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Watauga County 4-H agent Karee Mackey, left, shows a strawberry plant to 2-year-old Addie Eller and her mother, Anna Eller, during the Daniel Boone Native Gardens seventh annual Early Bird Wildflower Walk and Plant Sale in Boone on Saturday. The annual fundraiser of the Blue Ridge Garden Club, caretakers of the native garden, supports mountain native plant preservation.


Originally published: 2014-04-26 16:40:01
Last modified: 2014-04-29 11:24:50

Spring digs

by Tom Mayer

Saturday was a school day for Boone natives Joseph Eller, 4, and his sister, 2-year-old Addie -- but the youngsters didn't mind at all.

Of course, their classroom was the Daniel Boone Native Gardens - a natural area dedicated to plant preservation in Boone that on that day was filled with uncommon and rare mountain native plants, birds of prey and professional gardeners and experts willing to explain the plants and wildlife around them.

"We're really enjoying the education the kids are getting today," Anna Eller said. "We're trying to peak their interest."

From the way Joseph, Addie and dozens of other visitors to the gardens were interacting with both nature and the visiting experts, Anna Eller and her husband, Kevin, achieved their aim at education.

And that aim, said Sarah Gilley, vice chairwoman of the native gardens' Board of Governors, was one important component of Saturday's annual Early Bird Wildflower Walk and Plant Sale.

"This is a legacy for the community," Gilley said of the gardens. "A legacy to preserve mountain native plants."

Adding to that legacy Saturday were plant vendors, birding and botanist experts who hosted tours, and other groups, including Lees-McRae College's Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute, which showcased falcons, owls and rare birds such as a partially albino red-tailed hawk.

The Saturday event was the seventh annual walk and plant sale, and in addition to its purpose to educate, the morning was a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Garden Club. The club is responsible for the Daniel Boone Native Gardens and other High Country garden sites.


By Allison Haver,

The second annual horticultural symposium sponsored by Appalachian State University's College of Arts and Sciences will be held June 7. The theme is "Designing Your Garden" and will feature noted speakers, in addition to a tour of the Daniel Boone Native Gardens.

The daylong event is designed for local gardeners and homeowners. The program is sponsored in conjunction with the Daniel Boone Native Gardens and the Garden Club of North Carolina.

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes continental breakfast, catered lunch, free parking and a tour of the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. Preregistration is required.

"The symposium was conceived to celebrate the (the garden's) 50th anniversary last year," Daniel Boone Native Garden's Board of Governors vice chairwoman Sarah Gilley said. "More than 70 people attended last year and registration is limited to 100."

Gilley said that the symposium and Daniel Boone Native Gardens focus on helping the community appreciate the importance of native plants, and that all proceeds from the event go toward the cost of expert speakers according to Gilley.

"We want people to learn how to recognize wildflowers and ferns, rhododendrons and other high elevation plants and possibly add them to their home gardens," she said.  "We want people to watch the birds and pollinators thrive."
Zack Murrell, professor and assistant chairman of Appalachian's Department of Biology, said, "Guests will leave the symposium with how-to tips and suggestions about gardens." Murrell, who will serve as moderator for the speakers, is president of the Association of Southeastern Biologists and serves as curator of the university's herbarium.

Exhibitors from local organizations will be available throughout the day.

Following the symposium's afternoon sessions, attendees will tour the Daniel Boone Native Gardens, located on Horn in the West Drive, two blocks from the campus. The gardens include more than 200 native plants, including plants for sale this year during the symposium.

The symposium coincides with National Garden Week celebrated throughout the country, according to Rebecca Kaenzig, chairwoman of the board of the Daniel Boone Native Gardens.

Registration is available online and for those who register by April 30 the fee is $59 per person. Registration after April 30 is $70.
Seating is limited to 100 participants and the deadline to register is June 2.

Register online at or mail in registrations to Horticultural Symposium, Appalachian State University, P.O. Box 34042, Boone, NC  28608.

For more information about the event or Daniel Boone Native Gardens, visit or call (828) 264-6390. Visit Facebook for events.

Horticultural symposium highlights
Speakers and topics for the second annual horticultural symposium include:
- "Mysterious and Beautiful Rhododendrons" and "The Heath Family -- A Worldwide Floral Delight" presented by Kathy Kron, professor of biology at Wake Forest University.
- "Fitting Your Garden To Your Landscape" by architect Paul Kron, regional planning director for the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.
-  "Wild North Carolina: Exploring the Mountains' Natural Community," featuring   Michael Shafale of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and ecologist for the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.
- "The Best of Intentions - The Questions of Balance Between Nature and Horticulture" by David Bare, greenhouse manager for Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University.