Learn about gardening with native plants Aug. 23

By Blue Ridge Books | Aug 07, 2014

The three authors of "Seasons in a Wildflower Refuge" will speak at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at Blue Ridge Books. Janet Lilley, Linda McFarland and Dan Pittillo worked together to put in print the history of the Corneille Bryan Native Garden at Lake Junaluska, including biographies of its four matriarchs, and dozens of color photographs.

Lilley and McFarland are long-time gardeners and plant enthusiasts, and were close friends of Maxilla Evans. They were drawn to the garden where she had transplanted scores of native plants from her home on Eagle's Nest Mountain, and worked tirelessly to sustain the beautiful landscape she had helped create.

Evans' two protégées served on the board which oversees the garden, and they suggested to the other board members that they develop a small educational booklet to expand on the informational brochure available on site. A prime objective was to include some of Dorothy Peacock's color prints of native plants in the garden, but they soon learned that four-color printing was pricey. Why not go for a book?  So their publishing adventure began, with as many twists and turns as a curvy mountain road.

They invited their friend and mentor, Dr. Dan Pittillo, a professor of biology at Western Carolina University, to help them. Pittillo had been instrumental in designing and developing the garden and so had a special commitment to it, and fondness for it.  He also had years of training, experience, and experience as a botanist. His interest in native plants began in 1955 with the "Flora of the Carolina" Project, and continued in the area of plant ecology throughout his professional career.

In his comments on the book, George Ellison observed, "This handsomely illustrated guide, enhanced by botanist Dan Pittillo's insightful descriptions, has considerable value not only as a guide to this garden but also to the native flora in the region as well."

The Saturday discussion will include the necessity for including native plants in the landscape, plants that flourish in our mountains, and more about the Garden, now a mature 25-years old.  Meet the gardeners, get a book signed, and share "growing" stories and tips.

For more information, call Cookie Callahan, chair of the CBNG board, at 454-9032, or Janet Manning, director of the garden, at 778-5938.

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