Plant a tree

by Pat Cooke, Hernando County Master Gardener

Did you know that a mature tree produces enough oxygen in one day for four people? There is a reason why time spent among the trees makes us feel good. Trees clean and freshen the air we breathe. They reduce carbon dioxide and remove many pollutants. When you consider the life span of a tree, it is a real bargain. What else can you plant in your landscape that provides years of beauty, helps cool your house in summer, provides habitat for wildlife, and cover for shade-loving plants? In the winter trees offer shelter to more tender plants from frost.

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!