Monday, September 27, 2010

Wildflower Symposium 2010: Highlights

There was a lot to learn at the 2010 Wildflower Symposium presented by the Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) held at the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs building in Winter Park.

Starting with the annual meeting, we learned that over the life of the wildflower license plate program (since 2000), more than $2.3 million has been raised and the majority of that money has been spent on research. This year the board has decided on a more balanced budget with more money spent on wildflower planting projects--the blue piece of the pie.  (Green: administrative expenses, gold: education, rose: research.)


Jeff Caster, FWF president filled us in on the inner-workings of the foundation's activities, the new information-rich foundation website, and how Florida's native wildflowers are enriching lives.

Then Brightman Logan reminded us about the importance of plant provenance. Even though the species may be the same, plants that originate from northern stock will not do well in Florida's climate. They will bloom and leaf out too late in the season and may have a difficult time with the heat, humidity and our seven-month dry season. A great lesson!


Then we spread out in the gardens to enjoy our lunches donated by Whole Foods. Some of us observed that FNPS still has a lot of education to do when we saw that the garden club building landscapers have used invasives (Mexican petunias, asparagus ferns and tuberous sword ferns).


Eleanor Dietrich, a longtime member and past president of the Magnolia FNPS chapter, offered most helpful advice on how to be better wildflower advocates in her presentation "Mow You Don't." One of her hints to working successfully with local bureaucrats is to "show up and be nice." Eleanor has agreed to tell us more in a future post right here soon.

Kariena Veaudry, our FNPS Executive Director, talked to us about how landscape architects are using more wildflowers in their designs to offer more sustainability. She told us that 1/7 of Florida is turf, and that our yards filled with native plants offer stopping off places for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. She talked about how to apply design principles and that we might want to think of native plants as building materials used in a landscape.  Quite educational.

The final presentation by Jaret Daniels covered butterflies and other native pollinators. We learned that Florida has 190 species of butterflies, that plant diversity = insect diversity, and that monarchs are not the only migrating butterfly--gulf fritillaries migrate, too. He also provided great examples of some of the best butterfly plants.

In addition to fantastic presentations, we had a great time networking, competing in the bidding wars on the silent auction items, purchasing tee-shirts and other FWF merchandise, and of course, buying native plants and/or seeds.


Greg Huegel has written a brand new book published by University Press of Florida "Native Plant Landscaping for Florida Wildlife" and he, Walter Taylor, Jaret Daniels, and myself signed books during the breaks...


And here I thought I was going just to be social and to pick up some cool native plants…

My advice: don't miss the next wildflower symposium!
Ginny Stibolt

2 comments:

Florida Wildflower Foundation said...

Thanks for the excellent report, Ginny. And thanks to all the FWF and FNPS members who made the Wildflower Symposium a huge success. Together we are taking big strides for Florida's native wildflowers and plants!

Lisa Roberts
Executive Director
Florida Wildflower Foundation
FNPS Tarflower Chapter member

Ginny Stibolt said...

Lisa,
As discussed elswhere, I'm sure people who could not attend will look forward to reading the PowerPoint presentations. Even those of us who did attend, having access to all that information will be quite useful.

Also, I'm looking forward to the foundation's new website with all the new content and resources.

Thanks so much for organizing all this.
Ginny