Showing posts from November, 2010

Enter for your chance to win by Dec. 1 at midnight EST

The clock is ticking!

 Just a reminder to make a comment hereby midnight December 1stto enter the contest to win Craig Huegel's excellent book, "Native Plant Landscaping for Florida Wildlife."
You know you want it or know someone who would love to receive it as a holiday gift. Your chances are very high, because we have two to give away thanks to University Press of Florida.

Green Gift Monday @ FNPS

Do you wish to have less impact on the environment this holiday season? (Thanks to The Nature Conservancy for getting this idea going.) Here are some ideas for you:
Buy a year's membership in FNPS for someone who'd enjoy learning more about Florida's native plants.

If you'll be shopping online for your holiday gifts, FNPS offers merchandise on our store website. (Update: the store is not available at this time. Sorry.)You may also use our link to Amazon to purchase not only the great Florida plant books we have listed, but anything else that Amazon of fers.  By using our link, FNPS receives a small referral fee for everything you buy.

Plan to use Our Good Search and Good Shops button, which also benefits FNPS every time you use it.

Purchase gift certificates from your local native plant nursery to give to your neighbors who have been admiring your more naturalized landscape.
Give the gift of gardening labor to an elderly neighbor, a local school, or community associat…

A shrub to be thankful for: the groundseltree or salt-bush

The groundseltree (Baccharis halimifolia) occurs throughout Florida according to The Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants even though Gil Nelson's "Florida Best Native Landscape Plants" lists its planting zones as 5 through 9. It thrives in many conditions from wet and brackish to sandy, dry, acidic or alkaline. This evergreen shrub has wedge-shaped, irregularly-lobed waxy leaves and can grow in full sun or partial shade. It naturally occurs at the edges of forested areas. It's best used as part of a mass or hedge row because single specimens can become rangy. They do tolerate trimming if you wish to control the size or produce a neater habit. Groundseltrees also make a good addition to large rain gardens.

This shrub is the only shrub or tree in the aster family (Asteraceae), although the flowers are small and insignificant in the landscape because there are no ray flowers which look like petals on the typical aster flower head--only the disc or central flowers.  It…

Wildlife Driven Design

Our native butterfly sage is buzzing with bees and swirling with butterflies. Four mockingbirds take turns feeding on the red berries, and two brown thrashers sift through the leaf litter for insects - all within view from our patio.

Flowers and fruits are important for wildlife, yet insects and spiders are the main diet of young, growing birds. Many species of native insects eat the leaves, buds and seeds of our native plants, while only a few have gotten past the chemical defenses of introduced exotics. Thousands of caterpillars and other insects and spiders are hiding in most large native trees. During the nesting season, it is important to have these trees so as to supply the insect food for our next generation of birds. Insects contain more protein than beef does.

Exotic plants are sold as pest-free. This sounds great to most people - until we realize that "pest-free" means that the plant arrived here without any of the insects that feed on it back home. Even if a pest is…

Win "Native Plant Landscaping for Florida" by Craig Huegel


You know that folks interested in Florida's native plants are going to love a book that starts like this:

"Natural Florida is an amazing magical place. Few areas in the nation are more diverse or mysterious. Although seasons pass here with greater subtlety than regions to our north, a beauty and complexity lie beneath the surface unmatched by any other. We are fortunate to live here and should embrace the natural wealth that Florida has to offer. Instead of shying away from it, we should insist that our developed landscapes capture more diversity and more mystery than is currently the case.  What better place than Florida to recapture the sense of place lost from the areas where we live and work? Armed with a palette of native plants virtually unequaled in natural beauty and textures, we can be equipped with no better arsenal to fight off the blandness and artificial character that we have, for some reason, created and learned to accept.  We need not accept the status quo.&…

Want to See Julias? You've Got to Plant Natives!

Poor poor South Floridians; we can't make a trek to a real pumpkin patch to celebrate the fall season. And if we buy a real pumpkin from a fake pumpkin patch, it turns to mush on our doorstep in about two days, if we're lucky. But we can enjoy the most orange butterfly on the planet right in our own yards if we go native with our plantings!

This extract is from an article in the Native Roots series, written by Jeff Nurge, a member of the Palm Beach County Chapter of FNPS. It runs a couple of times a month in the Palm Beach Post.

  Sporting long wings and a quick and graceful flight it is easy to spot the Julia.  The male is bright orange on top while the female is a duller orange with black bands across the top of the forewings.  The butterfly only gives away its true color as a caterpillar by its orange head. The caterpillars remainder length is black with rows of white spots on top and down both sides.  The Julia is practically flying year round having three or more broods a…

Okefenokee Gold

Okefenokee Gold  by Pete Johnson, Ixia Chapter
On Saturday November 6, 2010, the Ixia Chapter and Sea Oats Chapter took a joint field trip to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), East Entrance. The trip was well organized by Ixia president Barbara Jackson, who coordinated with Okefenokee Adventures to guide us on a boat tour. The turnout was big enough to fill four boats with eight people in each boat. The boats can hold more than eight, but the water level was very low due to lack of recent rainfall. The owners of Okefenokee Adventures, Chip and Joy Campbell, and their staff are courteous and very knowledgeable naturalists. They also run a great gift shop and lunch counter at the boat basin inside the ONWR.

Chip guided the boat that I rode in and explained the Okefenokee is not just a swamp, but a peat bog system of wet prairies, marshes, cypress and hardwood swamps, and upland islands oriented generally northeast to southwest. The ONWR and contiguous conservation buffers m…

Native Plants - Not Everybody Likes Them

And now for something else completely different. Occasionally it comes to our attention that not everyone likes native plants. This fall, I shared with some people from my FNPS chapter a link to an article telling about some new research that Doug Tallamy is doing. You may remember him as the author of Bringing Nature Home. After he had read the new article, I received this reply from a chapter member who had recently started his own landscaping business.
Hi Sue,  I really enjoyed this article. The two researchers, Tallamy and Bruck, have discovered exactly what I have discovered in the last two years since starting Sustainscape, Inc., I have made it my model to take on customers who are not necessarily interested in going native, but who have an “open mind.”   I have learned that their mindset changes through time, and the more I am patient with them, the more they begin to be patient with their landscape.   The open-mindedness part is the most important.  I have to follow their rule…

Native Plant Flower Arrangements

And now for something completely different! Arranging with Florida's native flowers is easy and fun. Not to mention economical. Even a couple of stems in a miniature holder placed on shelf or ledge are such a treat when you bring them outside indoors. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

There is always something interesting to put in an arrangement if you have a native yard. Fall is a time when the wildflowers are at their peak in Florida, so its easy to gather a bunch of things you like and stick them in a container. Sometimes people are put off doing their own arrangements because they are worried about design rules, or because they think they aren't "artistic." But honestly, you don't need to know any rules, although I will give you a few. The beauty is in the plants themselves. Let's get started!

It would have been great if I had had time to get this in front of a backdrop, but I didn't. This is one of my favorite ways to arrange flowers: I…

Native Plant Appreciation Event in Daytona Beach 11/13/10 9am - 3pm

Join the Pawpaw Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society for a full day of fun at the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences, Saturday November 13th 9:00am to 3:00 pm.

There will be special activities for children and adults. Also speakers, native plant vendors and guided tours of Tuscawilla Preserve. Come out and enjoy speakers covering topics:
10am: Jewels in your Garden– Kevin Bagwell Full Moon Natives 11am: AHS HEMS Academy - Mike McDowell Atlantic High School 11:30am: Florida Wildflowers DVD showing 12noon: Are You a Drip or a Drop? - Ann Moore Water Conservationist 1pm: Sweet life of Honey Bees - Tom Bartlett Master Bee Keeper 2pm: Florida Habitats and Inhabitants - Paul Rebmann Wild FL Photo 3pm: Gardening for (Wild)life - Elizabeth Flynn Nat’l Wildlife Federation
PLUS artist Lee Dunkel gives a guided tour of her exhibit Spruce Creek and the St. Johns: Silverpoint Photography
Vendors will offer: Rain barrels, Photography, Field Guides, Books, and of course, Central Florida Native Plant…

East Coast Dune Sunflower: an appreciation

The east coast dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) is one of Florida's 14 native sunflowers and one of three that are widely available in the native plant trade according to Gil Nelson's Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants. I purchased a plant this spring at a gardenfest and planted it in a hot dry area out next to our mailbox. To say that it's done well is an understatement.

The flower heads are about 2.5 inches across and they are plentiful. I'll have a lots of seed to share with members of my FNPS chapter, but there will be plenty left for the birds. You can see a spent flower in the foreground of the photo to the right.

Sunflowers belong to the daisy plant family (Asteraceae), which is the largest plant family with more than 22,000 species.  Sunflowers have the typical flower head arrangement for this family, which is composed of many florets sharing a single receptacle. The florets arrange themselves to look superficially like a single flower: sterile ray f…