Save the Date: Annual Upstate SCNPS July Pic-a-nic!

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Photo Credit: DALL-E\Jesse Freeman

Mark your calendars for the annual Upstate SCNPS picnic at Table Rock State Park, set for Sunday, July 14th! This always delicious gathering is a great chance to enjoy a day out and connect with fellow members. Details on how to RSVP will be coming soon. We look forward to seeing you there for a memorable day!

 

Collaborative Efforts Make It “Easy to See” a Difference on the Swamp Rabbit Trail

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Photo Credit: scnps.org

The Swamp Rabbit Trail, a vibrant greenway that winds through Greenville, South Carolina, is not only a recreational hub but also a focal point for environmental education and conservation efforts. A recent collaboration between Friends of the Reedy River (FoRR) and the City of Greenville, with the support of the South Carolina Native Plant Society (SCNPS), underscores a growing commitment to ecological stewardship and public engagement in this area.

FoRR, a key advocate for the Reedy River and its surroundings, has secured a $25,000 contract with the city to enhance educational initiatives focusing on the local flora. This partnership aims to install informative signage along the trail, distinguishing invasive species from native plants. This educational effort is designed to foster greater community awareness and encourage the preservation of native biodiversity, which is crucial for maintaining the health of local ecosystems.

The initiative is part of a broader strategy that involves training city staff to identify invasive species, an essential step in managing these aggressive plants that often outcompete natives and disrupt ecological balance. The collaboration extends beyond mere identification; it includes active management and restoration efforts, particularly at key sites like Stables Park. Here, FoRR has dedicated significant resources—both financial and labor—to cultivate areas predominantly featuring native plants, which provide essential habitat for wildlife and contribute to ecological resilience.

Further expanding their impact, the partners have turned their attention to a promising new project area near Linky Stone Park, situated downtown along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. This 3-acre tract, owned by the Natural Land Trust (NLT), represents a new frontier for habitat restoration. Initial funding from FoRR will support the design and site preparation, setting the stage for a transformation that will further enrich Greenville’s urban green space.

Through these concerted efforts, SCNPS, FoRR, and the City of Greenville are not only enhancing the aesthetic appeal and recreational value of the Swamp Rabbit Trail but are also laying the groundwork for sustainable environmental education and conservation practices. This project, expected to expand annually, promises to be a cornerstone in the ongoing quest to celebrate and conserve South Carolina’s native plants, ensuring that they thrive for generations to come.

Can’t wait for the signage? Check out more about the natives and invasives on the trail HERE.

 

Register Now for the Parks Mill Open Houses – May 18th & May 25th, 2024

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Register Now for the Parks Mill Open Houses – May 18th & May 25th, 2024

Join us at the picturesque Parks Mill Preserve to experience the breathtaking Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies in full bloom and explore a historic water-powered grist mill. The South Carolina Native Plant Society, in partnership with Naturaland Trust, and Upper Savannah Land Trust is thrilled to host these unique events that blend natural beauty with historical exploration. Here’s how you can secure your spot for either date:

Event Details:

Dates: May 18, 2024, and May 25, 2024

Times: Two sessions each day; 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Location: Parks Mill Preserve, Stevens Creek near Plum Branch, SC

How to Register:

To ensure a smooth and accessible registration process, we have set up an online form. Here’s how you can register:

  1. Visit the Registration Page: Go to our event calendar at SCNPS Events Calendar.
  2. Select the Event: Click on the “Rocky Shoals…” event listed on the calendar for either May 18th or May 25th.
  3. Online Registration: Click on “Register Online”. You will be prompted to sign a waiver before filling out the registration form.
  4. Choose Your Date and Time Slot: The registration form allows you to select from available time slots in the morning or afternoon for either of the two dates. Each session is limited to 50 participants to ensure a personal and engaging experience. If your registration is not confirmed, the session you chose was filled. If this happens to you, and you can attend another session, go back to the Calendar and try registering for another date and time slot.
  5. Confirmation: Registration is first-come, first-served, and space-limited to ensure the quality of the experience for all attendees. Once you get a confirmed time slot and date, your registration will be secured.

For any further inquiries or assistance with registration, please contact membership@scnps.org.

We look forward to welcoming you to Parks Mill and sharing these special days with you. Prepare to be inspired by the legacy of conservation and history at this unique site!

Nature’s Toolbox: Rick Huffman Unpacks Biodiversity and Conservation on the Nature-Based Exchange Podcast

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 Photo Credit: naturebasedexchange.org

In a captivating new episode of the Nature-Based Exchange podcast, Rick Huffman, esteemed landscape architect and a founder of Earth Design and the South Carolina Native Plant Society, delves into the significance of native plants and biodiversity in South Carolina’s upstate region. Rick’s advocacy for environmental education and his firsthand experiences underscore the urgent need for connecting with nature to ensure a sustainable future.

Throughout the podcast, Rick’s enthusiasm for science, native plants, and applied ecology is palpable as he discusses his transformative work within the landscape industry. His commitment to actionable sustainability practices shines through, providing listeners with a blueprint for environmental stewardship.

For an enriching experience and to gain a deeper appreciation of our local natural heritage, listen to Rick Huffman’s insights on this episode of the Nature-Based Exchange podcast. Tune in here and join the South Carolina Native Plant Society to actively participate in local conservation efforts.

SCNPS Fall Symposium: Book Your Accommodations Now!

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Photo Credit: DALL-E\Jesse Freeman

As we approach the South Carolina Native Plant Society Symposium on October 18-19, 2024, it is important to book accommodations soon, as they are filling up quickly. While there are still vacancies, they are expected to be fully booked in the coming months. The area near Table Rock State Park is a popular destination, especially during event periods. Here’s a list of recommended accommodations near Table Rock State Park, curated by the park staff, each offering unique amenities and convenient access to the park.

 

Palmetto Cove RV Park (864) 836-6221: Located at 521 Table Rock Rd, Cleveland, SC, this RV park is just 2 miles away from Table Rock State Park, offering a comfortable setting for RV travelers.

Table Rock Inn (864) 633-6511: Positioned at 4515 SC-11, Pickens, SC, this inn is merely 3 miles from the state park, making it incredibly convenient for park visitors.

Laurel Mountain Inn (864) 878-8500: Situated at 129 Hiawatha Trail #9548, Pickens, SC, this inn is approximately 5 miles from the park, providing a cozy mountain ambiance.

Solitude Pointe (864) 836-4128: This quiet retreat at 102 Table Rock Rd, Cleveland, SC, is only about 2.5 miles from the park, ideal for guests seeking solitude amidst nature.

The Rock Golf Club & Resort (864) 878-2030: Located at 171 Sliding Rock Rd, Pickens, SC, this resort is around 4 miles from the park, combining leisure with luxury and offering golfing alongside comfortable lodging.

Keowee Toxaway State Park (864) 868-2605: Approximately 20 miles from Table Rock State Park, this site at 108 Residence Dr, Sunset, SC, offers rustic camping and cabin rentals in stunning landscapes.

Devil’s Fork State Park (864) 944-2639: About 30 miles from Table Rock, located at 161 Holcombe Cir, Salem, SC, visitors here can enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Jocassee with various accommodations.

Oconee State Park (864) 638-5353: At 624 State Park Rd, Mountain Rest, SC, roughly 25 miles from Table Rock, this park offers a variety of outdoor activities and rustic accommodations.

Hampton Inn (864) 834-5550: For a more traditional hotel experience, this location at 593 Roe Center Court, Travelers Rest, SC, is approximately 25 miles from Table Rock State Park, offering modern comforts within a short drive.

 

Forget “later” – Upstate lodging for the Fall Symposium is vanishing fast.  These options won’t last – grab your pick now!

Early Earth Day Spruce-Up at Pickens County Native Plant Garden: Special Volunteer Day!

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False Blue Indigo, (Baptesia australis) take the stage! Photo Credit: Judy Seeley

Celebrate Earth Day a few days early. Come out on Saturday, April 20, to help “spruce up” and enjoy the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at the Pickens County Museum.

Date: Saturday, April 20th
Time: 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: Pickens County Museum Native Plant Demonstration Garden
  307 Johnson St, Pickens, SC

Tasks:

  • Weed
  • Mulch
  • Remove little trees

Enjoy the company of other native plant lovers from Upstate SCNPS, Master Gardeners of the Foothills, and Upstate Master Naturalists. The False Blue Indigo (Baptesia australis) should be blooming!

Our regular work days are the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month, so take advantage of this weekend opportunity.

What to Bring:

  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Water
  • Shovels (narrow nosed is best)
  • Hand clippers
  • Weed digger

There may be plant “extras” for you to dig and take home!

Reserve your spot by emailing Judy Seeley at judy_seeley@hotmail.com.

Please provide your name and email so we can notify you of any last-minute changes. Contact Judy for any questions.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Creating a Suburban Prairie: Transforming Lawns into Diverse Ecosystems

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by Chuck Hubbuch

Photo Credit: jsonline.com

Historical Background of Piedmont Prairies

Early European settlers in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas reported seeing numerous prairies and open, grassy woodlands. While some of the grasslands are attributed to shallow soils, fire and large herbivores like American bison and elk are credited with creating and maintaining many of these open areas. Native plants and animals adapted to and came to depend on prairies. In modern times, development, agriculture, invasive exotics and fire suppression contribute to a great reduction of prairies in our state. As a result, several native prairie species are now rare or threatened with extinction.

The Artificial Prairie: American Lawns

A typical American lawn is, in effect, an artificial prairie that requires a high level of maintenance, has very low plant diversity and supports very little wildlife. Some ecologists have compared lawns to deserts but that comparison is insulting to deserts which can be much more biologically diverse and interesting. Converting a lawn – or part of it – to a short prairie could add a lot of color and life to a yard. Instead of burning or introducing bison to a suburban prairie, it can be maintained with traditional garden methods of weeding and trimming. Pocket prairie is one term that is used for a small garden of prairie plants.

Design Considerations for Suburban Prairies

Choosing Prairie Plants for Large Spaces

For a large space, tall prairie plants like ironweed (Vernonia spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) may be appropriate. Broadcasting native grass and wildflower seeds allows the seedlings to establish themselves naturally, providing an authentic prairie look.

Adapting Prairie Designs for Suburban Settings

In suburban settings, the fully natural look of a tall grass prairie may not be appropriate due to aesthetic or management considerations. Here, the shorter plants of a short grass prairie, such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), blazing star (Liatris spicata), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), and short species of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and aster (Aster spp.), may be a better fit. These can be planted in a natural or formal design depending on the desired appearance and maintenance level.

Creating Pocket Prairies in Smaller or Formal Gardens

An informal pocket prairie can resemble an English garden with a South Carolina twist. To achieve this, plant in beds with clearly defined edges. Include garden elements such as paths, walls, seating, low fencing, trellises, and water features if space allows. Large containers can be used to feature special plants, provide special growing conditions, protect plants from rabbits and human feet, and add color. These touches contribute to a more domestic appearance, which can be more acceptable to neighbors.

Incorporating Formality and Functionality

If formality is important in your garden design, consider planting your wildflowers in beds of discrete groups. This helps maintain a tidy appearance while still embracing the prairie style. Several flowering prairie species are available at SCNPS native plant sales and may be found in commercial nurseries with a little searching. Where space and homeowner associations permit, consider planting grasses and sedges in naturalistic swathes. Scatter wildflowers through the grasses, repeating at least a few species throughout to help tie the design together and create visual continuity.

Adapting Prairie Plants to Shaded Areas

Full sun is helpful but not necessary. Shade tolerant grasses include upland river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), purpletop tridens (Tridens flavus), bottlebrush (Elymus hystrix), and Virginia wildoats (Elymus virginicus). Several native, shade-tolerant sedges are now available from SCNPS plant sales and online mail order nurseries. Many native wildflowers flower well in part shade. In addition to their visual interest, these prairie plants will attract a wide variety of wildlife. In particular, a prairie can host buckeye, wood nymph, satyr, fritillary, and monarch butterflies – and a variety of skippers. Their caterpillars and other insects will attract a diverse group of birds. The seeds of plants like native sunflowers, coneflowers, and blazing star attract native finches, sparrows, doves, juncos, and other birds. Lightning bugs, too, prefer unmowed plantings and leafy mulches.

Supporting Rare Prairie Species through Suburban Gardens

Rare prairie wildflowers of upstate South Carolina include smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata), Schweinitz’s sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii), and Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum). Growing these plants in gardens in their native ranges does not take the place of conservation in their natural habitats but it may make a contribution to their continued existence – and that of their pollinators.

Deer Resistance in Suburban Prairies

A few shrubs are appropriate for pocket prairies. Low-growing forms of fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), black aronia (Aronia melanocarpa), Georgia savory (Clinopodium georgianum), and shrubby St. Johnswort (Hypericum prolificum) are appropriate for sites with some sun. Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) grows in shady spots. Once established, medium-sized shrubs like fragrant sumac and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) can be cut back aggressively each year to keep the plants short. Deer are problems in the yards of many upstate neighborhoods. While they will eat anything if they are hungry enough, deer prefer to browse the leafy twigs of broad-leafed plants. Typically, they leave grasses and sedges alone. Adding wildflowers that deer tend to avoid will make a pocket prairie reasonably resistant to deer predation.

 

Building Your Suburban Prairie: Plant Recommendations

Following is a list of some short, fairly deer resistant plants that you can use in creating your own suburban short grass prairie.

Grasses

  • Agrostis hyemalis – Winter bent grass
  • Andropogon ternarius – Splitbeard bluestem, especially dwarf selections like ‘Black Mountain’
  • Chasmanthium latifolium – Inland sea oats
  • Chasmanthium laxum – Slender wood oats
  • Danthonia spicata – Poverty oatgrass
  • Elymus virginicus – Virginia wildoats
  • Eragrostis spectabilis – Purple lovegrass
  • Festuca subverticillata – Nodding fescue
  • Panicum virgatum – Switchgrass, especially dwarf selections like ‘Cheyenne Sky’
  • Piptochaetium avenaceum – Blackseed needle grass
  • Sorgastrum elliottii – Nodding Indian grass
  • Tridens flavus – Purpletop tridens

Sedges

  • Carex appalachica – Appalachian sedge
  • Carex cherokeensis – Cherokee sedge
  • Carex laxiculmis – Creeping sedge

Wildflowers

  • Achillea gracilis – Eastern yarrow
  • Allium cernuum – Nodding onion
  • Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly milkweed
  • Asclepias verticillata – Whorled milkweed
  • Baptisia australis – Blue false indigo, especially the dwarf form, ‘Minor’ or var. minor
  • Chamaecrista fasciculata – Partridge pea
  • Chrysogonum repens – Green-and-gold
  • Chrysopsis mariana – Maryland golden aster
  • Clinopodium georgianum – Georgia savory
  • Clitoria mariana – Butterfly pea
  • Coreopsis lanceolata – Lance-leaf coreopsis
  • Coreopsis pubescens – Star tickseed
  • Echinacea purpurea – Purple coneflower
  • Erigeron pulchellus – Robin’s plantain
  • Eryngium yuccifolium – Rattlesnake master
  • Eupatorium album – White thoroughwort
  • Euphorbia corollata – Flowering spurge
  • Hypericum hypericoides – St. Andrew’s cross
  • Hypericum prolificum – Shrubby St. Johnswort
  • Liatris spicata – Dense blazing star
  • Lobelia puberula – Downy lobelia
  • Manfreda virginica – False aloe
  • Marshallia obovata – Piedmont Barbara’s buttons
  • Monarda punctata – Dotted beebalm
  • Parthenium integrifolium – Wild quinine
  • Penstemon digitalis – Foxglove beardtongue
  • Pityopsis aspera – Grassleaf silkgrass
  • Pycnanthemum tenuifolium – Narrowleaf mountain mint
  • Rudbeckia hirta – Black-eyed Susan
  • Salvia lyrata – Lyre-leaf sage
  • Scutellaria incana – Downy skullcap
  • Symphyotrichum georgianum – Georgia aster
  • Tephrosia virginiana – Goat’s rue

Perennial Groundcovers

  • Fragaria virginiana – Wild strawberry

Shrubs

  • Yucca flaccida – Weakleaf yucca

 

Conclusion: Embracing Biodiversity in Suburban Landscaping

As we strive to create sustainable and ecologically diverse environments within our suburban landscapes, the incorporation of native prairie plants offers a promising solution. Not only do these plants contribute to the restoration of lost habitats and the preservation of native species, but they also enhance the beauty and functionality of our yards.

By cultivating prairie gardens, we not only create vibrant havens for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife but also foster a deeper connection to the natural world. As stewards of our land, let us embrace the opportunity to transform our suburban spaces into thriving ecosystems, where native plants and animals can flourish alongside us.

Do You Love Hummingbirds? Hummingbirds and the Native Plants They Love

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by Sue Watts

In spring, hummingbirds are returning from their winter vacation in Mexico and Central America. Their return visit coincides with the blooming of some native plants with their favorite things – red, tubular flowers and lots of nectar. Get outside and look for these plants blooming:  red buckeye, coral honeysuckle and, later in the year, our native Columbine. 

 

Photo Credit: Sue Watts

Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia): Native to the southeastern United States, Red Buckeye thrives in a variety of habitats in South Carolina. Its bright red flowers make it an attractive addition to native gardens, and it serves as an important nectar source for returning hummingbirds in the spring.

 

Photo Credit: Sue Watts

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens): This native vine is found throughout the eastern United States. Coral Honeysuckle is especially valued for its long blooming season and its tubular red or coral flowers that attract hummingbirds. Unlike invasive honeysuckle species, Lonicera sempervirens is beneficial to local ecosystems in South Carolina.

 

Photo Credit: Sue Watts

Native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): Also known as Eastern Red Columbine, this plant is native to the Eastern United States. It features distinctive, nodding red and yellow flowers that are attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies in South Carolina. It’s well-suited to shaded or woodland gardens and naturalized areas.

 

And when you find them, perhaps you’ll spot a hungry hummingbird!

 

Check out this free guide from the USDA on attracting hummingbirds to your garden with native plants.

Visit here for a selection of hummingbird coloring sheets.

 

Building Momentum: Continuing the Fight Against the Fig Buttercup with Your Support

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Last month, we highlighted the nasty invasive Fig Buttercup (Ficaria verna) and our collaborative efforts with the Friends of the Reedy River (FoRR) to curb its spread across South Carolina’s cherished landscapes. Thanks to your enthusiastic response and the informative resources we shared, awareness about this environmental threat has grown significantly. However, the fight is far from over, and your continued support is crucial.

Amplifying Our Impact: How You Can Help

We have made it easy for you to contribute to our efforts against the Fig Buttercup. To donate, simply visit our website and navigate to the donations page:

  1. Go to SCNPS.org.
  2. Click on the ‘Membership’ tab in the main menu.
  3. Select ‘Donate’ from the dropdown menu or directly visit this link.
  4. Choose the ‘Fig Buttercup Fund’ from the list of projects to direct your support specifically to this cause.

In addition to direct donations through the website, every member who joins or renews their membership is presented with the opportunity to support this specific cause among others.

In coordination with FoRR, we are ensuring that information about how to donate is readily accessible. This initiative is promoted to continue protecting and restoring the natural beauty of South Carolina.

Exciting Funding Updates and Future Plans

We are thrilled to announce that, through our combined efforts and the generosity of our partners, significant progress has been made in securing funds for our Fig Buttercup removal initiatives. Specifically, we have successfully secured a $5,000 grant from Colonial Pipeline for this effort. Additionally, we’ve received $10,000 for projects with the South Carolina Forestry Commission and another $5,000 from a dedicated supporter, bringing our total recent fundraising to $20,000.  Woohoo!

A Call to Stand United

The challenge posed by the Fig Buttercup is significant, but with your help, our impact can be even greater. By contributing to our efforts, you are not just donating; you are investing in the health and preservation of our ecosystems. Together, we can ensure that future generations will enjoy a vibrant, biodiverse South Carolina.

Join us as we continue to make strides in conservation and community engagement. Your support makes all the difference.

Support Our Efforts – Donate Today!

Thank you for standing with us in this important cause. Together, we are making a tangible difference in the battle against invasive species and in the promotion of a healthier environment.

Explore the Unique Ecosystems of Blackwell Preserve: A Special SCNPS Field Trip

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Join us for an exclusive exploration of Blackwell Preserve, a serene and ecologically significant area in Travelers Rest. This field trip, led by Dan Whitten, offers a special opportunity to access a usually restricted preserve, enhancing your understanding of the unique habitats and species of the Upstate. 

Event Details:

Date: Sunday, May 19, 2024
Time: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

About the Hike:

Discover the lush, water-fed ecosystems of Blackwell Preserve, where groundwater seepage and saturated soils create rare environmental conditions. The preserve hosts the federally-endangered bunched arrowhead among other species such as red maple, swamp tupelo, and American elm. A portion of the hike covers drier ground dominated by Virginia Pine, providing a diverse botanical experience.

Expert Guidance:

Dan Whitten, a seasoned naturalist and expert in native plants, will lead this hike. His deep knowledge of local ecosystems and species will enhance your experience, offering insights into the preservation and importance of these natural habitats.

What to Bring:

  • Comfortable outdoor clothing suitable for the weather
  • Water and snacks
  • Appropriate footwear for potentially wet and uneven terrain

Safety and Accessibility:

This hike is generally easy to moderate, with some areas that may involve walking through wet and uneven ground. It is advisable for attendees to prepare for various terrain types and bring water-resistant footwear.

Registration and Additional Information:

The number of participants is limited to ensure a quality experience. We recommend early registration to secure your spot. Detailed instructions, including the meeting point and additional tips, will be sent a week before the event.

For more information and to register, please contact upstatefieldtrips@scnps.org.

This field trip to Blackwell Preserve is not just a walk through the woods—it’s an educational journey into the heart of South Carolina’s native plant habitats. We look forward to exploring these precious ecosystems with you!