Native Plant Festival 2021
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The Native Plant Alliance will host its 6th Annual Native Plant Festival on Saturday, September 18, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New Hanover County Arboretum.
This free, family-friendly festival celebrates Cape Fear area native plants and helps attendees learn how to incorporate them into their own garden plans. There will be activities for adults and children, native plant vendors, and displays and presentations by local horticultural experts.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, the festival changed its information sessions to virtual and moved the plant sale from the Arboretum to sites of all the individual growers of native plants.
For the 2021 Festival, presentations and exhibitor tables will return to the grounds of the New Hanover County Arboretum. The plant sale will remain spread throughout the area, with an online (and print) map guiding people to visit growers of native plants throughout the area.
Activities at the Arboretum will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; plant sellers will be able to set their own hours and may be open longer than from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Vendors of native plants will be the Arboretum Ability Garden (Heather Kelejian), Five Oaks Nursery & Tree Farm (Wil Massengill), Going Native Gardens (Joyce Huguelet), Grizz’s Nursery (Michael Gore), Lloyd’s Nursery (Lisa Brinkley), Lumber River Nursery (Jep Whitlock), Shelton Herb Farm (Margaret Shelton) and—new this year—Sorrell’s Lawn Care & Nursery (Christina Sorrell) and Wild Meadow Farm (Chris Dean and Maria Ortado).
Seventeen education exhibitors and vendors will offer information on native and invasive plants, soil, water, trees, bees, and birds, and many will have activities to engage children. Extension Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions.
Hourly gardening presentations by horticultural experts will be held in the Arboretum’s Education Center on a variety of plant-related topics. Some speakers will be live and others remote; all presentations will be available via Zoom for those who prefer to watch from home.
10–11 a.m. How plants communicate: The hidden fungal network beneath our feet: Jess Jarvis (via Zoom)
11 a.m.–noon Using Native Plants to Restore and Enhance Natural Habitats: Amy Long (in person)
Noon–1 p.m. Some Lovely and Fascinating Natives of Carolina Beach State Park: Amanda Chapman (via Zoom)
1–2 p.m. Carnivores, Ferns, and Protected Species, Oh My!: Jess Roach (in person)
2–3 p.m. Enhancing Communities Through Nature: Andy Wood
3 p.m. Tentative: Gloria Putnam’s release of videos on individual plants
New this year: iNaturalist expert Morgan Freese is organizing a Native Plant BioBlitz plant scavenger hunt event for the week leading up to the festival. To participate, folks take pictures of native plants (preferably in the wild) and post the photos on the iNaturalist app, which can be used on a phone or a computer. Photos taken from September 11–19 will qualify, and there will be prizes for most observations and most species photographed.
No iNaturalist experience is required—the organizers will hold at least one Zoom training to walk you through the “how-to” of providing identification help. Sign up online to receive updates on the BioBlitz as the festival grows closer. You may also contact Morgan Freese directly with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission is free; donations are welcome. Free parking will be available on site.
The Native Plant Festival is organized by the Native Plant Alliance and sponsored by: New Hanover County Arboretum, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers, Southeast Coastal Chapter of NC Native Plant Society, and Cape Fear’s Going Green. This year’s Festival co-chairs are Carol Bales and Lloyd Singleton.