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Upcoming Events

From meetings to workdays to workshops, here's the place to find out what's coming up in the Society. Unless noted, all meetings are open and free to the public so be sure to bring a friend.

Our July meeting has been cancelled due to schedule conflicts. Please look for GNPS members at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference and say hello!

We are winding down on the plant rescue season, so consider taking the opportunity to participate in one of the June rescues.

In Memory of George Sanko

I sit here under the eaves, sheltered from the rain, laptop in lap — hoping for inspiration from my garden to write an article on George Sanko for the GNPS Newsletter. HOW DO I BEGIN? Everyone knows by now that George abruptly departed this earth several days ago, just as unexpectedly as he did everything else. It’s as if on a whim, he immediately needed another garden to plant and he didn’t want to waste time telling us. He must have felt very confident that the staff (mostly volunteers) would take care of his prized collections at Georgia Perimeter College’s Decatur Campus, especially his piece-de-resistance, the internationally acclaimed Ferns of the World.

Always the ultimate botanist, the passionate teacher, the avid native plant collector who, by the way, referred to exotic plants as a “piece of crap,” George viewed any obstacles in his path as a challenge. Not even open heart surgery (not once, but twice) could thwart his dreams. In fact, legend has it that during his recovery, he walked into a classroom filled with students, while dragging an IV pole with fluids dripping through his vein. That definitely sounds like something he would do. More recently, when he no longer could hike the treacherous trails to botanize with friends and students, he would simply go along for the ride. Once at the appointed designation, George would unfold his chair, sit down at the beginning of the trail and patiently wait for the group’s return. His doggedness, an inspiration to all.

The rain, now a mere drizzle, sparkles on the blossoms of a Rhododendron viscosum. The leaves of a Magnolia macrophylla softly wave to no one in particular. Beneath it, a swath of Spigelia marilandica shimmers, all treasures from George. In closing, I can’t help but wonder how he would want me to end this article. Probably with a devilish smile, he would say something like, “That’s enough, Kathryn. Just say it was a good life. Then get back to the garden before the weeds take over.”

Top photo: Original members Jackie Fitts and George Sanko (see GNPS history). Middle photo: Ferns of the World garden. Bottom photo, clockwise from left: Receiving award from Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, Reflecting on his garden (photo credit Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn), Ferns of the World sign with Shannon Carr Pable and Lori Prosser, and George at work.

Chapter News: West Georgia

The West Georgia Chapter has had a very busy Spring. In February our public program was “Native Plants in Carrollton Parks and on the Greenbelt”, presented by Kent Johnston, Director of Parks for Carrollton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts, who discussed the use and maintenance of native plants in Carrollton parks and along the 18 mile Carrollton GreenBelt, a paved walking/biking trail that traverses public and private lands.

In April our Spring Workshop, “Grow your own pollinator plants from seeds: Established practices for successful seed germination and transplanting seedlings of pollinator plants”, featured James Hembree, Grounds Superintendent at the University of West Georgia and an organic farmer. This was a hands on workshop focussing on how to successfully germinate and transplant the seedings of important pollinator plants. Each person took home seeds, transplants, and finished plants.

Also in April, we had the grand opening of the Meadow Entrance to the Buffalo Creek Trail where it meets the Carrollton GreenBelt. Once only a thicket of invasive plants and an overgrown meadow, this area now features a kiosk, boardwalk, pollinator garden, rain garden, meadow, and birdhouses. Members of local organizations and government who have made our work possible joined us for this celebration. We dedicated the boardwalk to our dear friend and founding member, Wendell Hoomes, who passed away earlier in the year.

Our June public program will be “Owls of Georgia”, presented by Jim Ozier, Wildlife Biologist, Environmental and Natural Resources, Georgia Power.

Photos clockwise from upper left: Spring propagation workshop, native clematis (Clematis pitcheri), Carol Hight and Diane Rooks on May 28 hike to Flat Shoal Creek in Harris County to see the shoals spider lilies, Fire Pink (Silene virginica). Both plant photos were from the creek hike.

Plant Spotlight: Meet the Milkworts

Milkworts are native plants in the Polygalaceae family that are found throughout Georgia and much of the US. Over 20 species are found in South Georgia, North Georgia, and all in between. Some thrive in dry conditions while others need wet, boggy sites. While most of the species have small flowers in purple, pink, and white, there are a few species with yellow or orange flowers. Most of them have a raceme of tiny flowers, but a few have solitary flowers.

The lifespan of milkworts in Georgia includes species that are annuals, biennials, and perennials. They are usually low growing and unnoticed until they bloom. Look for these small flowers over the next few months. The common name is taken from historic use as an aid to increase lactation. Research medicinal use carefully.

Photos clockwise from upper left: Polygala curtissii, Polygala polygama, Polygala nana, and Polygala paucifolia.

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