Spend Time In Our County’s Natural Areas And Become An Expert Landscape Designer.

The Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society recently had their “Open Garden Day”.  These homeowner-designed yards were a real treat with lush native vegetation, winding paths and very little to no lawn. 

The quarter acre yard of Phil and Ann Weinrich, who have lived in eastern Lake Worth for 25 years, has over 100 species of native plants and is visited by over 100 species of birds throughout the year.  Their Jamaica caper and Simpson stoppers are in full bloom with sweet smelling flowers.  They only water their short ground covers once a week during the dry spell and not at all the rest of the year.  Phil takes 15 minutes to mow every few weeks with a quiet electric mower.

Visiting natural areas with the same soil conditions as your neighborhood will give you ideas of what to use in your yard and which plants go best together.  Pines and saw palmetto for dry pinelands, cypress and giant leather fern for wetlands, or the many species of our maritime hammocks are examples of what to use.  Learn at least some of our native plants before you start.  The best compliment someone can give you is ” did you landscape your yard or just preserve these beautiful plants when building”.

Marlberry will produce one half gallon of pea-sized black fruit on just an eight foot shrub. These will feed the catbirds and other migrating birds from March to May. Mulberry, gumbo limbo, elderberry, Florida privet, cocoplum and beautyberry have taken turns feeding our local birds during the spring and summer.

Cedar waxwings pass through in the spring, feeding on strangler fig and mulberries. Blackpoll, black-throated blue and the common yellowthroat warblers may also be seen. My favorite though, is the American redstart.  This warbler has yellow patches on the tail of the gray female and orange patches on the tail of the black male.  A group of these birds will hold your attention as they move through trees and shrubs while flashing open their tails, revealing their bright colors, to scare up insects.  I enjoy hearing their  bills snap when shutting on a bug.

The most interesting plantings that I have observed are ones that were created by people who simply imitated the natural groupings of plants found in their local natural areas.