Last week (July 27-30) I was able to attend the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in Cullowhee, NC. Although it was the 28th conference, it was only my second one. I enjoyed the conference my first year, and I was anxious to see if the second one would be just as enjoyable.
The conference is the premier native plant conference in the Southeastern U.S., and I'm sure for many years it was time when native plant enthusiasts could come together, joined by a love of native plants that was not always shared by other people in their every day lives. They would leave the conference with new information and new plants, refreshed and rejuvenated in their passion.
With the rise of information and communications via the Internet, one wonders if such a conference still holds value for people - especially those that travel far to get there. I think the answer is "Yes". Despite all that modern communications has to offer, there is value in spending time with others, examining plants in hand, and the spontaneous interactions and discussion that, well, just happen!
In general, I would encourage people to seek out and attend conferences when possible. Almost every state native plant society has some type of annual conference - check their calendar and email them for more information if you don't find anything. I have organized the Georgia one for the last four years and am working on my 5th one. Even though it is only a one day conference, I try to ensure that the topics are varied, the vendors are plentiful and the food is palatable!
If you'd like to see what the Cullowhee schedule was, to give you an idea of the topics covered, here is a link to the 2011 schedule. Click on this link to get even more details about the topics. The dates for 2012 have already been announced - hope to see some of you there July 17-21, 2012.
Here are some pictures from the 2011 Cullowhee conference. I never seem to get a picture of a lot of people - there were over 300 people there. I guess I'm always just too busy talking to think about taking a picture.
|Botanical art by Linda Fraser|
|A great selection of books|
|Lots of plant vendors - more than this!|
|Students explaining their projects|
And plenty of beautiful flowers in the area:
|Helianthus, I think!|