PERFECT ISLAND

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ACTION

If you are now interested, and you want to DO SOMETHING, but you do not know how or where to get started ...

START HERE:

1. Go to the PLANTS page.

Focus all of your interest and efforts on the portion of the list that is appropriate for the location where you reside. Do not let your interest stray to the other natives you stumble across in your searches for information about your list, no matter how fascinating and enticing they are. There will be plenty of time for pushing the envelope later.

2. Go to the LIBRARY in Holmes Beach.

Take a list of the book titles on the BOOKS page with you, and take your plant list with you. Browse through the books on the special reference shelf donated by the Anna Maria Environmental Enhancement and Education Committee. Look up some of the plants on your list. Note which books are the most helpful.

3. Go to AMAZON.

Order one good book, or as many as you can afford. Read as much as you can on every plant on your short list.

4. Go ONLINE.

Use the links on the WEBLINKS page. Look up your plants on The Plant Atlas. Check out the Maps there to see if their native zone extends more toward south Florida or more to the north. Do an image search on Google or Alltheweb for each plant.

5. Go see REAL PLANTS.

Visit the parks and preserves where natives grow. Call me (778-1200) I will give you a quick tour around the Anna Maria City Hall grounds. Visit DeSoto Landing in Bradenton, Leffis Key opposite Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island, Durante Park on Longboat Key, or the park at the southern tip of Lido Key. Take a day trip to Fort Desoto Park or Honeymoon Island, both in Pinellas County, or take the ferry from Boca Grande over to Cayo Costa.

6. Go to a NATIVE NURSERY.

Find a retail native nursery on the WEBLINKS page (and soon also on the SOURCES page). Take your plant list. They have knowledge and experience specific to your location that you cannot get from the books and the web. And buy something from the list -- a shrub, a groundcover, and a few wildflowers.

7. Go into YOUR YARD.

Plant your new plants into your landscape. You do not have to kill your beloved Hibiscus etc. -- yet. You can wait until that love fades on its own. And it will, because that nursery you went to will become your new candy store, ever luring you back.

Very early in the development of the Maritime Forest Preserve, before I fully understood the potential of natives, I rescued 5 pups from a giant Traveler's palm that was felled at a building site. I planted them in a bed at the Preserve and nursed them like my own children for over a decade. But as the Live oak and Sand live oaks, Sugarberry trees and the Stoppers, the Coontie and the Beach creeper all matured around them among the Cabbage palm clusters, those palms became year by year more and more absurd. This year they were replaced with new native shrubs sans the shedding of a single tear.

8. Go to the NEXT LEVEL.

The enthusiasm that will grow out of your experiences in converting your own yard to a patch of perfect island nature will be accompanied by the urge to share it with your friends, neighbors, and countrymen. To that end, you should consider one or more of the following.

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JOIN OR FOUND A GROUP:

1. The Florida Native Plant Society

Join the Serenoa chapter of the Society. This chapter covers DeSoto, Sarasota, Manatee and Hardee Counties. Members meet on the 3rd Monday of the month, September through May, at 7:00 pm at Selby Botanical Gardens located at 811 Palm Ave S. in Sarasota. For Information about the chapter, contact Trish and Bob Egolf (941)351-2961.

2. City of Anna Maria EEEC

Call the Environmental Enhancement and Education Committee's Chairman Tim Eiseler at 778-5115.

3. Add a Group to This List

Go to the bottom of this page -- or any page. Write me a message with the name of any other group in the region that has as at least part of its purpose the increase of native vegetation on the barrier islands.

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DONATE TIME:

1. Help Write Grants

There are grants of up to $10,000 every year to cities to help pay for the removal of exotic trees, for up to $2,000 to volunteer groups to beautify neighborhoods, for up to $3,500 to groups or individuals for water conservation educational projects that can include native plants for public purposes. Get that money and use it to perfect these islands!

2. Help Pull Weeds

Maintenance in a native landscape does not involve mowers and weed whackers. The most important job is to keep newly planted beds free of weeds for a year or so until the native shrubs and groundcovers smother out any opportunity for them to grow. In the preserves that are usually not irrigated, it can take longer. Now, it is a fact widely known by volunteers who try to enlist others to join them that virtually everyone asked will already have at the ready a bad back or failing knees. But there are at least 2, maybe 3, in each community who grasp the full therapeutic soul-invigorating powers of pulling weeds. In addition to the hypnotic repetitive action that can sustain for hours on end the pleasures of deep introspection, self-debate, and meditation, each and every step backwards to view the results is accompanied by a rush of gratification -- an instant sense of self achievement. If you are one of these nature-blessed few, this would be your greatest contribution -- better than money! To contribute in this way to a Preserve in Anna Maria, call me: Mike at 778-1200. [And learning how to maintain natives is the fastest way to get to know them and how to use them.]

DONATE MONEY:

1. Add Natives to your Island

Write a check to your city, specifying on the check that it is a donation for a specific native tree from your list. The City of Anna Maria recently approved a policy to channel donations in memory or in honor of persons away from benches to trees. For a donation from $200 up, a native tree will be planted on public grounds and the person's name will be added to the botanical tag identifying it. The Live oak and surrounding bed of native shrubs screening the neighboring property from the rear parking lot at the Anna Maria City Hall were donated under this policy. And the beautiful Gumbo-limbo by Belle Haven cottage of the Anna Maria Historical Society also was.

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