Sunday, November 30, 2014

Knowledge, Passion, Advocacy

With another year of blogging behind me, I remind myself of why I started this effort. I wanted to create a resource for fellow Georgians about native plants. The resource would be not just a dry listing of plants, it would be an encouragement to spark the reader in 3 ways: knowledge, passion and advocacy.


The first aspect of knowledge is that native plants exist as a separate category of plants. Plants are not just plants. That is to say, there is a concept of place and belonging. The plant communities that evolved naturally are an integral part of a place just as the land formations (rocks, hills, plains) are.

This tiny plant is one of the first native plants that north
Georgia homeowners discover. It has several common names, one
of them is striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)

Even in our suburban residential areas, remnants of these plant communities can remain, waiting to be noticed by the newcomers (us).

The second aspect of knowledge is that learning to distinguish plants (an oak from a maple, for example) is not that hard once you understand the basic principles.

With knowledge like this in hand, my hope is that people could be more interested in learning about locally native plants.


The concept of passion is to showcase how beautiful and versatile native plants are. Choosing to incorporate native plants in your garden doesn’t mean that you give up beauty. In some ways you actually add more beauty by attracting more creatures like birds and butterflies to your garden with the use of native plants.

Hummingbirds flock to the native cardinal flower in the summer (Lobelia cardinalis)

The native Passiflora incarnata is not only beautiful
and a provider of pollen to insects ...
It is also the plant that this beautiful
butterfly lays its eggs on

In addition, regionally native plants have evolved to thrive in your area and in difficult conditions such as clay soil in the Piedmont area or well-draining soil in the Coastal Plain. Soggy areas, dry areas, sunny or shady – there are native plants for all these conditions.

Gorgeous and great for gardening - two very good reasons to be passionate about using these plants.


Once a person has learned to love something, the desire and ability to advocate for its protection is possible. This is my third goal: to inspire more people to advocate for native plants and their habitats. I hope to encourage more usage of native plants in designed landscapes - in their own choices and in the choices they make for projects and to friends.

Many of us get involved in school and church projects for designed landscapes and the ever-popular butterfly gardens. What passionate gardener hasn’t had a friend ask them for recommendations? These are opportunities to get native plants into more spaces.

Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) has been
considered for endangered status
Beyond our own area, we also can influence support for plants, their habitat and habitat conservation with our letters, calls, votes and money. Our elected officials often need a nudge from their constituents to make the “right” choices on bills that affect the environment. Speak up.

Support organizations that support conservation: The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Piedmont Land Trust and many others listed here. Research them carefully to understand how your money would be used and how effective they are in what they do.

Volunteer to help them manage invasive plants on conserved properties. Offer other skills to help them stretch their dollars: paperwork, accounting, volunteering at event tables.

So as I head into another year of blogging, I'll keep telling my tales of native plants and the things that depend on them. I hope you'll be inspired to take the ball and run with it a bit as well. The more of us that do it, the better chance we have of being heard.

1 comment:

  1. Ellen, you always inspire me with you beautiful words and photographs. Each blog is like a little gift. Thank you!