Dr. Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful
On September 2, Keep Liberty Beautiful will be going native! KLB will share information and contest on how important it is to plant native plants, from August 27 to September 2. KLB will also give away trees and plants at the Keep Liberty Beautiful office, 9397 East Oglethorpe Hwy, Midway, on September 1 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Native Plant Day is a reminder of the value and power of native species for local landscapes.
Native plants are essential in restoring ecological balance to our environment. Native plants are a natural and healthy way to create greener and more beautiful communities. Keep Liberty Beautiful encourages everyone to learn more about their native plants and consider planting native trees, flowers, and plants in their yards.
A native plant is a term to describe plants common to a given area. This includes plants that have developed naturally or existed for many years in an area. Some native plants have adapted to minimal, unusual environments, harsh climates, or exceptional soil conditions. Although some types of plants exist only within a minimal range, others can live in diverse areas or adapt to different surroundings. Research has found that native plants are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, providing food for birds and humans.
Natives also provide a habitat for wildlife.
Natives are hardy, have lower maintenance, and require less water than other plants, so if you are looking for a yard or garden that is much easier to maintain, go native!
Here are a few of the native plants that work well for our area:
• “Shenandoah” or red switchgrass is indeed a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige. This luscious grass is a compact selection of American native prairie grass that grows in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
• The Southern wax myrtle is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree.
It is often multi-trunked, with gray-green aromatic foliage and clusters of blue-gray fruits on female plants. It prefers moist, acid soils but is adaptable to other conditions, including wet sites with poor drainage. The wax myrtle grows best in full sun to light shade, and it is helpful as a tall screen or specimen tree.
• Star anise is rich, green foliage with the smell of anise, almost a licorice scent. The blooms in June are small yellow- green flowers. Star anise prefers moist soil and prefers full sun or light shade. It is cold-tolerant. These shrubs are useful for screening or hedges.
• Bottlebrush is also a southern favorite. Callistemon species are commonly referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush-like flowers, which resemble a traditional bottle brush.
They are striking. Most species are drought-resistant and are fantastic when used in landscaping.
• Milkweed is one of the keys to having monarch butterflies — for their survival now and in the future. Monarch caterpillars must have milkweed. Because of modern changes, such as suburbanization, there’s much less milkweed than there was in the
• Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hart) is native to North America and one of the most popular wildflowers grown.
They can blanket open fields. Their golden-yellow flowers are beautiful.
Native plants are waiting to help you create a beautiful, easy-to-care-for garden for your home. To learn more about native plants for our area, here are some great online resources: www.plantnative. org (featuring a stateby- state directory of native species, specialized nurseries, and local organizations), www.abnativeplants. com, https://www. youtube.com/ watch?v=3Y3D0VRWbTQ (Flowers For Fall Pollinators), UGA’s Extension sites www.caes.uga. edu, and the Georgia Native Plants society at www.gnps.org.
Check out our website: www.keeplibertybeautiful. org, this month for more information on Native Plants and creating pollinator gardens. Our KLB website also has information on our upcoming events. Remember to join our beach sweep cleanup at St Catherine’s Island on September 9. We need more boat captains too.