The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 3rd

Sustainable gardening set to grow in Chapel Hill

Having a lush garden isn’t always the best thing for your environment, and Chapel Hill residents will soon have the opportunity to learn why. 

The North Carolina Botanical Garden is now holding a new class called Landscape for Life.

Landscape for Life is an international program developed by the United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin designed to teach participants about how to build their home gardens without compromising their environment’s natural strengths such as its soil or wildlife.

“A green and lush garden doesn’t always mean that the garden is healthy or that it is functioning in a sustainable manner,” Jonathan Garner, professional development coordinator for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, said. 

“There’s often-time a lot of inputs that go into whether it’s a tremendous amount of watering or tremendous amount of chemical pesticides or fertilizers," he said. "It’s sort of like you have a landscape that’s on life support. Although it looks really great, if those resources go away then the landscape would not remain in that condition.”

North Carolina Botanical Garden director Damon Waitt said Triangle residents have long been conscious of their environmental impact, and that the program will help them take those practices into their gardens.

“We tend to think of being green and being sustainable as the wall of the building, and we don’t think of (it) as much in terms of the environment and how we manage our built environment. And that’s what this does,” Waitt said. “I really think the Triangle residents are primed and ready to take their sustainable living practices out into their gardens and into their home landscapes.”

JoAnn Overton, a landscape designer and manager of special projects at North Carolina Botanical Garden will lead participants through the 5-week course. She said the training covers soil, plants, water and materials, noting that North Carolinians are not cognizant enough about using native plants in their gardens. JoAnn:

“There really are many (plants) that are native to the mountains of North Carolina or the beaches of North Carolina that wouldn’t be appropriate here in the Piedmont,” Overton said. “It really is best to use plants that grow locally because they are the ones that have lived here for millions of years literally, and they are the ones that have a close relationship with the insects and wildlife that are in this area.”

The course will be held Saturdays beginning Sept. 26 and ending on Oct. 24. Participants can register online now for the $150 training, which will be held at the NCBG’s Allen Education Center. NCBG members receive a $10 discount when they register for the course.

Chapel Hill resident Camilla Tulloch said that while she already grows organically in her garden, the course could provide valuable information to homeowners.

“I came from England, and I had to learn a lot of Chapel Hill’s climate before I could grow anything, so this would be a very useful program,” she said.


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