Wildflower Greenway

We should  extend a thank you to the Mecklenburg County Parks and Rec Department in conjunction with Charlotte Water Department for the sorta secret wildflower greenway walk adjacent to McAlpine Creek Park. From what I understand, when Charlotte Water was installing a relief sewer line along the creek,  a seed mix was planted in this recently disturbed area to hold the soil.


Catherine Luckenbaugh, currently Currator of the Mecklenburg County Herbarium located at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve shared this:

“I spent several years of my career in private industry working out the right species mix and percent composition to achieve a native mix that would provide the nearly instantaneous erosion control properties that Charlotte Water needs…sounded easy when I started the project, but it did take some monitoring and trial and error to get what they needed. I’m just glad they’re still using it.”

This wildflower creekbank/greenway is also an example of plant communities, as discussed by Lisa Tompkins at the recent NCNPS Annual Picnic at Hagenstone Park. Drawing from the ideas in the recent book by Claudia West and Thomas Ranier, Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, Lisa described the various layers found in  plant communities, from green “mulch” to medium and tall wildflowers and grasses.

Do you ever find yourself wondering about some lovely wildflower you happened on in a Mecklenburg County park? Try this link to MeckFlora, a new and growing online tool for plant identification. It is organized by park, by flower color and plant type.

Our family has made it a point to wander this portion of the McAlpine Creek Greenway on a regular basis to see what is in bloom. These photos are from the greenway in mid June 2017, and the Rudbeckia display appears  to be at peak performance.


IMG_5294Park at the Sardis Road parking lot (110 Old Bell Road Charlotte, NC 28270) and turn left from the parking lot access trial instead of right toward McAlpine Park. This unpaved, dirt trail wanders adjacent to McAlpine Creek toward Providence Road. Because of the recent sewer work, it remains sunny and open. And one note….please take home only photos….and leave the wildflowers in the park for others to enjoy.

All it takes is one good idea

“We’re building a highway,” says Angel Hjarding, creator of the NC Wildlife Federation statewide Butterfly Highway program. Angel had an idea…to provide native plants in garden plots for underserved neighborhoods. The results would provide both beauty to the underserved neighborhoods and benefit to all manner of butterflies and other pollinators. From this initial project of 50 gardens the idea spread statewide to over 1600 by the end of 2016, in just 1 year. The Butterfly Highway project is a pledge to protect and conserve native plants for pollinators and to not use pesticides that will harm pollinators. It is not a certification, making it much more accessible to all types of gardens–from patio or deck size to farms 100 acres+.

Dr. Larry Mellichamp, President of the NC Native Plant Society has often challenged members to get involved locally, plant local gardens, talk to our neighbors and children and introduce new friends to the pleasures of native plant gardening and the benefits native plants provide. At the January 2017 Southern Piedmont Chapter meeting Angel told stories of neighbors talking with neighbors about the butterflies and bees they observed visiting their Asters and Butterfly Weed and Blackeyed Susans in their new gardens.butterfly-highway-1

In our November 2016 meeting, Carrie DeJaco shared research noting the positive impact interactions with the natural world have on all communities…both underserved and well to do. Clearly native plant enthusiasts and our environmental friends and supporters already reap the benefits of our time outside among plant and animal friends. Hopefully we, the Southern Piedmont Chapter, can harness Angel’s enthusiasm in participating in more local projects in 2017. Please support our efforts with your time and talent at these upcoming events. Email ncnpsspchapter@gmail.com if you can help.

  • MCSWCD Tree seedling distribution, 9-12 Noon, Feb. 25
  • Reedy Creek NC Arbor Day celebration , March 18, 2-5:30 PM
  • Earth Day, numerous community events and festivals, April 22 and 29

img_4791One more thing, if you’d like to identify the fluttering visitors to your own backyard gardens, Angel recommends this book, Â Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America by Jeffrey Glassberg. And another thing…we do acknowledge that even one great idea takes a lot of work to make it happen. We applaud Angel’s success and hope you will see her hard work as an incentive to all of us. For more information on how to create a Butterfly Highway stopping post in your backyard visit ncwf.org.





Sunday Jan. 8, 2017 – The Butterfly Highway

NCNPS-Southern Piedmont Chapter January Meeting

Angel Hjarding will share the Butterfly Highway creation story, and explore how NCNPS members can become more involved in our local communities. Angel is in the process of completing her doctoral degree in Geography from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. As a part of her doctoral research, she conceptualized the Butterfly Highway as a way to bring beautification to underserved urban neighborhoods and create opportunities for residents to reconnect with nature. Since joining NCWF, the Butterfly Highway has grown from 50 residential gardens to over 1,300 gardens across NC. To learn more about the many projects Butterfly Highway has completed this year visit the Butterfly Highway page on the NCWF website or follow The Butterfly Highway on Facebook.


Angel will have Butterfly Highway custom seed mix packets for sale, $5.00 each. You can learn more about the seeds in these packets at the NC Wildlife Federation website.


Date: Sunday, January 8

Time: 2:00-4:00

Location: Reedy Creek Nature Center,2900 Rocky River Rd. Charlotte, NC 28215

RSVP: ncnpsspchapter@gmail.com

News and Upcoming events:

If you are looking for any recent copies of the Bird Friendly Native Plant of the Month flyer, they are all listed in our blog to give you great ideas while you sit inside this winter dreaming of where to put your shovel in your garden next spring! It’s too early to plant, but not too early to plan!!

Mecklenburg County Soil and Water Conservation District Tree and Seedling Sale 2017

Leslie Vanden Herick and her team at MCSWCD always have a great selection of native trees and shrubs to offer at really affordable prices. And if you pre-order you can skip the line and pick them up Friday, Feb. 24. More details and order forms are on our new Southern Piedmont Chapter blog. Or you can go directly to the MCSWCD to find the form.

Volunteer Opportunties in 2017!

NCNPS-Southern Piedmont Chapter is enthusiastically making plans to engage with our communities in 2017 and we need you! Our biggest volunteer need is Earth Day, April 22, when our chapter participates in numerous festivals and events throughout the region. Please mark your calendars now and plan to help us out to staff a table or booth. Materials are provided, and our community loves to talk about NC native plants!

Our first local event is staffing a table at the MCSWCD Tree Seedling Distribution on Saturday, Feb. 25, 9-12 Noon  at the Hal Marshall Center in uptown Charlotte. We need 2-3 people to cover half shifts. If you have time to volunteer please email ncnpsspchapter@gmail.com.

UNCC Certificate in Native Plant Studies

Don’t miss this opportunity to enroll in Botany for Gardeners and Naturalists, Jan. 28-29, the introductory course and pre-requisite for many of the other courses throughout the year. Visit the UNCC Botanical Gardens website for more details and to sign up online. You may know the instructor….our very own NCNPS President, Dr. Larry Mellichamp!