Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cullowhee Native Plants Conference

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 schedule.  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:

Actaea pachypoda
Apios americana

Monarda didyma

Helianthus, I think!


  1. Hiya Ellen,
    Your latest compositae post is another gem. I find myself looking forward to your posts.
    Don't mean to pounce the minute you upload, that's why I am commenting here: a bit more modestly :-)
    Compositae, particularly the many yellow ones, have never been my favourite. It is strange though how there are colour cycles throughout the year. Early spring brings a definite blue period, and mid-summer has a tendency to go red. I presume there is a relationship with the eyesight of the insects busy at those particular times.
    Loved your looking at the sepals of the yellow flowers. These are on my mind in relation to clematis and other ranunculus species: the appearance of tepals in between the two or instead of one.

  2. Hi - thanks for the compliment; I do enjoy writing these and even I am not always sure what the next topic will be - I look to nature to inspire me.

    I'm sure you must be onto something with the progression of colors through the year. Nature seldom does something for no reason!