Beautiful Native Plants

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Doug Tallamy!

Doug Tallamy, Native Plant Hero!
The hero of native plant enthusiasts everywhere, Doug Tallamy has made the case for using native plants in every landscape, no matter how small, in his iconic 2007 book Bringing Nature Home. He says that planting natives in small landscapes will not recreate ancient ecosystems, but it does create biodiversity to support what’s left of our wildlife.

Doug Tallamy was a keynote speaker at the 2012 Florida Native Plant Society’s annual conference in May. He packed the hall and received a standing ovation at the end of his presentation. I think the ovation was well deserved, not only because of his great presentation, but also because of his commitment to the cause. He has provided us (native plant enthusiasts) with easy-to-understand talking points on why using natives in the landscapes is important.

A Tallamy landscape plan

A plan from Tallamy's presentation.
Studies have shown that even a modest increase in natives plant cover on suburban properties significantly increases the number and species of breeding birds. Doug Tallamy suggests that we should think of our yards as opportunistic sites for performing ecosystem services, and that we reverse the “normal” landscaping so that turf is only in place where we walk or use the lawn for recreation. The rest of the landscape would consist of bunching grasses, shrubs, understory trees and canopy trees.

Armed with Tallamy’s talking points, we can more easily make a good case for native plants out in the general public and maybe even sway formerly hostile audiences. So…
Are you an activist for native plants?

Do you promote pesticide free landscapes with high biodiversity? Have you been including more natives in your own landscape or helped plant them in your neighborhood? Do you object when retailers sell invasive plants? Have you helped remove invasives from public or private lands as part of a workgroup? If you answered, “Not yet,” now is the time to get started because time is not on our side as more of our native habitats disappear under the bulldozer, plow, or the hooves of farm-owned stock. Our native birds have been declining rapidly since the 1960s, including some species that have declined more than 80%.

Spread the word to gardeners and other groups.

Spread the word!
In addition to planting more natives in our yards and neighborhoods, we can spread the word about why natives are important and how to find native plants. I’m one of the bloggers and Facebook page managers for the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) and as part of this effort we publish blog posts on Florida natives. When we post photos of natives on the Facebook page, one of the most asked comments is “Where can I purchase this beautiful plant?” Our answer is always the same: we link to the Florida Association of Native Nurseries page, on that plant with a list of members who have it in stock. The second most asked question is, “Will that plant grow where I live?”  We provide the link to the Florida Plant Atlas for that plant with its verified distribution map.

Where to Start?

A good place to start is your local native plant society chapter. While each state organization and each chapter is unique, the mission revolves around learning about native plants, teaching others about them, and making natives available. I’ve written about the Florida Native Plant Society before in this blog.

Join the local chapter of your native plant society, if you want to learn about natives and meet other like-minded individuals. And if your native plant society isn’t all that active, now is the time to help it become better by leading a field trip, starting a chapter, helping with the website, or by volunteering to do something else useful.

I thought I’d share some photos for 2012’s FNPS conference, which took place in May in Plant City–near Tampa.
In addition to Tallamy, there were more than 30 speakers including entomologist Jaret Daniels who talked about his work with Florida farmers to plant native near their fields

Native plant vendors brought lots of plants for us and many people went home with full cars.

There were man opportunities for learning and FNPS members are serious about their natives.

All in all, it was a great conference in 2012, but there is a conference every year.

Come to the next FNPS conference for a good time.


For more information see Tallamy’s website
Florida Native Plant Society website and the FNPS blog
Florida Association of Native Nurseries website where you can find a particular plant or a native nursery near you.

Posted by Ginny Stibolt.