Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Native Touch

Last weekend was the annual Native Landscape Tour sponsored by the Pinellas chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. I always try to attend this to support the Native Plant Society and to see how homeowners in diverse neighborhoods are converting their landscapes to natives, or blending natives with more traditional landscapes.

This year I attended the South Pinellas tour on Saturday, which featured eight sites in St. Petersburg -- six homes, a fire station and the Wildflower Walk at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

Here are some of the great landscapes and lovely native Florida plants I saw:

Who wouldn't want to sit in this garden and read a book?

Dotted horsemint with its dainty purple-pink blooms

Two views of the front yard of a historic Craftsman bungalow in St. Pete

This backyard featured a narrow turfgrass path surrounded by a variety of mature native shrubs and trees. Many of the plants here were planted more than a decade ago.

I love the soft inviting look of this beautiful garden filled with nectar plants for pollinators
Sword fern + pumpkins = A touch of autumn

I am adding more natives to my garden each year. They are the most amiable of plants, hardy and highly tolerant of Florida's feast-or-famine rainfall patterns. They generally don't need fertilizer or pesticides.  They provide food, shelter and nest sites for wild creatures, and the list of native plants used by pollinating insects is longer than I am tall.

But mostly, I like natives because they are part of our collective heritage. Many native Florida plants are not found anywhere else. They remind me that I live in a special place called Florida and that, even though I was born in another state, I am now, and always will  be, a Floridian.