• Laurel Contributor

The Joy of Growing Native

by Ashley Stewart | Photo by Susan Renfro

The Mountain Garden Club’s Plant Sale, set for May 25, is a marvelous way to preserve the unique beauty of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

It’s inarguable that the Plateau is one of the most beautiful and unique places on earth. That’s because the climate and ecosystem here are unlike any other place, even in the surrounding Southern Appalachian region. The isolated nature and high altitude of the geography, combined with the temperate rainforest climate, creates a diverse ecosystem of animals, insects, and rare plants. All of these things work in tandem, each supporting the other.

That is why it’s so important to incorporate native plants into your garden. It’s easier to buy plants from nurseries and big box stores, but often those plants are not native to the area. These non-native plants can throw off the delicate balance. They cross-pollinate with native species, which can make them susceptible to disease. Bees and other pollinators learn to recognize native plants. They are less likely to feed upon and pollinate flowers they don’t remember, which hurts their populations.

The Mountain Garden Club in Highlands understands the importance of native plants, and for 35 years, they’ve hosted their annual Plant Sale to educate residents and support the local ecosystem. Club members and participants visit the homes of residents to thin native perineal plants. These plants are collected, propagated and cared for until they are sold at the sale for others to enjoy. There are as many as thirty to forty different plants at the sale, including hostas, ferns, and wildflowers.

The sale takes place every year on the Saturday before Memorial Day, which is on May 25 this year. The sale is open from 9:00 A.M. to noon at the Highlands Ball Field at the corner of Hickory Street and Highway 64.

Be prepared to come early. The sale is wildly popular, and the line quickly becomes very long. The proceeds from the sale are used to sponsor scholarships for students who plan to study horticulture, environmental studies, and education, as well as community programs such as The Highlands Biological Station and The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust.

As you prepare and plan your garden for the coming season, keep our unique ecosystem in mind. Visit the Mountain Garden Club Plant Sale and fill your beds with beautiful, local plants. Cash or check only, please.

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