October is Florida Native Plant Month

Note: This article comes from the Sun Coast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society

October is Native Plant Month in Florida!

Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) chose the month of October because, while many states have stunning displays of spring flowers, Florida’s mild climate provides for a spectacular showcase of native flowers and grasses in the fall as well. Additionally, with a slight drop in the temperature, October is the month when many Floridians escape the confines of their air-conditioned home to visit our wonderful parks and preserves, or to work in their gardens.

If you would like to plant a “Fall” native plant garden, here are some simple steps to get started:

1. Pick a small area in your yard that gets full sun and clear out the sod, non-natives, and weeds.

2. Note what type of soil you have: Is the soil dry and sandy? Moist and well-drained? Wet?

3. Go to one of the many Fall Plant Sales sponsored by a Florida Native Plant Society Chapter in your area, or visit a native plant nursery. Experts there will help you pick plants that are right for your landscape.

4. Plant your purchases. Most natives will require watering until well established, but pay attention to the needs of your specific plants; some of them do not tolerate over-saturated soils. Mulch with an eco-friendly pine straw, or leaf litter.

5. When designing your space, traditionally taller plants would be placed in the back of the garden and shorter ones up front, but if you want to create a meadow effect, intermingle the taller grasses and wildflowers in the center of the garden and put shorter specimens along the edges.

Blazing Star, Liatris spp., is an attractive wildflower that produces beautiful purple flower spikes in late summer through the fall. Several native species of liatris grow in west central Florida. Some are very tall, and others are short and stout. It can be grown from seed or mature plans can be purchased from a native nursery. All of them prefer full sun, but have different soil requirements. Blazing star will attract a variety of butterflies and bees to the garden.

Goldenrod, Solidago spp., range from 3-6-foot-high with a fall display of golden yellow flowers in slender spikes or bushy heads. They are easy to grow from seed or mature plant, and will readily reseed or spread. When it is not blooming, it is a somewhat inconspicuous disk of basal leaves on the ground. Pollinators love goldenrod, especially bees.

Goldenrod adds a splash of yellow to your landscape.

Goldenrod adds a splash of yellow to your landscape.

Grasses: There are many native grasses that put on a beautiful fall display: Among the most popular are:

Purple love grass, Eragrostis spectabilis, is another purple to misty pink grass that grows 1-3 feet high. It prefers well-drained, if not dry, sandy soils.

Elliot’s Lovegrass, Eragrostis elliottii, is a wispy grass with profuse tan flowers that bloom all year, but especially in the fall. It likes dry to well-drained soils.

Lopsided Indian Grass, Sorghastrum secundum, is only 1-2 feet high for most of the year, but has flower stalks that get up to 6 feet tall in the fall. The showy plumbs resemble an upside down Indian headdress, thus the name, “Lopsided Indian Grass.”

Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, a showy grass with silky pink to lavender plumbs in the fall. When view from a distance it looks like a purple cotton candy. It grows 2-5 feet in moist to well drained soils, making it highly adaptable for most landscapes.

Muhly Grass looks like pink cotton candy from a distance.

Muhly Grass looks like pink cotton candy from a distance.

Ikebana: The Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement

At our April, 2019 meeting our own club member Nancy Ellison shared her knowledge and experience with the Japanese art of flower arrangement known as ikebana. Here is some of what we learned:

Ikebana, meaning to arrange flowers or giving life to flowers, dates back as far as the 7th century. It reached its zenith in the 16th century under the influence of Buddhist tea masters. There are at least 1000 schools in Japan and abroad. Each can differ greatly in technique and complexity.

More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Where typical flower arrangements often use multicolored arrangements of blossoms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. While ikebana is an expression of creation, certain rules govern its form. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combination, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.

It is truly a language of flowers. Arrangements are meant to convey emotion and communicate directly with the recipient without needing the use of words. Ikebana masters find there is no occasion which cannot be suggested by the color and manner in which the flowers are arranged.

True practitioners of ikebana find its spiritual aspect to be very important. It is believed that one becomes more patient and tolerant of differences and can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also a time when one feels close to nature, which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul.

Gardening in Small Spaces

The March 2019 program focused on how to maximize the use of space in a small garden, and how to make it visually feel larger by creating “illusions” which trick the eye into feeling a sense of greater space.

The most obvious ways to maximize space is with container plantings and vertical gardening. Combine container plants in odd numbers using the “Thriller, Spiller and Filler” concept when selecting plants for a greater impact. Utilize fences, walls, arbors and trellises; tier planters; and consider green living walls, espaliers, window boxes and hanging baskets.

Plant selection is crucial in a small garden and achieves the most bang for the buck! Think quality over quantity. A good general rule is to use 1 – 3 large specimen plants, a lot of medium-sized plants and a handful of dwarfs. Repeat bloomers, plants with varying bloom times and multi-seasonal interest are work horses. Fine and medium textures move the eye, while coarse textures tend to stop the eye.

Pay close attention to selecting and arranging appropriate softscape and hardscape components in terms of the principles of landscape design: Scale and Proportion, Rhythm, Repetition and Balance, Harmony, Form, and Texture.

Depth is achieved with smaller plants which flow into taller plants and using fine textured plants. Advancing warm colors can be placed toward the center to stop the eye, while cool colors around the perimeter recede and increase a sense of distance.

More Illusions:

· Play “Hide and Seek”. Divide the garden into rooms.

· Use the principle of altered perspective

· Layout diagonal and curving paths

· Add a mirrored water garden which reflects the sky

· Hang mirrors on walls or fences

· Use furniture with open-patterns

· Frame a view with an arbor

· Paint a Trompe l’oeil on a wall.

Have fun with your small space!

Troubleshooting Turf Grass

At the February 14, 2019 meeting we were enlightened by Rebecca Jordi, Nassau County Extension Director, on the nitty-gritty of managing our turf grass here in North Florida. Rebecca gave us her well-known style of wit, a touch of her classic sarcasm, and straight-forward talk. In less than one hour she hit on soils, watering, mowing, fertilizing, weeds, herbicides, and lawn pests.

I spent my childhood and early adulthood in Louisville, KY. I know you have heard about the fields of beautiful, rolling blue grass. However, the reality for most of us was pretty green grass in the spring, turning yellowish-brown by the heat of mid-July, maybe a little revival of green in the late summer/early fall, only to die for the next five months…and no one cared. ..then I moved to Florida…

So, if you have decided to make your home in North Florida, absorbing some knowledge from Rebecca is my best advice. Click here for more details.

Photography Class Without a Camera In Sight!

Just a few years back it would have been unthinkable to attend a photography class without that bulky camera strapped over your shoulder, secured in the sturdy leather case. If you were really a serious photographer you probably had a few other cases holding chargers, cords, extra lenses and flash attachments. I can speak from experience because that’s what my husband and I did as we traipsed out onto slippery rocks taking pictures of lighthouses along the Eastern Seaboard. We were loaded down.

On Thursday night, January 10, 2019, Marianne Salas, a member of The Bartram Garden Club, held a photography class for garden club members and interested members of the community. The National Garden Club standard flower shows now allow for photography exhibits. Honing the photography skills of our members seemed an appropriate step to take. So, as she prepared to begin the program she simply asked, “Everyone have your phones?” That’s right, this photography class was a demonstration performed on an iPhone camera. Inside that little hand-held rectangular prism – approximately three inches by 6 inches – lies dual lenses, 12-megapixel, flash capability, and an editing system far superior to the large machines found at the local merchants. Marianne guided us through a myriad of step-by-step instructions as she navigated through the settings and menus embedded within our camera/phones.

Prior to the workshop, participants were asked to download photography software. Snapseed and VSCO were recommended as best overall applications. Specific recommendation for a site transforming photos to watercolor images was Waterlogue. Another interesting site recommended was Image Blender, used to combine two images. Possibly the most popular site was Retouch, used to remove winkles from faces! Marianne suggested participants continually search the Internet for “best phone editing apps”.

So, if I had waited just a few more years to travel all of those back roads between Key West and Nova Scotia, I could have traveled a lot lighter and skipped over those slippery rocks with ease. Who knew?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, The Bartram Garden Club meeting did indeed look a lot like Christmas with red and white flowers, greenery, ribbons and bows! Picture this – tables lined the length of the room stacked with flowers and a vast array of fresh greenery. All waiting for our busy little fingers!

First on the agenda was the assignment of designing fragrant greenery and lovely flowers into Christmas mugs to be delivered to the Council-on-Aging, who in turn would deliver them to Meals-on-Wheels families. Of course the Oasis was the first task. Such technical instruction as “just pretend you are whittling, and whittle until it fits” came from our own Kathleen. So, whittle we did and the results were fifty-eight beautifully designed mugs.

Now, let’s get on to the floral cages for our mailboxes. Greenery was flying around the room in a blur. Laughter was heard from every table. I was amazed at the generous offers to help each other, while I, being new at this, was vigilantly protecting every piece of precious material! Those lined tables were becoming empty at rapid speed.

The final project involved the redesigning of a magnolia flower using “repurposed” magnolia leaves and pine cones. I cannot imagine how long it took to spray paint those petals, but they created the most elegant decoration for any home! Many thanks go to our president, Beverly, for doing that task for us.

This was a day of great fun along with a feeling of accomplishment by helping to brighten the holidays for others. It was also a day of camaraderie among the members; an important time of getting to know each other just a little better.

Misperceptions About Trees

Larry Figart, arboriculturist and Duval County Extension Urban Forestry Specialist, is a self-professed “myth buster.” He is known among his colleagues as “Larry the Tree Guy”, and he certainly lives up to that moniker. This program was all about dispelling myths common to the planting, growing and pruning of trees.

I heard Larry present his myth buster program during District IV’s Gardenfest last month, and instantly knew we had to invite him to share his arboreal knowledge with our garden club. Fortunately, he was available for our November meeting.

Here are some of the misperceptions he “busted”:

1) All trees have tap roots. No, most trees do not, but some in sandy soils do develop deeper roots in the upper 2’ of soil.

2) Roots grow only as far as the drip line. No, roots can be stretch as far as 2 - 3 times beyond the drip line.

3) Slicing the rootball will fix a root bound tree. No, slicing a container-grown tree is not enough. Cut all around the container, and then cut out the circular roots before planting.

4) Plant a containerized tree at the same depth it was growing in the container. No. Find the topmost root in the container and plant where that root is, or even better, plant above the soil surface. Plant it high and it won’t die!

5) A native tree does not need irrigation when it is planted. Not true. Watering after planting is critical. Turf irrigation does not provide enough water to most newly planted trees. Hand-water until established. See UF/IFAS website for proper irrigation schedule.

6) If a tree survives the first year after construction it will be fine. No, a tree can decline for 5 - 15 years before it succumbs. The contractor’s one-year warrantee is meaningless.

7) Topping trees is permissible. No. Don’t commit Crepe Myrtle Murder. There are 1200 varieties of Crepe Myrtles. Plant a dwarf variety in small spaces. “Pencil Prune” the branches, remove rubbing and crossing branches, and leave odd numbers of trunks.

8) Remove interior branches to improve wind resistance. False. “Lions-tailing” actually makes the tree more prone to wind damage. Don’t open up the center of a tree.

9) Seal pruning cuts with paint. No. This actually encourages decay. Always prune at the branch collar for rapid closure. The callused cut should be round, not oval.

10) Palms should be heavily pruned every year for hurricane resistance. No. This can result in “pencil pointing”, increased nutrient deficiencies and/or the onset of giant palm weevils. Don’t prune higher than 9 and 3 o’clock.

11) Fertilize trees using deep root injections. False. Feeder roots are within a few inches of the surface.

12) Spanish moss and lichens kill trees. No, but mistletoe is a parasite.

13) Tree companies are licensed in Florida. Not true. There is no licensing for arborists in Florida.

Who ya gonna call? Find an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Go to www.treesaregood.com to check for certification.

Let's Take a Walk in a Park – A North Florida Park!

In October we reached out to the public by having an evening program, therefore, allowing us a time to ‘meet and greet’ with our community who typically cannot attend daytime meetings. We invited the community to be our guests for a hospitality time of wine and cheese and good conversation, followed by an environmental program presented by Kathy Stark.

Kathy Stark, author, artist, and parks ambassador spoke about her project “The Wilderness of North Florida’s Parks” which consist of her book and traveling art exhibit and how she has become a parks ambassador. This project is Stark’s heartfelt bid to raise awareness of the many opportunities to interact with the natural wonders of the First Coast of North Florida. With the book and exhibit she ultimately hopes to increase awareness of the parks’ existence and encourage people to visit, support and preserve them, while using responsible conservation practices.

Kathy’s goals for conservation and preservation of North Florida parks and wilderness areas parallel those of The Bartram Garden Club. We genuinely hope this program created awareness, as well as ignited a spark of interest in the incredible beauty of the nature surrounding us and the vital need to protect it. Let’s get out there; whether it is for a brisk trail hike or a leisurely walk. Just maybe we will meet up somewhere on the path as we take a walk in a park.

The Soothing Sound of Water

After a summer hiatus we returned in September to a refreshing program of aquatic gardening. Our subtropical Florida island climate certainly encourages club members to give water gardening a try! So, we called in the experts. James Loper of Reflections of Nature Landscape Design spoke to the club regarding design, planting, care and maintenance. Then we heard from water lily grower, Angela Bloom.

Mr. Loper showed how a water garden could be as simple or elaborate as suits each setting or backyard. A pond can be created with materials found around most garden centers, or possibly in your own garage. Items as simple as rubber liners, pre-formed ponds, or large tubs can easily and quickly create a water accent. Elements such as fountains, waterfalls and large rocks add to blending the water garden into its surrounding environment. He stressed having a plan and choosing the right-sized plants for your space that cover no more than two-thirds of the water’s surface when mature.

Moving from the splashing water to the still peace of water lily ponds we got the nitty-gritty from water lily specialist, Angela Bloom. Angela and her husband, Bud, have been growing water lilies in Hilliard for over thirty years. This was especially appropriate for our garden club because our club symbol is the Lotus. Colloquially, the Lotus has been called the water lily. However, there is a difference. The water lily leaves and flowers are floating on the water. The Lotus leaves and flowers are emergent and rise above…as do our club members!

“Happy Trails to You”

May is the month when we acknowledge our past accomplishments and honor those who have contributed to our successes. As your president I cannot sufficiently thank the other officers who have served with me the past two years, beginning with the inception of this club in June 2016. We began strong with 26 charter members and have continued to grow in number and enthusiasm! We originally planned to host this president’s luncheon at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma all but destroyed those scenic gardens last September, prompting us to change the venue of our May meeting. Many thanks to Frances Tidd who opened to us the oceanside community room at her condominium complex, and graciously decorated the tables with plants which attendees took home. Thanks also to the club for the lovely gifts you bestowed upon your club officers. Those who did not attend this function missed a picturesque venue, gracious hospitality, outstanding food, and a rare chance to interact with other club members on a personal level, many who are new to our group. I wish everyone a fun and restful summer respite and look forward to soaring to great heights with you during the final year of my term. “Teamwork makes the dream work!” (John Maxwell) Let’s bind our souls and talents together for the best year yet when we return in September!

“Bartram’s River Runs Through It”

April is Water Conservation Month in Florida, although every day of every month should hold this designation! Dr. Jennifer Mitchell of the St. Johns River Water Management District presented a program highlighting the importance of protecting Florida’s valuable aquifer.More than 90 percent of people in northeast and east-central Florida use groundwater, which comes from an aquifer, as their water supply.

· The largest aquifer in the southeastern United States is the Floridan.

· The Floridan aquifer averages 1,000 feet thick, and freshwater can extend to a depth of 2,000 feet below land surface. Freshwater is thickest in the central portions of the state and rapidly thins toward the coast and the south.

Florida is surrounded on 3 sides by water, so what’s the concern? The second Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principle is “Water Efficiently.” Research this principle and follow the guidelines.

“Take Thyme to Grow Herbs”

As I was growing up in Central Florida I do not recall ever seeing herbs grown in a garden or in pots, for that matter. Of course, my family was dirt farmers and only raised crops for subsistence. I imagine herbs and spices were not a priority, even if they would have thrived in sandy soil conditions and the heat and humidity of the region. Salt and pepper (lots of salt!) were all that was needed or required for seasoning, with a little fat back thrown in for good measure. (Only my Southern friends will know what that is!) I learned about growing culinary herbs (and every other plant I learned to love) during those glorious 36 years when I called N. Georgia my home. So, can culinary herbs really thrive in Florida sand? The Nassau County Extension Office says, “yes.” Our presenter shared a UF publication outlining how to prepare sandy soil by adding organic matter and the need to group annual herbs away from vegetables. Other topics discussed were propagation, container-grown herbs, and harvesting and curing. During the Q&A session I exclaimed that I have never had success growing basil. Ironically, she gave away a basil plant to the person having a March birthday nearest to the date of this program. Guess who went home with a sweet basil plant to kill? Moi! I’m happy to report that I followed the suggested directions and my basil thrived! So well that I had to come up with inventive ways to use the leaves. I can safely report that pesto can be easily frozen for future consumption. Take thyme to learn about herbs. The rewards are very generous.

During my brief residence in St. Louis, Missouri I had the pleasure of visiting a lavender farm and picking my own fresh bouquet of lavender. What a beautiful sight! And in Missouri, of all places! Ten years later the fragrance of these same plants stimulates my olfactory nerves and brightens my bathroom décor. During this program a representative from Pelinda Lavender Amelia Island amazed us with the myriad uses of lavender! Her enthusiasm was contagious, and prompted many club members to personally experience the soothing benefits of lavender-infused products. Pam even contributed lavender refreshments for our hospitality time. Stop by the store on Centre Street for all things lavender! Even the lounge chairs outside are lavender- colored!!

“Queen of the Southern Garden”

Who can dislike a Camellia blossom? This flower ranks up there with the Magnolia when it comes to ubiquitous Southern charm. Grower and Camellia judge, Neil Nevin, brought a huge tray of Camellia blooms (so fresh the ants were still attached) from his yard in Yulee, which boasts over 170 varieties of the Queen of the Southern Garden! Neil was intent upon teaching us how to graft these beauties. So much so that days after his program he invited our members to his home for an onsite demonstration. Even photographs cannot depict the variety and beauty of his collection. If you have a semi-shady spot in your yard, do not overlook the Camellia sinensis, or it’s cousin, one of my favorites, Camellia sasanqua. I grow a rosy-red variety of the former in my wooded backyard, and as a plus every year I float the blossoms in a bowl until they dry. Then I stack them in clear containers and display them during the Holidays, or layer them in an oblong divided container. They are just too pretty to throw out, even after they are spent! Sidebar: when we purchased our home here in 2013, I asked the former owner about the color of her Camellia flowers. Her reply? “I don’t know.” How could any self-respecting homeowner not notice this beautiful shrub in full bloom long enough to note the color of the flower? Sigh.

“Color Our Canopy”

2017 – 2019 FFGC president, Claudia Bates, has challenged every FFGC member to “Color Our Canopy” during her term by planting blooming trees. Specifically, which trees fit that criteria here on the First Coast of Florida? Horticulturist Aimee Underwood from Liberty Landscape Supply provided those answers during our January meeting. With Florida Arbor Day on the horizon, this presentation was most timely. Aimee categorized the possibilities by mature height, suggesting landscape blooming trees which fit from small to medium to large in size. She didn’t mention our club tree, the Loblolly Bay, but surely that is one specimen we could all incorporate into our landscapes. William Bartram wrote about it in his journals when he explored the St. Johns River surroundings in 1774! Gordonia lasianthus is native to the Southern Coastal plain and the blooms are very fragrant. Think about adding color to your yard by planting the following trees: Vitex, ‘Majestice Beauty’ Hawthorne, Japanese Magnolia, Red Buckeye, Taiwan Cherry, ‘St. Luke’s Purple Leaf Plum, Sweet Bay Magnolia, and our favorite – Loblolly Bay!

“Designing Then and Now”

Williamsburg floral designs take us back to the Colonial era of William Bartram, our namesake. During this program Jan Sillik, Jacksonville’s NGC master flower show judge and “Fun with Flowers” founder and instructor, entertained us with her homespun humor and creative designer skills. After demonstrating some DIY modern holiday designs, Jan shared her apple cone tree topped with a whole pineapple, faux magnolia flower, and other ideas from Williamsburg floral books using fresh foliage and fruit. This former FFGC president knows how to connect with those of us who are staunch dirt gardeners and who stubbornly resist trying our hand at creating floral arrangements. She makes it look fun and easy. Members were caught up in her anecdotal stories as she crafted designs which are easily recreated at home by even the most novice designer. Her passion is contagious. She introduced us to new trends in floral designs and included a handout, “mastering mechanics”, which will help guide our own efforts when we, with much trepidation, attempt this at home

"Me, Thee the Trail and Tea"

November 9, 2017

Our vice president and program chairman, Kathleen Lunman, presented an entertaining program about the history and customs of tea. We learned that all tea leaves are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, grown on every continent except Antarctica.  Details were presented on handheld fans, which Kathleen crafted. In addition, she delighted us with a variety of teas  and her home-baked scones! Horticulture chairman, Susan Borge, presented a well-researched tip with regards to growing milkweed, specifically tropical milkweed, and the pros and cons of it’s effect on the monarch butterfly population. We were surprised to learn that our butterflies do not migrate and therefore it is likely that tropical milkweed is safe to grow in our zone. In order to prevent the spread of a protozoa carried by butterflies, Susan recommended we periodically prune back our milkweed throughout the growing season to encourage fresh, uncontaminated foliage for hungry caterpillars. Flower show judge, Mariette Wooden, presented a crash course on the difference between traditional and petite-sized designs. To conclude our meeting, members created a fresh arrangement in the tea cup of their choice. In December we will study Williamsburg designs. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Greyfield Garden

October 12, 2017

Our first meeting of the 2017 -2018 year was cancelled due to the uncertain aftermath of Hurricane Irma. But we regrouped in October to spotlight the Greyfield Garden on Cumberland Island. Ryan Graycheck and Maya Velasco, managers of the garden at Greyfield Inn, presented a program about the organic vegetable gardening and soil management procedures they use, as well as the ornamental flowers they grow and the honey they produce. The program and the club’s first plant sale was supported by many visiting members of our community. This was the first meeting held at our new location, the Woman’s Club of Fernandina Beach. Three new members joined, bringing  our total membership to 44. Our second year as a club is off to a great start!!

We Did It!!

We did it!!

Since we first launched our canoes last September we’ve explored some interesting destinations along the “trail”. During our first year as a club we studied native plants, Fernandina Main Street civic beautification, US Forestry Service, floral design, Florida Friendly Landscaping, roses, plant leaf manipulation and the vital impact bees have on agriculture. The year culminated with the installation of officers and a shared meal during our closing meeting May 11th.

Fourteen members, two guests and our district director attended. We hosted a salad bar extravaganza. Club officers provided the greens and members contributed a variety of salad toppings. A custom designed cake was enjoyed in celebration of the successful completion of our first year as an organization. “The Bartram Garden Club. We did it!!”

Jan Litchfield, FFGC District IV Director, installed our incoming officers, which were also our outgoing officers. I wish to extend my personal thanks to officers Kathleen, Kathye and Reha for supporting me and our objectives as we “blazed the trail together”. We intensely trudged through writing bylaws and standing rules, and wrote our first budget. Vice-president Kathleen dazzled us with her creative art skills, initiating the eye-catching “Along the Bartram Trail” educational exhibit for general meetings. Kathye, recording secretary,  faithfully kept track of attendance and minutes, and served as membership chairman, a daunting job as we enrolled 26 charter members and added 14 new members during the year! Treasurer, Reha London kept track of our funds and learned that plant raffles are extremely popular and can be overwhelming to manage. All good problems to have!

Many thanks to those who served on committees, bought T-shirts and ways and means items, attended Gardenfest and the district meeting and, in general, supported every project this president initiated!

Special recognition goes out to our webmaster, Marc Williams, who created our FFGC award winning website, which was chosen the best website among state applicants and garnered a certificate and a $50.00 award!

We are especially proud of the landscaping we designed and implemented surrounding the newly erected state historic marker at the historic post office on Centre Street in historic Fernandina Beach.

I wish everyone a fun and safe summer!

See you the 2nd Thursday in September at our new meeting location — the Woman’s Club of Fernandina Beach.

The Buzz on Bees

“If we go, we’re taking you with us,” is how Lisa Broward, master beekeeper and naturalist, introduced our May program on the importance of bees to humans. Lisa entertained club members and several guests regarding the amazing social culture of bees and their vital task as pollinators. 

Bees are responsible for pollinating one-sixth of flowering plants in the world, and about 400 different types of agricultural plants. They help keep the food chain flowering and producing food. Consider that honeybees pollinate fruits, vegetables, herbs we use to season our foods, nuts, berries, cotton for clothing, clover and alfalfa, which is the main feed for the cattle industry from which we get yogurt, milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, dairy and beef. Also, coffee beans depend on pollination for increased yields. We depend upon bees for holiday flowers, beeswax, which is used in the cosmetic industry, not to mention honey!

Worldwide bees are in decline for a number of reasons classified as Colony Collapse Disorder, including stress from being moved across country, loss of habitat, herbicides, pesticides and varroa mites.

 Let’s help preserve bees. Plant a pollinator-friendly garden patch of any size. At minimum, Lisa suggested planting African Blue Basil. Switch from pesticides to organic alternatives, and use vinegar and water as a weed killer. Provide a water source such as a shallow bird bath with rocks in it.

If you see a swarm or have a colony of bees which has taken up residence in an unwanted area contact a local beekeeper for removal. 

After Lisa’s presentation she invited us to taste a variety of her local honeys, such as orange blossom, palm, saw palmetto and gallberry.

Leaf Manipulation

Leaf manipulation is a strange sounding term and a floral design technique new to most of us. During the March 9, 2017 meeting Mary Silas and our own Carolyn Stevens demonstrated how to modify myriad types of leaves to create movement and interest in a floral arrangement. We learned that with simple tools like scissors, staples and U-glue dots almost any type of foliage can be shredded, bent, curled, cut and woven to create unique and unnatural plant forms. 

One doesn’t have to purchase expensive flowers for designs or grow exotic plants. The foliage from common houseplants can be used in leaf manipulation. Many good designers find plant material in unexpected places and change it into an unrecognizable form for use in floral designs. 

Once a leaf has been manipulated it can be dried and used countless times. Mary shared a tip with regard to painting dried leaves which was unknown to me. First paint a brown leaf with silver paint. This helps the top coat of any color adhere better! 

Those in attendance were encouraged to try their hand at manipulating a leaf after the demonstration. It was fun to watch members discover new ways to express their creativity! We learned that design components don’t have to be complicated. Just a twist here and a fold there will do it!

A beginner’s guide can be ordered by visiting www.leafmanipulation.com 
Gail Emmons has written a beautiful guide to working with leaves in a contemporary way