High Country Gardening

Article Published: May. 29, 2013 | Modified: May. 29, 2013
High Country Gardening

Harmony Bouley, greenhouse volunteer and ASU student, prepares plants for propagation by cutting and repotting them.

Photo by Rebecca Hambleton

The Appalachian State University Biology Department is offering a free program to the public, called High Country Gardening.

This program hosts hands-on classes Saturday mornings in the ASU Biology Greenhouse, and topics range from propagation to “proven winners” for your garden. The focus of these classes change, but all of the plants discussed are popular in the High Country.

Each class holds about 20 students, and the rosters are written on a first come, first served basis. While the classes scheduled are already full, greenhouse manager Jerry Meyer is willing to plan more classes to allow everyone an opportunity.

Meyer, a professor in the biology department, was hired specifically to host the High Country Gardening classes.

“When I got here four years ago, I was told the reason I was hired was because of my willingness to teach horticulture in a classroom setting,” Meyer said.

Meyer was selected because of his diverse experience with plants.

“I have experience with the plants I talk about,” he said. “I can actually talk (about) specific plants because I may have grown them in multiple climates.”

He discovered his love for horticulture when he was serving in the armed forces.

“I remember the exact moment,” Meyer said. “I was on a military operation in Panama. I was down there, and one of my responsibilities was to inspect homes. And I saw a shrub and wanted to know what it was. I just fell in love with plants from that moment on because I saw this beautiful shrub.”

Meyer’s experience and passion is apparent when he walks through the greenhouse’s 750 plant species, naming each one and discussing what makes it unique.

Though the greenhouse is abundant in plant species, the building is old, and the funds are low.
“It’s an old greenhouse, and we struggle,” Meyer said.

The sections of patched-up roof and pipes that have rusted to the point of breaking may eventually damage the plants, he said.

With a low budget, Meyer relies on the public’s contributions to pay for supplies and upkeep. And although the classes are free, the greenhouse accepts whatever contribution patrons are willing to give.

In an effort to collect funds, the greenhouse also hosts a plant sale twice a year. Meyer spends all year propagating plants for sale with the help of his volunteers.

Aside from Meyer, volunteers do most of the work.

“We do a lot of propagation, getting ready for the plant sale,” said Harmony Bouley, a student volunteer at the greenhouse.

Experience is not required to be a volunteer. In fact, Bouley, along with most of the volunteers, is not a biology major.

“Some come just to relieve stress, others want to learn the Latin names,” Meyer said.

Meyer is always looking for volunteers and students and encourages anyone to visit the greenhouse, regardless of job or major.

Those interested in volunteering or taking classes can call the greenhouse at (828) 262-4025 or email Meyer at (meyerja@appstate.edu)

“I teach to educate, to inspire, to encourage working with plants,” Meyer said. “It’s beneficial to everybody to know about the world that surrounds them.”

The Biology Greenhouse is located at 211 Dale St., just off State Farm Road, in Boone.

Additional Images

Harmony Bouley, greenhouse volunteer and ASU student, prepares plants for propagation by cutting and repotting them.
Photo by Rebecca Hambleton

Biology professor Jerry Meyer examines a plant at the ASU Biology Greenhouse, located off State Farm Road in Boone.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

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