Basic Botany (10 credit hours)
Basic Botany, is our established basic and common foundation from which all Certificate participants must start, regardless of academic, gardening and/or horticultural experience. This 10-hour course will cover plant kingdoms, structure and function, life stages, populations and eco-types, flowers and plant reproduction, and will give the student a working vocabulary and understanding necessary for the remaining courses. Dr. Mellichamp’s very engaging style will encourage active participation through his lectures and limited hands-on experiences with plant parts. This course will include a take-home but does not have any readings pre-assigned.
Principles of Conservation Ecology and Rare Plants (10 credit hours).
This course focuses on the protection and management of plant biodiversity. Topics include species conservation, causes and consequences of declines in plant biodiversity, habitat fragmentation, management approaches, biological reserve design, restoration of ecosystems, and the role of conservation biologists in plant conservation; this course includes a field trip to a plant community of extraordinary interest (location changes). Suggested Reading: Plant by Janet Marinelli (this is a reference, not a book for reading cover to cover; inexpensive used copies available online).
Basic Ecology (12 credit hours)
Taught in lecture-discussion format, this course covers the basic principles of ecology, the study of interactions between organisms and their environments emphasizing the way plants interact with their environment. The book Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy is recommended reading prior to the start of the class as will introduce you to ecological concepts and how they relate to gardening.
Organic Pest and Weed Control (5 credit hours)
From beneficial insects to organic pesticides the organic gardeners palate is loaded with options for controlling weeds, diseases, insect pests, and mammals, but which of these remedies really work? And are all organic remedies really safe for us and the environment? In this workshop we will discuss the value and safety of all kinds of organic remedies, and conduct a hands-on test with some common organic herbicides.
Introduction to Piedmont Soils (10 credit hours)
In this course you will learn about the components and processes of a dynamic, complex, multi-dimensional environmental system simply known as “soil”. Obtaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of how soil properties and processes factor into plant growth and habitat development will help you to build and maintain a beautiful natural garden or landscape. During the class focus will be placed on Piedmont soils types, properties and processes and will involve a half-day in the “field” exploring a piedmont soil pit.
Photography in the Carolina Sandhills Preserve. A Botanic and Photographic Experience. NEW
This new course combines wildflowers and photography. The first evening will be a discussion of techniques and principles of composition of photos by Will Stuart, photographer of Dr. Mellichamp’s Native Plants of the Southeast book. Will shall choose those flowers that will likely be blooming in the Sandhills at the time of class. Questions will be encouraged and discussion will include when and whether a macro-view or a wide shot is preferred, lens choice, focal length, ISO, angle of view, etc. for each shot. Like all photo subjects, it is about choices, preferences, and a little bit of technique. Participants will receive a list of photogenic Sandhills plants and well as when and where they bloom. Saturday’s field trip will include stops at 4 different plant communities to shoot a “target” species, peppered with explanations about their habitat, habit and insect companions. Participants will walk/hike about 2.5 miles in total with their equipment and are encouraged to take along a tripod, as well as comfortable outdoor walking/hiking shoes and clothes and plenty of water and insect repellant!
Fantastic Fern Foray (14 credit hours)
Ferns are fascinating and much-loved woodland plants – and yet, how does one begin learning to distinguish between the many species that are native to the Carolinas (there are actually more than 65!) This class and field trip combination will serve as a primer to fern characteristics and identification techniques, plus a great opportunity to see many species in the wild. We will focus on about 20 species, including many of the most easy and desirable to grow. The field trip will include 3-4 great fern sites in the mountains of North Carolina – in the Brevard, Looking Glass Falls, and Mt. Pisgah areas. Pre-req: Basic Botany
Basic Horticulture (9 credit hours)– Plant growth, environmental factors, diurnal cycle, propagation, and basic plant culture will be covered. Prerequisite: Basic Botany
Plant Identification (Spring/Summer) (18 credit hours) – Plant and flower structure, use of keys, and field identification of primarily herbaceous plants will be covered. Prerequisite: Basic Botany
Tree Identification (Fall) (12 credit hours) – Leaf and twig structure, keys, field identification, and habitats will be covered. Prerequisite: Basic Botany
Principles of Natural Landscaping (12 credit hours) – This course is meant to bring together all you have learned from the other core courses and apply that to the practical realm of landscaping with native plants. Basic landscaping principles will be covered and each participant will complete a simple design project. Prerequisites: Basic Botany; Shrub and Tree ID.
Insect-Plant Interactions (9 credit hours) – This course will be a brief introduction to the biology of insect-plant interactions, structured around application and investigation of interactions such as pollination and herbivory related to native plants and plants of economic or aesthetic interest to humans. The focus will be on biodiversity and ecology of beneficial and harmful insects, but will include a brief primer on insect identification. Some discussion of invasive insects and plants may take place.
Attracting Birds to Your Garden: Will focus on local bird identification, their different seasonal food preferences, and native plant selection for attracting birds. Also will provide guidance on how to make your property a certified wildlife habitat.
Drawing from Nature: (7 credit hours)Focus will be on using a variety of simple drawing techniques to train your powers of observation and hence your ability to record what you see in creative ways. For everyone – no former experience required.
Forest Management: (10 credit hours) Descriptions of forestry techniques for existing woodlands; planning timber harvests for sustainable production; identifying the economic and environmental importance of forests and their products; understanding of the various natural habitats on your property.
Insect Identification: (10 credit hours) Identification of insects, both beneficial and harmful with emphasis on their interactions with native plants.
Introduction to Piedmont Soils: (9 credit hours) Learn about Piedmont soil types, their properties, structures, and how they relate to plant growth and habitat development.
Weeds and Invasive Exotic Plants: (9 credit hours) Will focus on the basic biology, ecology, and identification of weeds and invasives. Will include a local field trip and discussion of native alternatives to invasive landscape plants. Pre-req: Basic Botany and Plant ID
Wildflower Photography: We will learn digital camera essentials—aperture, exposure, ISO, white balance, metering and lens choice. Fundamentals of photographic composition, field techniques, and managing images to edit and catalogue sharp, detailed wildflower photographs will be covered. For everyone – no former experience required.
Winter Tree Identification: (10 credit hours) Learn to identify leafless, dormant trees by their winter twig characteristics and bark. We will use the booklet “Winter Tree Finder” in this class.Pre-req: Basic Botany.