The Big Canoe Wildflower Bunch 2023 Season Kicked Off in March

The Wildflower Bunch hosted its first guest speaker and well-known resident gardening expert Cynthia Hendry, who entertained a standing-room-only crowd on March 1. Cynthia has 36 years of experience gardening in Big Canoe and writes the monthly Smoke Signals Mountain Gardening column. She is an advocate for naturalistic design, the use of native plants, and a sustainable, low-maintenance garden.

Her design work has included two show homes for the Georgian Highlands, Big Canoe’s Southern Living Show Home, three designs for the Street of Dreams at Big Canoe and the Atlanta Magazine Show Home at Big Canoe.  One of her designs won the best of show award for the Street of Dreams.

Cynthia’s opening remarks began with advice on how to access our plants’ health after the December frigid temperatures this year. Before pruning any bushes or trees she recommended waiting for secondary buds to swell and only shaping and pruning when buds break. She continued by highlighting a plant list of evergreens that are Zone 5 tolerant including hemlocks, cedars, magnolia virginiana, Norway spruce, oriental spruce, white pine, American holly and maybe cryptomeria. She stated that “if this year’s freeze damage makes you concerned about future planting, consider adding hardscapes as focal points, which are low maintenance and deer resistant.” In addition, her go-to liquid concentrate treatment for healthy plants is “Superthrive, the original vitamin solution” that includes kelp.

She continued with a suggestion to “know your stress level” and tolerance for the seasons and our local animals who enjoy the fruits of our labors. There are many deer-repellent sprays and gadgets as well as fencing structures that can be installed to protect against unwelcome visitors. Plants that are deer resistant included: Leucothoe fontanesiana, or nana; burning love, pieris Japonica variegate, dwarf anise, mountain laurel, kaleidoscope, cepholataxus, mountain mint, zizia & Solomon’s seal.

She noted, that one absolute purchase you can’t pass up if you can find it is native bloodroot. And if you see a stone with a “bird bath” built-in, buy it. Cynthia recommends adding variegated plants to enhance your garden and suggests placing plants that are lime green for added contrast. If you want a flowering perennial garden for all seasons, she encourages a plan in advance to create a structured garden with evergreens at the front and back of borders. They use perennials with an evergreen presence as much as possible like yarrow, chrysanthemums and daisies. She added that “it’s best to put flower color” mid-border like karmini, bikova, rain lily and ajuga.

Cynthia joked that you might want to have a private retreat, “one space where no one will see you in your bikini,” like a sunken garden spot. She suggests that “a big open sunny septic field space is perfect for low maintenance woody natives that grow up to eight feet and eventually cover the ground.” Be flexible and experiment with all kinds of bulbs including crocus and lilies. She also believes that every great window deserves a great view and her final advice was to “always share ‘one of a kind’ plants with a friend.”

Mark your calendar for the next event on April 5 at 10 a.m. at the Clubhouse when we welcome Julie Garrity of Hello Daisy Flower Farm in Canton, who will speak about how to grow a cutting garden. You can also begin following Julie on Instagram and Facebook.

We would like to remind everyone about the highly anticipated Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, April 15 at the Wildcat Pavilion from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale serves as a fundraiser for the WFB with ten percent of all proceeds going toward club projects and initiatives that benefit Big Canoe programs.

Vendors available at the Annual Plant Sale include :

Green Trade – a Jasper wholesale nursery providing a variety of favorite trees, shrubs and perennials.

Whispering Springs Nursery – a family-owned retail garden center off of Cove Road offering landscape design and installation services showcasing premium annuals, perennials and native shrubs as well as container gardens.

Willow Gate Gardens – Big Canoe resident Laura McDonald will highlight indoor flowering and foliage plants, orchids and bromeliads.

Del Vecchio Nursery – a new vendor from Cumming, specializing in a nice selection of Japanese maple trees including various varieties and sizes.

Bird Houses by David Call – a Big Canoe resident, will feature handmade birdhouses.

Fern Ridge Farms – a small specialty nursery in northeast Alabama. Owner Eleanor Craig a long-time vendor offers a selection of amazing ferns.

On May 3, Don Wells will be speaking at 10 a.m. at the Beach Club about Indian Trail Trees when he explains “what and where they are” in Big Canoe. Then on June 7 at 10 a.m. at the Wildcat Pavilion, the WFB will host a picnic with select menu items from Mary’s Bread Basket and all attendees are encouraged to bring a favorite plant to swap with fellow gardeners.

June 24 will be the well-attended Garden Tour in honor and memory of Cheryl Jones. Homeowner gardens will be announced soon and the event will be from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Four sites will be available for the tour including a structured garden, a native garden, and two container gardens. Tickets are $15 per person and proceeds will benefit beautification projects around Big Canoe. Captains and volunteers are needed and we encourage everyone to reach out to Liz Littleton to help at

A new member reception is scheduled for July 20 with details to come. Later this summer on August 2 at 10 a.m. at the Clubhouse, Mark Warren, author of “Edible Wild Plants of Southern Appalachia,” will be discussing his book, which will be available for sale after the event. Other exciting events are in the works for the remainder of the year, so stay tuned for further announcements.

The Big Canoe Wildflower Bunch is an active club of gardening enthusiasts who meet monthly to enjoy knowledgeable experts speaking on a full range of gardening-related topics. In addition, the WFB, hosts and spearheads many special events, projects, luncheons and field trips to sites and businesses that center around gardening throughout the year.

The WFB club’s primary objectives include:

Preserving and protecting the integrity of our natural mountain environment and its native flora
Providing educative programs and experiences
Promoting the conservation of our natural resources
Enhancing the beauty of our community
Providing philanthropic gifts to Big Canoe and the area

Funds raised from the Annual Plant Sale and Garden Tour are donated to Big Canoe for beautification projects in our community.

Membership information can be found on our website The cost for membership per year is $20 and is open to any Big Canoe resident throughout the year.

COME GROW WITH US and visit our website, or Facebook page for real-time updates and future events.








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