Garden Club recommends native pollinator-friendly landscaping

Danielle Anderson, Correspondent

The Flagler Palm Coast News Tribune

September 9, 2020

Discussing native species, club propagation guild members were treated to a tour of a fellow member’s Florida native selections, with an added focus on creating pollinator-friendly landscaping.

Spotting multiple butterflies, including Florida’s official butterfly, the zebra longwing, and bees buzzing quickly before settling on a vibrant red firebush shrub, Jane Villa-Lobos, director of the club’s propagation guild, explained the important role pollinators play in the ecosystem.

Directing visitors’ eyes to the blooming shrubs providing pollination for the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, some of which also bore berries to feed the birds, Villa-Lobos is no stranger to her subject matter.

Among her credits, a career with the Smithsonian Institute’s Department of Botany allows her to expertly guide new members looking to beautify their homes and community while making it affordable through propagation.

“The idea is to inspire people to grow different plants that they’ve never seen before, to see it in a natural habitat instead of a nursery, and then they can see the butterflies, the bees and the landscaping,” she said.

As part of the propagation guild’s newly formed subgroup focusing on native plants, Susan Anderson was excited to see healthy established plants, like the seaside goldenrod, a native fall-blooming plant, and the purple beautyberry bush, on full display during the tour, while dispelling the myth that pollination occurs only in the spring.

“Pollinators are year-round. As long as you have the plants, the pollinators will come,” said Anderson. “All our insects evolved with a native species and we’ve created deserts with exotics and lawns that they can’t use. We actually have a shortage of insects. That’s the beginning of the whole ecosystem and the natives are helping nature.”

Efforts of the propagation guild to educate the community and encourage native pollinator-friendly landscaping are supported by plant sales, like the hugely successful event held the previous weekend at Wild Birds Unlimited, a supporter of the club. Funds raised enable the guild and club to help with projects in the community, starting with children and including working with students at the elementary schools, as well as supporting the current Eagle Scout gardening project underway in advance of Palm Coast’s Founder’s Day celebrations set for October 2020.

“We’re increasing knowledge because they don’t understand,” said Anderson. “They don’t know that it really does help the ecosystem. They don’t need fertilization, they don’t need watering. You’re doing a whole good thing for the ecology.”

Florida-friendly native plants: Ideas for your landscape

Native Firebush, Simpson’s Stoppers, Wild Petunia, Swamp Milkweed, Rouge Plant, Tropical Sage, Liatris Blazing Star, Purple Beautyberry, Seaside Goldenrod

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