The Southern Appalachian Plant Society (SAPS) is a non-profit educational organization interested in promoting sound horticultural practices in our homes and communities. Our members are horticulturists, Master Gardeners, and gardening hobbyists.
In January, 1995, a group of enthusiastic gardeners from the first Master Gardener class in Northeast Tennessee met to form the Southern Appalachian Plant Society (SAPS) as a way to continue learning about gardening through programs, projects, and fellowship with other gardeners. Since the emphasis of the Master Gardener program is educational outreach, the group chose to open membership to anyone interested in gardening and to offer monthly horticulture programs free to the public.
Since then SAPS has continued that mission by presenting monthly programs on diverse horticultural topics, including gardening talks, workshops, garden tours, and our annual Fall Plant and Seed Swap. In addition to a wide array of local gardening experts, SAPS has hosted guest speakers from the University of Tennessee and nationally known speakers such as Brent Heath, Felder Rushing, Mike McGrath, Doug Tallamy, Peter Loewer, Dick Bir, Barbara Pleasant, Colston Burrell, and Tony Avent. SAPS annually sponsors Homegrown Tomato Fest in downtown Kingsport, celebrating the luscious red summer fruit with tomato tastings, cooking demonstrations, tomato contests, and all sorts of tomato information and fun. Among SAPS other past projects have been wildflower rescues, fruit tree pruning demonstrations, and Great Gardens, an educational program to encourage environmentally friendly gardening practices. In 2000 SAPS was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization.
SAPS has sponsored trips for gardening enthusiasts to places near and far, including UT Gardens, Callaway Gardens, Charlottesville for Virginia Garden Week, Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer, Charleston, and international tours to the Chelsea Garden Show and English Gardens and to the Gardens of Tuscany.
SAPS’ Newsletter, The Wheelbarrow, published 10 times a year, is members’ resource for news on upcoming meetings and trips, a calendar of area garden related events, and educational articles on horticultural topics. It serves as a clearinghouse for area gardening information.
SAPS continues to grow. In 2004 SAPS launched its local nursery discount card and formed its first focus group, Herb Saplings, which meets monthly to study herbs. Membership in Herb Saplings is open to any SAPS member with no additional dues. Our membership has now grown to over 300 avid gardeners residing in 27 NE Tennessee, SW Virginia, and western North Carolina communities and includes TN and VA Master Gardeners, nursery professionals, veteran and novice gardeners. Annual dues are $20 and membership is open to anyone with an interest in gardening. For more information. send email to SAPScontact2020@gmail.com.
Our Board of Directors and Members at large are listed on our Contact Page.