Wetland - February 13 2020

My created wetland has been developing quite well since I installed it more than a year ago. How I did this is a subject of one of my earliest posts so I won't describe it here; only to write that it is an area about 6 feet in diameter with a heavy-duty pool liner sunk about 2 1/2 feet below the surface. It receives most of its water from the drain spout coming off my roof that directs it into this area.
Over the past weeks, I've been reading posts in social media that describe efforts to create wetlands such as this in a home landscape and almost without fail there is a discussion about amending the soil. This is not necessary, of course, and may even prove detrimental. In a real wetland, the soils are created naturally - over time, from the original soils that were present. In a created wetland the soils will form in the same way.
The soil in my wetland is the original soil present in this location. I simply dug a hole, placed the pond liner at the bottom and filled the hol…

Plan For Change - Deciduous Plants

Perhaps it's because I get bored easily that I revel in a landscape that changes with the seasons. That is not accomplished with evergreen species very well and it definitely can't be done using the tropical nonnative species so widely used where I live in central Florida. To me, those tropical plants are not really any different than ones made out of plastic. Day after day, year after year, they grow but never really change other than that. In my mind, I could just as easily paint a picture of them on my window - there's never anything new to see. The sameness bores me to death and is the singlemost thing that causes many of my Floridian neighbors to complain that we have no seasons here.  It is actually planned blandness. I choose to plan for change.
With spring inching a bit closer with each passing day, my plants seem to be changing daily as well.  Here in my part of Florida, deciduous trees and shrubs seem to often be denigrated for being "messy", but to me…

The Seeds Have Been Sown

This time of year is always an exciting time for me - full of hope and anticipation for the promise of a new batch of native Florida wildflowers. As I grow my plants from seed, I never quite know what to expect. Some flats come up so thick that I'd never have enough room to pot them all up individually - let alone find enough homes for them either. A few come up sporadically and a few others just never materialize. I've never been able to predict this with any accuracy, but I've learned that I need to sow my seed as soon as they are ripe, no mater what the month, and that I need to plant them as shallowly as I can get away with - just a dusting of soil over them to keep them from blowing away.
I began my hobby wildflower nursery as a way to share wildflowers that just aren't widely propagated by folks who try to do this for a living. I've always been a collector and it drove me crazy that so many wonderful native wildflowers were not in the trade. We have 17 diffe…

Spring Pollinator Flowers Are Most Often Woody

A pollinator garden is not a wildflower garden if done correctly. It simply can't be. Many who have recently embraced the connection between pollinators and flowering plants seriously fail to grasp the very real importance of woody plants in a pollinator landscape. To many, a pollinator garden is a plot of native wildflowers and very little else. The truth is that a carefully thought out pollinator garden is everything in your landscape - including the trees and shrubs. Not because some of the woody plants serve as larval hosts for butterflies and moths, but because so many are critical at providing pollen and nectar during the early spring when very few wildflowers are in bloom.
Here in Florida, where I've lived for 33 years, I can garden 12 months out of the year, but although it is warm enough to putter around outside, there are very few native plants in bloom and even fewer native pollinators. That's the way it's supposed to be, but beginning now, in February, thi…

Planting Seeds - It's Not the Whole Story

My wildflower garden is taking shape. Where once I could pull just about everything out that emerged from my planting area as being something I did not plant or want, I now have a great many seedlings of the plants I originally planted. The garden is on autopilot. It is self organizing and that is the way it was planned. I still have weeds that I need to remove periodically, but the huge seedbank of unwanted species is now mostly exhausted and what is mostly coming up are the wildflowers that I let go to seed.
I have learned a few things over the many years that I have been doing this - here and elsewhere. It is not practical to start a new wildflower "meadow" by simply casting seeds in a barren area - at least not one like the one I created from my former lawn. The seeds of my lawn weeds were aggressive and plentiful. The only thing I left alone were those of the Canadian toadflax (Linaria canadensis). I now have at least 100 plants in this area, but I see no reason to rem…

My "Messy" Winter Garden

There is a prevailing gardening myth about keeping a garden tidy. You shouldn't - at least not through the winter months. Folks that "deadhead" the spent flower stalks of the their wildflowers and trim back the dead leaves of their grasses are not doing it to help their plants, and doing so dramatically reduces the winter habitat required by a great many species of wildlife. I'm sure that some of my neighbors drive by my house (as this garden is in my front yard) and wonder when I will "clean" this up. The answer is not anytime soon.
Even though it is relatively warm here, the vast majority of my pollinators are taking a winter break. Nearly all of my butterflies are too. The winter-resident migratory birds are looking for food and part of their diet at this time of year is seeds - as well as whatever invertebrates they can find in the leaf litter and dead stems. This wildflower area may not look as aesthetically pleasing as it did from late spring through…

Planting Zones - My Thoughts

This blog is most often writings that document the changes in my yard as I take a typical largely lifeless turf-dominated landscape to one dominated by natives and the life that it provides for. Secondarily, it is a place to express my wider opinions and thoughts on native plant landscaping in general. Having arrived in Florida 33 years ago and charged with developing a program to certify urban landscapes as wildlife habitat, I've had a good many years to observe and form opinions - and like any good observer, some of my opinions have changed over the years as I've gathered data. One issue that I am adamant about is the need to use plants for their ecological roles above any aesthetic roles that they might also have. This is true for native AND non-native plants. I no longer view the world of landscaping as a native vs non-native issue, but an issue of ecological significance vs ecological insignificance. All plants play some kind of role in a landscape, it's just that so…