2023 Meetings

General Meeting Information

Friday, December 8, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 - 3:30 pm

1:00  - 1:30 - Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Check out new brochures, and get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30  - 3:00 - A short business meeting, Presentations, and Plant Raffle

Come make new friends and enjoy catching up with old ones during our social time and plant drawing! 

Calling all gardeners to take a break from holiday-ing!!!  Learn some valuable (literally) how-to’s on “Gardening To Lower Water Usage, Pesticides, and Fertilizers” presented by Linda Hunt and Sue Egloff. Rainfall here this year is a foot less than the average. (Imagine a foot of water standing on your entire property—this is how much rain we didn’t get this year.) We sure hate to think about it, but we all know, sadly, that fresh water in our country is a dwindling resource.

On a happier note, Jo Hudak, FNPS Landscape Awardee, will give us pointers on “How to Grow Our Beautiful Native Florida Firebush”, a favorite nectar plant for Zebra Longwings, our state butterfly. In our state,

WareaDisney isn’t the only magical place! Central Florida is the only place in the world where Warea grows! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warea_amplexifolia It’s right in our “backyard” in Lake Griffin State Park. And it’s endangered. Learn from Mark Knapke, Park Manager, and our FNPS team about what we’re doing to save this beautiful species from extinction. 

Linda and Sue ridding Warea area of Weeds

Linda and Sue ridding Warea area of weeds. Go Ladies!

Linda Hunt and Sue Egloff: “Gardening To Lower Water Usage, Pesticides, and Fertilizers”

The Villages has developed 80 square miles of forests, wetlands, and pastures and brought in 145,000 residents. Development continues. Are there limits? How do we manage development in this place we all love? How do we participate in the sustainable use of water and flora to maintain our environment and our property values? Linda Hunt and Sue Egloff will explain how developers are experimenting with sustainability. They’ll hone in on what can be done to landscape and gardens to reduce the use of water, pesticides, and fertilizers. They’ll talk about what we might expect in our cost of water, in our water quality, and in the structure of our underground limestone supported by a gradually dwindling water supply.

Linda loves her Winged Elm. It's a great tree!

Linda loves her Winged Elm. It's a great tree!

Linda Hunt holds an MBA and worked in financial management at Xerox. Her early experience with native plants came with a summer job at Cornell University working on a land use research project requiring her skills in air photo interpretation. Linda serves as our Facebook administrator and has created a native Florida yard. Sue Egloff, with a BBA, became a contract negotiator for large hi-tech companies to the Federal Government. She joined FNPS as a newcomer to Florida to become a more skilled gardener and to focus on her concerns about potable water. Sue serves as our chapter president (…good thing she has great negotiation skills! LOL). We’re delighted to showcase this duo of outstanding women! 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting
Speaker: Gary Babic, Former Chapter Representative for The Villages FNPS

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM--Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Check out new brochures, and get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM--A short business meeting, Presentation by Gary, Plant Drawing

Gary BabicGet instruction and pointers from the ever-popular Gary Babic on “Preparing Your Garden for the Cold, Dry Season”. Gary, with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, and a Master's in Business Administration, and a career at Texaco, lived in or visited 70 countries. His love for travel and passion for learning led him to become one of the Top 25 Birders In the World. For the love of learning and sharing, he became a Master Gardener, with no small commitment to study, time, and service. Gary serves as the President of The Village Birders, has been a member of the Butterfly Garden Club since its inception, and he has served on the board of The Villages FNPS chapter. With an ever-present laugh and a strong appreciation of the interconnectedness of life in environments around the world, he said he gets pure joy out of gardening in The Villages - even in the cold!

Gary shared his November presentation on preparing your garden for a Central Florida Winter. Click to download the presentation as a PDF file.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Ginny Stibolt

Presentation: Climate-wise Gardening for Florida

This presentation takes an active and optimistic approach to dealing with our changing climate by summarizing some of the actions that property owners or managers (homeowners, communities, and municipalities) can take now to become more Earth-friendly. In general, each action suggested accomplishes at least one of three objectives: 1) to help the landscape survive climate change, 2) to help wildlife survive climate change, and 3) to help to actually mitigate climate change. This presentation is inspired by the book "Climate-Wise Landscaping: Practical Actions for a Sustainable Future," coauthored by Ginny Stibolt, botanist and Florida garden writer, and Sue Reed, a landscape Architect in Massachusetts. Doug Tallamy wrote the foreword, which ends with this message, "Read this book carefully. Everything you need to know to help heal our relationship with planet Earth and empower you to make a much-needed difference is within these pages."

Ginny Stibolt, a longtime member of the Ixia Chapter, is a botanist and a garden writer. She's written five peer-reviewed Florida gardening books--all published by University Press of Florida. Also, she co-wrote the award-winning "Climate-Wise Landscaping: Practical Actions for a Sustainable Future" with Sue Reed. In addition, she manages a "Sustainable Gardening for Florida" and Climate-Wise Landscaping Facebook page and writes for her own blog, www.GreenGardeningMatters.com.

Books may be ordered from www.climatewiselandscaping.com

More about Ginny.

Friday, September 8, 2023

It’ll be a jam-packed, awesome meeting on Friday, September 8! One of our favorite speakers and gardeners, Jo Hudak, will detail growing the beautiful Chapman’s Goldenrod. (Nope, doesn’t make people sneeze.)

Barbara Wertz, our chapter’s webmaster, will walk us through how to use a section of our local FNPS website.

What an honor to welcome our keynote speakerLynda Davis, Executive Director of the FNPS! Lynda will give us the skinny on what our membership dues provide, and she’ll get us up to date on native plant conservation and restoration projects around the state.

More About Lynda Davis

Come make new friends and enjoy catching up with old ones during our social time and plant drawing!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting
Speaker: Lynda Davis, Executive Director, Florida Native Plant Society

Google directions to Big Cypress Recreation Center

Friday, May 12, 2023

Topic: Native Milkweeds: Growth, Pests, Propagation
Speaker: Alycyn Culbertson

Milkweed Giveaway

It’s our FNPS Great Milkweed Giveaway to every member who’s present!
Description: Learn about three types of milkweeds native to Florida! Understand where to plant them and how to take care of pests, caterpillars, and butterflies that love them. Find out about growth, pruning, seed collection, and seed dispersal.  

Native Milkweeds: Growth, Pests, Propagation

Alycyn CulbertsonAlycyn Culbertson is a true gardener, landscaper, conservationist, writer, and educator. She’s used to working hard and doing what some might call back-breaking work. 25 years ago, a seemingly innocent book from the National Wildlife Federation led her into a lifetime adventure of gardening for wildlife, Read more about Alycyn.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting
Topic: Shrubs and Trees
Speaker: Jim Davis
UF/IFAS Multi-County Extension Director for Sumter and Hernando Counties

Trees and Shrubs 

Let’s take a detour from pretty flowering plants and hit the topic of “Native  Shrubs and  Trees”! If you haven’t been to a workshop with Jim Davis, don’t miss this opportunity to hear him! The Daily Sun calls him “…one of The Villages’ most visible faces of environmental education”.

During the last 17 years, while working for the UF/IFAS Extension Office of Sumter and Hernando Counties, Jim has, in addition to his regular responsibilities, led hikes and boat trips, tutored Master Gardeners, and taught in The Enrichment Academy. Over time he was promoted to the position of Multi-County Extension Director. He is assisting in implementing data collection and drone technology to map storm damage, irrigation leaks, and manatee counts in rivers. The drones help collect data to detect moisture damage around houses and thermal imaging for wildlife counts.

Jim earned his B.S. in Environmental Horticulture specializing in Public Garden Management and M.S. in Entomology, specializing in Urban Pest Management from The U. of Florida. He is a native Floridian and wildlife photographer. Davis is a strong advocate for water conservation and reducing pollution by enhancing the environment.

Jim Davis with insects

 Jim Davis leading Wildlife Walk

<--Jim Davis, Entomologist                                         Jim Davis leading Wildlife Walk-->

Minutes: Word format  pdf format

Friday, March 10, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

“Starter Gardens Progressing Into Mature Gardens”—Victor Ortega, Co-founder and CEO of My Dragonfly Gardens. Victor retired in 2019 from a fast-paced career in marketing. His lifetime loves of being active, being outside, and gardening led him, as an entrepreneur, to create My Dragonfly Gardens. Victor’s business consists of landscape/habitat design, permaculture models, installations, and maintenance, with zero footprint. They create natural habitats in residential settings using Florida-friendly and Florida native plants, so there is no need for chemicals and, when maintained properly, one never needs to purchase replacement plants! Social responsibility, sustainability, a healthier environment, harmony, wildlife, and education represent their core values and govern everything they do -or don’t. Their practices are in harmony with nature and the environment while meeting client’s needs and expectations.


Drawing for the $100 Gift Certificate from My Dragonfly Gardens

The drawing for the gift certificate that you signed up for at the March Chapter Meeting will be held on April 11 at 9 am on https://www.facebook.com/mydragonflygardens

Sustainable Tour

Register for the Sustainable Tour.  This is a limited-capacity event currently scheduled for April 15. You'll need to keep on top of this one because the date may move to Saturday, April 22 or April 29 at 9 am.

“Native Florida Ferns”

—Dr. Carl Taylor, retired NSF Program Director and current researcher at The Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

Carl Taylor earned a B.S. from the U. of Missouri and a Ph.D. in botany from Southern Illinois U. At the Milwaukee Public Museum he developed exhibits, gave educational programs, conducted research, and served as Chair of the Botany Department. He authored the book “Arkansas Ferns and Fern Allies.” Carl has taught courses in general biology, plant taxonomy, and local flora at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Plant Systematics at Old Dominion University. For five years he served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Though retired, he still conducts botanical research at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and teaches in Maine each summer. He and his wife Jerry live in Arlington, Virginia, where they garden in their natural yard and greenhouse, and in The Villages In the
winter, where their small yard is completely Florida native plants.

We meet on the second Friday of the month. We have a half-hour social from 1:00 to 1:30. The meeting with announcements and speakers will begin at 1:30. Plant Drawing ends the meeting.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Location: Big Cypress Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM--Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Browse new brochures, and Get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM--A short business meeting, Presentation, Plant Drawing

“Small Container Gardening” by Jeannie Crust.

“Beautyberry” by Jo Hudak.

“Supporting Florida Wildlife In Urban Environments”

Maxine Hunter, Ag/Natural Resources Agent and Certified Arborist
Marion County UF/IFAS Extension Services

Maxine Hunter has been a UF/IFAS Extension Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator since 2014. She has a Masters's degree in Agriculture Education and Communication and a Bachelor's degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation both from the University of Florida. Her favorite horticulture topics include integrated pest management, vegetable gardening and edible landscaping, and wildlife management. Prior to becoming an extension agent, she worked for the UF/IFAS Extension Farm to School Program as the Northeast Florida District Coordinator where she assisted with the implementation.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Location: Eisenhower Regional Center
Time: 1:00 Social 1:30 Meeting

Directions to Eisenhower

One time only at Eisenhower. The Villages took our time at Big Cypress in January


  • Election of Officers
  • Alycyn is speaking on How to Do Soil Testing
  • Kat is handing out soil testing kits
  • Bob Keyes is speaking on Mulching With Leaves
  • Dr. Norma Samuels is our speaker.
    Topic: It All Begins With Dirt

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM--Socialize, Purchase plant drawing tickets, Browse new brochures, and get to know fellow gardeners.
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM--A short business meeting, Presentation, Plant drawing

Prepare to Get Your Hands Dirt-y!

Mulching With Oak Leaf Litter

Bob Keyes Harvesting Oak LeavesBob Keyes will walk us through collecting, shredding, and mulching with oak leaves. He’s even bringing
bags of oak leaves to give away during our meeting!

How to Test Your Soil

Kat Manczak is bringing soil test kits for us to take home and use. She’ll instruct us on how to collect samples and get them processed.

It All Begins With Dirt!

Dr. Norma SamuelDr. Norma Samuels
Central District Assoc. Dist. Extension Director with UF/IFAS Extension
Chair, Caribbean Agricultural Extension Providers Network
President, Board of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services

Before migrating to the U.S., Dr. Samuel worked with the Ministry of Agriculture in Antigua and Barbuda on a research station and with the Plant Protection and Quarantine Unit. Her B.S. and M.S. are from the U of Georgia. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication with an emphasis on International Extension and a minor in Nonprofit Organizations from the University of Florida. 

She has 18 years of experience as an Extension Agent in the areas of residential and commercial horticulture, Master Gardener Coordinator, and 4-H youth development. Dr. Samuel has expertise in the areas of pest management, volunteer development; risk management; human and organizational capacity building, and of the extension system in the US and the Caribbean. She has led and or participated in several international Extension projects in the Caribbean and Ghana. Dr. Samuel has over 300 publications in newspapers, newsletters, and peer-reviewed papers and curricula and is the recipient of numerous professional awards.

Soil Sample Directions

  • Use a zip-lock type plastic bag or furnished paper bag.
  • Collect about one cupful of DRY SOIL.
  • Write the location on each bag: "front yard", "back yard", etc.
  • On the form, select the type of analysis desired.
  • Follow the form directions to complete.
  • Enclose payment.
  • Mail.
  • Results will be sent directly to your email or phone within a few days to one week.


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