Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Native Plants Class

One of the best things to happen since we moved here,
is the abundance of opportunities for gardeners to prolong their education.
I graduated from the Master Gardener's program in April,
but continue to take classes offered by the Extension Office.
We are fortunate to live close to two different Extension Services,
so there is always something on the schedule to learn about.
Most courses or workshops are held at local libraries,
which couldn't be more convenient.
Last weekend, I had the chance to take a class on one of my favorite subjects,
native plants.
When I lived in Florida,
I gravitated toward this type of gardening,
so this class was a fantastic juncture to put my prior knowledge to use.


Even though we are several zones apart,
it was wonderful to learn that many of the plants I grew in Florida,
are also native here in North Carolina.
The many benefits of gardening with natives include:
1. easily adaptive to temperature changes,
2.  need less water or are drought tolerant,
3.  attract beneficial insects and pollinators,
4.  create food/shelter for wildlife,
5.  prevent invasive plants from overtaking an area because natives are better adapted.


One of the most important aspects of gardening to me
is to provide food, shelter and nesting areas for wildlife.
Many flowers, bushes and trees do just that.
Hummingbirds and butterflies often enjoy nectar from blossoms
on buckeye trees, swamp hibiscus and coral honeysuckle.
This beautyberry is an example of a bush that feeds birds
during the colder part of the year.

Joe Pye weed
Nurturing pollinators ensures that our crops continue to produce.
Butterflies, bees, wasps and birds all aid our food system
by being part of the pollination cycle.
Without these critters, we would be in dire straits.
It just makes sense to support their population.
Joe Pye weed is one of the most visited plants
in the butterfly bed.

Some insects are dependent on particular plants,
such as the monarch butterfly.
The native milkweed is the only plant
on which they will deposit their eggs.
The eggs hatch, the caterpillar eats the egg and then begins eating the plant.
In a couple of weeks, it finds a safe spot to form a chrysalis,
where it remains for about 2 weeks,
until the transformation is complete.
What an amazing metamorphosis to witness.

Our class took place at the Maiden library,
where the Advanced Gardener Series also takes place.
This sweet demonstration garden is maintained
by volunteers.

One of the volunteers was in our class,
and explained that she had cut back this gorgeous hydrangea in the spring.
As you can see, it is nearing the top of the window.

You almost can't count the number of blooms!
No doubt, earlier in the year, it must have been a riot of color!
Even though it's no longer a showstopper,
it is still fostering wildlife.


I'm not sure what this beauty is,
but it would fit right into my blue garden!
Being able to extend my knowledge about gardening
is such a blessing.
The best part is sharing that experience with others
who are just as passionate about it as you are.

In the spring, I will be looking for more natives to add to the garden.
Thoughts have even crossed my mind
about starting a native nursery,
to aid those who are also interested in encouraging indigenous species.
Who knows?
Anything is possible...

Here's a great resource 
for Native Plants in North Carolina.

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