Tryon Goes Native with Plant Sale - TribPapers

Tryon Goes Native with Plant Sale

The co-founders of the Gardening for Life Project (left to right): Vard Henry, Corrie Woods, Donna Wise, and Karen Bird.

Tryon – “In too many areas of our country there is no place left for wildlife but in the landscapes and gardens we as individuals own,” explains Donna Wise, Tryon resident and co-founder of the Gardening for Life Project. The Gardening for Life Project works to encourage individual property owners to use all native plants in their gardens and landscaping to strengthen local ecosystems.

“90% of the insects that eat plants can reproduce only on the plants with which they share an evolutionary history,” said Wise. “A plant that is in its native habitat might support dozens or hundreds of species of insects, birds, and mammals. In a new ecosystem, it may go virtually uneaten.

To make it easy for Western North Carolina residents to incorporate native plants successfully, Gardening for Life Project is hosting a Native Plant Sale on Friday, September 22, from 4:00 p.m. until 7 p.m. on McCown Street in downtown Tryon.

The Plant Sale will feature eight vendors from across North and South Carolina who will offer a variety of plants, as well as expert advice and tips on when and how to incorporate the plants into existing landscapes. Shoppers are encouraged to bring cash and empty cardboard boxes to transport their purchases.

“One of the things we’ve learned through the Gardening for Life Project is that many community members want to plant more native species, but they can be hard to find, and it can be challenging knowing what to plant where,” said Wise. “We agree, so we decided to do something about it.”

The Native Plant Sale will be held in conjunction with Tryon’s 4th Friday event, with musicians performing throughout downtown Tryon and other businesses offering extended shopping hours.

The Native Plant Sale is the first of its kind for the Gardening for Life Project, which was founded in 2023 as an all-volunteer group of community members who are passionate about preserving and creating diverse healthy habitats in the Carolina Foothills and beyond.

In March 2023, Gardening for Life Project hosted a free community conversation led by Dr. Doug Tallamy on the importance of native plants, which drew over 800 people.

“We wanted to continue that momentum,” said Wise. “Our goal is to encourage a shift in thinking from ‘the problems are too big’ to ‘we can make a difference’ and offer simple solutions so that our communities can become more pollinator and habitat friendly.”

Future projects include a March 2024 community conversation and the creation of how-to guides and additional resources for those interested in going native in their gardens.

More details about the Gardening for Life Project and the Native Plant Sale are available at