State Botanical Garden Director Jenny Cruse-Sanders and members of the garden staff were guests at the 2020 Legislative Spouses Luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion, where they talked about the importance of native Georgia plants, a topic dear to the heart of First Lady Marty Kemp.

The garden, in cooperation with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UGA Agricultural Extension and the Georgia Green Industry Association, this year launched an annual Pollinator Plants of the Year program, intended to encourage nurseries to raise more native plants to sell and to make consumers more aware of their value. The four pollinator plants announced this year are for 2021 giving growers time to put plants into production.

Kemp will join horticulturists, ecologists, entomologists, and industry professionals to select the native plants to promote each year.

Following the luncheon, Cruse-Sanders, State Botanical Garden Horticulture Director Shelly Prescott and Conservation Outreach Coordinator Lauren Muller walked the mansion grounds to determine potential sites for a pollinator garden, which could be installed later this year.

The first lady announced last spring that the Governor’s Mansion would promote Georgia business and far families through the use of officially “Georgia Grown” ingredients and products.  Following that, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced that it would require all state-funded projects to comply with the “Georgia Grown” program, ensuring that contractors use landscaping plant materials grown in Georgia in projects along interstate highways, on state roads and at welcome centers.