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 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





December 2016 Meeting Report

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve in December

Now that it’s nearly time for our January meeting, I thought I should give a quick report for December! For those of you who missed it, December is always special. In addition to the program, we bring our favorite foods to share …


and exchange native plant seeds.


Seeing what everyone brings to the seed exchange is so much fun! This year’s offerings included Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum), titi (Cyrilla recemiflora), stiff goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigida, syn. Solidago rigida), and fevertree (Pinckneya bracteata). Milkweed, columbine, several species of Rudbeckia, and other interesting seeds were available as well. Growing from seed is one of the best ways to get varieties not commonly available in nurseries to add to your garden. Our “Compost Queen” has done a post about starting any seeds you might have picked up: Native Plant Seed Propagation

Between the food and the seed exchange, Reedy Creek naturalist and educator Laura Domingo presented the program, “Backyard Wildlife.” It is delightful to know, isn’t it, that the more native plants you have in your garden, the more local wildlife you are likely to see. Laura has a passion for nature that is infectious! She introduced us to dozens of fascinating animals we could encounter as we spend time outside in our neighborhoods and gardens. From graceful butterflies and birds to elegant turtles and snakes, when you know what to look for, your backyard is exciting during all seasons.

Thank you to Laura, and all who worked to make the meeting happen, to the many who brought food and seeds, and to those of you who came and supported the effort to spread the word about native plants. You are all appreciated!

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