Margie Halls, left, and Susan Starling invite the community to attend WFB’s annual Plant Sale. 

The Big Canoe Wildflower Bunch Garden Club’s first 2023 guest speaker, well-known resident gardening expert Cynthia Hendry, entertained a standing-room-only crowd in March. Cynthia has 36 years’ experience gardening in Big Canoe and writes the monthly Smoke Signals “Mountain Gardening” column. She advocates for naturalistic design, the use of native plants, and a sustainable, low-maintenance garden.

Her design work includes two show homes for 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 best-of-show at the Street of Dreams.

Hendry recommended assessing our plants’ health after December’s frigid temperatures. Before pruning, she recommended waiting for secondary buds to swell and to shape/prune only when buds break. She highlighted 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: “If this year’s freeze damage makes you concerned about future planting, consider adding low-maintenance and deer-resistant hardscapes as focal points.” Her go-to liquid concentrate treatment for healthy plants is “Superthrive, the original vitamin solution” that includes kelp.

Hendry advised knowing “your stress level” and tolerance for the seasons and local animals who enjoy the fruits of our labors. There are many deer-repellent sprays and gadgets as well as fencing structures to protect against unwelcome visitors. Plants that are deer-resistant include: Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Nana’ and ‘Burning Love’; Pieris japonica variegate; dwarf anise; Mountain laurel ‘Kaleidoscope’; cepholataxus; mountain mint; zizia; and Solomon’s seal.


WFB Program Director Susan Morgan, left, greets March’s speaker, Cynthia Hendry.

She noted one purchase you can’t pass up is native bloodroot and, if you see a stone with a bird bath built in, buy it. Cynthia recommended adding variegated plants to enhance your garden and suggested placing lime-green plants for added contrast. For a flowering, four-season perennial garden, she encouraged you plan in advance to create a structured garden with evergreens front and back of borders. Use perennials with an evergreen presence as much as possible: yarrow, chrysanthemums and daisies. She added: “It’s best to put flower color” mid-border: kamini, cranesbill ‘Bikova,’ rain lily and ajuga.

Hendry joked you might want a private retreat, “one space where no one will see you in your bikini,” like a sunken garden spot. She suggested “a big, open, sunny septic field space is perfect for low-maintenance woody natives that grow up to 8 feet and eventually cover the ground.” Be flexible and experiment with all kinds of bulbs including crocus and lilies. She also believes every great window deserves a great view, and her final advice was to “always share one-of-a-kind plants with a friend.”  


Good advice from Cynthia Hendry at the March meeting.

Upcoming events

At the April 5 meeting, we welcome Julie Garity of Hello Daisy Flower Farm in Canton at 10 a.m. in the clubhouse. She will speak about growing a cutting garden; start now by following Julie on Facebook and Instagram (hellodaisy_flowerfarm).

The highly anticipated, one-day only, annual Plant Sale, will be Saturday, April 15, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Wildcat Pavilion. Ten percent of all proceeds go toward club projects and initiatives that benefit Big Canoe programs.

On May 3, 10 a.m., at the Beach Club, Don Wells will speak about the what and where of Indian trail trees. On June 7, 10 a.m., at the Wildcat Pavilion, the WFB will host a picnic with select menu items from Mary’s Bread Basket. Attendees are encouraged to bring a favorite plant to swap.

The perennially well-attended Garden Tour this year will be in honor and memory of Cheryl Jones, June 24,10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sites of four homeowner gardens to include a structured garden, a native garden, and two container gardens will be announced soon. Tickets are $15/person and proceeds will benefit beautification projects around Big Canoe. Captains and volunteers are needed; we encourage everyone to contact Liz Littleton,

A new member reception is scheduled for July 20, details to come. On Aug. 2, 10 a.m., at the clubhouse, Mark Warren will discuss his book, “Edible Wild Plants of Southern Appalachia,” available for sale after the meeting. Stay tuned for announcements of more exciting events for the remainder of the year.

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 garden-related topics. In addition, the club hosts and spearheads special events, projects, luncheons and field trips to sites and businesses that center on gardening.

The WFB’s primary objectives include:

  • Preserving and protecting the integrity of our natural mountain environment and its native flora;

  • Providing educative programs and experiences;

  • Promoting conservation of our natural resources;

  • Enhancing the beauty of our community; and

  • Providing philanthropic gifts to Big Canoe and the area.

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

“COME GROW WITH US”; visit the WFB Facebook page for updates and future events.