Hummingbird Festival 2017!

Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve, a Mecklenburg County park in north Charlotte hosts one of the best family friendly festivals in town each August. The main attraction is the banding of visiting hummingbirds  by local naturalists for study and tracking.  This year is the 10th anniversary of the festival, and over 2,100 people attended the festival and 17 hummingbirds were banded by Susan Campbell, local hummingbird expert. The family fun is extended with a variety of programs, presentations, interactive opportunities, booths offering environmentally friendly information to visitors…and of course FOOD!

The NC Native Plant Society booth staffed by Larry Mellichamp, Vicki Jo and Ronnie Franks, Allison Pittman, Tracey Grimm, and Beth Davis sold several hummingbird friendly plants including (click on the plant name to learn more in our Eco-Friendly Native Plant of the Month section):

Lonicera sempervirens  Coral Honeysuckle
Aquilegia canadensis Eastern Columbine








Salvia coccinea
Salvia coccinea Scarlet Sage
Lobelia cardinalis and ruby-throat from 204
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower


If you missed the festival and would like to purchase hummingbird friendly plants for your garden for next year, be sure to put UNCC’s Fall Plant Sale on your calendar, October 13-14, 2017.

The NCNPS booth also entertained visitors with the fun and messy opportunity to make seed bombs to take home to start their own native plant garden. So easy to make with a little compost, clay, water and prairie seed mix and easy to take home in a hand decorated pot.image1

Thank you to Allison Pittman and Holy Angels in Belmont for donating Scarlet Sage plants and to Larry Mellichamp for donating Cardinal Flower plants for sale. Thank you to Carolina Heritage Nursery for supplying Coral Honeysuckle plants and donating a portion of the profit to NCNPS. Thank you to Will Stuart and Allison Pittman for sharing their photos.

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.

Making seed bombs–the native plant way

Thank you to Dennis Testerman, Margaret Genkins, Carrie DeJaco, and Allison Pittman for teaching kids and family how to make seed bombs and sharing our “Favorite Plants of the Piedmont” list. It’s amazing how interested and engaged our neighbors can be once we start connecting the dots…plants are caterpillar food, birds eat caterpillars, you enjoy the birds in your backyard…so feed them native plants!20170415_124741.jpgNCNPS President Larry Mellichamp challenged members at the 2016 Annual Picnic  to share botany lore and native plants with our communities and most importantly with children. So how to make a seed bomb? Mix equal parts modeling clay and compost, and then roll it around in the seed mix. Let it dry at home, and then “bomb” a bare patch of soil. Try to keep the area moist for about 2 weeks to allow the seeds to germinate. Thank you also to Kelly Lojk for designing the bookmark to go with our Aquilegia canadensis seed packets.  Eastern Columbine is incredibly easy to grow from seed…come visit us and purchase your seed packet for only $1 and start your own native plant garden with seeds or a bomb right away!

NCNPS will also be appearing at the following locations in April:

  • March for Science, Marshall Park, Charlotte April 22
  • Earthfest, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on April 29
  • Statesville Earth Festival on April 29

There’s still time to volunteer if you want to get your hands dirty, and tell stories about plants. Email if you are interested.





Eco-Friendly Native Plant of the Month

Eco-Friendly gardening–what is it and why do we do it? There are many ways to be Eco-Friendly in the world today. Native Plant lovers often find their passion in creating home gardens with native plants, and find their reward in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators and wildlife. The benefits of providing food and shelter for our neighbors-furry, feathery, scaly and more- is that we often are able to observe them up close, providing constant entertainment and beauty. Fellow NCNPS member and photographer Will Stuart often generously shares his photos of both native plants and their visitors. Note the tiger swallowtail butterfly on the Echinacea purpurea in the photo above.

Campsis radicans with hummingbird by Will Stuart

One of the goals of the North Carolina Native Plant Society is to educate our community about easy and successful ways to do that (be eco-friendly). Our monthly Bird Friendly Native Plant of the Month series gets a new name in 2017, moving to the more broadly encompassing Eco-Friendly theme. These flyers will continue to be posted on this blog and on our website.

NCNPS members often pass around favorite websites for learning more about plant culture and growth habits, plant lists, habitat lists etc. We offer a few of those to you below, and encourage you to share your favorites in the comment sections!

Native Plant gardening type sites:

Bird lover sites:

  • Cornell University has lots of information about ways to attract birds
  • Audubon Society is doing a great job of compiling information about Bird Friendly native plants and we credit them for getting us started on this theme!
  • Birds and Blooms is a fun site to use to think about specific bird and plant interactions
  • Nature Conservancy and Cornell have created a Habitat Network yard map project that provides a variety of information

Insect lover sites:

Ilex verticillata with Northern mockingbird by Will Stuart