Connect to Protect for Biodiversity – Layering Georgia Natives into home gardens, potted displays, and pocket prairies

Jennifer Ceska, Heather Alley, Jim Affolter, and Jenny Cruse-Sanders, The State Botanical Garden of Georgia

The Connect to Protect for Biodiversity philosophy and the educational and horticultural methodology launched in Georgia in 2014 from Athens and has spread like a Monarchs on the wing across the entire state since. Georgia gardeners have tremendous opportunity to help support wildlife by layering native plants into their display. We share designs, techniques for getting natives on the ground, species recommendations, and sources for native plants, all with an eye on conservation ethics. Displays can be small like potted plants on a patio or cheerful mailbox gardens. They can also be larger like grand formal displays, loser cottage style compositions, and even pocket prairies along roadsides, driveways, and rights-of-way. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has been researching species and techniques specific to Georgia for eight years. We also pull best practices and resources from over 320 professionals in both the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance and the Georgia Native Plant Initiative working to close the gap between the demand for native plants by consumers and the availability of native plants from the Green Industry, particularly plants of Georgia provenance. Plant species that have looks and personality, ecological relevance, because we all can Connect to Protect.