Beautiful Native Plants

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Why I love the Florida Native Plant Society

Florida Native Plant Society

Previously, I talked about our native plant resources in Florida including the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), this time I’ll provide more details on how much I like FNPS.

My local chapter (Ixia in Jacksonville) holds informative meetings with expert speakers on a wide range of topics relating to native plants or habitats, offers plants for sale or raffle at most meetings, runs field trips, and participates in outreach programs. Our chapter has developed an “Alter-Natives” brochure for northeastern Florida that lists native plants to replace those frequently sold (and sometimes invasive) plants. Here’s a link to a pdf file of the brochure. We’ve adopted a small park in Jacksonville called Native Park, but ironically it was filled with non-native plants–we have made this into a showcase for native plants in an urban setting. In short, our chapter is filled with smart, active and caring folks doing important work as a group and as individuals.  Here’s a link to find an FNPS chapter near you.

The Annual FNPS Conferences

While the chapter is great fun, the annual state-wide FNPS conference is my chapter on steroids!  I’ve been to two conferences now and I find that them to be even more stimulating and inspiring.  There are 37 chapters around the state: so there we are all together each of us talking about our projects and learning from speakers and local field trips.  I took some photos and will provide a short tour of the 2012 conference which took place on May 19th to 22nd near Orlando.

Native plant vendors display their plants for sale under the live oak tress.

Got Milkweed?
Craig Heugel, grower and author, and Brightman Logan, grower, are active FNPS members.

Butterflyweed is a native milkweed and a couple of other species were offered.

Sunshine mimosa is a beautiful ground cover. It's a legume so it can grow in poor soils. Several of the nurseries offered this plant, but they were sold out the first day!

This FNPS member will have a good start on a native-filled garden.

The Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) brings the growers together at the FNPS conferences. Their  consumer website is a useful tool in finding Florida’s natives and/or a native nursery near you.

By the end of the conference, most of the plants were sold and I came home with several swamp milkweed plants for the edge of my pond. I already have the butterflyweed growing in several areas of my yard. So I can answer “Yes!” to the question posed above.

The registration table was adorned with our state wildflower, tickseed coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

FNPS chapters brought a variety of merchandise that these volunteers sold between sessions. A member created this fabulous quilt decorated with leaves of native trees over a background of the various Florida soil colors. The quilt was raffled off and brought in $1600. Isn’t this quilt fantastic? And what dedication from the member who designed and sewed it.

The presentations

There were more than 40 speakers and 20 local field trips. What a full conference!  It was hard to decide what sessions to attend. Many of the conference sessions carried CEU credits for those who need them. Most sessions were filled and discussions of topics spilled into the hallways and continued into the evening events.

Most sessions were filled.

Pollination study presented by Jaret Daniels. Dr. Daniels collecting pollinators.
There were two presentations on bees and then there were two showings of a bee movie during lunch on both days. Here’s my post Jaret Daniels and his charismatic pollinators.
Bill Belleville talks to us about The Friends of the Wekiva River and how their group has included many people living in the watershed. They’ve created a simple, easy to understand “Wekiva Promise” that people have pledged not to pollute the river.

Keynote speaker Rick Darke helped us look at our landscapes differently.
Sue Dingwell summarized Rick’s presentation on the FNPS blog.

In addition to the presentations, there are landscape awards for homeowners, commercial and non-profit organizations, plus scientific poster sessions (some are from people who have been awarded FNPS grants to support their work. Also, the annual FNPS meeting is held where more awards are presented, officers are elected, and updates on our various projects are presented.

Guided field trips and sometimes workshops are held on Thursdays and Sundays to bookmark the two days of meetings and presentations. Since the conferences are held in various areas of the state, the field trips offer a great opportunity to learn about some of "The Real Florida."

The Socials

There are usually three social events for each conference. The Thursday evening welcome, plus Friday and Saturday night socials which differ depending upon the location of the conference.

Botanist, photographer, author, Gil Nelson The magnolia centerpieces added an elegant touch at the Saturday evening gala.
Gil Nelson, had several of his many Florida books for sale including his new expanded edition of “The Trees of Florida.” I think that Gil’s most useful book is “Florida’s Best Landscape Plants: 200 Readily Available Species for Homeowners and Professionals.”

I was a little sad as the conference wound down at the Saturday night gala, but there’s always next year’s conference to look forward to. It will be in Plant City near Tampa and Doug Tallamy will be one of our keynote speakers.

I hope you have access to a native plant society in your state. If so, get involved, and then you too could become addicted.

© Ginny Stibolt