MORE INFO ON NATIVE PLANTS
Cultivars v. Species and Seedlings:
There seems to be the silly notion out there that cultivars are "better" than straight species. A cultivar is simply a plant someone has chosen for one or more characteristics, such as bloom color, size, growth habit, pest or disease resistance, or just to establish a new name for personal or marketing purposes (the pink loropetalums for example). Many cultivars are obviously worthy of naming and saving, but in the rush to name every slight difference, the value of growing from seed is being lost. We must continue to grow from seed to maintain biodiversity, to strengthen the genetic pool, and to look for new forms.
Growers are affected by market demand. If designers and publications only favor cultivars, then the public will know nothing else, and the growers will have to satisfy that demand. Many excellent plants never "catch on" because they are without a catchy name or are not mentioned in those publications. More diversity and flexibility in plant choices will create a climate that will allow the growers to produce a wider variety of good plants. If economics alone is allowed to dictate the market, we will all end up using the same ten plants in every garden.
Recommendations for novice gardeners:
Join your local wildflower society or native plant society. If there isn't one, start one. Support your local botanical garden or arboretum if you are fortunate enough to have one close by. Many folks are maintaining areas in their towns as native gardens or natural areas, with much success and support from their communities. Its a great way to connect with nature and your friends and family. Organize field trips. Universities and community colleges that have biology or botany departments are great resources. Bill Finch of the Mobile Register says that knowledge of the flora of an area increases geometrically with the proximity of a university.
Here is a hodge podge of books that we love or use a lot.
Dirr, Dr. Mike of UGA - several books and CD on plant material - all excellent, particularly the ones that reference our plants!
Nation, Fred. 2002 Where the Wild Illicium Grows, Lavender Publishing Co., AL; Odenwald, Neil
Porcher, Dr. Richard of the Citadel (Tom's alma mater) has two excellent books on the plants of South Carolina. They are arranged by habitat.
Stein, Sara.1993 NOAH'S GARDEN : Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards. Houghton Miflin Co NY
Wasowski, Sally & Andy several books on native gardening - excellent and humorous.
More reference material for those of you who, like us, have grown beyond the status of "enthusiast".
Dirr, Dr. Mike of UGA - several books and CD's on plant material - all excellent
Bailey, Liberty Hyde 1976 Hortus Third, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York.
Brown, Clair A. 1972 Wildflowers of Louisiana and Adjoining States, LSU Press. Baton Rouge.
Dean, Blanche F., F. Mason and J. L. Thomas. 1973 Wildflowers of Alabama and Adjoining States, University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa.
Foote, Leonard E. and Samuel B. Jones, Jr. 1989 Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast, Timber Press. Portland.
Galle, Fred C. 1985 Azaleas, Timber Press. Portland.
Hill, Madalene and G. Barclay. 1987 South Herb Growing, Shearer Publishing. Fredericksburg, TX.
Fontenot, William R. 1992 Native Gardening in the South, A Prairie Basse Publication, Carencro, LA.
Jones, Samuel B. and L. E. Foote. 1990 Gardening with Native Wild Flowers, Timber Press. Portland.
Leopold, Aldo. 1986 A Sand County Almanac, Balantine Books. NY
Odum, Eugene P. 1971 Fundamentals of Ecology, W. B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia.
Phillips, Harry N. 1985 Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill.
Radford, Albert E., H. E. Ables, C. R. Bell. 1968 Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill.
Timme, S. Lee. 1989 Wildflowers of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi. Jackson.
Welch, William C. 1989 Perennial Garden Color. Taylor Publishing Co. Dallas.