Showing posts from January, 2012

Landscape Design: A Primer - Part 2

By Laurie Sheldon
Introduction - Summing up Part 1 In my previous blog I listed the series of steps, collectively known as the Design Process, which Landscape Architects employ when designing outdoor spaces - regardless of scale. This methodological approach to design enables the Landscape Architect to clearly identify the optimal arrangement between the elements they hope to incorporate into a landscape and its existing natural and constructed features. It includes the following:
1. Statement of Intent 2. Procurement of a Topographic Survey 3. Site Inventory and Analysis 4. Program Development 5. Conceptual Diagramming 6. Diagram Selection 7. Master/Site Plan and Design Development Documents
A brief recap of steps 1 & 2 1. Prepare of a Statement of Intent, wherein you will determine the scope of your project and identify project goals and objectives. 2. Obtain a topographic survey of your site, which be the foundational layer of information upon which your design is based, and can b…

Plant Profile: Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Alexis Crouch, Ashley Bridell, and Christina Adams

Cercis canadensis, the eastern redbud, can be found along the eastern coast of the United States, from Florida to New Jersey, and as far west as Texas. It can handle a variety of growing conditions, and temperatures ranging from -18° F in the winter to the 90°+ F Florida summers. Redbud grows best in direct sun in the northern parts of its range, but grows happily as an understory tree in the south. It prefers moist soils and does not do particularly well in salty conditions.

The eastern redbud is an aesthetically pleasing plant, with gorgeous purple red flowers that bloom in March (Figure 1). The tree depends on bees for pollination. The fruit pod will stay on the tree when the leaves fall off in autumn. When the pea-pod shaped fruit is mature, the pod will open and the seeds can be dispersed by the wind. Song…

Plant Profile: Liatris gracilis Slender gayfeather

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Kristine Brown, Kristina Robbins, and Marc Rothe

Liatris gracilis, also known by the names slender blazing star and slender gayfeather, is a perennial herb. The specific epithet ‘gracilis’ means slender in Latin and refers to its single stem. This plant is native to the southeastern coastal region of North America, and is found in almost every county of Florida. The gayfeather is typically found in habitats such as flatwoods, sand hills, scrub, and deciduous woodlands, and especially where there is plenty of sunlight and well-drained soils. Liatris gracilis is incredibly tolerant of drought and also can survive in moist soils so long as those conditions do not persist for too long a period. It can be grown from seed and from the underground stems or corms.

Liatris gracilis is a moderately tall plant. The slender gayfeather usually grows to be 20-100 cm in height…

The Danger of Moving Firewood: Florida’s Newest Tree Disease

If you have ever gone camping, you probably have moved firewood. It is a pretty natural thing to do.

However, today, Florida is rapidly loosing an important member of its forest tree and shrub diversity: members of the Lauraceae plant family are being killed by a new pathogen. The following trees and shrubs are susceptible to the laurel wilt disease: swampbay (Persea palustris), redbay (Persea borbonia), silkbay (Persea humilis), sassafras (Sassafras albidium), pondspice (Litsea aestivalis) and pondberry (Lindera melissaefolia), the last two are endangered species. Another concern is that avocado is a member of this family and it is also susceptible to the disease.

The disease is called laurel wilt and it is spread by a very small, 2 millimeter, beetle that carries a fungal pathogen. When the redbay ambrosia beetle bores into a tree of the Lauraceae it leaves behind some of the fungus and the fungus causes the death of the tree.

How does this relate to firewood?
The disease is spreadi…

Plant Profile: Opuntia stricta (Shell Mound Pricklypear)

This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Jenell Larsen, Brooke Comans, and Trey Collins.


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllidae
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
Species: Opuntia stricta

Also known as the erect pricklypear, the shell mound pricklypear is a cactus that grows on shell mounds, coastal hammocks, and dunes. The erect pricklypear is found in the southeast and coastal states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina. It prefers sandy, well-drained soil. A long-lived plant, the shell mound pricklypear’s first flowers appear when the plant is three years old. 

The erect pricklypear can be identified by flat green segments that are not the leaves but the stems, which can measure up to 30 cm. It also has eyes that contain 0-11 spikes. The eyes of a cactus are called areola; areolas are the structures that spik…

Landscape Design: A Primer - Part 1

By Laurie Sheldon, newest member of the F.N.P.S. blog team
As a follower of the FNPS blog, it’s a given that you’re interested and/or enthusiastic about Florida’s native flora. You can probably recall a dozen or so trips to a local nursery, where you walked between row after row of plants in black pots and imagined how they would look in your own landscape. I worked for several years in a sizable nursery in Miami, so I know the plant-dreamer look all too well. Admittedly, I was not immune to becoming starry-eyed in the presence of some outrageously beautiful plants, and frequently came home from work with one or two random specimens that I just had to have. Needless to say, my spur-of-the-moment plant shopping did little to enhance the overall aesthetic of my backyard, and did even less as far as enhancing my wallet was concerned.  I left my nursery job and became a “Garden Groomer” (volunteer weed-puller) at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, where I was exposed to large…

A Sign of the Season: Partridge Berries

A guest post by Carole Tebay
The warm Thanksgiving holiday found my family hiking the Juniper Creek Trail in the Blackwater River State Forest where I spied my favorite little greeting to the holidays, Mitchella repens. Commonly known as partridge berry, twin flower, or squaw vine, this petite, evergreen creeper sports bright red berry-like drupes which cheerfully dot the forest floor through winter.

Although not a denizen of my current garden, I have had patches in the past. Partridge berry grows in shady areas with rich, neutral to acid soil in moist to dry areas. Look for it throughout the Panhandle and as far south as central Florida. Mine was in the deep shade of a live oak in the company of shiny blueberries and ferns. I found that it grew as thick as any lawn grass when kept free of smothering oak leaves. Since the stems of partridge berry root like the runners in lawn grass, it was easy to transplant by cutting plugs or rooting cuttings.

The berries are said t…

Crystal Springs: 2012 FNPS Conference Venue

Our FNPS 2012 Conference "Saving the Heart of Florida" is well into its development phase. We have several exiting venues for our social events, but one of them, Crystal Springs, is special to me because of its beauty and history. We will have exclusive access to this site for our Saturday night social event.

Most people think of the Hillsborough River as a blackwater stream, one dark and tea colored due to tannins in the water. We say it begins in the Green Swamps. It does, as seepage and as an overflow from the Withlacoochee River. As such, it is usually a narrow creek that swells to substantial size only during periods of very high rainfall.  But the upper river is also a spring-run stream. Crystal Spring, a second magnitude spring, provides most of the typical daily flow for the Upper Hillsborough River.

Crystal Spring has a long local history. Once, it existed only as a series of seepage springs, and local kids had a swimming hole on the river downstrea…