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.”
Feay’s palafox is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray florets; and its disk florets are tubular.
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.
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.
Do you enjoy juicy watermelons, local blueberries and strawberries and fresh Florida orange juice? How about carrots, broccoli, almonds and apples? If you do, please thank an insect! More than 100 crops are dependent on insect pollination, resulting in an economic value of $18 to $27 billion in the United States. Major Florida crops that benefit from bee pollination include cucumber, watermelon, specialty citrus, squash, strawberries, avocados, blueberries and eggplant.
Elliott's aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii) by Ron & Diane Bynum Northern neighbors have their leaves, but we have a rainbow of wildflowers by Jeff Norcini In cooler climates, fall is when “leaf peepers” hit the road to view red-, yellow- and orange-leaved trees. Here in Florida, fall color means wildflowers. And when you hit the road…
In your wildflower garden this fall, the butterflies, bees and wasps are still busy gathering nectar and preparing for migration or dormancy. Goldenrods, asters, dotted horsemint, liatris, meadow beauty and Indian paintbrush are in their glory now. Take time to enjoy your garden up close and watch the changes of fall.
Fall color hard to find in Florida? Not if you travel along rural roads. Now is the time to be looking for wildflowers throughout the state. Fall wildflowers are in full bloom, with the best places to find them being open areas without homes or businesses. Those areas, including woodland edges, provide the bright light that many species of native wildflowers thrive in. And rural areas are better than urban environments for two reasons – more natural stands of wildflowers, and expectations for manicured landscapes are lower.