“I mean, as a child myself, that’s where I learned about insects, in my parent’s yard,” he said. “And you know, without that experience I wouldn’t have become a scientist.”

The Johnstone Lecture, sponsored by the Friends of the Garden, is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 7-9 p.m. in the Visitor’s Center and Conservatory at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, 2450. S. Milledge Ave., in Athens, Ga.

The lecture is free, but reservations must be made by Sept. 22  at: https://botgarden.uga.edu/event/johnstone-lecture-backyard-bugs/.

UGA grad student offers workshop on medicinal plants

Though not a typical classroom, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is one of the University of Georgia’s richest learning environments.

The 313-acre garden was graduate student Melissa Ray’s first stop when she came to Athens and now she spends about 20 hours a week teaching, studying and taking classes there. That includes a weekend workshop she recently led on “Medicinal Herbs of the Southeast.”

“I was surprised this place existed,” Ray said. “It’s a constant source for my classes or workshops. There’s so much available through the relationship with UGA.”

Ray’s workshop was the final step in earning the Advanced Training for Environmental Education in Georgia certificate. It’s another step toward her goal of getting into environmental education after she completes her master’s degree in natural resources at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

The four-hour class drew 10 students, including a first-time visitor from Valdosta, a pair of UGA students and a teacher from Atlanta.

“We want to connect people to nature,” said Cora Keber, interim director of education for the State Botanical Garden. “Different programs will bring in different people. I think one of the beauties of a university garden is we have access to resources like professors, researchers and students like Melissa.”

Keber tagged along for the class, which began with a lecture from Ray before moving outside to the garden’s trails. Instead of a test, Ray created a scavenger hunt for her students. They found nine plants that can be used in medicines.

Nancy Bedeir, a dietician from Valdosta, was planning a visit to the Athens area when she discovered the class online. It was her first trip to the State Botanical Garden.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Bedeir said. “I’m in the medical field and I didn’t know how many medical herbs there were in Georgia.”

The workshop was beneficial to even the more experienced plant enthusiasts.

“The garden is an awesome resource and a great place to practice plant identification,” said Rachel Smith, a horticulture major in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s great learning tool.”

The day wrapped up back in the classroom, where students heated beeswax and some of the plants they discovered on the trails to create a salve.

“It’s fascinating,” said Marty Ledenham, a resident of Watkinsville. “We’re learning to take care of (ourselves) with plants instead of all these pills.”

Interested in learning more? Join us on Nov. 7 for the Herbal Creams and Salves class.

For more upcoming events and classes at the garden, click here.

Writer: Christopher James, chtjames@uga.edu, 706-542-3631

Contact: Cora Keber, ckeber@uga.edu, 706-542-6156

Design underway, groundbreaking for UGA’s Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is set

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has hired a designer and a construction manager for the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, and plans to break ground on Sept. 1.

Koons Environmental Design, of Athens, Ga., will lead plans for the garden, to be nestled in an area between the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center and the administration building. The construction manager t from Allstate Construction, of Perry, Ga., will oversee a superintendent, based in Athens for the project.

“I am delighted with our choice of design firm and construction manager for the project,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “It is clear to me that the entire team—garden staff, university architects, UGA leadership, and the designer and construction manager—are all thinking about this project in the same way. We are all excited to create something unique and rooted in the creativity and sense of place in Athens.”

Both Koons and Allstate have a history of successful projects at UGA, Cruse-Sanders said.

So far UGA, in partnership with the garden’s board of advisors, has raised more than $4.3 million for the $5 million children’s garden, which includes an initial $1 million from the family of Alice H. Richards, for whom the garden is named. Richards, who was from Carrollton, Ga., was a charter member of the State Botanical Garden Board of Advisors and one of the garden’s most devoted and beloved supporters until her death in May 2007.

To help raise funds locally, the garden launched a Georgia Funder site in March, with a goal of raising $10,000 by Sept. 8. The crowdfunding initiative, launched in 2014-15, is an easy way for individuals to contribute to UGA.

The two-and-a-half-acre accessible fun-filled educational environment will include a canopy walk in the trees, a tree house, creature habitats, hands-on garden plots, an underground zone, edible landscapes, and a bog garden and pond. One component, an amphitheater in the woods, was completed in 2015.

The garden is expected to be open to visitors by early 2019. “We are looking forward to welcoming a new generation to the Garden,” Cruse-Sanders said.

To contribute to the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden through Georgia Funder, go to https://t.uga.edu/34z.

Writer: Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-542-2512

Contact: Jenny Cruse-Sanders, crusesanders@uga.edu, 706-542-6131

Collaborating for Plant Conservation

When it comes to plant conservation, the key to success is collaboration. Partners in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA) know this all too well.

Headquartered at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA (SBG), GPCA is a network of more than 40 conservation organizations committed to preventing local extinctions of rare plant populations.

“Although each partner brings a different expertise to the network, the core of the GPCA is the connection between conservation horticulture and on-the-ground restoration,” said SBG Director Jenny Cruse-Sanders. “Botanical gardens specifically make good partners because they are in a unique position to communicate information about rare plant species and they can be instrumental in creating networks for effective conservation action.”

Since its inception in 1995, the GPCA has worked on 100 priority species projects. Of those 100, 99 have been brought into cultivation or safeguarding at a partner organization and 49 have been returned to the wild.

In November 2016, the GPCA partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service and the National Wildlife Refuge Association for the inaugural Southeastern Partners in Plant Conversation (SePPCon) conference. The purpose of the meeting was to bring partners together in the same place to talk about the priorities for plant conservation in the Southeast and to gather information from attendees on specific lists of plant species identified as rare or at-risk by the Fish and Wildlife Service. For the Southeast, the lists included 104 at-risk plants.

More than 160 people from 24 states and territories attended the conference, representing a wide variety of groups including state agencies, environmental research organizations, utility companies, universities, and more. As a result of bringing together these partners, one unexpected outcome was that they were able to identify plants on the list that were actually not rare enough to warrant conservation action.

“We expected to gather information and set priorities for these plant species, but we didn’t anticipate finding out that some of them actually didn’t need urgent attention,” said Cruse-Sanders. “But this was just as important. Because of limited resources for plant conservation as a whole, if you can eliminate some of these from the list, there’s a greater percentage of resources to use for those plants that do actually need it.”

Following the meeting, the group submitted a list of 10 plant species that were more common than previously thought to the Center for Biological Diversity. As a result, the CBD contacted the Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw these species from the petitioned list. For the service to review each plant, it costs roughly $100,000, Cruse-Sanders explained. “So, one result of this meeting was a million dollars in savings that can essentially be used elsewhere for conservation.”

Under the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act, plants make up more than 50 percent of listed species, but receive less than 5 percent of available funding for conservation. This is why conservation alliances like the GPCA and meetings like SePPCon are so important, explained SBG Conservation Coordinator Jennifer Ceska.

Ceska, along with other GPCA representatives, led sessions at the SePPCon meeting for other interested parties on how to establish conservation alliances within their own states.

“While planning for the SePPCon meeting, we were able to really tease through what has made the GPCA model work for the past 22 years,” Ceska said. “Federal and state agencies asked us to teach our model to others in detail, sharing how we work with other organizations, inspire people to stay actively involved, and train volunteers to watch over the last remaining population of a species.”

Since the SePPCon meeting in November, several states have launched their own conservation alliances, including, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. In May 2017, the first tri-state plant conservation alliance meeting with Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia was held in Chattanooga to discuss plant and habitat recovery projects for the tri-corner region. GPCA leaders have also consulted with partners in Kentucky, Texas, Arizona and Colorado on creating their conservation alliances.

“Moving forward, the goal for us at the garden, as well as through GPCA and SePPCon, is to continue this open line of communication and collaboration,” said Cruse-Sanders. “Without these partnerships, we truly wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that we do.”

To learn more about GPCA or how you can get involved, visit botgarden.uga.edu.

Local student brings pollinator program to Colham Ferry, helps school with STEM endeavors

Harper Ann Moffett, an Oconee County High School junior, recently introduced third graders at Colham Ferry Elementary School (CFES) to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s pollinator conservation program, Connect to Protect.

In March, Moffett spoke with the students about native plants’ benefits for wildlife, including pollinators. Afterwards, she instructed them on ways to take care of the demonstration garden she planted at the school.

Weeks later, and after years of planning, CFES became one of 26 Georgia elementary schools to earn STEM certification, a status rewarded to schools invested in science, technology, engineering and math education. Only one percent of Georgia’s elementary schools are STEM certified.

Moffett discovered the Connect to Protect program while searching for community leadership opportunities. It was her father, Mincy Moffett, a botanist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, who suggested she contact the garden about Connect to Protect.

“My dad has always emphasized the environment and the plants that make it up,” Harper Ann said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how essential they are to us and our communities.”

Connect to Protect, a multi-faceted program, encourages local businesses, schools and homeowners to support pollinator communities by using native species in their gardens and plant displays.

The purpose of Connect to Protect is to teach others about the importance of native plants for restoring pollinator resources and to prevent diversity loss from disrupting our natural communities.

Heather Alley, conservation horticulturist and Connect to Protect program coordinator, supplied Moffett with the plants and wooden planter for the demonstration garden. The State Botanical Garden’s education department provided her with Connect to Protect handouts and signage.

“This is a mutually beneficial project,” said Alley. “Harper Ann was able to gain leadership experience, and the garden’s conservation and education efforts were promoted to a young audience.”

The teachers at CFES agree that Moffett’s presentation brought a fresh look to their science education curriculum.

“The collaboration between the State Botanical Garden, Moffett, and Colham Ferry Elementary School was a great fit with the school’s science and math focus,” said Heidi Wolfe, a third-grade teacher at CFES. “The installation of the Connect to Protect planter and the adoption of the program figured noticeably in our recent STEM Certification.”

Moffett hopes that she can continue to promote Connect to Protect by speaking at more schools throughout Oconee County this spring and fall.

“I’m trying to get my school’s environmental club involved,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to plant each demonstration garden, and I think a larger group can really engage with the kids and show them how to take care of the plants.”

Moffett said the club intends to build new planters for those schools looking to add a Connect to Protect garden on site. By working with the University of Georgia’s Materials Reuse Program, they hope to help offset the costs and labor that may be involved with each planter.

Her appreciation for the environment and community has inspired her to consider a career where she can make the most impact.

“I’d like to do something that makes the world a better place, whether that’s through the medical or law profession,” she said. “My dream job, however, would be in international law, working with environmental sciences.”

Contact: Heather Alley, alley@uga.edu , 706-542-1244

 

UGA student uses grant to launch pollinator project on rooftop

 

The grassy roof of the University of Georgia’s geography-geology building is an oasis for pollinators thanks to an enterprising student at the State Botanical Garden.

Carson Dann, who graduated in May with a degree in agriculture, used a mini-grant from the nonprofit Pollination Project, to transform the edge of the building’s roof into a pollinator garden of native plants grown at UGA’s State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Now those plants are blooming and attracting bees to the climatology lab.

“I’m shooting for garden of Eden,” Dann said. “I’m hoping it will be a much greener space. To have vegetation everywhere you look and the thought of it teeming with butterflies and bees is super exciting. I’m hoping those natives pack a punch.”

The installation is part of Connect to Protect, a program at the State Botanical Garden, that installs native plants in public spaces and private gardens to boost pollinator habitat. These gardens increase biodiversity and support healthy urban ecosystems.

Heather Alley, a conservation horticulturist at the garden, worked with Dann to pick plants would make sense for the rooftop and provided a Connect to Protect sign that explains the importance of maintaining pollinator habitats.

“This project allows us to promote our mission to a whole other audience in students on campus,” Alley said. “It feels like we’re passing the torch and our passion will carry on to future generations.”

The rooftop garden started in the 1960s as a way to help prevent extreme heat from affecting climatology research equipment in the geography-geology building. In the last decade, grad students added a vegetable garden.

Dann became a UGA Office of Sustainability intern last year and began exploring ways to support pollinators. Using the grant funds to collaborate with Alley seemed like a perfect fit.

“I wanted to keep the money as locally as possible and having access to a program that was specifically focusing on pollinators and native plants was just two birds with one stone,” Dann said. “The plants are actually from Georgia and have been propagated by the State Botanical Garden, which is a really cool dimension to this project.”

Dann wanted to focus on native plants because the heat on the rooftop in the summer meant she needed drought tolerant, full-sun plants that could stand the sweltering Georgia summer. That’s where Alley’s expertise was critical.

“Without the State Botanical Garden, it probably would’ve come down to traveling around Georgia and looking to find the right natives at small nurseries,” Dann said. “That’s not easy. That connection within UGA makes the experience all the more rich and exciting.”

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Writer: Christopher James, UGA Public Service and Outreach, chtjames@uga.edu 

Join us for the 2017 Sunflower Concert Series

The 16th annual Sunflower Concert Series will kick off at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA on June 13. The garden will host four performances during the series, held Tuesday evenings in June, July, August and September. All concerts are from 7-9 p.m. in the Flower Garden and offer an eclectic mix of music.

Tickets are $15 for non members, $10 for members, and $5 for children ages 6-12. Season tickets are $50 for non members or $35 for members. Admission to each concert includes beverages and light snacks. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic dinners. Lawn chairs are allowed on one designated level of the terraced Flower Garden.

All opening acts include or are managed by current UGA students in the UGA Terry College of Business Music Business Certificate Program.

Tickets are available through the links below or by calling 706-542-9353. Tickets will also be sold at the door.  This year’s schedule is as follows:

June 13: Caroline Aiken (Melodic Folk)
Aiken’s rich music history includes recording and performing with Bonnie Raitt and the Indigo Girls, opening for Arlo Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Doc Watson, 38 Special, Beach Boys and more. She appears in regional and national festivals, radio shows, workshops and concert series, supporting 9 nationally acclaimed recordings.

July 11: String Theory (Bluegrass)
Originally formed in 1993, String Theory plays old-time, bluegrass and Americana music. While the lineup has evolved and changed throughout its history, the band has consistently been made up of some of Athens’ finest acoustic musicians.

August 15: Randall Bramblett

Highly sought-after for his creativity as both a collaborator and skilled touring sideman, Randall Bramblett’s talent has earned him the respect of his peers and many of rock’s finest luminaries. While having shared stages with artists such as Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic, among others, it’s Bramblett’s own career as frontman where his artistry is truly on full display. This summer marks his eleventh studio release, Juke Joint at the Edge of the World, on New West Records.

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September 19: David Lowery (Rock & Roll)
Lowery is a mathematician, writer, musician, producer and serial entrepreneur based in Richmond, Va., and Athens, Ga. In the early 1980s, Lowery founded the critically acclaimed ensemble Cracker, which produced five, top-ten alternative rock radio tracks and three platinum albums. He teaches music business at UGA and helped establish the Athens Angel Investment Fund.

In case of inclement weather, concerts will be held indoors at the garden’s Visitor Center and Conservatory.

The Sunflower Music Series is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company – Athens, Flagpole Magazine, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Friends of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Northeast Sales Distributing Company and WUGA radio.

Long-time volunteer helps State Botanical Garden and partners conserve endangered native species

Nita Haley has volunteered with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia for 16 years, often focusing her efforts in the gift shop. This year, however, Haley is using her sewing skills to help the garden and its southeastern partners collect the seeds of rare and endangered plants.

Haley makes seed bags, small mesh pouches with drawstrings that fit over the top of flowering plants to collect their seeds. She created the bags with Jennifer Ceska, conservation coordinator for the State Botanical Garden, a unit of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia.

“The charm of the bag is that it’s made of polyester, so you can see through it and it dries quickly,” Haley said. “It’s also lightweight, so it won’t weigh the plants down during a heavy rain.”

Seed collection has long been a popular conservation method for those working with rare and endangered plants. Unfortunately, when the seeds mature, they are often blown away by wind and rain. The garden’s conservation team has sewn their own collection nets for years, but they often get wind-damaged or come untied.

Haley’s model is more efficient.

“Nita’s seed collection bags are well-made, they don’t fray and they’re re-usable,” Ceska said. “People have even used panty hose as collection tools before, but Nita’s are a breathable and uniform solution that can be used by conservationists all over the southeast.”

So far, Haley has made more than 150 bags, which are being used by the Chattahoochee Nature Center, The Nature Conservancy, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Georgia Department of Transportation, in addition to the State Botanical Garden.

Haley moved to Athens from Atlanta 19 years ago after retiring from teaching, and she comes from a family of sewers. While she doesn’t know the long-term implications or the range of the project, Haley hopes to continue assisting the conservation teams throughout the state with their seed collection needs.

“I call the people who work with the plants ‘seed scientists,’” she said. “They use the bags to preserve rare seeds, but I’m the one having fun, doing what I love.”

State Botanical Garden of Georgia celebrates National Public Gardens Day

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA joined more than 180 public gardens around the country and in Puerto Rico in celebration of the American Public Garden Association’s 8th Annual National Public Gardens Day on May 12.

Communities were invited to explore the diversity of local green spaces and take advantage of the conservation, education and environmental preservation resources that public gardens provide.

“The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is proud to be a part of National Public Gardens Day,” said SBG Director Jenny Cruse-Sanders. “It’s a day to celebrate everything we love about gardens and plants, and also bring awareness to the importance of our garden specifically and its impact on Georgia and beyond.”

The garden celebrated with a variety of activities, including free guided tours and a 10 percent discount at the gift shop. The UGA Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden also hosted its spring plant sale at the garden from 9-10:30 a.m.

Horticulturist Michael Dirr, a retired UGA professor and former director of the Botanical Garden, spoke at Friends First Friday that morning. Dirr’s presentation, titled “Reflections on the 2016 summer of plant discontent,” included information on how gardeners can prepare for another hot summer in the South and where he believes the future of gardeners and plants is headed. He also shared why he feels gardens are important to society in the 21st century.

“The world moves at a dizzying pace and gardens can provide a sanctuary and oasis for reflection and peaceful coexistence with nature unlike anywhere else,” Dirr said. “But aside from that, and perhaps most importantly, gardens serve as a repository for threatened and endangered species, habitat preservation, plant conservation and much more. That’s something the State Botanical Garden of Georgia does exceedingly well.”

Dirr directed the garden from 1979 until 1981, and worked closely with the garden as a professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“Throughout my career, I have seen the garden evolve from really just this idea into a nationally known institution for not only its beautiful collections, but for plant conservation and first-class education programs,” he said. “There is much to be proud of here and a lot to continue to build on.”

Construction will be underway—literally—as the garden marks its 50th anniversary in 2018. Initial construction for the new Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is scheduled for October. The new complex will transform two and a half acres into a fun-filled educational environment for children of all ages. Key features include a canopy walk, Theater-in-the-Woods, edible landscapes, underground adventure area, pond and much more.

The Conservation Blog: The State Botanical Garden of Georgia can help you grow wildflowers for bees

You have likely seen the ads on social media or noticed the missing bee on Cheerios boxes, bringing attention to the plight of bees. We at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia appreciate the attention bees are getting through products like Cheerios, Burt’s Bees, and Haagen Daz, teaching through their ad campaigns and raising funds and awareness for the plight of bees.

Bees are in trouble across the United States. European Honeybees succumb to Colony Collapse Disorder, mites, and other parasites, and fungal and bacterial diseases. Native bees are declining from loss of habitat and possibly cross-over pathogens from the honeybees (an area of active research). All beneficial insects suffer from loss of habitat (think of how few diverse prairies or woodlands you’ve seen lately in Georgia), and from chemical use like systemic insecticides that show up in all plant tissues, including pollen and nectar. For the latest science on all of these topics, visit the website of the Xerces Society. Georgia farmers (both at home and on the farm) rely upon bees to pollinate their crops. Blueberries require bees as pollinators, and they are a major export item for Georgia farmers, shipping annually up to 90 million pounds, an ever increasing bounty due to our long growing season and good cultivar selections.

Cheerios recently launched a new project to give away one million wildflower seeds to inspire people to include wildflowers in their landscapes. Incorporating native wildflowers in all gardens from patio to mailbox to school and coffee shop does indeed help bees, other beneficial insects, and all the critters that rely upon them as food, from larks to lacewings to lizards. If you’ve been following this topic on social media, you’ve likely seen a second wave of articles and posts discouraging people from planting the seed mixes developed for the Cheerios project. The quick answer to this controversy is that the Cheerios seed mix, though well intentioned, is not ideal for all regions of the US.

We at the State Botanical Garden are sympathetic with both sides in this controversy. It would be a real challenge to create a wildflower seed mix useful and appropriate to all climates, soils, and elevations across North America. And even if you could, it would be very difficult to then come up with enough seeds to actually be able to share 100 million of them. Kudos to General Mills for taking on this effort. They have been funding large-scale pollinator habitat restoration projects, and they surpassed their goal of 100 million seeds (announced March 9, 2017), distributing 1.5 billion seeds in a very few days. The concern, the pushback you may be reading about from botanical gardens, conservation organizations, and wildlife agencies, is that the seed mix was not ideal for nationwide use and could actually do harm in several ways. The seeds may not establish well, frustrating patrons and dimming excitement about gardening with wildflowers. The mix could potentially introduce a weedy plant into someone’s garden that crowds out other plants or even escapes into natural areas, bullying native plants in their wild habitats. Both scenarios give wildflower seed mixes a bad name. The Cheerios wildflower effort did raise an enormous amount of attention for gardening with wildflowers to benefit bees. Let’s ride that momentum of interest and get great Georgia seeds into the hands of Georgia’s gardeners. Let’s teach people how to garden with wildflowers.

We here at the State Botanical Garden do not believe we could create a species mix for the entire US that would not create a problem in another region of the country. It would be difficult, probably impossible, to choose a single species that would grow well across the country and not become invasive in some states. Even regional mixes, such as southeastern seed mixes, are less than ideal. Think about the differences between sandy Coastal Plain soils versus the red clay soils of the Piedmont and Mountains of Georgia. Consider the differences in temperatures reflected in the hardiness zones from south to north Georgia.

Conversation horticulturists at the State Botanical Garden have been selecting native Georgia plants and increasing their seeds since 2012 as part of the pollinator conservation research at the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies and our Connect to Protect outreach mission. Since 2012, tThe Garden has been collaborating with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and with members of the Green Industry (nurseries and wholesalers) to increase production of appropriate native plants for gardening and habitat restoration through the Georgia Native Plant Initiative. Through our education program Connect to Protect, we are teaching techniques for gardening and restoration that are appropriate for Georgia’s soils and native plants.

And here’s the latest good news ─ after five years of research and production, we now have enough native plant seeds to share! Visit the State Botanical Garden Gift Shop to purchase wildflower seeds selected to perform well in home gardens and in Georgia soils. These are beautiful plants with personality and stories of heritage, use, and connection to Georgia’s ecosystems and culture–and their flowering times will be synchronized with the life cycles of native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators in your region. Our SBG wildflower seeds will go on sale the last week of March at the Garden’s Gift Shop.

If you want to help bees and enjoy a garden of wonderful native plants, the State Botanical Garden can help you. Use our seeds and our techniques developed to help your garden succeed. We are happy to help. This is what we do!

Check out the State Botanical Garden website for ways we can help you garden with Georgia wildflowers:

  • Recommended native plant nurseries list
  • Recommended seed source list
  • Recommended plants for sale at our SBG Gift Shop, Plantapalooza Spring Plant Sale, and Connect to Protect Fall Plant Sale
  • Certificate in Native Plants classes for learning about and gardening with native plants of Georgia
  • Georgia Native Plant Initiative increasing the production and promotion of native plants in the Green Industry
  • Georgia Milkweed Initiative
  • Connect to Protect outreach program and philosophy
  • Publications on native plants of Georgia, identification and propagation, books, manuals, and articles