Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society

Online Newsletter

Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip reports, for phone and addresses for yard visits and for articles which the authors may not want released to the World Wide Web. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!

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July 1999

In This Issue

UPCOMING MEETING IN DADE COUNTY
UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS IN DADE COUNTY
KEYS CONNECTION -News from, and activities in, the Florida Keys
HISPANIC OUTREACH NEWS
CHAPTER NEWS AND NEEDS
OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
NURSERY NEWS
WATER GARDENING WITH NATIVE PLANTS

UPCOMING MEETING IN DADE COUNTY

Tuesday, July 27, 7:30 p.m., Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

An Overview of Florida's Ferns - Gil Nelson .

Gil Nelson will speak about Florida's fern species. Besides showing slides of many ferns (including some very unusual and strange), he will discuss the number and diversity of these species, their characteristics, and tips on identifying them.

Gil is the author of numerous articles and books, including Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida , Trees of Florida (both sold by our chapter and available at meetings), Exploring Wild Northwest Florida , Exploring Wild North Florida , and a field guide to Florida's ferns to be published in 2000.

He lives and works in Tallahassee, currently serves as director at large for the Florida Native Plant Society and as President of the Magnolia Chapter of FNPS, and is the editor of the new FNPS state newsletter Sabal Minor . He frequently speaks and writes on botany, natural history, ecology, outdoor recreation, and environmental science topics, especially as they relate to Florida and the southeastern United States. If you have heard Gil speak before, you'll know this is a "don't miss" meeting!

If you would like to sign up to bring refreshments, please call Carrie at 305-661-9023. As usual, additional refreshments and donations to the plant raffle table are appreciated.

August - no meeting or newsletter.

Tuesday, September 28: Col. Terrence Rock  Salt, Executive Director of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.

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UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS IN DADE COUNTY

Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and their invited guests.

Saturday, August 7: Arch Creek Park . We will walk on a trail through a hammock containing some species not found in South Dade, such as Hercules -Club, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis. There is also a butterfly garden and small museum. Good trip for the whole family.

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KEYS CONNECTION -News from, and activities in, the Florida Keys

NEXT KEYS MEETING : Thursday, July 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Marathon Branch of the Monroe County Public Library: How to Select the Right Plant for Your Yard  - Jim Duquesnel, Florida Park Service Biologist. Call Jim Duquesnel at 305-451-1202 or Tina Henize at 305-745-3402 for more information. The meeting is free and the public is welcome.

Homeowners often create their own problems by using the wrong plants in their landscape plans. Selecting plants is a lot like hiring someone for a vacancy with a company. Each species and cultivar comes with a full resume, if you know where to look. A good background check before selection can prevent a lot of headaches and unnecessary work later. Jim will share the "job application" analogy as he has applied it to filling vacant positions in his yard and other landscape projects.

There will also be a native plant raffle (bring donations if you can!) and a short business meeting.

A new interest in promoting the use of native plants in landscapes and supporting the preservation of wild native plant communities is growing in the Florida Keys!

In September of 1998, Hurricane Georges devastated landscapes from Key West to Long Key. To help repair the damage, the Nature Conservancy sponsored a Native Plant Fair, held on Sugarloaf Key on February 27, 1999. With financial support from Key West's City Electric and other local , state and federal agencies, the fair distributed 3,000 free native plants to approximately 1,000 households of the Lower Keys. Also assisting and providing information were the Big Pine Botanical Society, Florida Native Plant Society (Dade Chapter's Keys members), Florida Keys Audubon Society, Monroe County Extension Service's Master Gardeners and 4-H, F.A.V.O.R. and the National Key Deer Refuge, Key West Botanical Garden, Florida Keys Invasive Exotics Task Force, Florida State Park System, and the Key West Garden Club. Each homeowner received three free plants and had an opportunity to hear lectures on planting methods, xeriscaping, butterfly gardening and attracting birds with plants, and the problems caused by invasive exotic species.

Due to the enthusiastic response to this event, a few of the 30 Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) members who live in the Keys thought it might be time to launch a new chapter, or at least increase FNPS membership. Keys residents have not previously formed a FNPS chapter because of the community's long (120 miles), narrow land form, with its three major population centers (Key West, Marathon and Key Largo) each separated by fifty miles of sometimes very busy highway. At an initial meeting in May of some FNPS members, a decision was made to take advantage of the existing infrastructure and organizational experience of one of the state's largest FNPS chapters by staying affiliated with the Dade Chapter.

Tina Henize, of Sugarloaf Key, kept the ball rolling by arranging for a meeting room and notices in the local press for a subsequent meeting on Wednesday, June 16. Thirty-five people attended to discuss proposals for projects, programs, meeting schedules and sites, and potential partners (local garden clubs and conservation organizations). The group discussed pros and cons of forming a new chapter and supported the decision to remain part of the Dade Chapter and not form a separate chapter at this time.

Thus, FNPS members in the Keys will continue to receive ten issues per year of Tillandsia, the Dade Chapter's newsletter. Each issue also will contain news specifically targeting the Keys members. A few FNPS members living in the Keys are not currently affiliated with the Dade Chapter and may want to change that status to stay informed about the Keys group's activities. Membership also provides a subscription to the state organization's quarterly Palmetto magazine, discounts on plant books, and other member benefits.

It is hoped the group will begin regular monthly meetings by September of 1999. To overcome the commuting distances involved and the cost of reserving meeting places, initial plans are to hold joint meetings with other local groups at least six times each year. The Florida Keys Audubon Society has already agreed to co-host a December meeting in Key West, and other groups have also expressed an interest in similar joint meetings and projects. The Keys group is already considering several community service projects to help restore habitat damaged by the 1998 storms and to promote the use of native plants.

Interest in FNPS membership is already increasing. At least half of those attending the Marathon meeting were not yet members. With the high level of interest and educational programs, field trips and projects developing rapidly, the optimism and energy are running full steam ahead.

- Jim Duquesnel and Tina Henize

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HISPANIC OUTREACH NEWS

Many thanks to Karsten Rist for presenting an introductory slide talk on Florida native plants at the Royal Poinciana Fiesta on June 5 and for coordinating a cooperative plant buy from Tropical Audubon. Thanks to our exhibit and plant sale volunteers: Ana Chavez, Carrie Cleland, Marian Dahman, Sam Dawson, Juan Fernandez, Robin Luker, Diane Otis, Greg Phillips, Gwladys Scott, and Vivian Waddell. In spite of the light attendance, we met new people and gave away lots of literature.

Thanks to DCFNPS members and DERM contacts for suggesting possible sites for a demonstration native landscape with bilingual signs, including the fine and growing native landscape of Dr. Ted Sanchez, veterinarian and owner at SW 27 Avenue and 25 Street. We'll be talking with Dr. Sanchez and others about their landscapes, signs, press hoopla and more. Please keep suggesting people to contact or possible sites! Cammie Donaldson (407-951-2210 or mondomcd@aol.com) will follow up.

Cammie Donaldson will be providing presentations in July to children in Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation summer camps. If you'd like to help or just observe, let her know. This can be your introduction to sharing the joys of Florida's flora with our youngest citizens.

The Palm Springs Elementary School (Hialeah) butterfly garden was pictured in The Miami Herald on June 6, with reference to FNPS' contribution of the plants. Please save any extra corky-stemmed passionvines you have -- the school can use them in September for an additional planting of caterpillar crops.

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CHAPTER NEWS AND NEEDS

Thanks to recent raffle donors : Inger-Marie Ames, George Childs, Alma Dean, Alice Lingswiler, Bob Mihm, Patty Phares, Jerry Russo and a host of Unrecorded Donors .

Welcome new members (January-May) : In Dade : Ken Bedat and Linda Criner-Bedat, Chris Ellen Blivens, George Cummings, Donna Coker and Tom Durkowitz, Roberta D Amico and John Segar, Michelle Duplaga, Mike Fenell, Kent and Dolores Glauser (of Northwood, OH), Allyn Golub, Jen Hooke, Leon Howell, Joy Klein, Maria Elena Navarro, Mark Phagan, Christopher Sullivan, Mary-Jane (Polly) Pi-Sunyer,. In the Keys : Chris and Beth Bergh (transfer from Martin Cocoplum), Lisa Gordon, Maureen Howard, Alice Kulecki, Jane Sturdivant McKinley, Michael Welber, Fritz Wettstein (transfer from Tallahassee-Magnolia Chapter).

Mark your calendars: May 4-7, 2000 - FNPS annual conference in Miami.

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OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Summer Landscape Series . Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., at Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 W. State Road 84, Ft. Lauderdale - just west of I-95. Call 954-791-1030. July 15: Roger Hammer, Gardening for Birds and Butterflies ; July 22 : C. Way Hoyt: Landscaping, Planting and Tree Pruning ; July 29 : Bob Haehle: Favorite Natives for Planting in South Florida Landscape ; August 5 : Rufino Osorio: Wildflowers for South Florida Gardens ; August 19 : David McLean: Books for Gardeners and Other Plant Nuts , and Maintaining Your Landscape. On Saturday, August 14 there will be a plant sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..

1999 North American Butterfly Association s Coral Gables Butterfly Count, July 24. While people experienced in butterfly identification are especially needed, novices and anyone interested in learning are welcome. Contact Bob Kelley (305-666-9246 or RKelley@math.miami.edu) as soon as possible to get on a team.

Native plant sale at Tropical Audubon Society, August 28-29 , 9 a.m.-5 p.m.. 5530 Sunset Drive, phone 305-666-5111.

Society for Ecological Restoration 11th International Conference - September 23-25, 1999 , Presidio of San Francisco: Reweaving the World . www.ser.org/ser99.htm or call SER at 608-262-9547.

Native Plant Workshop : 3rd Tuesdays at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street. Plant ID - serious  but not intense! Call Roger Hammer at 305-257-0933.

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NURSERY NEWS

Gann s Native Tropical Greenery Nursery is technically closed but will be open on Saturdays until the remaining stock is sold , probably at least through July, except July 17. Plants are now half price. When the plants are gone, then Don and Joyce will really retire , as Joyce says. Call 305-248-5529 for more details on what is available.

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WATER GARDENING WITH NATIVE PLANTS

By Roger L. Hammer

Water features in the South Florida home landscape are becoming increasingly popular. These include elaborate natural  pools dug out of the limestone substrate, above-ground ponds constructed out of wood or concrete then sealed with a poly-liner, or pre-formed plastic ponds that come in various sizes and shapes. Virtually anything that holds water can be customized to harbor aquatic and wetland plants, and even fish, in the landscape.

My first attempt at water gardening was made back around 1986 when I found a discarded toilet. Not able to pass up any potential Yard Art  I brought the toilet home, filled the storage tank and bowl with soil, placed the thing in a prominent place in the yard and planted wetland plants in it. It was actually quite a conversation piece although I doubt that it would have passed the strict Yard Art landscape code in more affluent areas like Coral Gables and Ocean Reef Club. It worked well and actually was a bit artsy  to see pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata , protruding from the bowl, and lizard s tail, Saururus cernuus , arching gracefully from the storage tank. Its only drawbacks were that it was pink and, well, it was somebody s old used toilet.

After tiring of the toilet novelty (and to save my marriage), I took it to the dump but brought back an old discarded bathtub! I had a backhoe dig a hole and I buried the thing in the yard. I plugged the drain hole, filled it with soil and planted blue-flag, Iris hexagona , in it. The blue-flag thrived. After tiring of it, too, I dug the tub back up and it now sits upside down in the yard awaiting another of my revelations, although my wife, Lisa, wants it to join the toilet in its final resting ground.

Following Hurricane Andrew, I gained renewed interest in landscaping since we now had an open sunny acre instead of our shady avocado grove. I had visited Miami Water Lilies Nursery near Homestead and lusted after their above-ground ponds that were built to display their aquatic plants. I looked at how they were constructed and went home, found a choice spot, had an auger come drill holes four feet apart in a 12' x 24' rectangle. I placed pressure-treated 4x4s in the holes, cut the off level, and lined the inside with 2x8s to form an above-ground box approximately 18 inches deep. I lined it with a poly-liner from Miami Water Lilies, placed 2x8s around the top edge like a shelf, and filled it with water. Within four days, we had whirlygig beetles, water striders, water boatmen, and dragonflies in and around the pond. We started stocking it with plants -- some of which proved to be mistakes -- along with fish that we netted out of Tamiami Canal. The latter included bluegill, stumpknockers, gambusia, sailfin mollies, blue-spotted sunfish, least killifish, golden topminnows, and bullhead catfish.

The native plants that are now thriving in the pond include bur marigold, Bidens laevis , buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis , red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle , water hemlock, Cicuta mexicana , leather fern, Acrostichum danaeifolium , club rush, Eleocharis cellulosa , umbrella sedge, Fuirena breviseta , pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata , blue-flag, Iris hexagona (albino form), red ludwigia, Ludwigia repens , water spider orchid, Habenaria repens , water hyssop, Bacopa monnieri , lemon bacopa, B. caroliniana , and softstem bulrush, Scirpus tabernaemontani . I should point out that the native bur marigold is rambunctious and will cover half the pond in a single growing season. After its incredible flowering display in early spring I have to take a machete and cut it back drastically, otherwise it would claim the pond for itself.

There are, of course, countless other interesting native wetland species that can be cultivated in water gardens. Some of the plants in our water garden (which I affectionately call the scum pond ) are rooted in submerged pots, while others are simply sitting on the bottom with their roots trailing around through the detritus on the bottom. Ponds should not be deeper than about 18" so that plants can emerge from their pots into the sun. Don t forget to put a small brick or some rocks in the bottom of each pot before you fill it with soil so that it will stay put in the pond.

If you are contemplating growing aquatic and wetland plants, feel free to give me a call at 305-257-0933 for advice or possibly some plant material. If nothing else, I may be able to help you select the precise, inappropriate place in your yard to place your Toilet Art .

Editor s note : Aquatic and wetland plants may be purchased at some local nurseries. Also try the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN) Plant and Service Directory . Of course, plants also may be obtained as cuttings, divisions or seed from friends or collected from private land with the owner s permission.

Find the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN) directory on the Web by using the link from the DCFNPS site (http://www.seflin.org/plants/links.htm). To get a print copy (bulk mailed in August) send your name and address to its producer, Cameron Donaldson (2112 Helen St., Melbourne FL 32901-5914 or e-mail mondocmd@aol.com), BEFORE JULY 23 . After that date, send $5 to AFNN, PO Box 434, Melrose FL 32666. The directory is sometimes available at trade shows and from nurseries.

© 1999 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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