News from Dr. Jeff Gillman
Director's Report August 2020
Things have been busy here at the Gardens, and though COVID-19 has changed a lot of our plans, it hasn’t stopped them! We are working hard to find new ways to bring the world of plants to the people of Charlotte, and we hope that you have been enjoying some of them. Though our greenhouses are closed, the number of people visiting the gardens is actually up this year. In March, when everything first hit the fan, we saw the number of visitors decrease, but when April rolled around we saw visitor numbers stabilize and then grow. In the outdoor gardens work hasn’t slowed on Polly’s Sensory Garden or The Carolina Trail. We’re getting close!

But perhaps the biggest news is that we will be having a plant sale this fall! Because of the coronavirus we will not be able to conduct an in person sale, but will instead have an online sale with touch-free pickup. This sale will start on September 19 for our members and about a week later for non-members – details will be sent soon! We are very excited to be able to provide plants to our loyal members and shoppers again. We have missed you!
Going Online!

This pandemic has forced everyone to reevaluate certain aspects of their work. For the Gardens’ staff it has created an opportunity to consider different ways of telling people about the amazing world of plants without having them actually visit the Gardens or take a class at the greenhouse. What we have come up with is a wonderful array of free virtual tours through the gardens as well as an assortment of fun online courses that teach people about the world outside – without leaving their house! This work has been supported by Larry and Carla Vitez who have chosen to donate audio and video equipment to the Gardens to make a better online experience for all who participate! You should see notable improvements in our online offerings very soon!
The Southeast Native Plant Primer
It’s always a good day when someone from the Gardens writes something that makes the world a better place! Dr. Larry Mellichamp, our Director Emeritus, and Paula Gross, our former Associate Director teamed up with photographer Will Stuart to produce The Southeast Plant Primer, a truly wonderful book for beginning and intermediate gardeners who are interested in choosing native plants for their gardens. Full of facts and informative opinions about 225 of the best native plants for Southeastern gardens, this is a really fun book that I have enjoyed and learned a lot from.
Plant Spotlight: Starfruit
There are all kinds of fruits and vegetables from around the world that people in the United States rarely see or taste. One of these is starfruit. Starfruit is a delicately flavored, refreshing fruit that comes from Indonesia which is starting to become somewhat more popular in supermarkets. If you decide to purchase some then my understanding is that the dish shrimp and starfruit is out of this world (pun intended)! Starfruit gets its name from the star-like shape of its unique fruit, but besides its fruit it also has lovely small pink flowers. Unfortunately the public can’t get into the greenhouse to see our starfruit right now, but hopefully sometime in the near future that will change.
That's all for now! We look forward to seeing you in the Gardens soon.
Jeff Gillman Ph.D.     
Director, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens