Green Palmetto Award for Tarflower Chapter

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on: March 31, 2008, 10:49:24 PM
The Tarflower Chapter has been nominated by a member for a Green Palmetto (chapter) award.  The nomination was late due to confusion on how to submit the nomination (it went to the wrong person who has now passed it on for your consideration). 

The Tarflower Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has completed a busy and rewarding 2007 calendar year of interesting monthly programs on a variety of native plant and environmental topics, regular field trips to Central Florida's numerous ecosystems, several special community events including a home garden tour and an environmental panel discussion presentation, and native plant rescues in local areas slated for development.  Those programs and activities were successful in educating members and non-members alike about native plants in the wild, their uses in home landscapes, as well as their companion ecosystems.  The Tarflower Chapter supported these activities with funds raised in local activities such as the annual native plant sale at Leu Gardens.  The impetus for much of this has been through our Chapter President, Catherine Read-Stoccardo, whose strength is furthering communication among the Tarflower chapter members and allowing members’ strengths to be brought forward.  Equally, our chapter board has been a very cohesive group of dedicated individuals working unselfishly to develop new ideas and implement them.
 
Some of the outstanding topics of monthly meetings held the first Tuesday of each month at Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N. Forest Avenue, Orlando, Fl. at 7:00 p.m. included “Butterflies and Their Host Plants” by Marc Minno; “Florida Wildflowers” by Tracy McCommon; “Prescribed Fires” by Zach Prusak; “Always Learning-Getting the Most from Your Field Trip” by Paul Eisenbrown; and “Asclepias” by Dr. Walter Taylor.  With local publicity for these meetings, the Tarflower Chapter was able to draw hundreds of members and visitors, as well as recruit new FNPS members.  A display and description of a group of native plants is also included in each monthly meeting allowing members to learn how these plants can be used in their landscapes.
 
The Tarflower Chapter's monthly field trips also drew members and nonmembers alike. For example, in May, Liz Block, Education Chairman, organized a Garden Tour of Homes aimed at educating the community about the advantages and possibilities of native plant applications in the home garden. With the assistance of Tarflower volunteer guides, the homes of eight chapter members were opened to the public for an entire day.  The tour included the garden of Richard Poole featuring a nesting box with a live video feed by which visitors could view the care and feeding of the baby birds.  Cecelia Catron's garden displayed many butterfly plants with an abundance of caterpillars and butterflies flitting about. Catherine and Eugene Stoccardo’s home, an FNPS award winning landscape, highlighted native plants in an urban landscape.
 
Other 2007 monthly field trips included a trip to Wekiva Springs State Park with the burn program presenter, Zach Prusak. On the field trip, members had an opportunity to explore and observe a recently burned sandhill habitat, a follow-up to the program he gave on the same subject.  In October over twenty-five members, some from other chapters, headed to the Florida panhandle, specifically Jackson and Calhoun Counties, for a weekend of hiking acres of sandhills, clayhills, swamps, creeks, and lakes. Leaders from North Florida, providing information about the areas we visited included Guy Anglin, Billy Boothe and Travis MacClendon who was also one of our gracious hosts.  A wonderful program was presented in December by Phyllis Gray to share this great time with the rest of the chapter.
 
In November the chapter assembled a panel of experts on water usage in Florida and the growing need for conservation and regulation while highlighting the importance of landscaping with native plants.  Panelists included Tom MacCubbin, UF/IFAS Extension Agent Emeritus; William Bissett, Landscape Architect; Jack Stout, Professor of Ecology, UCF; Catherine Johnson, Orange County EPD; Jay Stainer, Water conservation Officer for the City of Oviedo; David Drylie, Landscape Architect; Chris Byrd, Everglades Law Center; and Robert Fewster, Water Use Regulation, SJRWMD.  The program was recorded by Orange TV to be aired repeatedly to the Central Florida viewing community throughout the year.  Nearly 200 people attended this outstanding event.
 
To increase public awareness of native plants, their native ecosystems, and their applications, Tarflower Chapter members hosted information booths at a number of local public events such as the Tibet Butler Preserve Annual Festival, the Wekiva Riverfest, and Focus the Nation at University of Central Florida campus.  Chapter volunteers distributed printed native plant information, answered questions, and led hikes through local habitats. 
 
The Tarflower Chapter plant rescue crew made numerous plant saves at area sites slated for development.  The rescue sites included multiple ecosystems from wetlands and pine flatwoods at the Orlando International Airport, to dry upland clayhill and sandhill from Volusia, Orange and Osceola Counties.  Wetland plants rescued have been shared with restoration areas at the Central Florida Zoo, Langford Park, and the upland plants will be used in the restoration of the Oakland Nature Preserve and University of Central Florida (UCF) natural lands.  Numerous endangered plants such as Nolina brittoniana, Eriogonum longifolium were given to Bok Sanctuary for their Endangered Plant research; while hundreds of Liatris (spp.) bulbs, numerous Garberia, Calamintha, and Helianthemum corybmosum went into restoration projects and back yards, and a new rescue technique is being perfected for Asminas (spp.) which has resisted salvaging to date.  Plant Rescue chairs, Jackie Rolly and Marge Holt, have been instrumental in the challenging job of rescuing plants as well as locating new homes for and moving them to new areas. They will be presenting a program on plant rescue at the FNPS state conference in May.
 
Overall, the 2007 calendar year has been one of learning about native plants and their associated uses and habitats through interesting meetings and trips into the field.  Equally, the chapter has focused efforts on distributing its accumulated knowledge about the benefits of native plants and their applications to the general public through monthly and special meetings, community activities, and various events. 
 
Submitted by Tarflower Member, Jackie Sward


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