SAPS – Southern Appalachian Plant Society


No SAPS meetings are currently scheduled.

Thoughts in a Garden

In the garden spring and early summer are dedicated to a multitude of tasks getting the soil prepared and planting done. If we have enough rain and can fend off the critters that want to share in the bounty, in August we’re able to enjoy the garden’s produce without intensive labor. The hard work of fall harvest is yet to come and we can take time to enjoy the pleasures of our gardens

Thoughts in a Garden by Andrew Marvell

What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass

Celebrating Summer


Contributed by Susan Scheer

Preheat oven to 375° Combine:

4 cups blackberries 1/2 cup sugar
3 T tapioca flour 1/2 t cardamom

Place in greased 9”x9” baking dish or cast iron skillet. Combine for topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oatmeal 3/4 cup flour
Cut in 1/2 cup butter.

Spread over blackberries. Bake 40 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Those who are members of NETMG have received notification of the 6:00 p.m. August 3rd meeting at the Ron Ramsey Ag Center including instructions on how to attend in person. The guest speaker for the evening will be Margie Hunter, author of Gardening with the Native Plants of Tennessee.

Ms. Hunter is a member of Tennessee Native Plant Society and Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council and volunteers with the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies. A graduate of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont’s Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certificate Program, Margie, as a founding board member of the Tennessee Naturalist Program, helped develop the course curriculum and teaches some of the classes.

She was named 2017’s Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. Ms. Hunter is a member of the Great Smoky Mountains 900 miler club. She is a long-time volunteer at Nashville’s Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. You can read about her accomplishment in her blog
SAPS members have been offered the opportunity to attend the presentation on methods to include native plants in our gardens. The present guidelines limit attendance to 100 with social distancing and masks required. Those wishing to attend can register at

Those who would prefer to hear the presentation without attending in person can participate by Zoom. We should be able to send the Zoom link to members on the day of the meeting.

In a normal year Dennis Marshall and his merry band of SAPS helpers would be busy getting ready for anoth- er Homegrown Tomato Fest. Area tomato growers would be thinking about which tomatoes to enter in con- tests and cooks would be tweaking their salsa recipes. But this is not a normal year and SAPS’ annual cele- bration of the juicy red fruit has paused this August due to restrictions on lingering amid the coronavirus.

Conceived by board members Nancy Scott and Claudia Haseltine as a way to showcase our organization to the public and to encourage home gardeners to grow their own food especially the many wonderful tomato varieties, the first Homegrown Tomato Fest was an official Fun Fest event held on Saturday, July 16, 2005, in John and Nancy Scott’s Garden near Riverfront Park in Kingsport. Over 50 SAPS members were on hand to celebrate ten years of SAPS providing horticulture and gardening education to the region. The event included many of the elements that have come to characterize Tomato Fest – tomato contests, tastings, and cooking demonstrations. Herb Saplings provided lavender lemonade, herbal rosemary punch and biscuits with Toma- to Raspberry Jam. A highlight of the day was tours of the Scotts’ Garden, including a basil demonstration gar- den and the 54 variety tomato garden.

It was a wonderful day, except that we quickly realized that many area gardeners were still waiting for their tomatoes to ripen that early in the season. So in 2006 Homegrown Tomato Fest was moved to the second Saturday in August. The venue was changed to Glen Bruce Park near the then location of the Kingsport Farmers Market and the time was changed to the cooler morning hours in sync with the highest volume of Farmers Market traffic. An art show with tomato and garden inspired art and tomato themed music were add- ed to the contests, tastings, demos and refreshments.

In 2007 one of our local celebrity judges was food writer Fred Sauceman, who featured the SAPS festival in his book, The Place Setting: Timeless Tastes of the Mountain South, from Bright Hope to Frog Level: Thirds, with interviews with Nancy Scott on growing tomatoes and mentions of SAPS member Joy Cox’s tomato sand- wiches and UT Washington County Extension’s Katherine Long’s advice canning tomatoes and Joe McCray’s Grilled Tomato Soup. Recently portions of these interviews have been rebroadcast on the Sauceman’s Potluck Radio segments on WETS-FM.

An active volunteer from the start, Dennis Marshall co-chaired the
2008 Homegrown Tomato Fest with Claudia Haseltine and took over as chair in 2009. He has continued in that role to the present. Dennis worked closely with the Kingsport Farmers Market to secure a spot for Toma- to Fest as the Market moved to its current location in 2010. Dennis has worked in partnership with Kingsport Farmers Market and Downtown Kingsport Association, UT Extension, a host of SAPS volunteers and others to make Homegrown Tomato Fest an anticipated event each August.
As we think about the tomato contests, tastings, refreshments, culinary demonstrations, recipes, tomato- growing advice, and activities for kids we’ll be missing at Tomato Fest this summer, let’s think about the tomato varieties that we are growing now that we might want to grow again for contests or tastings next year.

Submitted by Hugh Conlon:

Clicking on the following links will download the entire lists as a word.doc

Press Release for ALL 2019 AAS winners

Press Release for ALL 2020 AAS winners