Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The hand of the gardener in native landscapes

Plant more natives!

In 2013, a volunteer beautyberry shrub near the edge of the
lawn is surrounded by several water oaks.

Ecologists and environmental organizations have been urging people to plant more native plants, to build bird-friendly and pollinator-friendly habitat, and to do this by removing at least some of their lawn.

One prime example is Doug Tallamy's HomeGrown National Park where you can register your yard to be part of of this park by replacing at least half of the lawn with native plants.

This is great and I hope that millions of homeowners and other property managers take this step to build native habitat, but there are some important steps to take, especially in urban and suburban areas, to increase the acceptability of these native landscapes. Our yards and our community landscapes, even if they have a good portion of native plants are not wild spaces and will need some regular care. (Actually, I wrote a book on this topic. See below.)

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida: 2nd Edition

Order directly from our publisher:
University Press of Florida 
Melissa and I worked with University Press of Florida to improve, update, and reorganize our book. The photos, including many new ones, are now located throughout the book, not just in the center, which will make it much easier to read. We've explained our process in the new preface included here for your information.

Preface to the Second Edition 

Much has happened in plant science and organic gardening techniques in the almost 10 years since we began researching and writing the first edition of this book, so we agreed to spend some time to revisit and update the content for this edition. We were eager to work on this project so that Florida’s vegetable gardeners would have easy access to this new information. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Red cedar: an important habitat tree

A female red cedar with fruit.

Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is medium-sized, dioecious evergreen conifer with female trees that bear waxy, berry-like cones, which many types of birds will eat as the weather grows colder.

While most botanists agree that there is one species of red cedar that's native to most of eastern North America, the old precedent recognized coastal red cedar (J. silicicola) and eastern red cedar (J. virginiana) a bit inland, with a big range from Texas to southern Ontario. This old protocol meant that except for the northern border of Florida's Panhandle, the red cedars native to Florida were the coastal species.

Red cedar is in the cypress family (Cupressaceae), which has world-wide distribution--except for Antarctica. Other members of this family found in Florida are two cypresses: pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) and bald cypress (T. distichum); Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides); plus the non-natives: oriental arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis) and white cypress-pine (Callitris glaucophylla).