It’s not a garden, it’s a habitat

Ecologists estimate that only 3 to 4 percent of land in the United States has been undisturbed by human activity. That’s why providing habitat — food, shelter and nesting areas for wildlife — within sustainable urban landscapes should be an important goal for everyone.

We can’t create a perfect natural habitat for each species. However, we can make a difference by using Florida’s native wildflowers and plants. Learn how!

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Flower Friday: Pineland chaffhead

Pineland chaffhead (Carphephorus carnosus aka Litrisa carnosa) is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in wet pine flatwoods, savannas and seepage slopes. It typically blooms in late summer through early fall and attracts butterflies, moths and other pollinators. It is endemic to only 13 Central and South Florida counties.

liatris spicata palamedes swallowtail

Flower Friday: Dense gayfeather

Known also as Dense blazing star, Marsh blazing star and Spiked blazing star, Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) is an erect herbaceous perennial with striking spikes of purple flowers. It occurs naturally in mesic to wet flatwoods, seepage slopes, bogs, savannas and roadside ditches. It blooms in late summer through fall and is an excellent attractor of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.

When wildflowers blow in the wind

As summer progresses many of our fall-blooming wildflowers become tall and stately, forming backdrops and filling fence rows as they reach peak bloom from September through December. But this also is when storms increase, bringing intense waves of wind and rain. And there are always those unpredictable hurricanes. Here’s how one wildflower garden survived Hurricane  Irma’s big blow and steps you can take to hopefully rescue your own plantings.

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Layering is key in Orange County meadow design

Central Florida gardeners will soon a have a new location to see and explore Florida’s native wildflowers and grasses. A no-mow wildflower meadow is being installed at the Orange County UF/IFAS Extension’s Exploration Gardens in Orlando, funded by the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration Garden grant. The meadow will be approximately 2,700 square feet and will include 25 species of Florida native wildflowers and grasses. Eventually, it will connect two sections of a planned native tree walk.

Chris delivers his pollinator pots to FWF staff.

Create a pollinator garden in a pot!

Chris Waltz, volunteer extraordinaire and wildflower-gardening enthusiast, was inspired by people saying they can’t grow natives because they live in an apartment, condo, or other small space. He started thinking: They grow houseplants and annuals; why can’t they grow natives the same way? The result? A “pollinator garden in a pot.”

FWF member Jackie Rolly

Member profile: Jackie Rolly

Jackie Rolly joined the Florida Wildflower Foundation when she purchased a license plate for her car many years ago. She’s also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), as well as the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. On Mondays, you’re likely to find her at the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) where she’s been working since 2007. And when the travel bug bites, Rolly volunteers for expeditions with Earthwatch Institute, on which she’s done such things as helped track wild elephants in Sri Lanka and studied biodiversity in the vineyards of France.

Narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) by Eleanor Dietrich

Farewell summer, hello fall

Sometimes we think of spring as having the showiest wildflower display, but I think this time of year wins that title. Somehow nature has worked this out. Pollinators are abundant, gathering their provisions before cold weather comes. The fall wildflowers are taller too, having had the whole summer to grow.