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Newsletter - April 2011

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Native Plant Ambassadors Program
FNPS and Dade Chapter News
Native Plant Day: A Resounding Success!
Native Plant Day: Report From The Early Birders
Other News of Interest
Thinking It Through - One Woman's Landscaping Story
Contacts for DCFNPS


Apr. 2, 3, 10, 17: Earth Day celebrations - volunteers needed to represent DCFNPS
Apr. 2: Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
Apr. 16: Field trip (Jonathan Dickinson State Park)
Apr. 26: Monthly meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
Apr. 30-May 1: FTBG Food & Garden Festival/Spring Sale (DCFNPS participates in plant sale)

May 19-22: 31st Annual FNPS Conference, Maitland. (early registration ends April 14)
May 24: Monthly meeting and Annual Chapter Business meeting at Pinecrest Gardens
May 29: Field trip - location TBA

June 11: Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
June 25: Field trip - Restoration site and Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, plus a nearby yard
June 28: Monthly meeting at Pinecrest Gardens


Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 7:30 pm. Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57 Ave (Red Road),

Free and open to the public.

Refreshments begin at 7:15 pm. Merchandise sales are before and after the program (cash/checks only).  The plant raffle follows the program. 

Please label your raffle donations with the plant name (and yours!) and help wipe out "mystery plants."

"The Everglades: Original Vegetation Patterns - How Can They be Restored?" - Thomas E. Lodge, Ph.D., Thomas E. Lodge Ecological Advisors

The original vegetation pattern of the vast bulk of the Everglades developed on peat soils.  From an aerial view, it was a striking alignment of sawgrass ridges and open water sloughs with floating-leaved vegetation.   Sprinkled over the landscape were tree islands of various kinds.  Some occurred at the head ends of sawgrass ridges while others were often independent, small circular types, and yet others were elongated types aligned with flow.  In today's Everglades this pattern has been largely lost except in central Water Conservation Area 3-A and in interior parts of Loxahatchee NWR.  Evidence of formative processes and how to duplicate them in Everglades restoration will be explored.

Dr. Lodge is a self-employed ecologist with over 35 years of consulting experience.  With a background emphasizing ichthyology and limnology, he has become a recognized ecologist specializing in wetlands and their restoration.  He is author of The Everglades Handbook: Understanding the Ecosystem, now in its third edition released in April 2010.  The first two editions were widely used as an advanced high school and college textbook as well as a guide for lay people to understand the Everglades and its restoration.  He also authored the text for Everglades National Park, a book published in late 2010 by Lunwerg Editores in both English and Spanish.  With a strong interest in wildlife photography, Dr. Lodge is a regularly invited speaker on the Everglades. 

Upcoming meetings:    

  • May 24: " Horticultural Resource Management for Home Gardens: The Balances Between Fertilizer, Water and Health" - Craig Morell, Horticulturist, Pinecrest Gardens
  • June 28: "Why the Future May Not Look Quite Like the Past: The Science and Art of Ecological Restoration" - Wesley Brooks, Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers Univ.

Note: The June 25 field trip will visit a hammock restoration by Wes near Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.


If the weather is very bad, please call to confirm.  Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members and guests. Collecting is not permitted. Children are welcome. For carpooling, call Patty Phares (305-255-6404).

Saturday, April 16, 9:30 a.m.: Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Martin County).  With more than 17,000 acres straddling the scenic Loxahatchee River and 884 types of plants reported, “JD State Park” is a botanist’s paradise because of its varied habitats. Northern plants meet tropical species in the high sand pine scrub, sandy pine flatwoods and other plant communities. For this field trip, we’ll walk the trail along Kitching Creek from the riverside picnic area parking lot as far as a small hammock on the creek bank, then visit a seasonal pond where we may encounter the pretty Rose Pogonia Orchid (Pogonia ophioglossoides) near the southern limit of its range, as well as meet up (we hope) with a couple of species of Grass Pink Orchids in the genus Calopogon. We should see many other interesting wildflowers along the way, including some not found in Miami-Dade County.

Time, address and directions are in the newsletter mailed to members.  Please join to enjoy all the activities of the chapter!      

  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate.  Walking on firm trails in the flat-woods (easy); after lunch trails may be sandy, sunny, inclined.
  • Bring: $6/car for park entrance, plenty to drink, snacks to carry, sun protection, lunch (leave in your car until lunchtime). 
  • Leader: Chuck McCartney.
  • Lost?  Try Patty's cell (305-878-5705, only use that morning).
  • For more information about the park, see

Notice of Annual Chapter Meeting

and Election

May 24, 2011, 7:30 p.m. at Pinecrest Gardens

Call for Nominations:  Chapter board member nominations are being accepted through April 15.  The Secretary, Treasurer and three Directors at Large will be elected for two year terms.  A slate will be presented by the nominating committee.  Please contact Amy Leonard (305-458-0969, if you are interested or have someone to suggest. 

The main qualifications are enthusiasm and a desire to see the chapter thrive.  You don’t have to be a botanist - a variety of skills is always needed on the board.


Can you give the Chapter a day or two per year to promote the advantages of South Florida native plants and the importance of conservation of those plants?  We've made it easier for you to help with this mission!  The Chapter is starting an Ambassador program so that we can be more involved in the community. 

A fully stocked "Booth-in-a-Box" is provided to you, along with a Chapter banner and other supplies.  Every effort would be made to have Ambassadors work in pairs at events.  It has been difficult for us to both get the word out about natives and our organization, and we hope this will be a way for us to do both -- and to bring new members into our Chapter.  Will you help?

We can use your help now at the following (April 2-3 dates are already filled).  Others will arise throughout the year. 

Apr. 2: John Pennekamp State Park Native Plant Day/Earth Day
Apr. 2-3: Pinecrest Gardens Backyard Garden Festival (10 to 5)
Apr. 2: Miami River Festival at Lummus Park (11 to 4)
Apr. 10: Pinecrest Gardens Earth Day (11 to 4)
Apr. 17: The Barnacle's Earth Day Celebration (11 to 4)
Apr. 17: EarthFest 2011 at Crandon Park (noon to sundown)

Please contact Amy Leonard (, 305-458-0969) if you have questions or would like to be a part of this program now or later.  Thank you for all your help and support in making our Chapter strong both in the past and in the future!


Welcome new members: Nadia Earl, Nancy Famulari, Peggy Marinelli and Peter Tome, all in Miami-Dade.  Welcome back to rejoining members, including Richard Hawkins (Key West) and Steve Schuemann (Miami Beach).  Thanks to you who have renewed your membership -- your loyalty makes a difference.

If your membership is due for renewal soon, please consider renewing at a higher level or making an extra donation to FNPS.  Your support is vital in helping FNPS and the Dade Chapter pursue the mission of FNPS.  For all except student and library memberships, 26% of the dues are returned to the chapter.  With many members dropping from Family or Contributing to the Individual category, FNPS is challenged to find the financial resources needed to operate.  You can help!

FNPS 31st Annual Conference:
Patios, Preserves and Public Spaces … Making Connections
May 19-22, 2011, in Maitland (near Orlando).
Register by April 14 for your pick of field trips and to save $25. Visit for registration, full schedule, field trip descriptions, social events and sponsor information.  Contact FNPS at 321-271-6702 or for assistance. 

FNPS trip to Nicaragua, Nov. 25 - Dec. 5, 2011
Join fellow FNPS members to explore the native flora of the rainforest and cloud forest of Rio San Juan and the Northern Highlands with plant experts.   Reserve your place now!  See  Contact Elston Chavarria  (954) 662- 1539,


 by Amy Leonard

As part of our on-going effort to be present throughout our Chapter's geography, we went back to Elaine Gordon Enchanted Forest Park in the City of North Miami for our 16th Native Plant Day, held on March 12, 2011.  Not only was the weather cool and delightful, but the programs were all very interesting and our growers had a fantastic selection of native plants.  As in 2008, the City of North Miami was a wonderful partner in hosting and co-sponsoring the event!

We reached out to over 450 visitors to our event, some of whom happened to be passing by and wanted to see what all of the excitement was about!  The Hands-On and Kids activities were constantly bustling, as was the Chapter Information booth, which had several outstanding and interesting displays.  The Raffle table also did not disappoint, with restaurant gift certificates, a variety of plants, cookbooks and even jewelry for the outdoor enthusiast!  Nature walks introduced guests to the unique plants, butterflies and birds of Enchanted Forest, along with offerings to educate about proper tree care.  Many of our community partners also came to share information about their own organizations.

Many thanks to all those who helped make this year's Native Plant Day a success!  From speakers, to walk leaders, to those who coordinate different aspects of the event, and those who give their time during set up and on the day itself, it takes forty to fifty Chapter volunteers to help make the event happen annually, and plans are already underway for next year.  If you are able to get involved, please let us know at or call Amy Leonard, NPD Coordinator, at 305-458-0969.

If you weren't able to make it this year to enjoy Native Plant Day, we hope that you will join us next March.  Join us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on the latest Chapter activities, including the announcement of the date and location of next year's Native Plant Day.


by Patty Harris

Eight of us bird watcher novices braved the crisp morning air to accompany expert birder and long-time president of Tropical Audubon Society, Joe Barros, on the Native Plant Day Early Bird Walk through Elaine Gordon Enchanted Forest Park.  One of the advantages of going on a walk with Joe is that he knows as much about native plants as he does birds, which is good, because we were full of questions.

We didn’t venture very far into the park -- we didn’t need to. Just around the first bend and into an area with cypress, Joe put binoculars to eye and said “We have company.”  Palm warblers, not much bigger than your thumb were foraging for a breakfast of worms and insects as the sun shone its beams in the tree tops.  They were soon joined by prairie warblers, all incessantly bobbing their tails.  Joe told us that warblers breed in shrubby habitats and felt perfectly at home among the red mangroves, oaks, and strangler figs in the park.  We also learned that they winter in the southern United States, the West Indies, and coastal Central America.  When prodded for where the birds were off to next, Joe said “Michigan,” which brought a round of disbelief and laughter from our novice crew.  Joe is a patient man.  He explained that the warblers begin their migration northward by late March and reach Michigan during late April, breeding along the way in the southeastern and central-eastern United States.

We walked along the paths stopping now and then to point out to each other American beautyberry, shiny leaf coffee, native poinsettia, some green buttonwood, gumbo limbo and satin leaf as we watched Northern parulas, blue-headed vireos, a black-throated blue and a couple of black and whites (only some of the 40 or more species of warblers) who seemed to join our band as we walked.  We listened to their chirps and peeps and admired the exquisite color patterns -- dazzling combinations of yellow, blue, red, green, black and white on the males.  Adult females are similar to males, only paler, Joe told us, and he brought our attention to the handsome chestnut markings that most adults have on their heads and back in spring and fall.

Among a grouping of royal and thatch palms, sabal and saw palmetto, we met a very handsome red bellied wood pecker.  A pair of cardinals played hoochie-coochie and blue jays bullied for breakfast as turkey vultures glided in the clear sky overhead.  We heard the strange cries of a cat bird or two along the return path by the stables where we were stopped in our tracks by a horse fly bird (LOL), and commented to each other of our hopes that the North American landscape will continue to support all these beautiful flora and fauna.


Thursday April 21, 7 p.m.

Cox Science Center, Room 126, University of Miami

"The Origin of Today's Tropical Floras"

by Dr. Susanne S. Renner

A reception will follow.  Free and open to the public.

Dr. Renner is an eminent plant evolutionary biologist whose research is shedding light on this important topic.  Understanding the history of the earth's biomes may be crucial for conservation and for our future on this planet.  She is Chair of Systematic Botany and Mycology at the University of Munich, Director of the Munich Herbarium, and Director of the Munich Botanical Garden.

This lecture series, initiated by arboretum friend Kathy Gaubatz in 1984, is one of the most important events in the arboretum's educational program each year.   This year the John C. Gifford Lecture is co-sponsored by the Montgomery Botanical Center ( and by SEEDS (

For more information, see or contact Dr. Paul Groff at or 305-284-1302.


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Contact Steve,  786-488-3101; see  Bring at least three plants (especially flowering/fruiting), even if they do not pertain to the topic.  Beginners and old hands are encouraged to come.  

  • April 19: Myrtle Family (Myrtaceae) including the stoppers

Broward Native Plant Society.  Meets 7-9pm at the Agricultural Extension Service, 3245 College Ave., Davie.  954-370-3725 or Apr. 13: Program TBA

Tropical Audubon Society.  Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Dr., Miami. 305-667-7337, for more details and activities.  Nonmembers are welcome at all activities. To receive a free monthly e-mail TAS newsletter, send your request to 

  • Apr. 13: Monthly meeting.  Doors open 7 pm, program 8 pm.
  • Apr. 16: Workday to restore native habitat, 8:30 am -1 pm.
  • Apr. 22: Movie night cosponsored by the Gifford Arboretum.  "Dirt! The Movie" will be screened as part of Earth Day observances. From "DIRT! the Movie is simply a movie about dirt. The real change lies in our notion of what dirt is … DIRT the Movie is a call to action. 'The only remedy for disconnecting people from the natural world is connecting them to it again.' "
  • Apr. 27: Conservation Committee, 7:30 - open to all.
  • May 7: The annual North Key Largo State Botanical Site field trip: Birds, Butterflies and Native Plants

Miami-Dade Parks Natural Areas workdays.  To volunteer, call 305-257-0933 ext. 227 or e-mail  See  Help protect and restore our precious natural areas. 

  • Apr. 9: Black Creek (plant), SW 112 Ave south of 211 St.
  • Apr. 16: Baynanza (cleanup - various sites) - 305-372-6784
  • Apr. 22 (Fri.): Nixon Smiley Pineland (plant), SW 124 St & 127 Ave.

Miami Blue Chapter, North American Butterfly Association.  See or contact Elane, 305-666-5727 or for trips, counts and other activities.

  • May 1, 1pm - 3 pm:  Quarterly meeting.  Program: "Things Your Eyes Can't See but the Camera Can" by Hank Poor.  Hank's stunning macro images of butterflies have gone to a new and closer level.  He will show us antennal clubs, feet, scales and eyes of butterflies as we have never seen before, and also tell us about his methods for creating these unbelievable images.   Come early to butterfly in the park.  Castellow Hammock, 22301 SW 162 Avenue, Miami, 305-242-7688.

"Common Roots" - An art exhibit about native plants of Florida and the circum-Caribbean region.  May 2-7, 2011, at Miami Beach Botanical Garden.  Artwork on exhibit will depict, refer to, or be made from native plants. Details at

One Woman's Landscaping Story

How do you decide?  That's always the challenge when landscaping on your own.  In October 2010, the chapter visited the yard of Nancy Stevens (and husband and two teenage children), which she designed and installed (except for large material).  While the group was impressed with the beautiful results, we were also interested in her thoughts before, during and after the landscaping because it is so unquestionably successful.  The following discussion is based on an interview by the editor.

Plant selection and landscape design

Nancy was lucky in several respects.   She had an almost blank slate and a large unrestricted area.  Her front yard slopes up gently from the street and the back drops off steeply to a canal, providing built-in height difference which lends visual appeal.  She was willing to spend more for some large trees and palms.

Practical and aesthetic considerations and her personal tastes were the main factors influencing plant selection and design. The whole assemblage of plants would take care of the birds and butterflies without planting specifically for wildlife.

Practical considerations:

  • ease of maintenance
  • longevity
  • appearance in 15 years
  • "bang for the buck" (when purchasing special plants)

Aesthetic considerations:

  • an inviting appearance
  • serenity, little clutter
  • texture (imagine a vase of flowers with different but repeating colors and shapes)
  • curb appeal
  • privacy
  • a visual flow and paths coming to the house
  • transition (from the outside world into a sanctuary)
  • space for cars to be parked

In each area of the yard (each area thought of as a "room"), the question was "What do I want to get out of that space?"  Then plants were chosen according to their appearance, height requirements and light and soil conditions, with the above considerations always in mind.

Front yard tapestry

In the front yard, Nancy imagined a tapestry filled with groupings of plants.  Distinct beds of single species provide patches and swaths of color and texture and gradients of height.  These beds abut each other, and occasional maintenance keeps the structure of the beds. 

Along the street, a border of non-native lantanas forms a low, tidy, colorful edge and tolerates occasional brushes with tires. 

Next comes colorful filler: a cluster of beach verbena (Glandularia maritima) makes a splash of purple, while other species provide other colors and increasing height.

Farther back, a linear grouping of pineland croton (Croton linearis) adds more height and makes a statement from a distance, even with small flowers and leaves.  Other shrubs and clumping grasses, Florida gama grass (Tripsacum floridanum) and muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) edge paths which flow toward the house and provide texture.

Slightly taller shrubs are higher up the slope.  Most of the taller specimen trees and palms are planted closest to the house.  These provide some privacy but are open and do not obscure the front of the house -- or the view from inside the house -- making the landscape inviting from all vantage points.

A tall lignum vitae (Guajacum sanctum) near the front door, in bloom or fruit much of the year, lends visual interest up close and at a distance.  It was trained to grow upright to reduce the need for pruning.  Cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto) transplanted as mature specimens are grouped near the house without touching it.  This provides height and some shade, but they are open and airy and are cleaned of dead fronds only once a year.  The cabbage palms, silver thatch palm (Leucothrinax morrisii) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) form a visual arch and add structure.

Side borders and canal front

Both sides of the property are lined with a narrow, dense barrier planting of trees and shrubs of many species.  Some plants and colors repeat the themes in front to keep the landscape flowing and creating patterns and a "rhythm."  The barriers provide privacy or shade (or both) and are trimmed only to keep them narrow.  She made sure to call these "trees" in landscape plans, so that they do not need to be trimmed as hedges to be under a certain height.

These linear "forests" lead toward the canal behind the house.  One side opens to a vegetable garden which will have to be moved to allow more sun on the vegetables -- Nancy confesses to not checking this in advance.

Nearest the canal, which is open to the bay, are salt-tolerant species.  The steep slope is perfect for low, spreading, sun-loving plants like east coast dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis) and bay cedar (Suriana maritima) to spill over the "hardscapes" of cap rock and terraces.  This is the only part of the yard with lawn grass, which is appropriate for the canal access area.

Curb appeal from the street
Curb appeal from the street

Enjoyable view from inside the house
Enjoyable view from inside the house

Tapestry of color, height and texture
Tapestry of color, height and texture

Stroll through the linear "forest" along the side
Stroll through the linear "forest" along the side

Favorite plants

  • Bahama strongback (Bourreria succulenta), with its weeping branches, provides height but is not overpowering.
  • Cabbage palms. Nancy chose total boots (rather than partial or no boots).  The boots offer support for other plants, like a chiggery grape (Tournefortia hirsutissima), and habitat for small wildlife.  They work well near the house because their footprint is known, they have little leaf litter and can bend or be forced to be "quirky."  (She acknowledges mixed feelings about transplanting mature specimens from tracts falling to development in other parts of the state.)
  • Dahoon hollies (Ilex cassine), male and female side-by-side.
  • Several lignum vitae, all different in how they have grown.  She enjoys the surprise of their repeated flowering and fruiting in spite of the many seedlings she removes.  It was worthwhile to start with a field grown tree near the door so that the branches are high enough to walk under.
  • Bay cedar.  She is "beyond ecstatic" with the small yellow flowers and tiny leaf litter of this coastal shrub.
  • Gama grass and muhly grass.

Some steps to successful landscaping

Nancy's neighbors confessed later that they worried when she began.  They needn't have!  This landscape is orderly enough even for Coral Gables, but its structure is not stiff and formal.  It provides a sanctuary for the family and some wildlife.  Maintenance is low (after a year of "an insane amount" of weeding), with no ongoing addition of mulch and or watering.

Nancy's goal was not to recreate a native habitat or to use only species found in the natural areas of her neighborhood (coastal area of Coral Gables), but she feels that she is "carrying the spirit" with her mostly native palate, including some coastal species.  Some thoughts that guided her might help others to have a successful and enjoyable landscaping experience:

  • Don’t be afraid to let the landscape evolve. 
  • Accept and change what doesn't work or appeal to you. 
  • Don’t let passion get in the way.  Be "playful" with it!
  • Have a vision of the steps needed to get from start to finish, especially in you use large material requiring equipment for planting.  Think in blocks.
  • Get good, healthy material.
  • Make your plan general enough to accommodate what is available.  Some species might be unavailable, or you might love something you find unexpectedly when you shop.
  • Get the plants in the ground!
  • Do your homework.  Nurseries can't afford to educate every customer.

In your own yard, the physical setting, budget and landscape preferences may differ from Nancy's.  However, some of her thoughts might speak to you, whether you choose a formal landscape (all or part native), a lawn with beds of natives, a casual native jungle with a little of everything, an accurate re-creation of a natural area, or even some of all of these.

[Editor's notes: For tips on landscaping while considering local weed laws and what the neighbors think, see the September, 1999, Tillandsia article "Plant Native - But Be B-R-A-S-H"

About your Tillandsia delivery

Most members now receive their Tillandsia and Sabal Minor (state FNPS newsletter) by email only. 

To change your delivery preference (postal mail or email) or email address(es), please contact FNPS (321-271-6702 or  Reference your Sabal Minor delivery preference (both newsletters are delivered the same way.)

If you elect postal mail delivery but also have an email address on record, you will receive Tillandsia by both electronic and postal mail.  If you like the electronic version and decide to change to email delivery only, you can always print it to have a copy just like the paper version -- and help the finances of FNPS and the Chapter.

You can also contact Patty Phares (305-255-6404, with questions.

The electronic Tillandsia is available as a downloadable pdf file each month (to Chapter members only) until the next month's newsletter is posted.  You will receive an email with a link to the pdf file.

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Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:
President: Ted Shaffer,
Vice-President: Amy Leonard
Treasurer / Secretary: Susan Walcutt
At Large: Amida Frey, Patty Harris, Gita Ramsay, Vivian Waddell, Lynka Woodbury, Buck Reilly, Lauren McFarland
FNPS board: Lynka Woodbury
Past-President: Robert Harris
Mailing address:

Dade Chapter FL Native Plant Society
6619 South Dixie Highway, #181
Miami FL 33143-7919

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator, Dade meetings: Vivian Waddell, 305-665-5168

Memberships: Patty Harris, 305-262-3763

DCFNPS Web page:

DCFNPS Facebook:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia editors: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

State Organization

FNPS Chapter representative: Lynka Woodbury,

FNPS Web Page:

FNPS Blog:

FNPS Facebook:

FNPS Twitter:

FNPS Eco Action Alert List:Send email request to

FNPS (state) office: 321-271-6702,