In January of 2021, Cherrylake embarked on a new endeavor, The Edge, which aimed to design and implement a Florida native landscape trial. To bring this project to fruition, we partnered with universities, landscape architects, researchers, native nurseries, and Florida native specialists. The Edge planting was strategically located along the perimeter of our ornamental tree farm located in Groveland, Florida. The area selected for this project was located at the edge of both Cherrylake and a public roadway. The planting’s aesthetic aimed to be more organic and natural in comparison with the organized landscaping designs typically seen in Central Florida.
Our Construction Group broke ground in spring 2021 to install irrigation, as well as several 1,400-gallon Live Oaks and Miss Chloe Magnolias to provide a sense of maturity and shade. The site’s 14,000 square feet of bahiagrass, devoid of any visible wildlife, underwent a radical transformation into a vibrant sanctuary for pollinators. The team planted nearly 5,200 Florida native plants, carefully selected to bloom at different seasons to provide a year-round supply of food and flowers. It was a team effort as most of the plantings were grown by Cherrylake’s Production team, and we were thrilled to be able to share The Edge with the public.
The moment the first trailer of plants arrived at The Edge, so did the pollinators. The team witnessed honeybees and generations of bumblebees scour the ⅓ acre of new blooms foraging for pollen and nectar. Butterflies lay eggs on their host plant and songbirds fed on the nutrient-rich caterpillars that resulted. So much was learned by monitoring, maintaining, and experimenting with new things since that first plant installation.
In fall of 2021 we decided to contrast the dynamic “designed by nature” feel of the first Edge planting with a more traditional roadside landscape. The broader structured plant masses of similar species presented more color and uniformity, while being more easily admired by interstate travelers at high speeds. Wider spacing and use of more evergreen plants were selected to promote sustainability and long term structure.
In spring of 2022, the wildflowers in The Edge and The Edge 2 sprung to life and grew at an astonishing rate in comparison to year one, creating a more lush and mature appearance than in year one. Bumblebee populations have flourished, gopher tortoises have made a home, and the entire dynamic of the planting has evolved drastically. What was once a large patch of grass is now teeming with life. It has become a vibrant food chain that is literally restoring this plot of land to what it may have been hundreds—or even thousands of years ago.
Our learning from The Edge and The Edge 2 has been exponential. The knowledge gained from these initiatives has far-reaching implications, as the steps we take at a local level can have a profound impact globally. By creating landscapes that coexist with, rather than oppose, our environment, we are making the world a more beautiful place for future generations. Our commitment to sustainable practices is not just a matter of aesthetics; it is a fundamental responsibility to safeguard the planet and promote a healthier ecosystem. We will continue to learn and innovate, striving to create landscapes that prioritize ecological balance and foster a sustainable future.