Native Plants: Facts and Fallacies with Carol Reese, Retired UT Extension Agent

You’ve heard these dangerously categorical statements made many times. Native plants are hard to find. Native plants are more drought tolerant and durable. Only native plants are useful to wildlife, especially caterpillars, birds and on up the chain. Native plant cultivars are “manmade”, useless to wildlife, and even have detrimental impacts to biodiversity. Carol’s fast-paced program challenges these claims. It celebrates the many native and non-native plants that can be found at any run-of-the-mill garden center, that provide great beauty, durability and excellent nutrition for our beloved wildlife. She will fearlessly challenge the lack of science behind the claims of “useless plants” and humorously point out the discrepancies in the nativist assertions. This talk will take you through space and time, and even plunges very briefly into simply facts of molecular chemistry that boldly stand up for non-native plants! Hold onto your hats and be prepared to come away with an eye-opening perspective of what is meant by native, plus add a few great underutilized natives to your simply-must-have list.

Bio: Carol Reese is a retired Extension Horticulture Specialist, a nationally-known speaker, blending equal parts gardening knowledge, natural lore, and quirky humor. Her B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture are from Mississippi State University, and she could also add her Phd. if she “had ever written that damn dissertation!” While there, she taught classes in Plant Materials, and co-taught Landscape Design for non LA majors alongside a “real” landscape architect. She has written numerous articles for garden magazines, has served as Q&A columnist for Horticulture Magazine, and wrote a weekly gardening and nature column for the Jackson Sun for two decades.  Carol attributes her love of horticulture to being raised on a farm by generations of plant nuts, including a grandfather who dynamited his garden spot each spring to “break up his hard pan”. Carol’s very personal appreciation of natural lore is at least partially a result of her near daily rambles through the wild areas near her home with her extensive and motley collection of mutts, aka known as the strong-willed breed of “Amalgamations”.

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