Fall 2018 Panhandle Wildflower Alliance Newsletter

Hurricane heartbreak — recovery after Michael

Hurricane Michael roared through the Panhandle in early October, leaving a wake of damage and pain in communities throughout the region. Our hearts are with our Panhandle wildflower friends, some of whom have suffered great loss. We are so grateful for the legions of utility workers who moved in and are working tirelessly to restore service to all.

I traveled with a friend from Tallahassee recently to the Blountstown area to check on friends and was stunned by what I saw. We were moved by volunteers from all over the country who are helping with relief efforts. A disaster certainly can bring out the best in people. On another positive note, we were pleased to find the famed wildflowers of State Road 65 still flourishing on the northern end of the designated Wildflower Area in Liberty County.

Hurricane Michael scuttled our plans for a meeting with Walton County Public Works director to visit county roads to add to the wildflower program. Also, a meeting with a new group in Gadsden County had to be canceled. It will be some time before folks recover enough to turn attention to wildflowers in these areas.

Wildflowers along SR 65
Wildflowers bloom on State Road 65 in Liberty County after Hurricane Michael. Photo by Liz Sparks

I’m hopeful we can revisit in the spring and get management plans in place to conserve spring and summer blooms.

– Liz Sparks, Florida Wildflower Foundation PWA/FDOT Liaison

State Wildflower license plate

A new look for the State Wildflower license plate

The State Wildflower license plate received a facelift earlier this month! It’s still the same plate, working hard for native, natural Florida.Since its launch in 2000, the specialty plate has raised more than $4.2 million for Florida’s native wildflowers, wildlife and wild places. It provides the only consistent source of funding for Florida’s native plants and wildflowers. Besides providing support for the Panhandle Wildflower Alliance, the plate has:

  • Established more than 400 school wildflower gardens that let children experience and learn about nature.
  • Planted and protected hundreds of wildflower pollinator pathways on roadsides.
  • Increased environmental awareness in more than 2 million people throughout Florida.
State Wildflower license plate
The redesign of the State Wildflower license plate went on sale in October 2018.

Getting your plate is as easy as a phone call. Learn more at www.FlaWildflowers.org/wildflower-tag.

Volunteers needed for Sopchoppy park project

Volunteers are needed for a community planting project at Depot Park in Sopchoppy on Nov. 3 and 10. About 220 trees and shrubs will be planted on Saturday, Nov. 3. More than 300 wildflowers will be planted a week later.

Volunteers should arrive either at 7:30 a.m. to unload plants and move them to marked locations or between 9 and 10 a.m. to join planting teams. Besides planting, volunteers can help to collect empty pots, water plants and trees, apply mulch and more.

Volunteers should bring shovels and post-hole diggers, if possible, as well as gloves, water bottles, hats, sunscreen, towels, and lunch or snacks. Additional equipment such as wheelbarrows, wagons, yard carts, rakes, pruning saws/shears, hoses and buckets are needed. Large pieces of cardboard also are needed.

Volunteers should park along Rose Street or in the parking lots at Sopchoppy True Value Hardware, 6 Railroad Ave., or City Hall, 105 Municipal Ave. Those who arrive at 7:30 should should report to the back of the park where plants will be unloaded. Volunteers arriving between 9 and 10 a.m. should go to the Sopchoppy Depot, 34 Railroad Ave.

To volunteer or ask questions, please contact Lynn Artz at 850-320-2158 or lynn_artz@hotmail.com.

Pine lilies bloom in Santa Rosa, thanks to reduced mowing

Text and photos by Suzanne Spencer

Santa Rosa County’s roadside wildflower program is producing some exciting results, thanks to the modified mowing schedule on Garcon Point and Dickerson City roads. There were no Pine lilies (Lilium catesbaei) there last year, but this year quite a few blooming are at the south end of the County Road 191 Wildflower Area on Garcon Point Road. This state-listed threatened species should increase its numbers with continued avoidance of growing-season mowing.

Stephen Furman, Santa Rosa County Public Works director, has been a strong supporter of the wildflower program and instrumental in overseeing the modified mowing that has enabled this graceful species to return to the landscape.

Pine lilies along Garcon Point Road in Santa Rosa County
Pine lilies are once again in residence on Garcon Point Road in Santa Rosa County.
Swamp milkweed in garden
Swamp milkweed in the Santa Rosa County extension garden.

In other news, the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at the UF-IFAS Extension Office, 6263 Dogwood Drive, Milton, is a butterfly’s delight. Visitors will find three species of native milkweed growing there — Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias perennis)Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa) and Fewflower milkweed (A. lanceolata), as well as Angularfruit milkvine (Gonolobus suberosus). Swamp milkweedwith its dainty white flowers, is the most abundant and has been easiest to grow from seeds and cuttings. Monarch butterflies have been laying eggs, producing a good crop of caterpillars.

Benefits raise funds for St. Marks ranger Scott Davis

Beloved Milkweed/Monarch hero Scott Davis was injured in a serious motorcycle accident in July. After multiple surgeries and extensive rehab, Scott is back at work as a ranger at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. To help Scott with expenses, co-worker and friend Gail Fishman organized an online fundraiser and a benefit in Tallahassee. The benefit featured arts and crafts, a native plant sale, and a car wash held by Scott’s young fans — the Milkweed Kids — who worked hard in the hot sun to raise almost $500.

We want to hear from you!

To share wildflower news, events, and your success stories, contact Liz Sparks at 850-570-5950 or liz.aparks57@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook at Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance.