Planting a Feast for Nature

By Marlene Rodak

Creating Bird and Butterfly Habitat at Middle School

A tiny butterfly on bloodberry (Cordia globosa), which is one of the native species
that will be planted at Fort Myers Middle Academy on Tuesday
The school corridor to be planted
A spectacular event will take place the morning of Tuesday, July 28 at Fort Myers Middle Academy.  Florida Forest Service employees and volunteers from the Florida Native Plant Society are planting hundreds of native plants in an outdoor corridor, which will transform the area into important bird and butterfly habitat.  This planting will demonstrate how natural, native landscaping functions in the environment by providing food and shelter to wildlife.  Best of all, the entire project is provided to Fort Myers Middle Academy and Lee County Schools FREE OF CHARGE!

FNPS Coccoloba Chapter President
Martha Grattan shoveling mulch
at Fort Myers Middle Academy
Florida Native Plant Society is coordinating the planting with Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Florida Forest Service, Covanta Energy, Lee County Solid Waste, All Native Garden Center, Deep South Native Nursery, Hickory Hammock Native Tree Farm, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nursery and others.  Costco, Bass Pro Shops, and Estero Community Park Recreation Center donated the cardboard and newspapers that volunteers placed over the entire 105' x 20' area. This will both recycle these materials and help prevent weeds for about a year. After laying the cardboard and newspaper, they covered it in mulch. Subsequently, they will install about 340 one-gallon plants in openings they make through the cardboard, with the mulch moved to the side then returned under the plants' dripline. Volunteers have already driven to Sweetbay Nursery in Parrish, Florida to acquire plants for the project that were not available at local nurseries.

After the planting is finished, the school will be provided with a plant maintenance manual . Monthly visits will also take place to monitor the new landscape's progress.

Fort Myers Middle Academy, located at 3050 Central Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33901, was in the news in March when student Jeffery Thompson won the Lee County Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word ESCARGOT. The school, which celebrates its 60th year anniversary this year, is in one of the most economically challenged areas of the city.

Would you like to learn more about native plants and landscaping in southwest Florida?  Do you want to help a school that deserves our attention?  Call (239) 273-8945 to learn how you can participate.  Visit for more information about the Coccoloba Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Below are some work-in-progress photos. Looking great, Coccoloba Chapter!

Already an improvement!
posted by Laurie Sheldon


Loret said…
Great stuff! Teach them YOUNG! Your tiny butterfly in the top picture appears to be a Red-waisted Florella Moth (Syngamia florella).

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