The original 20 pounds of seed was supplemented by 7 pounds of hand-collected or purchased seed acquired as matching contributions. Additional three gallon size native berries were planted, including beautyberry, coral honeysuckle and coral bean. Three hundred pots of Elliot’s lovegrass, muhly grass and wiregrass also were installed.
Today, the wildflower area encompasses several acres amidst the scrub restoration adjacent to the demonstration gardens and pavilion. Restoration in other areas of the park is ongoing. The meadow planting is slowly being expanded by hand-planting and seeding, fire control and exotic removal. Two borrow pits are being reclaimed, and groundcover restoration continues on about 20 acres that will be flatwood and sandhill communities.
The PEAR project is a showcase for planning, collaboration, patience and persistence. The coordinators were able to leverage a number of grants such as that awarded by the Foundation to amass both volume and diversity in the species restored to this site.
In late 2007, the Florida Wildflower Foundation awarded $2,188 to the PEAR Park Association for a Sandhill floral restoration project at the park. The project replanted fallow agricultural land with wildflowers, shrubs and grasses appropriate to a native sandhill community.
In all, the project used 33 species of native flowering herbs and shrubs, plus 20 pounds of wildflower seed representing another 22 species.
“There is a strong interest in restoration and preservation developing in Florida and interested volunteer help is to be had. Don’t let the fact that you are not an expert or experienced in restoration prevent you from taking on a project. You can obtain much information, advice and help from chapters of the FNPS, native nurseries, and the literature. Modest grants are available to help fund these projects... Don’t be afraid to develop techniques that work for you."
Ron Plakke, Ph.D., co-coordinator with Peg Urban of the PEAR restoration
Thousands of volunteer hours, as well as fiscal support by sponsoring agencies, was critical to the success of the restoration project. The lessons learned at PEAR Park can serve the rest of the state. For more information about PEAR Park, see the Association Website.