The Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society
The Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society has over 300 affiliated GNPS members.
Part of our mission is supporting GNPS Restoration sites in our area. Each of these sites below is linked to its page on the site, and you can see scheduled workdays on the events calendar:
Soon to be added to our list is Herbert Taylor Park / Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve (HTDJ) – https://www.facebook.com/HerbertTaylorPark. Currently, restoration work takes place on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 9-12, but watch for the park to get its own restoration site page soon.
You can reach us by email.
How can I join?
Chapter News & Events
What is the Great Georgia Pollinator Census Count?
The Great Georgia Pollinator Census count (GGPC) is a citizen science project coordinated by the University of Georgia Extension to encourage Georgians to learn more about insects and be open to planting a pollinator habitat with native plants. It is also designed to be straightforward enough so non-scientists can help researchers by collecting data and documenting pollinator numbers in Georgia. It only takes 15 minutes, and you can even do it more than once! In 2019 more than 4,600 counts were uploaded, documenting more than 131,000 insect visits tallied from 134 Georgia counties including 135 schools! The helpful UGA site has instructions and a short video showing how to participate in the count and even lesson plans for teachers that align with Georgia Performance Standards.
Why should I participate in the Georgia Pollinator Census Count?
We can turn the feeling of helplessness about the alarming insect decline and contribute to a healthier ecosystem where we live by participating in the GGPC. In addition to adding data about pollinators, the census count has been shown to increase appreciation for insects, awareness about their habitat needs and create more excitement and interest in planting native plants to attract insects. Children who participate in the count also deepen their understanding of pollinators! So far at least 525 new pollinator gardens have been created as part of the project.
What is a Pollinator Picnic?
A pollinator picnic may sound like a gathering of pollinators feasting on native plants, but this year a pollinator picnic is one of five locations around Atlanta where the Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society (Intown GNPS) has chosen as a site for people of all ages to participate in the GGPC. Everyone who wants to participate in the count is encouraged to bring a friend, a picnic lunch, enjoy nature, and learn more about how to attract pollinators where they live by using native plants.
When are the Pollinator Picnics?
The Pollinator Picnics are all on Saturday, August 20 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Do I need to register or pay to attend a specific Pollinator Picnic?
No, the Pollinator Picnic are free for everyone – you can just pick one of the sites and show up!
What do I need to bring to the Pollinator Picnic?
Bring yourself and friends or family members! All the supplies needed to participate in the GGPC will be available at each site. If you want you can bring a picnic, drinks, and foldable chairs or a blanket to watch the pollinators or eat your picnic. For some of the sites, there are also places nearby to grab a bite of food.
I don’t know where to go, what makes each Pollinator Picnic site unique?
The five Pollinator Picnic sites were chosen because they are in different parts of intown and have an area with native plants where the pollinator count can take place. If you’re on Facebook and join the Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society page, each site has an event page with more information. Spread the word by sharing the Pollinator Picnic posts or the site you plan on visiting in your own online circles!
The Five Pollinator Picnic Sites are:
1) Atlanta History Center Entrance Garden The count will take place in the Atlanta History Center’s Entrance Garden at the front of the museum. Most of the plants in this wildlife and pollinator friendly garden are Georgia native plants with an emphasis on grasses echoing the look of American prairies. Parking is free in the AHC main parking deck. Paid food and drink options are available on site, with Brash Coffee opening at 8am and Souper Jenny open for lunch. Museum admission is not required to enjoy these refreshments. There is plenty of space to eat at the 60-foot tree table made from a white oak that had sprouted on the grounds of what is now the Atlanta History Center back in the 1880s. Atlanta History Center has generously offered discounted admission for people who participate in the pollinator count. Valid for same-day admission. Counting will take place 10-11, and from 11-12 there will be a guided nature walk led by AHC Horticulture staff. Counters can participate in the guided nature walk with the price of discounted admission.
2) Gordon-White Park and adjacent Westside section of the Beltline Gordon-White Park, a traditionally landscaped city park in Atlanta’s Historic West End, is home to an open greenspace with winding pathways, landscaped garden bed, and walls and benches for relaxing and eating. The adjacent Westside section is planted with native plants. This Pollinator Picnic site will offer a great opportunity to contrast pollinator habitats. The Pollinator Picnic host will lead a brief tour along the Beltline at noon and if you like, you can join her and others and have a “picnic” at one of the local spots. If you prefer, you can bring your own picnic to enjoy at the park. After lunch explore the neighborhood – stop on Peeples St. to experience the Hammonds House Museum, which celebrates the cultural diversity and legacy of artists of African descent. Just around the corner on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. sits the Wren’s Nest, historic home of author Joel Chandler Harris.
3) GSU Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden The native plant garden areas at the GSU garden are nestled just behind the campus on 4 acres of land in South Decatur. There are over 4000 species of native, rare, and endangered plants indigenous to the Southeast and US that demonstrate the use and culture of US native plants in Georgia. Some of the volunteers on site for the Pollinator Picnic are Dekalb County master gardeners who help maintain this unique garden.
4) Mason Mill Park The count site at Mason Mill Park will be the new pollinator habitat near the Old Decatur Waterworks. Park near the DeKalb Tennis Center in Mason Mill Park and follow signs for ½ mile along the South Peachtree Creek PATH to reach the count site. Once you’re done with the count and your picnic, explore the 120-acre forest with a network of trails for hiking and biking. The forest is also the location of the old Decatur Waterworks, which is on the National Historic Registry. There is also a large playground for kids near the tennis courts.
5) Zonolite Park South Fork Conservancy worked with a coalition of federal, state and local organizations (including GNPS) to turn an industrial wasteland contaminated by asbestos into a 13-acre urban sanctuary now called Zonolite Park with a community garden called Nickel Bottom. Now, nature lovers find peace walking the trails through the woods in the park and young families play at the edge of the creek that runs along the length of the park. If you join this site for the count, you will undoubtedly be treated to seeing one of the rare American bumblebees that live in this park where they have an ideal habitat. For this count there will a nature walk through Zonolite woods, handouts for kids to explore nature at the park, materials to learn about ways to create a more pollinator friendly yard, and even a sweet treat to go with your picnic. Meet at the pavilion in the Nickel Bottom Community Garden area. The main parking lot is located on Zonolite Place, near the intersection of Johnson Road and Braircliff in DeKalb County.
I’ve never done the Great Georgia Pollinator Census count, how do I do it?
The Intown GNPS will have volunteers available at all the sites to give instructions for participating in the count. Whether you’re doing the count on your own or joining one of the Pollinator Picnic sites and want to know what to expect, the steps for counting are:
-Find a popular native pollinator plant that has lots of insect activity on it.
-Set a phone timer for 15 minutes.
-Count how many insects land on any part of one plant and record it on the pollinator count sheet. Count each time an insect lands on the plant, even if it is an insect that left and came back. The five Pollinator Picnic sites will also have counting and identification guides with photos and identification tips.
-If you are attending one of the Pollinator Picnics, there will be a box to turn in your counting sheet for Intown GNPS volunteers to record it. (Go to the GGPC website and record the findings if you are doing this on your own. The form to record it will be available online on August 20 and stay up for a few weeks after the census.)
-Cute stickers of completion will be available at each Pollinator Picnic site for the children or the child in all of us who wants a sticker!
What if I can’t make it to one of the Pollinator Picnics but still want to participate in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census?
If you can’t join us at one of the Pollinator Picnic sites, you can participate in the count anytime on August 19 or 20 in your own yard, local park where there are native plants, or if you live Intown Atlanta, you can view pollinators at any of the following places for free:
Beecatur Willow Lane Pollinator Habitat
Blue Heron Nature Preserve
Hawk Hollow (a Wylde Center greenspace)
The Kendeda Living Building at Georgia Tech
The Preserve @ St. Marks
Tucker Butterfly Garden
Is there a bigger picture to this count?
Pest control companies have made insects the enemies and we need to fight back against this characterization. By including all insects, not just butterflies and honeybees, citizen science projects like the GGPCC create the kind of excitement and positive attitude towards insects that is needed to change the narrative about the value they offer our ecosystem. You don’t have to be in Georgia to participate in the count, but if you live intown Atlanta, please share this post in your social media networks to help save our precious insects!
Rivercane (Arundinaria gigantea), found in several Morningside parks, is a native bamboo. Technically a type of grass, Rivercane is nature’s un-rivaled green infrastructure with its extensive underground roots controlling erosion on creek banks and filtering runoff from fertilizers and pavement. When the Europeans arrived Rivercane formed giant canebrakes throughout the southeast–as late as 1820 there is documentation of a 17,250 acre canebrake west of the Flint River in Taylor and Crawford counties in Georgia. Cane provides critical habitat for a variety of wildlife, some of which are dependent on cane for their survival; it was also a central part of indigenous culture. It is now considered a threatened ecosystem, as 98% of the canebrakes have disappeared due to overgrazing and clearing to make way for farms and homes.
Rivercane is most often found in rural areas where it has been left undisturbed, but in Morningside we can find some stands scattered in our parks (most notably Herbert Taylor Park & Daniel Johnson Park, Wildwood Lenox Park, and Morningside Nature Preserve). Where it flourishes, it is home to at least 23 mammals, 16 birds, four reptiles and seven invertebrate species (butterflies and moths). Some of these depend upon Rivercane for their survival. In fact, the virtual extinction of Bachman’s warbler is thought to be due to the disappearance of native cane.
Unfortunately, Rivercane is often confused with non-native bamboo that is prevalent throughout the southeast–here is how you can tell the difference:
1) Size–Rivercane grows much more slowly than Golden bamboo, the most pervasive invasive species. Most native cane is less than an inch in diameter and only 4-10 feet tall. Invasive bamboo grows much more quickly, usually exceeding a height of 15 feet with over 1 inch stems.
2) Stems & Branches–Rivercane puts out one branch per node (ring) each year and adds branches in subsequent years that appear sort of tangled. Bamboo branches occur at the nodes next to each other.
3) Branching angle–when they emerge, native cane branches are almost parallel to the main stem while invasive bamboo branches tend to be almost perpendicular to the stem. Older native cane branches may become more pendulous as they grow heavier with leaves.
Friends of the Parks are working to remove invasive plants so that native species, like Rivercane can thrive. It can protect our parks by holding creek banks to slow or prevent erosion. Its re-emergence will support our native wildlife by providing the nutrition and habitat they need to survive. You can help by volunteering and making sure you are only planting native species in your landscape
From top, L-R:
1 & 2. Rivercane less than 1 inch diameter vs golden bamboo
3 Rivercane branches emerge almost parallel to the stem with subsequent annual branches coming in at the same node almost on top of each other creating a tangle
4 & 5 Golden bamboo branches are almost perpendicular to the stem and grow out from the stem next to each other
The GNPS-Intown Atlanta Chapter will be on site at various locations around town to partner with the University of Georgia Extension Program’s 2022 Great Georgia Pollinator Census count. Join us to count the pollinators that are so vital to life on earth. We will have experts on site to help you ID the plants and insects. We encourage counters of all ages to come out.
You can find details about the Census at https://ggapc.org/. We encourage you to come out for the count and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy when you’ve finished counting.
Locations throughout Atlanta including Mason Mill Park; Zonolite Park; GSU Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden; Atlanta History Center
Time: 10:00 a.m. – noon
Facebook event pages:
GSU Perimeter College Native Botanical Garden – We are excited to add that there will be a native plant sale! held at the site, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Find the garden at the rear of the parking lot that is shared with the Dekalb High School of Technology.