Bountiful Berries & Awesome Okra

Horticulture Happenings

By Jacqueline McRae, Horticulture Manager

Naturally, there is a lot happening on the grounds here at CNC as the seasons move from summer to fall. The Horticulture team has been working hard in the native plant gardens and in the Unity Garden. Plants are still providing food for birds and other wildlife and the Unity Garden is continues producing produce for North Fulton Community Charities. 

Berries of all colors are in abundance creating a visual display for us to enjoy and of course, providing much-needed food for hungry birds and small mammals stocking up for winter. 


American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is quite common in Georgia and when out and about you’ve likely seen the eye-catching wands with clusters of shiny purple berries. Here on the grounds, you can also see this beautiful shrub sporting berries that are white and even pink!

In addition to our collections of native plants, we also showcase some ‘nativars’ here on the grounds, meaning cultivars of plants that are native to Georgia. A great example that you can see right now on the grounds is Saratoga Gold Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria ‘Saratoga Gold’. The birds enjoy the golden yellow to orange berries on the mature specimens as much as they enjoy the red berries on the parent native Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria you will see around the grounds.

Up in the Unity Garden okra is surely the star of the show – these amazing plants, both red and green varieties, have been producing since early June! Okra grows really fast, has really pretty flowers, and grows really, really tall! Tasty even when raw, the 2021 okra has truly been the gift that keeps on giving. It is ready to harvest within 4 or 5 days from when the plant flowered and we have to harvest frequently. Often beautiful when large the okra does become tough and are no longer tasty.

The Unity Garden volunteers have needed to get creative as the weeks have gone by because the okra is now growing at a height of eight feet! Why not come volunteer with us and see how this harvest is accomplished?

If you like the idea of rolling up your sleeves, working alongside other volunteers check out the CNC website and sign up to volunteer with us. We are outdoors daily on the grounds tending native plant gardens and in the Unity Garden tending vegetables. We are always grateful to those who volunteer to pitch in!

Mark your calendar for the next Horticulture event on November 18. Cassandra Quave will bring to life her newly released and adventure-filled memoir The Plant Hunter. Born and raised in Florida and now head of the Emory Herbarium in Atlanta, Cassandra is a leading medical ethnobotanist, who has captured her challenges and triumphs in this uplifting memoir. Her team even hunted here at the nature center! Join us for this presentation and book signing and learn more about the healing powers of plants. Registration is now open!

Get your nature on this fall and we can’t wait to see you at CNC!