We would like to introduce the Reserve’s newest team member, Diana Hiles. Diana has six years of fine gardening experience, beginning during her studies at Montgomery College and continuing through horticultural mentors, later running her own gardening company. She loved to draw, install and maintain landscape designs, often growing her own plants such as zinnias, foxgloves, scabiosa (pincushion flower), and milkweed for her clients’ gardens. Diana gets her green thumb from her parents who are also avid native plant gardeners. She holds certificates from the National Green Infrastructure Program (NGICP) and the Maryland Nursery Landscape Greenhouse Association (MNLGA).
Diana has drawn inspiration from the many English gardens she has visited including Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Helmingham Hall and Margery Fish’s 15th century home and cottage garden, East Lambrook Manor. She moved to Brevard from Maryland at the end of March to pursue her love of native plants and the mountains. She enjoys uniting classic fine gardening with native plants and wilder areas here at the Reserve. There is never a lack of things to do!
Thus far, Diana has taken on communications with the GPCA (Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance) to secure endangered mountain pitcher plants for SHR. Bog plants are a favorite of Diana’s and she is working on securing more for the Reserve. She has also started an experiment with composting using mushrooms to help speed up decomposition. All of the debris we gather on the Reserve is chipped or composted to help restore organic matter to the soil. To make compost more quickly (and enjoy edible mushrooms as a bonus), mushrooms spores are sown in compost piles. This helps the plants get enough nutrients without needing to use fertilizer. Diana has been a big help in getting the gardens ready for summer tours and documenting the Reserve through via our social media feed.
Diana is a lifelong learner and is interested in teaching others. She recently met with our local TC Henderson Elementary School to suggest native plants and solutions for their existing pollinator garden that will not only help pollinators but educate children on the nature around them. She looks forward to growing with the Reserve and enriching the gardens through sustainable stewardship and a gardener’s keen eye. Welcome Diana!