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Showing posts from August, 2013

Royal Ferns Make Regal Garden Plants

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By Jeff Nurge of Native Choice Nursery

With the exception of Hawaii, Florida has more native ferns than any other state in the Union. There are approximately 130 species of fern native to Florida, of which only a handful are in widespread cultivation. Thankfully the royal fern, Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, is one of them.

Form
The royal fern can reach a striking three to four feet high. From his book A Gardener's Guide to Florida Native Plants, author, Rufino Osorio writes, "with age, royal ferns assume a stunning architectural quality. The long, erect fronds are finely divided and this results in a surprisingly delicate effect for so large a plant."


Among the fronds are spore stalks (a.k.a. "fiddleheads") that run from green to a rusty brown, which are set off quite nicely by the evergreen foliage. This perennial fern also forms a trunk-like rhizome as it ages, which gives it a solidly regal appearance in the garden.
Cultural Requirements
The…

Weekend at Welaka

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by Debra L. Klein, Education Chair

I attended the FNPS Natural History Workshop November 8, 9 and 10, 2002 organized by Maria Minno at Welaka State Forest located in southwestern Putnam County near the St. John’s River. Approximately fifty children and adults of all ages attended. Gourmet food was prepared by Renee, mostly vegetarian and delicious. I arrived Friday afternoon and set up my tent near the stables about three quarters of a mile from the entrance. New camp sites had been installed, including picnic tables, a fire pit, chopped fire wood and a grill. Other participants began to arrive... most chose to stay in the bunk houses. There were many fabulous workshops offered, including topics like wildlife, plants, aquatic invertebrates, fungi hunting, butterflies and herpetology, from which participants selected four to fill their schedules for the weekend. Although I was a novice with no scientific background, most of the participants were scientists, naturalists or teachers. O…

Firebush, Hamelia patens

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By Peg Lindsay

Something unusual has been happening in our garden this summer. All summer long we’ve had a hummingbird visitor in our garden. The rangemaps for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds show central Florida as the southern limit of its breeding range. So, while our area is within the summer range, most of the birds of this species nest further north and we see them only in migration (spring and fall).

What brings this little visitor to our garden are the abundance and varieties of nectar-producing Florida-native wildflowers we have added to our landscape. The hummer’s favorites:
   - Lonicera sempervirens, coral honeysuckle (a vine)
   - Salvia coccinea, tropical sage (a self-seeding annual)
   - Hamelia patens, firebush (a shrub)
The first year that we had a hummingbird visitor, I quickly put out the hummingbird feeder. The birdie sipped once and then went back to the firebush, never to return to the feeder. So my husband planted about six more firebush shrubs in our yard. We’ve added …

Resurrection Fern

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by Peg Lindsay

The rainy season has returned. Maybe our drought is over. In my part of the state, lakes have risen a foot in just two weeks, although they are still well below historic levels. In the evenings following a deluge, I enjoy listening to the exceptionally loud chorus of froggies in the treetops, especially the Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa) and the Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea). Not only are they music to my ears, but my plants like them too - they consume a hearty share of beetles and their kin, which we seem to have an abundance of in Florida.

Another remarkable phenomenon occurs after a heavy rain. The seemingly dead plant known as resurrection fern, Pleopeltis (formerly Polypodium) polypodioides var. michauxiana, absorbs water, unfurls and turns emerald green. This little epiphyte is typically found growing on either the limbs of our native live oak (Quercus virginiana) or in the “boots” (attached leaf bases) of the native cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto). A few hours …