To Save Insects and Birds the Future is Now
It turned out to be a great idea for the Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia native Plant Society to squeeze one more event into this year’s calendar. The plan was to keep the momentum going and fill the gap between September’s popular Native Plant Swap/Annual Meeting and the anticipated winter sowing demonstration set for January.
I had just learned about Vicki Mann turning Leslie Inman’s charmingly layered book called Your Yard IS Nature about about simple yet effective ways to reverse the insect and bird loss trend into a lively and interactive presentation. Vicki also incorporated information from Doug Tallamy, the guru of the current ecological movement to save the planet (really!) by encouraging the restoration of nature in our yards.
Vicki is the founder of Quiet Georgia, where she is working to develop and organize inclusive, local efforts that are directed toward phasing out obsolete, two-stroke gasoline powered lawn equipment and making our communities aware of the importance of “leaving the leaves” when possible.
Vicki’s presentation called Your Yard IS Nature's Best Hope, 10 Ways to Bring Nature Home seemed like a perfect and timely way to finish off the Intown Chapter's first year efforts reaching out to promote and protect native plants as part of a healthy ecosystem.
The trend in landscaping is moving away from the 1960’s aesthetic focused on lawns and exotic non-native ornamentals. Native plants, habitat gardening, pocket prairies, naturescaping, rewilding, ungardening, and killing the lawn are the hottest trends in the landscaping world as the reality of limited natural resources and vanishing wildlife is happening now and not in a distant future scenario. The interest in native plants as part of a healthy yard is also spilling from gardening into the mainstream in a range of publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, The New Yorker, Southern Living, Real Simple, and the Wall Street Journal to name a few.
The need for resources and guidance about how to get started reclaiming nature using native plants was clear by the overwhelming response to this event. For the comfort of everyone who attended we limited the number of people in the lecture hall we were fortunate to use on the Emory campus. We easily reached capacity and even had to start a waiting list. The morning of the presentation the registration table was hopping but the mood was friendly and volunteers made the line more interesting by passing out free native liatris seed packets (to winter sow) and a ticket for a native plant raffle. We had 85 people attend!
Once everyone was seated, Intown Chapter leader Alex Dileo welcomed the crowd, shared information about Intown Atlanta GNPS, and introduced Vicki and Leslie.
Vicki launched into explaining the 10 simple ways we can all start to bring nature into our own yard. Her clarity, passion, and openness combined with the expertise in the room to create an engaging and friendly atmosphere of collaboration and encouragement. Leslie supported the points being made and answered follow-up questions by sharing her experience and wealth of knowledge about the subject. The energy in the room was so positive and hopeful!
Vicki took multiple mini breaks to raffle off five different species of native goldenrod (showy goldenrod/solidago specioca, elm-leaved goldenrod/solidago ulmifolia, bluestem goldenrod/solidago caesia, grass-leaved goldenrod/euthamia graminifolia, and bicolor goldenrod/solidago bicolor.) Goldenrod fits right in with the goal of profiling ways to support local nature. It’s a powerhouse keystone native perennial plant meaning it’s essential to our ecosystems. In Atlanta goldenrod is number one on the NWF list of top native plants for supporting the caterpillars birds need to reproduce.
The event ended with a reception where many people lingered to share ideas, reconnect with old friends, and make new friends who also want to save nature where they live.
I firmly believe that food is a connector and helped organize having homemade, healthy, and low touch refreshment options at the reception. I'm not sure if anyone caught the connection, but I couldn't resist making sugar cookies in the shape of native oak leaves and acorns...the top keystone plant species in North America.
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