Native Plant Speaker Coming to Salisbury

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Dr. Patrick McMillan, the Juniper Level Botanical Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery Director, will be our guest speaker on November 14, 2023, at N.C. Cooperative Extension – Rowan County Center from 1–2 p.m. Dr. McMillan is known for transforming the South Carolina Botanical Garden before returning to North Carolina and coining the “Natural Community Gardening” style for heritage garden displays. Dr. McMillan will be speaking on Underutilized Native Plants for the Home Landscape. You can register for this free program on Eventbrite

 

Sometimes, a native plant isn’t the best choice for your landscape design. There can be issues with masses of “native” plants swamping the genetics of a local species. As an example, Echinacea or Cone Flower are known for hybridizing. Though native plant societies frequently promote planting Echinacea purpurea, E. pallida, E. paradoxa, or E. tenneseensis – these plants aren’t locally native here in the Piedmont of the Carolinas. If a population of Echinacea laevigata, which is federally threatened, is nearby, the genes of the more commonly cultivated “native” Echinacea can be transferred to the threatened species, resulting in hybridization that destroys the genetic integrity of the population.

 

Just because a plant isn’t invading now doesn’t mean it won’t be a problem in the future. As gardeners, we all must pay close attention to the attributes of our plants to observe their ability to expand outside of the garden setting. If we see a plant setting seeds away from the natural community, we usually remove that plant from the landscape. Many plants considered “native” are just as capable of expanding and changing native ecosystems as non-native plants. 

 

The content above is an excerpt from Dr. McMillian’s article “What to Plant and Why: All Native Plants are Not Created Equal.” NC State Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Rowan County recommend you use the North Carolina State University Plant Toolbox. This resource lets you select native plants for the Piedmont location with full sun, shade or whatever your site has for sunlight. Many beautiful annual and biennial flowers are native to the southeast. These plants can add color, flair, and quick gratification to the impatient gardener. Annuals are plants that complete their lifecycle from germination to setting seed and dying in one season. A biennial completes its life cycle in two growing seasons, with vegetative growth in the first season, then flowering, seed production, and death in the second season. Because these plants have such a short life span, they must bloom quickly. This is an excellent trait for those of us who are impatient gardeners. These plants generally have a more extended bloom season than most perennials, which can often be extended by removing spent blossoms.

 

Join us on November 14, 2023, at N.C. Cooperative Extension – Rowan County Center (2727 Old Concord Rd, Salisbury 28146) to hear Dr. McMillian speak on “Underutilized Native Plants for the Home Landscape” from 1–2 p.m.