2019 Meetings

November 22, 2019 

Deborah Curry, The President of the Marion County FNPS
Native Plant Substitutes for Common Ornamentals


October 25, 2019 

Sex in the Garden – Plant Reproduction by Craig N. Huegel

Craig Huegel is a prolific author with degrees in zoology, wildlife ecology and animal ecology.  He is passionate about the joy and satisfaction of native gardens and landscapes bring to our lives.  
The general public often buys a plant for the garden without really knowing what that plant needs to thrive.  Plants do most everything animals do to reproduce except move – they have to grow and reproduce where they are rooted.  

Many plants can reproduce asexually OR produce seeds / fruits without a partner – self-fertilization or cleistogamy. 

Sex requires preparation.  Some plants separate the sexes completely.  Plants looking to be pollinated by others can be done by timing, chemical barriers, gene/chemical markers.  80% of plants are flowering.  More than 70% rely on a pollinator.  

Plants can use lures – pollen is a high-energy food source, costly to produce, provides essential proteins and fats to rear “young” (plants).  Nectar – bees and butterflies are attracted to purple and yellow flowers, hummingbirds are attracted to red and orange flowers.  All pollinators will go to all color flowers for nectar even though they have preferences.  Not all pollinators are active at the same time so plants are not universally active either.  Flowers stop production of nectar once they are pollinated.  
Fragrance is costly to produce, too.  A fragrant rose will wilt in the vase sooner that a non-fragrant one.  Fruit is the result of millions of years of evolution.  It‘s the ideal package to protect the “embryo” (seed) and disperses the seeds, too.  

Plant’s ability to have sex depends on Energy, Health/Condition and Age.  

Craig Huegel's New Book

The Nature of Plants by one of our favorite speakers, Craig Huegel, is available from Amazon and The University of Florida.


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September 27, 2019 

Freshwater Ecosystems of Central Florida" by Scott Davis

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August 23, 2019 

Beneficial Insects and Native Plants—the Keys to a Sustainable Landscape by Taryn Evans

The native plants in your landscape provide the food and cover for the first tier of life - insects.  There is a diverse and interesting matrix of insect life happening in your native garden. Insects:

  • Pollinate
  • Recycle nutrients
  • Enhance soil quality
  • Aid in decomposition
  • Provide food for other wildlife
  • Predators to other insects

75-90% of flowering plants need pollinators to provide 1/3 of food for people. The percentage is even higher when it comes to providing food for other wildlife. The economic value of insect pollinators for pollinating crops is estimated at $18-27 BILLION.

Insects help natural areas and eco-systems keep their plants healthy. The decline of pollinator populations is attributed to:

  • Bee Colony Collapse
  • Habitat loss & degradation
  • Diseases
  • Excessive use of pesticides / insecticides.

Ways you can welcome insects into your garden:

  • Plant native plants
  • Have diverse flower species
  • More plant diversity 
  • Plant for the seasons
  • Plant variety of heights
  • Plant Composites (Stokes Aster is example)
  • Plant Umbels (Swamp Milkweed is example)

Balance is important – turn off your “zapper” if you have one. Don’t use pesticides. If given a chance, the plants will bring the insects they need on their own.

“Paradox of Pesticides”. (from Wikipedia: “... applying pesticide to a pest may end up increasing the abundance of the pest if the pesticide upsets natural predator–prey dynamics in the ecosystem.”)

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July 26, 2019 

Planting for Birds by Kirsten Sharp-Ortega. 

Kirsten will cover the elements you need in the garden to attract birds and what you need to plant to keep them there!

Speaker Bio:  Kirsten is from Johannesburg South Africa.  She holds a Horticulture degree with a specialization in Landscape Design and has worked at Green Isle Gardens for 3 years.  Kirsten is on the Board of Directors for FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) and vice president of the Passion Flower chapter of FNPS.

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>June 28, 2019 

Edible Flowers by Ann Lambert

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May 24, 2019 

UF/IFAS Master Gardener Program 
by Lisa Sanderson

This month our Residential Sumter County Horticultural Extension Agent will provide an overview of the Master Gardener Program, its history of the program in the US; the areas where Master Gardeners volunteer (Plant Clinics, Demonstration Garden, Youth Garden, writing for local newspapers and newsletters, and public speaking). Lisa will provide information on the upcoming Fall class – dates, cost, and the New Master Gardener Manual.

Speaker Bio: Lisa Sanderson has both an undergraduate and Masters degrees from North Carolina State in Horticulture and Agricultural Education. She began her career teaching in public schools and went on to become a Landscape Designer and later holding Extension Agent positions in Virginia, North Carolina and now in Sumter County Florida. Time permitting we will also have a facilitated discussion on "Lessons Learned in the Landscape".

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April 26, 2019 

Native Plant Landscape Designs for The Villages
By Steve Turnipseed

Landscape Designs

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March 22, 2019 

The Life of Butterflies in the Native Plant Garden by Gary Babic

The presentation will review the basics of butterfly gardening, and provide background on butterfly biology and life cycles. The goal is to maximize the number and diversity of butterflies in your native garden.

Gary moved to The Villages in 2005 after a varied career in the petrochemical industry and assignments around the world. After hearing talks by the extension service, and many failed attempts at gardening he completed the Sumter County Master Gardener classes in 2014. Seeing the light, he became interested in native plants and soon noticed an influx of butterflies into my garden.

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February 22, 2019 

An Easy Guide to Florida Native Plant Pruning and Maintenance 

by Nick Giannola – Green Isle Gardens, Groveland FL

Nick Giannola was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago where he spent much of his childhood playing in the woods and fishing. His love for nature only grew stronger as his family made frequent trips to the Wisconsin north woods to stay at their cabin on the lake. Nick graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors of science in fisheries and wildlife and promptly started work as an invasive species monitor. This lead to more hands-on work, as an ecological restoration technician, restoring the lands he grew up exploring. Looking for some change from the north, Nick decided to move to Florida and began working for Green Isle Gardens. Nick has been with Green Isle since 2014 and is currently the nursery manager, overseeing the day to day functions of the nursery.

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January 26, 2019 

Native Plants in Your Yard
by Renee Stambaugh

Speaker Bio:  Native Plant Consulting, St Augustine, FL   
A lifelong resident of northeast Florida, Renee Stambaugh has extensive knowledge in the field of native plants, birds and butterflies.  She is the founding member and past president of the Sea Oats chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Stambaugh recently co-authored the informative brochure “Invasive Plants You Should Know”.  Stambaugh enjoys teaching about the beauty and benefits of northeast Florida’s diverse flora and is a dynamic public speaker.

In 2015, the Florida legislature named October “Florida Native Plant Month.”  Renee based much of this presentation on the book, Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy.    

In your yard, you want to have “seasonal interest,” because (1) you’ll have something of interest to look at all year round  (2) if you are only here during the winter months, you want to have something to enjoy in our yard  (3) you want to attract and support native wildlife all year round.

There are varieties of holly trees native to Florida, which are compact (for small yards) and which are not prickly, but have berries for color and for the birds.  

Blue birds eat primarily insects – in fact 96% of native birds need insects (protein) to feed their young.  

Winter bloomers include:  Walter’s Viburnum (there are dwarf and mini varieties), Yellow Jessamine (fragrant), Hollies like Yaupon, Doohan.  

A native plant is one that was thriving here before European settlers arrived.  There are 3,000 documented Florida native plants.  Native plants have adapted to the soil (sand, clay, rich), the climate (freezes, hurricanes, drought).  Native wildlife evolved with the native plants.  

You don’t have to convert your entire yard to help native wildlife.  An easy half-day project could be to just create a well-defined bed of natives.  Could be one corner of your yard, or one area anywhere permitted.  Use Pine Straw as mulch because (1) it breaks down and enriched the soil, (2) it’s sustainable,  (3) it eliminates the need for fertilizer.

Put “the right plant in the right place”.  All natives will not thrive equally in the same location.  Florida bayberry / Wax myrtle is a great plant for screening.  Berries attract wildlife; the plant smells good; the plant deters pests like fleas.  Bayberry candles were originally made from melting down the berries.  The Wax myrtle can be trimmed to keep it neat and tidy.  

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