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Nature’s salad bar: Deer have a taste for wildflowers

Have you ever had a deer wander into your yard to dine on your landscape plants? Well, that’s what happened several years ago at a wildflower demonstration garden established as part of my extension program at the University of Florida/IFAS research center in Quincy.

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Botanical illustration

Drawn to nature

When it’s time to identify a wildflower, most of us head for our favorite field guide and look through beautiful close-up photographs until we find our subject. Some versions are even color-coded to aid the process. I must own all the popular Florida books by now, but alongside those on my bookshelf are also several special volumes I have collected just for their beautiful hand-drawn reproductions of wildflowers.

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Monarch on Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Are non-native milkweeds killing monarch butterflies?

Tropical milkweed can enable monarchs to continue breeding well into fall and winter, causing populations to persist longer in certain areas than they naturally would. Unfortunately, this can foster higher than normal infection rates by a lethal protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). We have suggestions for native milkweeds you can plant to support monarchs.

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Rudbeckia nitida

Things to do in the summer garden

Some wildflowers wait until summer to emerge and begin faster growth to take their place in the fall garden. Check your garden for new arrivals such as coneflowers, blue curls and sunflowers.

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Milkweed flowers and seed pods

Summer in the wildflower garden – some like it hot!

Although summer’s heat keeps many of us inside, it’s a busy time for wildflowers. Thousands of butterflies, bees, wasps and other insects visit flowers to obtain nectar. It’s also the changing of the guard, when lovely delicate spring bloomers such as coral bean, Coreopsis and skullcap are replaced by sturdier heat-loving species.

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Spring — a time of renewal, planting and planning

Spring in the wildflower garden — a time of renewal, planting and planning by Claudia Larsen “Like a great poet, Nature knows how to produce the greatest effects with the most limited means.” — Heinrich Hein, German poet (1797-1856) Who doesn’t love spring? It puts us in a happy place to see plants bursting forth with new green…

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