Published on 03/21/13

Wildflower Symposium features expert advice for gardening enthusiasts

By Clint Thompson

The South Georgia Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium has blossomed into a must-see event for gardening enthusiasts.

The annual symposium brings together people with a desire to learn more about landscaping with native plants and wildflowers as well as native plant experts from across the Southeastern U.S.

This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, March 27 at UGA’s Tifton Campus Conference Center.

“Many people aren’t aware of the plants that are native to this area, or to the South. That’s what this conference is all about,” said Amy Carter, agricultural research coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Tifton campus. “Many of those attending have been here almost every year since the first symposium in 2001. Their gardens are their passion.”

As part of Carter’s work at UGA, she manages the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum; at the conclusion of next week’s event she will lead a walking tour of the arboretum. Among the native plants to see in the arboretum are azaleas, illiciums, viburnums, buckeyes and hollies.

The day-long event will feature six speakers, including Jenny Cruse Sanders, the vice president for science and conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. She will discuss the Atlanta garden’s native plant conservation program. Kris Braman, a professor of entomology at the UGA-Griffin campus, will speak on beneficial insects and their importance to a garden.

“Not all insects are bad,” Carter said. “Many people are tempted to go into their gardens and kill every insect they find. Some of those insects are probably helping. I’m really excited to hear what Dr. Braman can teach us about that.”

Landscape architect Rick Huffman, from Greenville, S.C., will start the day. He will speak on his life’s work: creating ecologically sound landscape designs. Dan Miller will finish the day with his presentation on ‘Growing Native Azaleas from Seed.’

The symposium will last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information go to the website,, or call 229-391-6868.

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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