2016 Field Trips

Withlacoochee State Forest  |  Lake Griffin State Park  |  Green Isle Gardens  |  Biosphere Nursery  |  Lake Griffin Workday  |  Ocala National Forest  |  P.E.A.R. Park

P.E.A.R Park Gang

PEAR Park Gang

November 16th, The Villages Chapter, visited Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve (PEAR) for the second time this year. It is a wonderful place. (Trip Description) Wendy Poag, Lake County Parks and Trails as their Naturalist/Land Steward, is an amazing source of information about our area native plants. The beauty of taking one of our trips is that Georgette always finds a leader or interpreter to help us better understand what we see.

May 16 – PEAR Park, Leesburg
Native Plant & Butterfly Garden

A group of 12 members from The Villages Chapter of FNPS departed Big Cypress at 8:30 am sharp by carpool.  We arrived at the PEAR Park Nature Center at 9:00 am and were met by our tour leader Wendy Poag.

Sitting under a shaded outdoor canopy, we were giving an overview of the 314-acre site and offered literature.   Next we strolled through the surrounding native garden, viewed a variety of native plants, and learned how to ID some common weeds that look similar.  There is a bird blind complete with a "green roof".

The highlight of the tour was a stroll through the native plant and butterfly garden.  We saw large mature specimens of plants that we might use in our landscape.

At 11:00 am some of the group asked to see the native trees in the memorial garden.  These were planted and maintained by volunteers to provide a place that the public can see what each looks like.

Eight of the group stopped at a local Deli for a lunch under the shade of some oak trees and discussed what we had seen and how wonderful a morning it had been.

Note: I went on this trip. Wendy Poag, Lake County Parks and Trails as their Naturalist/Land Steward, is an amazing source of information about our area native plants. The beauty of taking one of our trips is that Georgette always finds a leader or interpreter to help us better understand what we see.


April 28 8:00am - Fort Cooper State Park - Led by Ranger Tammy Roberts

3100 S. Old Floral City Road,Inverness,FL 34450
Over 700 acres of nature (details and sign-up sheets at the meeting)

Carpool Departs 8:30 am
Limited to 15 participants; $5 donation (+ $5 per car entry fee)

On Thursday, April 28, 8:00am we meet at Big Cypress Recreation Center to form car pools. We will return by Noon. We will be led by Ranger Tammy Roberts through Fort Cooper State Park to see hammocks and sand hill communities. Fort Cooper is located two miles south of Inverness, off of U.S. Highway 41 on South Old Floral City Road.

Come join us for a nice day outing.

Fort Cooper State Park

April 21 8:00am – Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest (Bus / walking tour with lunch – price $65 includes transportation, lunch & tour leader fee)  Experience several pine and mixed hardwood ecosystems in the Ocala National Forest.  Bus will depart the parking lot at Sumter Landing. 

Trip Report

In cool temperatures and clear skies, our group of 18 chapter members departed by bus from Sumter Landing promptly at 7:35 am.  We met our guide Kimberly Tillman (a wildlife biologist) at the Pittman Visitor Center by 8:30 am.  From there we hiked into a long leaf pine forest that had a prescribed burn 2 years earlier and was the site of a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker cluster.

Kimberly enthusiastically told us how the federally listed birds were being re-populated, banded, and nest boxes placed in trees for them.  We learned why fire is an essential part of the pine forest and how the prescribed burns are carried out.

Our second stop was Alexander Springs where we ate our individual orders from Panera Bread.  We then took a short hike around the headspring boardwalk to a look out on the other side.  This mesic hardwood forest community was very different from the sand hill community visited earlier.

Finally a short stop was made at another long leaf pine location along the highway where we identified silk grass, greeneyes and bear grass.  There were also sand live oaks and an occasional sand pine tree.

Everyone had a great outing; (Even the driver commented on how much he learned).  We arrived safely back in Sumter Landing around 2:45 pm.

2015 Trip to Ocala National Forest

April 12 Lake Griffin State Park Native Plant Maintenance Project

Read story.

April 6 8:00am - Biosphere Nursery led by owner-Jim Thomas

14908 Tiden Road, Winter Garden FL 34787
Native plant nursery, creating habitats to conserve water, decrease maintenance and use little or no pesticides. Very reasonable prices

Link to  2015 Trip to Biosphere Nursery

March 22 - Green Isle Gardens – Native Plant Nursery

11303 Hwy 33, Grooveland 34736
Visit an 8 acre native plant nursery.  Purchase trees, shrubs, flowers, vines, and clump grasses. Meet at Big Cypress at 8:00 am. 10% FNPS discount. Marc donates plants each month for our chapter chance drawings. Link to 2015 Trips to Green Isle Gardens.

Trip Report

On a cool, but sunny morning, a total of 14 chapter members carpooled from Big Cypress Recreational Center to the native plant nursery in Groveland, called Green Isle Gardens.  The owner / operator, Marc Godts provided a private tour.  Marc began with a story of a "weed" which was also a host plant for a moth.  He showed us a row of native Red Mulberry trees which he has "espaliered" to make access to the sweet berries easier.  We then walked down the isles of annuals, perennials, and clump grasses while Marc explained the plants and answered questions.  We went inside the greenhouse which is also the potting area, then toured the shrubs and finally the shade-loving plants.  Immediately following the tour everyone dispersed as they shopped for the plants that they wanted.    After paying, we all had lunch at the local diner called, The Red Wing then returned to The Villages eager to give the plants a home in our landscapes.

Feb 29, 2016 Lake Griffin State Park

3089 US Highway 441/27,Fruitland Park, FL 34731
Walk on the Wild Side led by Park Manager Rachel Nunlist

Trip Report

Jan 26, 2016 Withlacoochee State Forest

The Croom Tract has more than 20,000 acres of cypress and longleaf pine forests and includes 13 winding miles of the Withlacoochee River, which reaches its widest expanse and forms Silver Lake, a prime recreation spot.

Arthur Clothier, Sumter County Forester, explained the benefits of prescribed burns, showing us how fire beneficially impacts vegetative succession in southern pine forests. These fires are necessary to improve and protect natural resources, such as the Saw Palmettos. The Saw Palmettos are one of the oldest plants in the forest and the winter burns help them grow. The fires are a natural force in sandhill, pine flat woods and scrub plant communities. Without fire, these communities would mature into oak forests.

We also observed cactus and pocket gopher mounds in the sandy areas. The pocket gopher needs deep, well-drained sandy soil.

Our group, our two foresters, Heather and Arthur and members Sue, Annie, Bill, LInda and Steve. Not pictured is Georgette behind the camera.

Croom Tract  and Croom WMA

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