In this undated photo, a Piedmont Azalea is shown growing in the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum on the Tifton campus of the University of Georgia.
TIFTON, Ga. -- The South Georgia Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium has blossomed into a must-see event for gardening enthusiasts.
The annual symposium brings together people with a desire to learn more about landscaping with native plants and wildflowers and native plant experts from across the Southeast.
This year's event will be held Wednesday at UGA's Tifton Campus Conference Center.
"Many people aren't aware of the plants that are native to this area, or to the South. That's what this conference is all about," said Amy Carter, agricultural research coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Tifton Campus. "Many of those attending have been here almost every year since the first symposium in 2001. Their gardens are their passion."
As part of Carter's work at UGA, she manages the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum. At the conclusion of the event, she will lead a walking tour of the arboretum.
Among the native plants to see in the arboretum are azalea, elysium, viburnum, buckeye and holly.
The daylong event will feature six speakers, including Jenny Cruse Sanders, the vice president for science and conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Sanders will discuss the Atlanta garden's native plant conservation program. Kris Braman, a professor of entomology at the UGA-Griffin Campus, will speak on beneficial insects and their importance to a garden.
"Not all insects are bad," Carter said. "Many people are tempted to go into their gardens and kill every insect they find. Some of those insects are probably helping. I'm really excited to hear what Dr. Braman can teach us about that."
Landscape architect Rick Huffman, of Greenville, S.C., will kick off the event. He will speak on his life's work: creating ecologically-sound landscape designs. Dan Miller will finish the day with his presentation on "Growing Native Azaleas from Seed."
The symposium will last from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, go to the www.sgnpws.org website or call (229) 391-6868.
Clint Thompson is information coordinator for the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.