Award Winning Landcape

Here is a landscape that is an award winner in so many ways! John and Nancy Henkelman received this year's Award of Excellence in the Residential-Amateur/Homeowner division from the Florida Native Plant Society at the Annual Conference this May. 

From the very beginning of their adventure in landscaping, the Henkelmans  knew they wanted to be able to share their home with friends, Boy Scouts, and garden lovers of many kinds. They wanted to provide space for the Scouting activities of their three sons, and they wanted as much habitat as possible for wildlife. They worked over many years to protect and maintain the existing scrub, wetland and lakefront ecosystems on their land,  while building a home and striving to to showcase the beauty of wild and natural Florida.

The Henkelmans were fortunate to have a three acre parcel to work with, and their first decision was to clear an area that was only twice the footprint of the house. After construction, elm, oak, cypress, water and pignut hickory, cabbage palm and sweet gum trees were used to complement the pine shade canopy. Increasing the diversity of native trees was also a cornerstone in their goal to provide habitat for wildlife. Trees were carefully placed to give shade from the southern exposure, and protection from the prevailing winds. Native shrubs, bushes and flowers were used to fill the understory and to landscape near the house. 

The landscape was designed to be a full use, interactive, garden setting using primarily, but not exclusively, native plants. They wanted to have a focal point for scouting and other activities, but they also wanted to retain a distinctly wild and natural look; showing a viable alternative to the typical lawn and garden so commonly seen in many neighborhoods.

A vegetable garden with native vines, inclding coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

John and Nancy wanted to avoid a large turf grass lawn, but obviously, with three boys they needed some open area. They carefully choose a variety of grasses and combined them with flowers and ferns for year long color. Interestingly, one of the most invasive plants they had to battle was the St. Augustine grass belonging to their neighbors. One trick they used successfully was to place layers of palmetto fronds to kill the grass intrusion. Native ferns and some gingers formed another suitable blockade. 
                                                                                                                   A native meadow

Dune sunflowers and saw palmettos
 Long term management had to account for the usual variety of invasive plants, and also control of the native muscadine grape and cat briar. They found that the most effective method was a bi-annual 'search and destroy' session, clipping the plants before they managed to propagate. Controlled burns were also used - and bets are that those were popular with the Scouts! The combined forces of muscadine and cat briar were nearly overwhelming after the triple hurricane wallop. In response, the Henkelmans formed trails through the vines, and kept going with continued cutbacks and burns to help the young, emerging native trees reach adulthood. Composting and vermiculture are practiced, too, helping with soil regeneration, and rain barrels are used for watering as needed.
 John and Nancy are long term members of the Boy Scouts of America, associated with Pack 37 and Troop 37. All three sons achieved the Eagle Scout rating. The landscape they created was the home site for many scouting activities, beginning with the First Class Emphasis requirements for identifying plants and animals, and continuing into Environmental Science and Gardening merit badges. In addition to scouts, visitors have included school and church groups, master gardeners, and lots of happy wildlife. This beautiful, sustainable landscape, seen here supporting scouting life,will continue to be an award-winning destination for years to come.

Congratulations, John and Nancy!

Each year at the Annual Conference, FNPS gives awards for high quality native plant landscapes. If you have a home, business, or school site landscaped primarily with native plants, you can apply for one of the landscape awards.There are also categories for Mitigation and Restoration projects. Here's a link from the homepage with contact information:

Size is not a factor in judging, a tiny yard can win big!

sue dingwell


Anonymous said…
Fantastic! I particularly like that they have designed their yard to be used--not just looked at.
V. Avery
New Lawn said…
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