Here I am, sitting on my back patio enjoying a cool refreshment after a long, hot day in Florida’s early September sun. As I sit here, I can’t help but notice all of the fluttering in my backyard plantings. There is so much life: zebra longwings and zebra swallowtails, monarchs, Gulf fritillaries, and a few Sulphurs too. The birds are also here: cardinals, hummingbirds, sparrows, and mockingbirds are darting in and out of the shrubs, feeding on Simpson Stopper berries. I also take note of the deafening sound of our end of summer cicadas.
Granted, I have grown-up knowing that planting Florida native plants attracts these creatures, and the need to survive makes for a more interesting visual view. A more interesting view than just colorful or textured plants which only appeal to our human eyes. All of the sounds and movement, combined with actually seeing life in action, makes creating a native plant habitat or garden space so much more satisfying. I find it most enjoyable to see the child-like fascination of our guests when they visit the nursery and see all of the life the native plants attract. They often want to learn more about each species and learn what a specific plant needs to flourish. We are getting closer to the day when this contagious excitement spreads beyond the environmentally friendly crowd and into the general public. Green Isle Gardens provides over 200 native plant species our wildlife require as a food source, shelter, or as a place to raise their young. The plants, shrubs, and trees offered at Green Isle Gardens can be used in everyday landscapes. Landscapers and designers can and should utilize native plants, and with a little education on selection type and maintenance procedures, we hope to make this a reality. OUTSIDE Collab is a progressive forward movement helping professionals make developmental changes for more usage of native plants. There will be a day when future generations wonder why we waited so long to make these changes. Why didn’t we plant the native plants our creatures needed for survival? But until then, I’m glad we are making such great strides forward. We will continue to support and work alongside OUTSIDE Collab and others to promote life.
by Marc Godts
Marc is the owner of Green Isle Gardens Nursery located in Groveland, Florida. He has over 30 years of experience in the landscape construction industry and is retired from one of Central Florida’s largest landscape construction firms. His portfolio includes theme park projects, education facilities, state and municipal projects, restoration plantings, hotels, streetscapes, and specialty home projects.