Pinus palustris, photo by Elizabeth McCarthy,
University of Georgia,

How It Started!

After attending the Native Plant Symposium in Athens in 2000, Merlyn Harris, Camellia District Arboreta Chair, was talking with Camellia District members at their district meeting. The discussion turned to the long drive from her home in Enigma to Athens. Those garden club friends either didn’t want to hear her complaints, or felt like offering a challenge. They suggested that Harris do something about it: start a South Georgia version of the symposium. Harris visited the University of Georgia Tifton Campus, met with Amy Carter, and the rest is history.

Every year the committee, made up of three Camellia District Garden Club members, and three UGA staff promotes the symposium. Avenues of promotion include Garden Club events, South Georgia newspapers and television, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Native Plant Society, and nearby colleges. The first South Georgia Native Plant & Wildflower Symposium was planned with great anticipation and anxiety: if we have it, will they come? The answer in 2001, and every year since, has been a resounding Yes!

The SGNPWS committee was unchanged from 2000 through 2015. The Garden Club members of the original committee consisted of Chairman Merlyn Harris, Patty Parrish and Mary Phillips. The UGA members were Amy Carter, Dana Cheek, and Glenda Gibbs.

After the death of Merlyn Harris in 2015, Avernell Rogers joined the committee, and Amy Carter was appointed Chairman. After the 2017 event, Patty Parrish resigned from the committee. Mary Whitfield joined the committee at that time. Garden Club members serving on the committee are from Camellia District. UGA committee members have remained unchanged.

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