News from Dr. Jeff Gillman
Director's Report November 2020
A New Online Symposium and Garden Progress

Every once in a while, we get to have somebody talk at the Gardens (or via zoom!) who I am over-the-moon excited about because I know that I am going to learn more than usual about things that I really want to know. Adrian Miller is one of those people. From okra and grits to sweet potatoes and rice, both North and South Carolina have a rich history of growing plants for food, but few of us know where these plants originally came from or how they developed as meals on our plates. Join James Beard award winning author Adrian Miller as he takes us through this history from a slightly different perspective than most of us are used to with his talk “Here in the Garden: An Edible [Black] History Tour” You can find out more about it HERE.

Intimately connected to the above symposium is The Carolina Garden Trail, a trail that traces the history of food production in the Carolinas. This trail is coming along rapidly and Sycamore Hall, which borders the Carolina Garden Trail and which houses UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute, now boasts an exhibit of historical images related to Carolina Crops. This display, The Plants We Use, includes many images from a travelling exhibit owned by Oak Spring Garden Foundation of Virginia, and developed in conjunction with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to help promote the knowledge of crops grown in the Southeast.  

Besides the above, our new sensory garden, Polly’s Garden, which is located in the Glen near Bonnie Cone’s grave site, has had the brick walkway installed and is now identifiable as a discreet part of the Gardens. It isn’t yet available to foot traffic, but it will be soon.
Gardens Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

When I donate to a charity I really like to know how my donation will be used. I can assure you that funds that we receive at the Gardens are only ever used to make it a better place for our campus and community, but if you want to make a gift that you can click and buy yourself, then have we got an opportunity for you! We are now registered at It works just like a wedding registry. If you go onto the link you will see a long list of things that we need to keep the Gardens running – if you want to donate a pond skimmer, go for it! A rake? We can use that too! This is also a great gift for that friends or family member who has everything. For Christmas you could donate a heavy-duty brass shutoff valve to the Gardens in your uncle’s name! And yes, these gifts are tax deductible.
Upcoming Classes

With COVID-19 restrictions we have had to place a large number of our classes online. It was pretty nerve wracking at first, but now we are confident in our ability to deliver high quality instruction using the internet. So, without further ado, here is a list of some our upcoming classes, mostly online, and all fun and informative!

All classes are open to the public. Classes marked with * are also eligible for credit towards our Certificate in Native Plant Studies.
Plant Spotlight: Japanese Maples

In the fall all kinds of colors appear in the Gardens, from the yellows of the bottlebrush buckeye to the pinks of sassafras and reds of black tupelo, but the trees with the widest range of fall colors are, without a doubt, the Japanese Maples. I love them on the tree, and on the ground. So many people rake them up and throw them away, but I prefer to rake up just what I have to to avoid dead spots on the lawn and leave the rest on the ground to remind me how beautiful this season is.
That's all for now! We look forward to seeing you in the Gardens soon.
Jeff Gillman, Ph.D.     
Director, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens