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35 Arguably the best known of all the world’s plants, the Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is referenced in plant books galore. Now propagated from tissue culture, flytraps have found new homes in gardens and bogs in many countries. While not in jeopardy of extinction itself, the flytrap’s limited native wild habitats in southeastern North Carolina are shrinking; save for Stanley’s garden, with thanks due to its present-day conservators. in reality, the garden site was first damaged when that heavy equipment rumbled through the area, no doubt pushing existing carnivorous plants aside. Luckily, no further development occurred on the site, and in time, nature reclaimed the ground, the surviving carnivorous plants especially, whose seeds danced their way to an unin-tended garden scraped into their perfect medium: where organic pocosin soil and sandy longleaf pine soil meet. I imagine when Stanley first saw this naturalized garden he had an instant vision for what this place could become. After countless hours spread over many years of careful tending, Stanley’s skilled hands cultivated a priceless garden that has since grown to be a popular destination for carnivorous and other plant fanciers. It was so popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s that Stanley erected a mailbox stuffed with informative brochures providing visitors with fun facts about carnivorous plants. The mailbox signage suggested visitors to “please take only one,” a simple request that people take only one brochure. Sadly, Stanley’s well-intentioned message was interpreted by many as “take only one flytrap,” which is what happened. Stanley’s garden suffered its first major setback. Indefatigable, Stanley called upon local news-papers and television stations to alert people about the harms done by removing plants from the wild — flytraps especially. Because nature abhors a vacuum, and Stanley seldom rested, his garden was soon on the mend, though not without periodic setbacks resulting from senseless poaching and vandalism. Today, the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Alderman Park is a more secure place than ever, with a conservation easement held by the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, and security infrastructure provided by the City of Wilmington. With help from his many friends, Stanley’s garden still thrives as a living legacy provided to our community by one man with a singular vision to protect a habitat to save a plant — our iconic and much beloved Venus flytrap. Editor’s Note: The North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation adding the Venus flytrap to the state’s endangered species list in 1985. It was named the official carnivo-rous plant of the State of North Carolina in 2005. After approximately 1,000 Venus flytrap plants were stolen from the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in 2013, additional legislation, signed into law in 2014, was introduced by New Hanover County Representative Ted Davis Jr. Poaching Venus flytraps is now a Class H felony. www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


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