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Newsletter - July 2013

Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trip
Dade Chapter News
Other News and Events
FNPS 2013 Landscape Award
Remembering Bob Knight
Contacts for DCFNPS


July 13 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
July 20 (Sat.): Annual evening yard visit and social meeting

Aug. 4 (Sun.): Field trip (Nixon Smiley Pineland, 5 p.m.)
Aug. 10 (Sat.): Chapter workday, Everglades National Park
(No meeting or newsletter in August)

Sept. 24 (Tue.): Meeting at Pinecrest Garden


Saturday, July 20, 2013, 4 -7 p.m.

Annual evening yard visit and social meeting (no meeting in July at Pinecrest Gardens).  Join us at the home of Amida Frey in Coconut Grove for a relaxing evening with a yard tour, potluck dinner and socializing.  The usual plant raffle wraps up the evening.  Please label your raffle donations with the plant name.  

  • What to bring:
    • Dish to share (drinks provided).  There will be a grill in operation for anyone wanting to bring meat or vegetarian dishes to cook on site. 
    • Raffle donations
  • Who is invited:  FNPS members and their guests. 

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

Amida’s yard is an example of what can be done with a relatively small size lot (about 5500 square feet) in the middle of a very low tree canopied, high-density residential neighborhood in the city of Miami.  There is a blend of natives and non-natives, with a focus on endangered and rare species.  The garden has no irrigation other than a rain barrel system installed for new plantings. No fertilizer or any non-organic inputs are used. 

September 24 meeting: Dr. Carl Lewis, director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, will present on native orchids being introduced to public streets and fairways.


If the weather is very bad, call Patty at 305-255-6404 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.

Sunday, August 4, 5 –7 p.m. at Nixon Smiley pineland (formerly Tamiami Pineland Preserve). 

Enjoy nature in the evening for a change.  This 120-acre preserve on the western edge of Miami’s Rock Ridge represents the ecotone between pine rockland and rocky marl prairie.  It is one of the largest pine rocklands left in Miami, and is uniquely characterized by its large patches of sandy soil among the outcrops of limestone.   There is also now an addition which we will not visit. There are numerous rare and interesting native plants at this park, as it is one of the most biodiverse sites in Dade.  This is one of the only sites in Dade County where Beach Verbena (Glandularia maritima) can be seen in its native habitat.  We should see plenty of wildflowers, and grasses should be starting to bloom, giving a tranquil landscape --  and we suppose birds and butterflies to spot.   We last visited in November 2007.  Steve Woodmansee will be our leader.  There is a possibility of going out for dinner afterward.

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

  • Difficulty:  Easy/moderate. Unpaved paths, some through brush.
  • Bring/wearDrinks, long pants, closed shoes.


Chapter workdays at Everglades National Park, July 13 and August 10.  Help prune and weed in our restoration project at the Coe Visitors Center, 9 am to noon.  Water, gloves and hand tools are provided, but you may want to bring your own and snacks to share.  Bring sun and mosquito protection.  New volunteers and family/friends are encouraged to come.  Contact Patty for more information at 305-255-6404 (or 305-878-5705 cell, the morning of the workday only).

DCFNPS Conservation Grant Fund.  The Dade Chapter donated most of the funding for the FNPS Conservation Grants awarded at the annual conference this year.  The DCFNPS board would like our donation, in honor of founders Joyce and Don Gann, to become an annual tradition.  Please continue to support the DCFNPS Conservation Grant Fund by sending donations to the chapter (Dade Chapter FNPS, 6619 South Dixie Hwy, #181, Miami FL 33143-7919) or participate in special fund-raisers (like the auction at the May meeting) throughout the year.

Chapter board members were elected at the Annual Chapter meeting on May 28, 2013.  The following were elected:
Vice president (1 year): Kurt Burchenough
Secretary (2 years): Gita Ramsay
Treasurer (2 years): Susan Walcutt
At large (1 year), resigning as vice president: Amy Leonard
At large (2 years): Ami Frey, Eric von Wettberg, Vivian Waddell
Continuing in the second year of their 2-year terms are Buck Reilly (president) and members-at-large Lauren McFarland and Surey Rios, and past-president Ted Shaffer.
- Gita Ramsay, Secretary


Dade Chapter board meetings.  All members are welcome to attend or to send suggestions for items for the board to consider.  Please contact president Buck Reilly (, 786- 291- 4824) for more information.


Dade Native Plant Workshop.  MDC Kendall Campus Landscape Technology Center.  3rd Tuesdays at 7 p.m. See or contact Steve at  Bring at least three plants (especially flowering/fruiting), even if they do not pertain to the topic.  Beginners and old hands are all encouraged to come. 

Join on the website (free) to receive an email reminder and to post plant photos for identification or discussion.

  • July 16 topic: The Celtidaceae (Hackberry Family).  This family in Florida includes Celtis and Trema.
  • August 20 topic: The Nephrolepidaceae (Sword Fern Family).  In Florida, this family includes only the genus Nephrolepis, (Sword Ferns and Boston Ferns) - some native, some not.

Adopt-A-Tree 2013.  Miami-Dade homeowners may receive 2 free trees per year from the county.  See  or call 311 for rules and additional information. The next event is Saturday July 27, 9 a.m. – noon at Harris Field Pavilion, 900 NW 8 Ave., Homestead, 33030.  Species include the native Paradise tree and Inkwood as well as fruit trees.  The last event will be September 14 in Doral.  Tree species, event dates and times are subject to change. 

North American Butterfly Association.  See the Miami Blue Chapter’s website ( for more information.

  • National Moth Week, July 20-28, 2013, is a global celebration moths and biodiversity. The Broward County Butterfly Chapter will collaborate with Broward County for Moth Day, July 21, at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center (3501 Southwest 130th Avenue, Davie, FL 33330; 954-357-8797).  Programs at noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. will feature Glo Witkus, Roger Hammer (speaking on host plants) and Scott Bryan.  Moth Night will be on July 26, with children’s activities on July 27.   Last July DCFNPS celebrated Moth Week with articles in Tillandsia about native plants and moths.  Reread at  
  • Miami Blue Chapter’s Quarterly meeting, August 4, 2013, 1 – 3 p.m. at Simpson Park in Miami.  Details the MBC website or


Dade Chapter members Dave and Louise King
“FNPS Landscape Award of Excellence”
for their residence, Royal Grove


View from treewalk
View from treewalk

If you didn’t come to our annual “Summer Evening Yard Visit and Social” meeting last July, here’s what you missed.  The following is the FNPS Landscape Award 2013 narrative submitted by the Kings.  You’ll agree that this is a well-deserved award for a spectacular and well-planned yard.

We purchased our five acre property in 1993. We chose our property’s location partly because it is only two miles from the edge of Everglades National Park, in which we had lived and worked as naturalists/rangers for many years.  The land had been farmed in row crops and was bare soil when we took possession; we had a clean canvas upon which we could restore conditions more favorable to wildlife and create our little Eden.  We planted four acres of lychees in order to qualify for tax exemption and to provide income, and although this orchard is not natural or native, it is a huge improvement over a squash field.  Our goal for the remaining acre—our yard—was to establish an arboretum of native plants that would, over time, evolve into a diverse natural landscape attractive to a wide variety of wildlife.

Our lot is at the far western edge of the Miami Rock Ridge where it drops into the headwaters of Taylor Slough.  Drainage has changed the area’s hydrology from what existed in the past, and rock plowing for agriculture further altered growing conditions for plants.  We decided not to try to restore any one natural plant community, but rather to create a complex, hybrid landscape that included components of south Florida’s hardwood hammock, pineland, wetland, slough, and coastal ecosystems. 

Since minute changes in elevation in the wild bring plants of these communities in close proximity to each other, we believed this objective was attainable.

To accomplish this we employed four strategies.  (1) We added soil in some places to create higher, drier, more fertile areas, (2) we excavated soil and bedrock to create a pond and wetland conditions, (3) we installed low-volume micro-jet irrigation (hooked into our orchard’s system) to provide extra water to some plantings, and (4) we use mulch in some areas to change the soil’s chemistry and character.  These practices have allowed us to successfully bring together more than 150 species of Florida native plants from throughout climatic zone 10. 

We placed our yard centrally in the orchard, and our house centrally in the yard.  Planting began in 1993, but the yard is, and probably always will be, a work in progress.  We first planted the species that would become large trees, and quickly added smaller trees and shrubs that would fill in the wooded hammocks.  Trails were established over time as the vegetation grew up.  The pond was added in 1998 upon the completion of our house, and we built the elevated boardwalk trail through the north hammock in 2006.  The east hammock which is (for now at least) the last major component of our landscape) was planted in 2009.  The only space we have remaining in which to plant is in existing trees, and epiphytes continue to be added as they become available.

Our front yard and road right of way are slightly more formal than the back yard, and include distinct beds and hedges of uniform species.   The 660’ right of way road frontage has a royal palm, a dwarf sable palm, and two Florida thatch palms planted together every 40 feet, with a pigeon plum midway between each palm group.  These groups are connected with an un-pruned hedge of Bahama coffee.  Our driveway is lined on each side with mahoganies above narrow beds of coonties (more than 200, all grown from seed).  Shade trees in the front yard include live oaks, satinleafs, West Indian cherry, paradise, persimmon, and crabwood trees, some of which are underlain by beds of saw palmetto and Bahama coffee, coontie or fishtail fern.

The back yard is framed by the hammocks on the north and south sides.  We planted these areas with many different native trees and shrubs and then, for the most part, allowed nature to run its course.  Wind and wildlife continually plant seeds, and dozens of species of volunteer natives have transformed these areas into natural woodlands.  We kept open space in the center of the yard so we could view birds, butterflies, and mammals as they move from one hammock to the other. 

Royal palms

A grove of royal palms [above] on the west side of the yard rises from beds of gama grass, and enhances the sunsets viewed from our back porch.  Nearby is a small raised bed of blue porterweed featuring buccaneer palms that appear like miniatures of the royals behind them.


The pond [above] is centrally located in the back yard opening between our porch and the royal palms.  We designed the pond in a three-lobed design that increases shoreline and accommodates different depths of water.  The deeper north lobe of the pond is three feet deep in the center with a two feet deep ledge around the edge.  The southern lobes are predominately 1 foot deep, stepping down to 2 feet, and then briefly to 3 feet before meeting in the middle.  The pond supports a variety of aquatic natives ranging from duckweed to a red mangrove tree.  Water lilies and spatterdock, pickerel weed and arrowhead, iris and lizard tail, and pennywort and horsetail provide habitat and food for native fish, frogs, turtles, and aquatic insects of all kinds.

One obstacle we encountered early on was not having any shade.  Now we have a lot of shade but not much full sun.  Maximizing edge habitat and careful pruning help to maintain a variety of lighting conditions.  A second challenge we deal with is the constant influx of invasive exotic species.  We are surrounded by agricultural land and property owners who are not so concerned about exotics, and hand-pulling invaders is a constant chore.  (One winter a flock of hundreds of Robins spent a couple weeks with us, and that summer we had thousands of Brazilian pepper trees coming up!)  We must also be vigilant in keeping the more aggressive natives from taking over and pushing out less common species.  Native wildlife can be a problem, too.  Our Atala population grew to more than 1000 last fall, and the caterpillars devoured our driveway coonties!


We could not preserve any existing plants on our property as there were none here to preserve.  We have, however, obtained rescued plants whenever opportunities presented.  Most notable of these are two large Keys thatch palms from an area that was being developed on the island chain, and dozens of native bromeliads from an old oak that was cut down in Homestead.  Most of our plants came from area native nurseries, with some of the more uncommon species—including two Florida licarias—having been won from the raffle table at the FNPS Dade Chapter meetings.

Our landscape, as hoped, has brought a lot of wildlife to our yard.  We have seen more than 100 species of birds, more than 30 species of butterflies, and eight species of native snakes on the property.  We stocked our pond with 10 native species of fish, and three have since reproduced.  We have four native species of turtle and at least two of frogs, and squirrels, raccoon, skunk, possum, fox, rabbits, bats, and even an armadillo have spent time in our yard.

We presently have seven species of native trees in our landscape that have been recognized as National Champions on the American Forests’ [Register] of Big Trees.  These include Florida licaria, pale lidflower, cinnecord, Florida nectandra, boxleaf stopper, Florida fiddlewood, and myrtle-of-the-river.  Our wingleaf soapberry, beaten out by larger trees in Hawaii, is the Florida Champ.  These trees can be viewed on-line, but they’re so much nicer viewed in the garden…


Dr. Robert J. Knight, Jr., was a member of FNPS for only a while, and his professional life was spent in tropical fruit work for the USDA.  But his name is always mentioned when talking about the Native Plant Workshop in the early 1970s.  Before the Florida Native Plant Society, Bob and others gathered for workshop meetings and field trips to study native plants, an activity which greatly influenced the founding members of the Dade Chapter FNPS.  He passed away on May 19.

Rob Campbell is decades younger than Bob but came to know him well over the years.  Rob says, “Bob was a native plant enthusiast … who got people interested in natives who otherwise might not have been – like tropical fruit people and bird lovers.”  He recalls that Bob was very fond of native hollies, especially Krug’s holly.  Indeed, Gwladys Scott found in her files the December 1974 issue of Tropical Trails, the Environmental Education Newsletter of the Dade County Park and Recreation Department (Volume 1, Number 3), which featured Bob’s article “Season’s Greetings – Let’s All Plant a True Holly”.

Joyce Gann recollects, “We all have great memories of his being at all the annual ‘Nature Lovers’ holiday parties, where he never met a stranger ...  He was a true gentleman, always thoughtful of others.  We occasionally met up with Bob at The Capri restaurant in Homestead … and were sure to be entertained by one of his many stories.  It wasn't so much what the subject was, but how he made it interesting.  After retirement, he gave much of his time assisting with the landscaping at East Ridge Retirement Village.  He was thrilled when he was able to purchase his home in the Fuchs-Meisner Hammock complex, and did his best to keep up with the very difficult upkeep of the hammock.  [Our son] George says that Bob was on the Institute for Regional Conservation’s advisory committee in its formative period when the founders were preparing for a study expedition into the Brazilian Amazon in the mid-1980s.  He took them to the USDA Station, showed them the fruit being researched, and gave them information on what to look for while in Brazil, as well as names of contacts to meet while there. George is especially grateful for having had his help in these early, formative years.”

Others described Bob as “one of the nicest” and “one of the funniest” people they knew.  But we can all appreciate him for contributing to the legacy that makes native plants so much a part of our lives today.

HOME TO RENT: Northeast Homestead

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Joyce Gann's Mom's house.  Living room, dining area, kitchen, large master bedroom & bath, laundry room, tile/ terrazzo flooring, ample closets, attached garage, alarm system.  Florida room overlooking a bird & butterfly garden designed and installed by FNPS members.  Your own entry garden could be designed by you!  Cooled by FL breezes - AC seldom needed. Walk or bike to grocery, drugstore & other shops, post office, Miami-Dade College and other educational institutions.

HOME TO RENT: Redlands

Ad for Pro Native Plant Sale

Joyce Gann’s property nestled in hammock /bird sanctuary in the heart of the Redlands. Tile floors, central large versatile living areas, white cabinet kitchen opens to entertainment. one large bedroom with double closets, big great room can be living, bedroom or den combo, fenced yard.  Nestled in close-in location, no thru street.
Call PICK COTTON INC 305-235-2313.

Pitcher plants seen on a field trip to Okefenokee Swamp
Pitcher plants seen on a field trip to Okefenokee Swamp
FNPS Conference, May 16, 2013
Photo by Mary Rose

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Chapter Contacts

Dade Chapter Board members:

President: Buck Reilly,, 786-291-4824
Vice-President: Amy Leonard,, 305-458-0969
Secretary:  Gita Ramsay (, 786-877-7168)
Treasurer: Susan Walcutt, (
At Large: Amida Frey,  Lauren McFarland, Eric von Wettberg, Vivian Waddell, Kurt Birchenough, Surey Rios
FNPS board: Lauren McFarland

Past President: Ted Shaffer

Mailing address:

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

General information: 786-340-7914,

Refreshment coordinator: Cheryl & Ben Morgan (

Membership: Patty Phares, (, 305-255-6404)       

DCFNPS Facebook:

DCFNPS Website:

DCFNPS email:

Webmasters: Greg Ballinger and Haniel Pulido Jr.,

Tillandsia interim editor: Patty Phares, 305-255-6404,

Assistant editors: Lauren McFarland

Articles, announcements and news items are invited for Tillandsia from Dade and Keys members.  Please submit items for consideration by the 15th of each month. Advertising rates from $12 per month.

State Organization

FNPS Chapter representative: Lauren McFarland

FNPS Web Page:

FNPS Blog:

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