Our Native Gardens
ClearWater transitioned the area around our office from the typical landscaping found around most developments and commercial buildings into a garden featuring the benefit of native plants in 2003. Originally the garden was part of demonstration project. It was designed to encourage landowners to employ techniques on their property to improve the quality of the watershed through polluted stormwater runoff, conservation of water, and improvement of wildlife habitat. The garden continues to be a successful example of native planting in urban landscapes, offering an oasis for wildlife and beauty for the community.
Many volunteer hours go into maintaining the grounds, under the leadership of Terry Melton.
Impacts to Our Watershed
Impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops, cannot absorb stormwater. Instead, stormwater runs over these surfaces, picking up pollutants. This polluted stormwater is taken by the storm sewer system to the nearest stream. Polluted stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution in our streams, negatively impacting the watershed.
DEPLETION OF GROUNDWATER:
Rising demand for water is depleting our groundwater supplies. We can conserve groundwater by reducing our water use and by encouraging stormwater infiltration through the soil, which recharges the groundwater.
LOSS OF HABITAT:
Development results in a loss of wildlife habitat through the removal of vegetation animals need for cover, nesting, food, and migration corridors.
This week in the garden:
Weeds being pulled this week include Canada thistle, purple dead nettle, crown vetch, invasive honeysuckle shrubs, also Bradford pear, which is an aggressive invasive plant used in landscaping and it seeds in from surrounding landscapes and is really hard to pull out, even when small.
Also removing hyssop, which is a native plant but too aggressive for our garden, so we control it. It is in the mint family and they are known for their ability to spread and take over, sometimes too much!
Also removing volunteer non-native, crabapple seedlings.
Special Thanks to our Volunteers:
Karen and Tom Parrish
Joanna and Jim Santamaria
-One of the first plants to bloom in our garden each year
-Attracts hummingbirds and is, in fact, pollinated by hummingbirds
-Dusty red flowers with yellow centers, distinctive leaves make this plant easy to identify even before blooming
-Shade tolerant native found on forest edges and meadows in natural areas
-Located in the shady section along the front walks, also a few have become scattered around in the garden, always a pleasant surprise to find another
-This is sadly an endangered species in Florida
-AKA blue false indigo, beautiful blue flowers and leaves, good for pollinators, mid-late spring blooming
-On the front corner in full sun
-In the legume family of plants which “fix nitrogen” in the soil. Legumes (peas, clovers, beans, indigo, others) grow in a symbiotic relationship with soil-dwelling bacteria. The bacteria take gaseous nitrogen from the air in the soil and feed this nitrogen to the legumes; in exchange the plant provides carbohydrates to the bacteria
-Has big, long seed pods like a giant pea pod, seeds rattle inside the pod when ripe
-We have enjoyed watching the bumblebees separate the flower petals and dive inside the flowers
-Does not handle crowding out by more aggressive plants well, so give it its own space.
-“false” wild indigo was once used as a source of blue dye but was replaced by the “true” indigo plant brought from India