Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Milkweed

by LILLY BROWNING, Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Milkweed, or any species of Asclepias, has been in the news and filling up social media a lot in recent years. The Monarch Butterfly uses varieties of Milkweed exclusively as their host plant.

A decrease in the Monarch population has many people concerned. It has been suggested that improved weed control among American crop growers, which increases their yield, and provides more food at lower prices for us, the consumers, has brought about a crisis in the Milkweed world.

Blackberries are Ripe for the Picking

All images were taken at Bramble Creek Farms.

U-pick fruit is as fresh as you can get and it tastes better than anything you will get in a supermarket or ever from a fruit stand. Recently, James Saffell, referred to his evening pick at Bramble Creek Farms; “It’s like blackberry heaven,” as he popped one of the tasty fruits in his mouth.

As area children finish the school year, blackberries are plentiful for those seeking a healthy snack with fresh, sweet flavor. Making a visit to a local farm to pick blackberries is a great way to kick off the summer!

Florida-Friendly Plant of the Week: Southern Red Cedar

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator, Hernando County Utilities Department

Southern Red Cedar, Juniperus silicicola, is an impressive native evergreen tree that stands out in the landscape. These fast growing trees makes good windbreaks, as they grow 30-45 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide. They prefer dry soil and have a high drought tolerance. They are happy in bright sun to partial shade. They have a high salt tolerance. In sandhill topography, they are often the only bright green plant to see in the dead of winter. They provide food, cover and nesting sites for birds.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week - Shell Ginger

Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Shell Ginger, an Alpinia species, is making a hit right now with its drooping clusters of shell like, fragrant flowers. Variegated leaves are quite common on this plants, but it can also be found in a non-variegated version. It likes partial sun to shady areas. This plant does well in zones 8-11, but it is prone to freezes in central and north Florida. If it freezes back, it is less likely to flower, so in our area, the flowers are a gift only after a warm winter. Shell ginger can grow 6-12 feet tall and get to be 3-5 feet wide.

Recycling Raindrops

Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Photography by Ryan Griffis

Once upon a time, I could tell you that the rainy season will start at 4:00 PM on June 11th, and continue with a shower every day at 4:00 PM, until September 13th. For reasons which could be discussed and debated at length, we no longer have that kind of predictability. So, I’m not going to give any anecdotal predictions about this year’s rainy season. I am fairly confident it will indeed come this summer, but don’t quote me on that!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Maintained by members, Auro Community Garden is a sustainable garden using organic growing methods.

Photography by Sue Quigley

Growing your own food is undeniably the best way to get fresh, nutritious food economically, ethically and eco-friendly. But although we would all love to be able to pick vegetables straight from our garden for dinner every evening, for many it is just not possible. To be successful in growing your own food, you need enough land and nutrient-rich soil to grow that food. You have to be able bodied, have time to devote tending the garden and a budget to acquire seeds and supplies for starting a garden.

Planting the top of a Pineapple

Photography by Rocco Maglio

Have you ever wondered what you should do with the top of the pineapple that you purchased at the store? You can plant it in the ground, water it and it may grow into a pineapple plant that gives you another pineapple.

Pineapples grow well in Hernando county. The editor of the Brooksville Star began JC (John Cabell) Burwell planted pineapples in his backyard. There is a beautiful photo from 1899 of his daughter Sally standing in the pineapple garden at their house on Olive Street in downtown Brooksville.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Oakleaf Hydrangea

Lilly Browning serves as the Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator.

Hydrangea quercifolia

Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, is a fantastic native shrub to have in your yard. The flowers are white or pink, and are quite lovely. Don’t expect the ball of puffy blooms you will see on the non-native French Hydrangea, but they are prolific and stunning in their own right. Even when not in bloom, this native shrub has very large and distinct leaves, shaped like oak leaves. So, this shrub holds interest even when not flowering. It prefers dry to partially wet soil, but can do well in occasionally wet soil.

Trees Come Down at Chinsegut, Despite Couple's Efforts to Save Them

Oak logs piled up in parking area of Chinsegut Wildlife and Conservation Area

The loud droning of trucks, heavy equipment, chainsaws, and wood chippers were heard yesterday morning, May 6th at the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area as dozens of healthy native laurel oak trees were logged from the property surrounding the conservation center. The cutting of the oaks surrounding the center began on Monday May 2, leaving many areas exposed to the impending summer heat including the historic Bishop home sight, conservation center building and parking area.