Native Plant Experts to Speak at Southern Highlands Reserve’s Annual Symposium: “Balance and Function: The Role of Native Plants in our Ecosystems”

March 29, 2016

On Saturday, May 14th, horticulturalists, gardeners, landscape designers and plant lovers will gather on Toxaway Mountain at Southern Highlands Reserve’s Native Plant Symposium to learn about gardening with plants that are native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This year’s theme “Balance and Function: The Role of Native Plants in our Ecosystems” will showcase how native plants provide valuable services to our everyday lives. Through their collective experience spanning 75 years, native plant experts will provide examples through field studies and best management practices on how we can use native plants in landscaping projects of any scale.

Compared with non-native species, native plants are more effective in providing critical services such as water purification, flood mitigation and disease control. Native plants also are essential to supporting the food chain on all levels, providing food for insects and animals above them that are also native within the ecosystem.

Keynote Speaker Larry Mellichamp, former Director Emeritus of the Botanical Gardens at UNC-Charlotte, will share with the Symposium his insights from a recent botanical study in Madagascar, comparing native plants of Madagascar’s island ecosystems to the rare native plants in hot spots of biodiversity in Western North Carolina. Guest Speakers Matt Sprouse and Amy Fahmy from Sitework Studios in Asheville will discuss how to weave native plants into the design of any landscape, large or small.

The Southern Highlands Reserve is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the natural ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the preservation, cultivation and display of plants native to the region and by advocating for their value through education, restoration and research. Located in Western North Carolina at an elevation of 4500 feet, the varied topography and forest types found on our 120 acres allow us to emulate many of the plant communities found in high elevation forests of the Southern Appalachians.

The Native Plant Symposium will be held at the Southern Highlands Reserve in Lake Toxaway, NC on May 14th from 8:30 – 3:00 p.m. Advance registration is required and tickets can be purchased on our website at

For more information, please contact Holly Spencer at 828-215-8548 or