What??! Native Plants are Not Pretty...
|The Sea Oats chapter's table with lots of literature, |
and sample native plants including this lovely
white-flowered swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis)
I was a vendor at the Garden and Home Show in St. Augustine October 1 & 2. While I’m not on an official book tour, it was fairly close to home and I was available with a box of books to sell. The weather was gorgeous and a fair number of folks came out to buy plants, participate in the 4-H activities, and to hear presentations. The Sea Oats FNPS chapter had a table at the entrance to the hall.
|A swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) next to my |
table with a Sleepy Orange butterfly guest. I'd also bought
a big pot of coontie and I borrowed a pot of muhly grass.
The natives attract attention and provide talking points
when trying to sell my book.
Then I talked to the event coordinator and politely suggested that for future events that it would be a good idea to stipulate, “No invasive plants.” He replied that they couldn’t do that unless the plants were determined to be illegal. I asked for further clarification and he said there was some other list besides FLEPPC’s (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council) but couldn’t remember what it was. I asked again about why they couldn’t use the agreed-upon list from FLEPPC; he got mad and stalked off.
|Renee Stambaugh, a member of the Sea Oats chapter and owner of |
Native Plant Consulting attracted a lot of attention and she ended up
with more than 30 leads for people wishing to redo their landscapes with natives.
Renee also found a local grower to work with--good for the grower to have a
ready market and good for Renee to have a ready supply.
Events like this are great networking opportunities.
I’m on the planning committee for FNPS’s 2013 conference, which will be in Jacksonville. So during the event I talked to all the growers and asked if they’d be interested in participating in the conference plant sale. A couple of local growers said that they were interested and appreciated the lead-time so they could get started now. What other event can deliver 400+ educated and motivated consumers? But the vendor next to my table flatly refused and said, “I grow pretty plants and natives are NOT pretty. Yes, I sell some Muhly grass and a few others, but generally I can’t sell natives.” I was so surprised that I did not have an answer.
|The view from my booth mid-day on Saturday including a bit of the |
"I only grow pretty plants" grower's booth.
We Still Have A Lot of Work To Do!
· Don’t be shy: speak up when you see invasives for sale. If enough of us protest, it will eventually make a difference. It’s important to be polite and respectful.
· Ask for native plants wherever and whenever plants are sold. Again, don’t be shy.
· Increase your own outreach by talking to reporters, local groups, HOAs, politicians who are making decisions on vegetation installations, landscape & roadside maintenance. Be prepared with printed materials or at least provide a list of resources where folks can find plants and further information. Ask to be a guest blogger on blogs with a local audience and share photos of your beautiful native plants.
· Increase your chapter’s outreach to the general population. The Sea Oats chapter had an information table for this show and the previous weekend they held a native plant sale at the “Estuary Day” celebration on September 24th at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. If you read about Diane Neill's experience (above), you may recall that she learned about native plants at a green market and persisted in her choice of natives even though the mainstream landscapers tried to convince her otherwise—someone was doing a good job of outreach at that green market.
|Michael mans the Sea Oats chapter table at the entrance to the building.|
If you have a story about your work along these lines, please share with us here—your actions may inspire others who may inspire their own circles and so forth until we have even more real momentum. Contact us at email@example.com
|Early Saturday when the outside vendors are ready for the crowds...|
|4-Hers--start them early...|
|Hempvine (Mikania scandens)|
|A great white heron belly-deep in dollarweed (Hydrocotyle spp).|