“Coastal highways showcase wildflower diversity”

“Coastal highways showcase wildflower diversity”

Photo: Steve Coleman
“Georgia tickseed (Coreopsis nudata) is a short-lived native perennial that thrives in wet conditions.”

“While driving or riding around the local roads at this time of the year you might think – wow, look at all those wildflowers. They may all look alike as they blur past your window, but did you ever take the time to check the intricate details of these amazing flowers?

A popular road this time of year is Highway 65 that goes through Sumatra.

Visit some of the unique local shops along the way – they are a great source of information as to where the best wildflower viewing sites are in that particular area. The UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore (https://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/) has a number of books that go into much more detail about wildflowers.

All of this beauty is right in your backyard… If you miss this season’s show, fear not – there will be an encore in the fall.”

— Carole McKay, Guest columnist,Tallahassee Democrat

Read this article for additional info on plants including photoshttps://www.tallahassee.com/story/life/home-garden/2018/05/31/coastal-highways-showcase-wildflower-diversity/656663002/

Legal: “Trees for the planting, thanks to tree mitigation fund”

Legal: “Trees for the planting, thanks to tree mitigation fund”

Photo: Resident Community News

“If you’ve always wanted or needed to plant a tree in the right-of-way in front of your property, now you can, thanks to the City of Jacksonville’s tree settlement with a variety of civic groups in July 2017.

The suit filed in 2015 by the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida challenged the city’s use of the Tree Mitigation Trust Fund established in 2000 by charter amendment. Developers pay into the fund when they cut down trees and the money is supposed to be used to mitigate the loss by paying for new trees to be planted elsewhere in Duval County.

Although the $20 million settlement provides funds for trees to be replaced or added to public property, including that strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk in front of your home, each request for a tree requires that a bill be filed for approval by the Jacksonville City Council…”

— Kate A. Hallock,Resident Community News

Read details on how to apply here

“Two vacant lots in the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg. Why does one look so much nicer?”

“Two vacant lots in the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg. Why does one look so much nicer?”

Photos: Susan Taylor Martin, St. Pete Times

“When several old buildings on the 400 block of Central Avenue were demolished two years ago, the owners were required to attractively fence and landscape the property.

The reason? To avoid having an unsightly vacant lot in the “heart of downtown,’’ city planning director Dave Goodwin said at the time.

But for more than a decade, a big parcel a few blocks to the east and even more in the heart of downtown has remained an unsightly vacant lot. Is that a problem?

‘Yes, that is why we changed the code,’ city zoning official Elizabeth Abernethey said this month.

Seems that the un-landscaped lot, once planned for a Grand Bohemian hotel and more recently a 35-story apartment tower, was cleared in 2005, three years before the new code took effect…

Meanwhile, the 400 block of Central — which was subject to the regulations — has been temporarily transformed into a lovely private park surrounded by expensive black-iron, estate-style fencing.

Under a 2008 change to its Land Development Regulations, the city won’t issue a demolition permit in the downtown area unless the applicant has a city-approved site plan and meets ‘any pre-demolition conditions.’

As a condition of selling the 400 block of Central to billionaire John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group in 2016, one of the owners, First States, had to clear the property of three buildings and a crumbling parking garage. To get the demolition permit, it also had to landscape the entire 2.5 acre site, which included laying 100,000 square feet of sod and planting shrubbery along the fence. The total cost was estimated at several hundred thousand dollars.

Catsimatidis, who famously said ‘St. Pete needs a skyline,’ plans a soaring mixed-use tower on the property. Many of those who live and work in the area, though, hope he takes his time so they continue to enjoy the tranquil oasis there now.

Says Anna Sprito, who works in a downtown bank: ‘It’s really nice to walk by and look at and see some greenery.'”

— Susan Taylor Martin, Waveney Ann Moore,Tampa Bay Times

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“FPL looks to cities, counties to regulate tree trimming for next storm season”

“FPL looks to cities, counties to regulate tree trimming for next storm season”

Photo: Sun Sentinel

“Toppled trees left many South Florida residents in the dark after Hurricane Irma…

Ninety percent of FPL’s customers, or 13 million people, lost power as a result of Irma.

One of those people without power for 10 days was Broward County Commissioner (and former Broward Mayor) Barbara Sharief, and she’s determined that’s not going to happen again — at least not because of overgrown trees.

Sharief is proposing an ordinance that would fine property owners who violate FPL’s ‘Right Tree, Right Place’ program.

Expected to be on the Broward commission’s agenda in April or early May, the ordinance would fine owners $500 if they fail to relocate, replace or remove trees that don’t meet the ‘Right Tree’ code, and $500 if a property owner fails to properly prune an existing tree that may violate the code, or fails to notify FPL of a tree that can’t be brought to code..

Parkland adopted a similar ordinance after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma…

 In a letter by FPL attorney Kenneth Rubin to the Public Service Commission, FPL estimated it would cost $8 million to $9 million more to trim half the territory every two years, instead of a third every three years, which is currently the practice.

‘Legislation, particularly at the local level (e.g., municipal and county ordinances), could be enacted that restricts the type and location of vegetation that can be planted in the vicinity of power lines. Legislation could also provide electric utilities additional rights to address existing vegetation conditions on customers’ property that impede operation or maintenance of utility facilities,’ wrote Rubin in his response to state regulators’ questions regarding recent hurricane damage.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams said he would like to see the county and FPL work together on the issue.

‘We’re a heavily landscaped county. There are some old neighborhoods where the trees have been existing for ages,’ he said.

Norm Easey, CEO of the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture in Sarasota, said FPL does a good job of vegetation management in the state, but ‘we don’t help ourselves. There are many communities that are OK with planting huge trees underneath power lines.’

Still, the overgrowth is not completely the fault of cities or homeowners, Easey said, adding that FPL has been known to put in a power line ‘where maybe they shouldn’t. If you don’t have your ducks in a row, don’t put in the power line.’

…FPL and other electric utility customers can provide feedback online at Floridapsc.com. To leave a comment, click on ‘Consumer Comments on Hurricane Preparedness and Restoration’ in red letters…”

— Marcia Heroux Pounds,Sun Sentinel

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“After decades of destruction, native orchids making a comeback”

“After decades of destruction, native orchids making a comeback”

Photo: South Florida Sun Sentinel

“The delicate Florida Butterfly orchid, decimated by development and illegal collection over the past century, is about to make a comeback in Palm Beach County.

Students at 12 schools have been attaching them to trees on their campuses, where they are expected to flourish unimpeded over the next six months. Several businesses and clubs are also propagating the fragrant plants, creating a potential native orchid renaissance that is already spreading through South Florida.

The flowers are budding as part of the Million Orchid Project, a plan developed by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables to replenish South Florida’s native orchids in urban settings…

The Million Orchid Project started in 2012, after Fairchild garden officials observed a similar propagation project in Singapore, said Jason Downing, a Fairchild conservation biologist. Now four sites in Miami-Dade are growing the plants and introducing them to native trees, making sure to attach only orchids that are native to the area and won’t crowd out local native flora, he said…


Orchids are a colorful group of flowering plants made up of petals, sepals and lips. There are about 30,000 varieties.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables began the Million Orchid Project in 2012. The garden wants to replenish the wild orchid population that has been decimated by theft and development.

Orchids can be grown at home. Many people make the mistake of overwatering them. They need a south or east-facing window and a balanced fertilizer, according to the American Orchid Society.

Pine Jog Environmental Center is planning to release an orchid-growing kit later this year called OrKit.”

— Lois K. Solomon, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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