Showing posts from 2013

Go Green in 2014

By Laurie Sheldon

Well, here we are at the close of another year. For most of us, it's a time for reflecting on the past and determining what changes we hope to make in the future. This process typically boils down to making one or many resolutions about how we're going to turn those hopes into realities. Now, I've been on this earth for more years than I'd like to admit, and I must say that I've met very few people who actually follow through on these resolutions indefinitely. Why? Maybe they're too vague or a touch too ambitious. That's one to talk over with your respective headshrinkers. I'm not here to psychoanalyze. Rather, I'd like to make a few unsolicited suggestions (just humor me, please) for some green resolutions we can all make good on through 2014 (and beyond). Here goes...

Dish Out
If you enjoy following us on Facebook/Twitter or reading our blog and you aren't already a bona fide member of F.N.P.S., please consider joining. Member…

Christmas is for the birds

My daughter sends a wreath to all the family members each year. They are perfectly fine wreaths that are part of a local fund raiser in her community.  This year it is a full spruce wreath with a bow, some pinecones and plastic red berries that you can stick in the wreath--a product of Nova Scotia.  I wrote about how I make my own wreaths in The Recycled Wreath to supplement her yearly gift.

And each year I feel bad for the small birds that are attracted to those fake berries. So this year I decided to take action and I added cranberry chains to both the original wreath and the recycled ones so the birds will find something to eat. The fake berries are still there, but they now hold up the cranberry chain. I also added various seed heads to the original wreath. So now all of my wreaths are bird-friendly. For more on making wreaths using native plants see Sue Dingwell's post from a few years back: Native plant wreath making.

O Christmas Tree As for your other holiday d├ęcor, …

Plant Shopping 101

by Laurie Sheldon

If there’s one question we answer over and over again on the FNPS Facebook page it’s, “where can I find (insert name of plant) in my area?” We are thrilled that you are looking for natives to incorporate into your landscapes! This blog should hopefully become a great reference tool for you to use when shopping for plants and/or seeds in your area. So, without further ado, here are the four different webpages I typically use when asked to locate a particular native species; one is for wildflower seeds and the remainder are for plants.

Wildflower Seeds
Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of seed sources can be found on the internet - why do I limit my seed search to one resource? Simply stated, WHERE seeds are collected is just as important as what species they come from. Allow me to briefly touch on the notion of ecotype without getting completely carried away...  Within a given plant species there are varying degrees of genetic adaptation to the surrounding environ…

Native Landscaping Course to be Offered in Fort Pierce by the University of Florida

By Robin Koestoyo

What do Mexican firebush, gumbo-limbo, and Stokes aster have in common, aside from their versatility and compatibility with a wide array of landscape settings? For starters, they are native to Florida, require a minimal amount of care, and are  featured in either of two botanic gardens situated at the University of Florida/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. Lucky for you, they are among the more than 100 plants to be studied in “Florida Native Landscaping,” an upper division environmental horticulture course offered at the UF Fort Pierce campus. Many industry professionals, nursery owners and state employees have completed the course.

Course Schedule
Registration for “Florida Native Landscaping” is taking place now for spring semester 2014.  Course lectures will be delivered live with laboratories will take place on Wednesdays, and will begin Jan. 8, 3:00 until 6:00 p.m., and will continue each Wednesday through mid-April. “Florida Na…

Protecting our Native Plant Populations

By Juliet Rynear, Conservation Committee Chair

FNPS members often contact about native plant populations which are in imminent harm – from development, highway and road construction, vandalism, poaching, or even fire suppression. This is especially disturbing when the plant species are state and federally listed as threatened or endangered. All inquiries are forwarded to the FNPS Conservation Committee for immediate action.

It is very important that you contact us if you believe that a native plant population is in danger of being destroyed or negatively impacted in some way. In just the past few months we have received notices of plant poaching by FNPS members, loss of rare plant populations to development (private and commercial), and destruction of populations by the Department of Transportation.

By staying alert to actions in your “neck of the woods,” each FNPS member can be a powerful force in our efforts to fulfill our mission to conserve and preserve native plant …

THEY are the Champions

by Laurie Sheldon

In the Beginning
American Forests magazine has maintained a list of the biggest trees of each species in America since 1940. It began as the "American Big Trees Report," was re-titled the "Social Register of Big Trees" in 1961, and in 1978 it became the "National Register of Big Trees" - a publication in which more than 750 champions are crowned each year. To see the most current edition, click here. The Big Tree Program is active throughout the U.S., and its message has been the same for over 70 years: regardless of size, all trees are champions of the environment. Its goal is to preserve and promote the iconic stature of our country's living monarchs (its remarkable trees) and to educate people about the key role that trees and forests play in sustaining a healthy environment.

The Makings of a Champion
To be eligible for the National Register of Big Trees, a tree must be recognized as native or non-invasive naturalized in the United…

Life in the Slow Lane: A Profile of the Gopher Tortoise

By Laurie Sheldon

Joseph Butler, a U.N.F. Biology Professor and herpetologist, was a guest speaker at one of  the Ixia chapter's recent meetings. He hoped to study snakes when he moved to Florida, but found that they were hard to pin down, so to speak. He turned his attention to Gopher Tortoises, which proved to be a much more reliable subject to study, as they live long lives (50 years +) and there are over 400 burrows on campus.The gopher tortoise is federally protected as a threatened species except in Florida, where it is listed as a Species of Special Concern by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are native reptiles that can be found throughout the southeastern U.S.. They prefer sandhill communities, which are typified by longleaf pines and turkey oaks growing in loose, sandy soil. Much of the longleaf pine in Florida has been replaced with slash pine, which grows significantly faster; the unfortunate byproduct has b…

F.N.P.S. Board Retreat #2, August 2013

By Laurie Sheldon

On August 11, 2013, the F.N.P.S. Board of Directors, along with Rebecca Staton-Reinstein and Ellen Bristol of the Bristol Strategy Group, attended a two day retreat at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. A typical B.O.D. meeting was held first thing Saturday morning. After that, we were all subject to Rebecca and Ellen's poking and prodding. These two women were hired to help F.N.P.S. actualize its potential. It was the second Strategic Planning Event they were facilitators for. I was not at the first one (held in February 2013), but Ginny Stibolt was, and she wrote the following blog about it: 2013 FNPS Board Retreat. They felt that, given the way that the organization currently operates, it has maxed out on its potential for expansion and development. Further, they suggested that the only way for us to continue to function and grow would be to make some significant changes to our current system of governance, and soon... otherwise we were headed for a short walk o…

Florida Native Plant Communities

Have you ever wondered what the heck a scrubby flatwoods is or what the difference is between a slough and a wet prairie?

Well, wonder no more! The FNPS website includes a Native Plant Communitiespage with all of Florida's complex ecosystems explained and illustrated by photos.

The communities are organized into 13 broad categories: Xeric Uplands, Dry Mesic Uplands, Mesic Uplands, Wet Flatlands, Seepage Wetlands, Moving Water Wetlands, Floodplain Wetlands, Basin Wetlands, Rocklands, Coastal Uplands, Coastal Wetlands, Flowing Water Systems, and Lakes & Ponds. There are two or more specific communities under each broad category. Isn't Florida amazing?

Why is it important to be familiar with all this? Whether you are just planting natives in your yard or working on a true restoration project, it's important to know what is likely to have been there 500 years ago.  Knowing Florida's native plant communities or ecosystems and the plants that grow there will help you…

The Importance of Native Plants, Part 2

The following article, which features Dr. Doug Tallamy's book, Bringing Nature Home, was submitted by Karina Veaudry, FNPS Landscape Committee Chair. Excerpts of Tallamy’s original text were reprinted with his permission. For part 1 of the article, click HERE.

Your Role in Building Biological Corridors: Networks for Life
Throughout the U.S., we have fragmented the habitats that support biodiversity by the way we have landscaped our cities, suburbs, and farmland. This is a problem because isolated habitats cannot sustain themselves or support populations large enough to survive normal environmental stresses. We can reconnect viable habitats by expanding existing greenways, building riparian corridors, and by changing the landscaping paradigm that dominates our yards and corporate landscapes. Replacing half of our lawns (areas that are essentially barren and ecologically sterile) with plants that are best at supporting food webs would create over 20 million connected acres of connec…