Monday, July 11, 2016

Back Ten Feet at Home

I recently took a yard tour of my own place so I could share some of the wonderful native plants who support wildlife in my garden. Early in the video the audio drops off for about 20 seconds then comes back so stay with it. No idea where that technical difficulty comes from!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Not So Tidy!

Sometimes, because we tend to be neatness freaks, we can get a little too tidy in our gardens. Allowing plants to seed and grow where they will, leaving a few sandy open spaces, and letting some detritus and dirt accumulate in small patches is a good thing. After all,most of us want to help the wild insects, and small suburban animals who visit our home landscapes.

When I moved in to the house I rent, I noticed there were large shells all over the garden areas. I turned them so they could collect water and provide a watering place for little creatures. Because they are porous, the water only stands for a day or two. I don't remove the leaves and soil that gathers there, they are mini ecosystems.

Also, by allowing plants to grow where they will, I get a "cottage" style garden that resembles a natural meadow.  Here I just discovered some purslane growing near the road along with a blue curl. How wonderful!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Florida Native Garden Blog

My good FB friend, Ryan Robert Inskeep has taken the plunge and created a website and Facebook page. Ryan really knows his native Florida plants, how and where they grow, and how important it is to not use pesticides or fertilizers in our gardens, even in south Florida. I hope all of you will check out his blogs, and visit him at his FB page as well. He has THE best pictures!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In Celebration of Blanket Flower

Blanket flower is native from south Florida up through the great plains states and into Canada. Drought tolerant, can handle tough soils, readily reseeds.
Awesome plant for any pollinator, bees especially love it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BTF Project at Cedar Point

Last Saturday, Jane Wallace from the Mangrove Chapter of FNPS (Florida Native Plant Society) invited me to lunch at the New Faul Inn with one caveat: to create an all Florida native grasses planting plan for an area near the visitor center at Cedar Point Environmental Center in Charlotte County. We would meet with other crazy "old" ladies for some fun and decision making.

Planting won't happen until the summer rains can hopefully guarantee irrigation. I say hopefully as the annual Florida summer rains have not been consistent for many years.  Just one more reason to go native wherever you live and to utilize those native plants that are the most resilient to tough conditions.

As you can see from the photo below, this is a disturbed area next to a building, mostly full sun all day.  The area needs to be mulched, but NO fertilizers or pesticides will be used! The grasses chosen are native to Charlotte County per Wunderlin, or are threatened or endangered in the state of Florida (dwarf fakahatchee grass). Signs will be added so visitors will know which grass is which and a little bit about that particular species. Our goal is two-fold:create an appealing landscape around the new stairs and educate visitors on the beauty and benefit of utilizing NATIVE grasses in their own landscapes. (The fountain grasses available at big box stores are not native and are invasive in the state of Florida.)

The native bunch grasses we have chosen are available through local native plant nurseries, and have proven themselves able to handle living within human landscapes.  The grasses also create color so are planted in swaths with that color in mind.

To join other crazy native plant people, be sure to check out the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society,  or visit Cedar Point Environmental Center .

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Go Wild for Wildflowers!

Wherever you live, there are native flowering plants that readily re-seed and can tolerate tough weather conditions. Find a native nursery, and purchase plants grown in your region. THESE are the plant that will bring in beneficial insects and lots of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Having native wildflowers near your vegetable garden will help to bring in predatory insects who will help keep your veggies safe.

While you're here, I hop you'll take time to watch some or all of The Back Ten Feet shows.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Leslie Lilly Gets it Right on Water

Also wanted to share this article from Leslie Lilly at Florida Weekly

Don’t worry
Imagine for a moment your tap water was the color of a rusty nail. It tasted terrible, it smelled like the bottom of your garbage can and bathing in it gave you a rash. Imagine if your kids manifested health and behavioral issues subsequent to the changes in the water.
Imagine becoming frantic and raising the alarm for someone, anyone, to take seriously the deterioration you and your neighbors were experiencing in the water supplied by the public utility.
Imagine this goes on for months, despite repeated complaints made to the responsible government agencies and urgent calls to your elected officials. Imagine the response that you get with astonishing regularity is, “Don’t worry. Be happy. Your water is perfectly safe.” The condescension you hear in their replies signals you and your neighbors are paranoid loonies.
Imagine nobody responding or caring until finally the truth is no longer deniable. Your data and evidence prove the community’s water is massively poisoned with lead. The catastrophic harm being done to public health is exposed.
Imagine thousands of kids subsequently tested have lead in their bodies. The consequence they suffer is irreversible damage to their brains and overall health.
Imagine that only then is a state of emergency declared, citing the poisoning of an entire city’s water supply. More than 100,000 residents are directly affected.
The trail of the state’s failures to prevent this catastrophe leads all the way to the governor. Officials resign and heads roll. The governor apologizes and says he will make it right amidst public demands he resign. He doesn’t and likely won’t.
From the safe distance of South Florida, we follow the news, take our showers, cook our food and drink water supplied by the local utility. We feel a pang of regret for Flint and its residents. We shake our heads in disbelief at the stupidity and negligence of the state public officials grown hostile to serving and protecting the public interest.
But this is what you get when state government ceases to function as an instrument of the people, and corporate enterprise drives its calling. We might think such a thing could not happen in our state or in our town. But our confidence may be misplaced.
The water crisis in Flint has history going back decades. Michigan state government consistently underinvested in the regulatory systems and infrastructure necessary to protect and conserve the city’s water supply and quality and special interests prevailed over the public interest in the wave of cost-cutting affecting public services. The state’s failures of policy and due diligence in Flint were aided and abetted by lawmakers who gutted and abandoned the state’s role of regulatory oversight, crippling the ways and means of state government to provide essential services and perform its role of stewardship on the public’s behalf.
The aversion of state officials to governing, as if the people mattered also, put the state’s long-term future at risk and allowed a corporate-friendly state bureaucracy to give away the store and pass the key to their favorite friends.
Florida is vulnerable on all counts. Gov. Rick Scott and the legislative majority are choking off budget resources for environmental protection and conservation, including failing to invest in infrastructure improvements demanded by climate change which affects protection and sustainability of Florida’s freshwater supply.
In the recent legislative session, the conservative majority sought to further shed the state’s environmental responsibilities, over-compensating special interests with policies proposed and favorable to satisfying a laundry list of their lobbyists’ wants and needs.
These included a major rewrite of state water policy that rewards polluters, strips meaningful language to protect Florida’s freshwater aquifer and springs and undermines the state’s commitment to restoration of the Everglades.
It includes supporting legislation to bar local governments from enacting prohibitions on fracking, a process which involves drilling thousands of feet below ground and forcibly injecting millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into layers of rock to release gas and oil.
To do this, they ignored the fact that rock in Florida is mostly limestone, porous as Swiss cheese, highly vulnerable to leeching contamination, and a geological freeway into the state’s freshwater aquifers. Fracking subjects the water supply for millions of residents to the threat of chemical poisoning. And that’s only one issue with the process.
Meanwhile, the Miami H erald reports, phosphorus and ammonia levels increased dramatically in the aquifer under Biscayne Bay after Florida Power & Light Co. started sucking up as much as 100 million gallons a day of freshwater to cool its nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. The Biscayne Aquifer is the source of drinking water for 3 million people in South Florida.
So how do you think Gov. Scott and the conservative majority in our state Legislature reply to the fears being raised about these issues and the threats they represent to our state’s water supply and quality?
Why, they say, “Don’t worry. Be happy. Your water is perfectly safe.” ¦
— Leslie Lilly is a native Floridian. She resides with her family and pugs in Jupiter. Email her at llill