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August 2020 — Volume XXVI, Number 8 — Published by the Georgia Native Plant Society


SMPP

 

From the State Board

Stone Mountain Propagation Project (SMPP)

In keeping with the growth of GNPS as a statewide organization, SMPP is re-evaluating our mission and operations. Since 2009, when GNPS had the opportunity to start a propagation center at Stone Mountain Park, we have focused on growing plants mainly for Atlanta area plant sales. Most plants have been grown from seed collected from knowledgeable members’ gardens. Some plants come to SMPP from rescues; others are donated by members. Two GNPS native plant experts, Elaine Nash and long-time nursery manager Karen McCaustland ensure the integrity of our propagation operations with their broad knowledge.

To date in 2020, we have carefully continued our weekly workdays with a small group of dedicated volunteers while adhering to CDC guidance. When the spring plant sale was cancelled, we reached out to all our restoration site leaders and successfully placed about 500 native plants from our inventory with GNPS restoration sites. Later this summer, we plan to begin periodic sales to members by appointment on our workdays.

SMPP

Moving forward, we will work with the conservation committee and propagation subcommittee to focus more on conservation and the educational opportunities offered by the amazing natural resource of Stone Mountain Park. We will remain a limited source for members looking to purchase Piedmont native plants that we’ve grown, but we hope to also have greater impact through larger efforts. As pandemic safety precautions allow, we plan to focus more on being an education and conservation center, with less emphasis on producing plants specifically for sale.  

Anyone interested in joining the SMPP team to help develop our new directions or to volunteer at a workday, please contact me at loriconway@gnps.org. Since the pandemic began, we have been gradually funneling in new volunteers for training, but we will get you into the rotation soon!

SMPP activity

And as always, if you have questions or would like to reach us about other matters, send email to board@gnps.org.

Top photo: Pollinators on Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum), today!


Chapter News: Redbud

Know Native Plants to Value them and Conserve their Natural Habitats

When the Redbud Project was founded as a model for preservation of green space  over ten years ago, the Gainesville/Hall County community came together to promote awareness of native plants and habitats imperiled by rapid economic development.

Redbud Project volunteers are developing the Ecology Center headquarters as a nature education center. GNPS nature  programs are held in the Ecology Center, which is open to environmental groups that amplify the mission to promote nature education and conservation throughout the community. 

A chapter of GNPS since 2015,  Redbud Project has developed a multi-faceted nature education center at the Ecology Center of Linwood Nature Preserve in partnership with Gainesville Parks and Recreation. Nature education and conservation programs and activities are held throughout the year in the Ecology Center, which is open to meetings and programs of community  organizations and groups that share the environmental conservation mission. The Ecology Center includes the outdoor Native Plant Conservatory, the Native Plant Conservatory Archive database, and the Bruce Alan Doll Nature Art Gallery.

The Native Plant Conservatory surrounds the Ecology Center with displays of native trees, shrubs and herbs that inform the public of the region’s rich diversity of native plants and encourage their use in public and private landscapes to connect natural habitats.  Each of the six demonstration beds has been developed and managed by volunteers well-versed in native plant culture. To promote restoration and connection of habitats throughout north Georgia, the Native Plant Conservatory exhibits microcosms of the natural ecosystems distinctive for their plethora of native species harbored on the Gainesville Ridges formed by glacial push and upheaval of earth’s tectonic plates over two million years ago.

The Native Plant Conservatory Archive  (NPCA) has been created as a major reference for native plant education and landscaping using Microsoft Windows software — VISIO. The  database is a major resource for private property owners, municipalities and developers to landscape year-round with indigenous native plants. To develop the archive of the Native Plant Conservatory, team captains first inventoried plant collections in their display beds and evaluated their collections with selected criteria:

  • Native plant species indigenous to the Gainesville Ridges
  • Color, blooming, season appropriate
  • Size and structure for landscape design
  • Ease of propagation and maintenance
  • Mass groupings of selected species.

NPCA map

Map of native plant bed with plant profile list(Steve Dupont). Click on image to open two-page PDF.

With plant inventories in hand, information technologist Steve Dupont then mapped each plant bed to show physical structures and trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.  He and team captains then “ground truthed” the map of each bed, made changes if needed, and finalized the design. The Native Plant Conservatory Archive is a powerful tool, which will be available to the community for research and reference in the Ecology Center headquarters of Redbud Project at Linwood Nature Preserve and archived in a digital database. Team members will be trained to assist private property owners, municipal officials, developers, commercial properties, and others to develop native plant habitats to connect ecosystems throughout the area.

With plant inventories in hand, information technologist Steve Dupont then mapped each plant bed to show physical structures and trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.  He and team captains then “ground truthed” the map of each bed, made changes if needed, and finalized the design. The Native Plant Conservatory Archive is a powerful tool, which will be available to the community for research and reference in the Ecology Center headquarters of Redbud Project at Linwood Nature Preserve and archived in a digital database. Team members will be trained to assist private property owners, municipal officials, developers, commercial properties, and others to develop native plant habitats to connect ecosystems throughout the area.

Maps are color coded to  link with  plant profile and inventory lists and further linked to plant fact sheets of ecological data in USDA-NRCS plant databases. Each plant is profiled with common and scientific name, light requirement, moisture preference, food web beneficiaries, height, bloom period, flower color and type.  Each plant inventory list is then coded to link with a plant fact sheet for each species. Ecologist and strategic information technologist Steve Dupont developed the archives with maps and data, drawing on his career experience as an environmental science educator and field ecologist, including tracking alligators for environmental impact of nuclear and fossil fuel on waterways. He earned a masters degree from UGA School of Forestry in wildlife and environmental sciences and holds the Certificate in Native Plants from State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Native Plant Conservatory Archive Sampler

Name

Light req.

Moisture

Height

Bloom

Color

Type

Wild Ageratum
Conoclinium coelestinum

Sun, part shade

Medium

1 to 3 ft.

Summer, fall

Purple

Herbaceous perennial

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

Full sun

Dry & Moist

2 ft.

Summer

Orange

Herbaceous perennial

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Part shade

Moist

4 ft.

Summer, fall

Red

Herbaceous perennial

Hoary Mt. Mint
Pycanahthemum incanum

Sun, part sun, shade

Medium

6 ft.

Summer

White to pale pink

Herbaceous perennial

Indian pink
Spigelia marilandica

Partial or full shade

High

1 to 2 ft.

Early summer

Red-yellow

Herbaceous perennial

Sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

Sun, part shade

Moist

6 to 9 ft.

Spring to summer

Reddish brown

Deciduous shrub

Plant Sampler

Clockwise from top left: Sweetshrub Calycanthus floridus (credit Penny K. Stowe), Hoary Mt. Mint Pycanahthemum incanum, Indian pink Spigelia marilandica (credit Penny K. Stowe), Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa (credit Penny K. Stowe), Wild Ageratum Conoclinium coelestinum (credit Penny K. Stowe), Cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis (credit Penny K. Stowe)

Also a resource for native plant education, the Bruce Alan Doll Nature Art Gallery is under development within the Ecology Center to interpret the value of native plants for environmental conservation. Work by local artists has been commissioned to convey the ecological concept of the Cycle of Life—native plants sustain native insects on which birds thrive to spread seeds to promote tree canopy that sequesters carbon dioxide to produce oxygen that maintains air quality for the breath of life.

Artwork mounting

Nature photographer Don Linke prepares artwork for permanent gallery installation.

The Redbud Ecology Center with its Native Plant Conservatory documented in the Native Plant Conservatory Archive is a working model is a working model for the  Homegrown National Park envisioned by naturalist Douglas W. Tallamy in “Nature’s Best Hope.” This new approach to conservation promotes development of native plant habitats on private and public property to connect the limited habitat spaces of parks, botanical gardens, preserves, and public areas. Private and public landowners can restore natural habitats with minimal expense and expertise to preserve diversity of species and connect biological corridors that protect  populations of plants and animals.

Doug Tallamy contends that landowners throughout the United States can collectively restore ecosystems from ecological wastelands of unproductive lawns and create nationwide a 20-million acre Homegrown National Park, bigger than the combined areas of 13 national parks, including Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. 

Relying on educational resources at the Redbud Ecology Center, community property owners can contribute to the Homegrown National Park national movement by converting ecological wasteland within the 251,520 acres of Hall County, one lawn or fallow ground at a time.


North Metro Atlanta projects

Wildlife Habitat Garden

The Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden and closeup of information box.

Alpharetta's Wild Side Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden

Alpharetta’s Wild Side Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden in Old Rucker Park was created in 2018 to complement the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission's initiative to achieve National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Certification. The city is the nation’s 105th Certified Community Wildlife Habitat but continues to advocate the creation of wildlife habitats in homeowners’ yards, an effort that noted author Doug Tallamy touts as a vital new approach to conservation in his recent book Nature's Best Hope (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2019).

In addition, the garden complements the various facets of the Alpharetta Community Agriculture Program located on a 1.5 acre site within Old Rucker Park, including an educational farm and community gardens, thereby demonstrating the relationship between native plants and the pollinators they attract that are crucial to the creation of 35% of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in our food supply.

A group of volunteers including members of GNPS and Atlanta Audubon (now Georgia Audubon) prepared the 240-square-foot site in the spring of 2018 and planted nearly 100 native plants in the fall. Almost all of the 15 species of plants installed in the garden bloomed during their first year, allowing us to use the garden for a variety of educational purposes, including participation in the 2019 Great Georgia Pollinator Census.

Bird bath and blooms

A bird bath enhances the habitat, which is in full bloom just recently.

Unfortunately, the downy serviceberry tree that anchors the south end of the garden failed to withstand the effect of a late freeze and had to be replaced this past fall. Additionally, a number of the wildflowers succumbed to this past summer's drought and had to be replaced this spring. We took advantage of that opportunity to add several new species that we hoped would adapt better to whatever the changing climate has in store this summer. These include purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'Jeana'), and blue false indigo (Baptisia australis).

Though temporarily closed to the public this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park is now open — with social distancing the rule — and we expect the garden to be in full bloom this summer and ready for us to once again participate in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census when it takes place on August 21-22, 2020.

Alpharetta’s Wild Side Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden is a joint undertaking of GNPS, Georgia Audubon, and the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission, in partnership with the City of Alpharetta Recreation, Parks & Cultural Services department.

New Native Plant Entrance Garden

A new native plant garden at the entrance to Old Rucker Farm & Park exemplifies one of the many projects volunteers have undertaken during the past few years to improve on this future city park and make it a welcoming place for the community.

GNPS members Richard and Kathryn Lebovitz prepared the area, including the bulkhead repairs, along with the help and advice of park volunteers Mike Ruggiero and James Graeme. GNPS also donated some of the same native plants used in the demonstration wildlife habitat garden inside the deer fence surrounding the Community Agriculture section of the park. These include Stokes' aster (Stokesia laevis), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'Jeana').

Rucker Farm Entrance

Before and after photographs of tthe Rucker Farm Entrance.

These plants are located in front of a saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) planted by the site's previous owners. Once the initial plants were set, the volunteers filled in the space along either side of the ornamental tree with native plants rescued with the permission of Alpharetta director of public works Pete Sewczwicz from the Rucker Road reconstruction project. As these plants can no longer be found growing along Rucker, they are an important reminder of the flora that used to exist there. Those plants include wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis), partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), bearded beggarticks (Bidens aristosa) and small-headed sunflower (Helianthus microcephalus).

Growing in the area along the fence are tall sorghum plants from the educational farm, reflecting the original intent of the entry garden to blend vegetables and native wildflowers, an approach that may be implemented in the future, along with replacement of the temporary bulkhead with a more permanent structure once the master plan for the 10+ acre park is developed.

Other Works, Future Plans

Other GNPS initiatives at the park include the contribution of native plants for a model Fruit Tree Guild, a permaculture practice involving a combination of plants that provide a range of benefits to the tree, including attracting pollinators, repelling pests, providing a natural mulch, and adding nitrogen to the soil.

In addition, during the past couple of years that GNPS has been involved with the park, we've removed the equivalent of two dumpsters full of trash from the woods surrounding the developed area within the center of the park, documented the native plants we've found and occasionally added plants native to the Georgia Piedmont in appropriate locations. Among those plants are Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron), little brown jug (Hexastylis arifolia), little sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) and parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii).

We also now have a list of some 60 native species found in the park, organized by plant communities with the guidance of GNPS member Leslie Edwards, lead author of the book The Natural Communities of Georgia (Athens, Ga.: The University of Georgia Press, 2013).

Our ultimate goal is the removal of invasive species from the woods and the creation of a nature trail that will offer park visitors a unique outdoor recreation and educational experience.


Plant Spotlight: Angelica

Angelica

Hairy Angelica (Angelica venenosa) blooms and foliage.

As a native plant advocate, I love to tell people about the relationships between native plants and native insects. Butterfly gardening advice is a perfect time to bring home the message about those relationships. There are two things that most people know about insects and the plants they eat: monarch butterflies eat milkweed and black swallowtail butterflies eat parsley, dill, and fennel. And that’s when I cringe.

Parsley, dill and fennel are non-native plants in the Apiaceae family (often called the parsley family). The black swallowtail butterfly uses plants in the Apiaceae family as host plants. There are many native plants in that family, and those are what black swallowtails used before we brought parsley/dill/fennel here and it’s what they use in the wild.

Angelica spp. is one such host plant. We find hairy angelica (Angelica venenosa) on rescue sites with dry, sunny areas. It is drought tolerant and perennial. Its range includes much of Georgia except for the southeast areas. Look for Coastal Plain angelica (Angelica dentata) instead for SE Georgia.

I have included this plant in my garden and it has just finished blooming; it is now forming big seeds for fall songbirds to feast on. I hardly ever see black swallowtails in my area so I have not had any caterpillars on my plants. Last year, however, I was excited when GNPS member Richard Lebovitz sent me pictures of caterpillars all over his rescued plant! He lives not far from me so I went over to take pictures.

Other host plants in the Apiaceae family that you might find at plant sales include golden Alexanders (Zizia sp.) and meadowparsnip (Thaspium sp.). Rattlesnake master (Eryngium sp.) is also in the same family. I also like licoriceroot (Ligusticum sp.), waterparsnip (Sium sp.), and the weedy but always free plant called black rattlesnakeroot (Sanicula canadensis). Consider adding some native parsley family plants to support black swallowtail butterflies.

Black swallowtail

Black swallowtail caterpillars on Angelica.


Plant of the Year

Save the date! GNPS Plant of the Year (POY) nominations will open on October 1. This is your chance to nominate a species you think is special. It may be essential to a particular ecology, or particularly versatile and hardy — something that would grow great in a Georgia garden. Only members can submit a nomination, so consider passing this along to a non-member as incentive to join GNPS and nominate their favorite plant.

Plant of the year

Southern mountainmint (Pycnanthemum pycnanthemoides), 2020 Plant of the Year.

 


Georgia Native Plant Society
PO Box 422085
Atlanta, GA 30342
(770) 343-6000

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