By Margot Ringenburg
Many people prefer to call it the annual picnic; some call it the NC Native Plant Society annual meeting. Whether it’s known as the annual picnic or annual meeting, it was held on a summer’s day, and as usual, it continued its tradition of generating satisfaction on multiple levels. The result was many contented members in possession of new friendships, fresh memories, and more plants to carefully put into the soil, once back home.
The Annual Picnic, the 71st Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Native Plant Society, took place on the Misenheimer Campus of Pfeiffer University on Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sponsored this year by the Southern Piedmont Chapter, the picnic’s location, east of Concord and west of the Uwharries, provided some members with the option of a leisurely journey both to and from the picnic, along roads less-traveled than I-40 or I-85.
A bountiful plant sale
Parking was a convenient distance to the picnic’s first venue, a tree-shaded grove where members set up lawn chairs, chatted, and exchanged greetings and news with fellow native plant enthusiasts from across the state, some of whom they had not seen since pre-pandemic days. Just a stone’s throw away were tables displaying the picnic’s plant sale.
The sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the grove of oaks and hickories was lined with tables and booths representing organizations and groups with whom we share some common ground: the Catawba Lands Conservancy and its Carolina Thread Trail, the Concord Wildlife Alliance, and the Friends of Plant Conservation.
A rain garden tour
Early arrivals to the picnic were able to tour the campus pollinator rain garden designed by associate professor of biology and environmental science at Pfeiffer, Dr. Carrie DeJaco and her students, as well as the Falcon Trail, a short stretch of the longer Carolina Thread Trail, along Curl Tail Creek.
The picnic was delicious, the music was splendid
At noon, a line formed on the steps and along the main hallway of nearby Jane Freeman Hall where a potluck buffet featuring barbecue and iced tea, together with a colorful and delicious selection of summer salads and desserts, was displayed. Live music during lunch in the grove was provided by the group Pollen Oats. Stomachs satisfied, we left our chairs behind, once again, and entered Knapp Gymnasium to give a formal vote of approval to revisions of the society’s bylaws proposed by the board following a thorough review. A new slate of officers was warmly welcomed: Ken Bridle as president; Margot Ringenburg, vice president; Theresa Morr, secretary; and Diane Laslie, treasurer. Members present also voiced their approval of members of the board of directors: Bettina Darveaux, Vicki Fuhrmann, Lisa Gould, Paula LaPoint, and Roxanne Newton. This newsletter includes a story about Lynda Waldrep, who received the NCNPS president’s award, Making a Difference Leads to Award for Lynda Waldrep.
An outstanding plant auction
The meeting was followed by what some might consider “the main event” of the day, a plant auction in the Henry Pfeiffer Chapel hosted by that fabulous wordsmith, botanist, and teacher, Larry Mellichamp, known fondly and simply by so many as “Dr. M.” Larry’s impressive knowledge and appreciation of the state’s flora—bog plants, in particular—was on full display, together with his quick wit and sense of humor.
Both the plant sale and plant auction proceeds support the operations and programs of NCNPS. Individual NCNPS chapters also hold plant sales periodically throughout the year. Check our website for what we do and for a summary of our 2022 accomplishments.
The day ended as it began, with temperatures at a level which we could only have hoped for on a summer’s day in the southern Piedmont, but with many contented members in possession of new friendships, fresh memories, and more plants to carefully put into the soil, once back home.
Margot Ringenburg is a transplant from north of the Mason-Dixon Line who retired to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill area after 35 years of teaching. It was through her service as a volunteer at the North Carolina Botanical Garden that she learned of the Native Plant Society and became inspired to establish a native plant garden at her home. She cares deeply about the natural world, and, along with her husband, is a member of New Hope Audubon and a legacy member of The Nature Conservancy.
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