The purpose of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. This blog presents ideas and information to further the cause of Florida's native plants and ecosystems.
Mr. Darke is a man who has been studying and listening to the heart of the green growing world all his life, and he has applied what he knows to books, photography, the design of gardens, and teaching. His website says,
"Blending art, ecology, and cultural geography, Darke is dedicated to the design and stewardship of the livable landscape." I don't know about you, but that sounds right on the mark for the myriad issues and challenges that keep me searching for answers in today's world.
His book The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest received the American Horticultural Society's Book Award, the Garden Writers Association Golden Globe Award for book photography, and the National Arbor Day Foundation's Certificate of Merit. He's also ahead of the pack on the subject of grass, being an internationally recognized authority on the use of grasses in designed landscapes, and having written The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes.
So much for the official and prestigious recognition.
It was the work of a homegrown Floridian, Carl Terwilliger, that first brought Mr. Darke to my attention. One day while I was admiring one of Carl's naturalistic and harmonious designs - he was digging, I was standing idly by - he began to tell me about Rick Darke and how his book The American Woodland Garden, had influenced his own philosophy and design.
I remembered that conversation when I found out that Mr. Darke would be coming to the conference. I went back to my Carl and asked him to try to explain exactly what had so inspired him about Darke's book. Here is the story, as I heard it.
"I grew up in an area of Pennsylvania where I spent time in gardens Darke had helped design, like Scott's Arboretum at Swarthmore College. One day while I was in Longwood Garden (where Darke spent 20 years) I saw his book. I saw pictures of Scott's Arboretum in it and I wanted to know how he did it. His gardens looked great, but he broke all the rules. I wanted to know why he put trees where he did. His gardens had clean places, maybe nothing but stone work, and places just right to sit in. Even in big spaces there were enclosures and a sense of privacy. There were single trees, clumps of trees, but nothing predictable. After you had spent time in them, you just looked at things differently."
Wow. I think this must be one of the things I am most looking forward to from hearing Mr. Darke's keynote speech. The ability to look at things differently. I will definitely be there, and I hope to see you, too.
You can go to his website RickDarke.com and enjoy the information about him, and by him there. He has an awesome video of the Highline in NYC, radio podcasts and lots more. And please, Watch This:
Other Names: Dwarf Mulberry, Beautybush, Filigree, French Mulberry, Beautyberry
Introduction: Purple berries clinging around stems with bright green foliage make Callicarpa americana stand out from late summer to winter. It is easy to see how beautyberry got its common name. Don’t let its looks fool you though; Callicarpa is more than just eye candy. Callicarpa americana is useful medicinally and as food for wildlife and people. American Beautyberry is not fussy about location, soil or light requirements. This tough plant is an American Beauty in every sense of the word. Its name comes from Greek: Kalli, means beautiful; Karpos means fruit.
Historic Medicinal Uses:
Native Americans had many uses for beautberry, both internally and externally. According to Taylor (1940), Native Americans used beautyberry externally as a steam and topical application. All parts of the pla…
Australian pines seem to be everywhere in the coastal regions in the bottom half of Florida. Their name is deceiving because, while they are native to Australia, they aren't pines or even conifers. They are flowering trees with separate male and female flowers, and what look like needles are really green twiglets with close-set circles of tiny leaves that drop at the first sign of a drought. In the photo to the right, the light-colored lines are where leaves where once attached. Most of the photosynthesis takes place in the twiglets.
There are three species of Australian pine (Casuarina spp) that have been imported into Florida for various purposes. They were widely planted to soak up the "swamps" in Florida, stabilize canals, and hold beaches. Unfortunately for Florida's ecosystems, the "pines" accomplished all this and more--like seeding prolifically, growing five feet or more per year, producing dense shade, and emitting an herbicide that kills most a…
These perky natives have numerous and endearing charms. Authors and growers disagree about the proper Latin name, but they are in complete agreement that more people should use more coonties in their landscapes.
What's to like?
Coonties are spritely and graceful in their form, tough as the dickens, bright green all year, and host plant for the beautiful blue atala
hairstreak butterfly. In fact, coonties are the only larval food for atalas. You can use them as specimen or accent plants, mass them together for ground cover, or use them in a line as a border. And to top that off, they have an interesting sex life. A subject we hardly ever get to talk about around here. More on that later. See more in Roger Hammer's 1995 Palmetto article, The Coontie and the Atala Hairstreak.
Slow growers, coonties are more expensive to buy than some other natives by relative size, but don't let that put you off. They are well worth the investment. They can be planted in full sun or fairly …