UGA Extension-Walton County

State Botanical Garden’s Connect to Protect Native Plant Sale in October

Add some perennial plants to your garden this October at the Connect to Protect Native Plant Sale at the University of Georgia’s State Botanical Garden of Georgia.native-plant-sale-1-665x300

The annual event, one of the most anticipated horticultural events on the Athens Calendar (previously named Bluestems and Bluejeans), is October 6-8 and 13-15 at the garden’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies. Most of the plants sold during the sale have been propagated from seeds and cuttings that were collected from local, native plant populations in Georgia. They are adapted to local climate and soils and they are proven food sources for local pollinators. They have also been selected for their ornamental value. Garden staff and knowledgeable volunteers will be present at the sale to help shoppers select the right species for whatever growing conditions their garden offers.

All proceeds from the sale benefit the State Botanical Garden’s conservation program. Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at the Mimsie Lanier Center, a three-acre facility that serves as the headquarters for the conservation program. The program started more than 20 years ago with an emphasis on studying and safeguarding rare and endangered species in Georgia’s flora. That work continues, but the mission has expanded to make local ecotypes of native species more available in the commercial trade so that homeowners, landscapers, and land managers can incorporate more Georgia species in their garden designs and land restorations.

The Connect to Protect program aims to help increase local populations of native pollinators by growing native plants that look great and serve as food or habitat for beneficial insects. The program started with gardens at local schools and has expanded to include display gardens at other locations such as local restaurants, medical centers and community parks. Macon-Bibb County last year installed native plants grown at the garden in several public parks. Representatives from ther Georgia cities and counties are working with the garden to bring local plants into their communities. Individuals play an important role in Connect to Protect by incorporating carefully chosen native species in planters or establishing them among existing specimens in home gardens.

More native plants in private gardens and public spaces means more food and habitat for native pollinators − and the bird populations that feed upon them. This is the Connect to Protect message that inspires the native plant sale, and much of the research that takes place at the Garden.