Meet board member Kody Smith

Kody joined the Florida Wildflower Foundation board in September 2021. He is the CEO and senior principal landscape architect at Dix.Hite + Partners.

Kody volunteering at the installation of a native plant garden in the City of Longwood.

What brought you to Florida and inspired you to make it your home?

Attending Purdue University’s Landscape Architecture program requires a 1-year co-op internship. As a part of this experience, I chose to come to Orlando in 2006, returning to school for my senior year in 2007. While it wasn’t immediately clear to me at the time, I had grown to love the Florida landscape (and weather). Upon graduating in 2008, I decided to move back to Florida for what I thought would be a few years. That few years has turned into 16 years – a house and garden that we love, an amazing daughter and wife and a dog! After being in Central Florida for 7 years, my adoration for Florida’s natural systems overcame my desire to relocate. It’s integral in the way my family live our lives and how I’ve chosen to practice Landscape Architecture.

You’ve worked on projects throughout the world, what are a few projects/places that are the most memorable for you?

In working on projects all over the world, I’ve come to appreciate many places – especially those I’ve had the opportunity to visit multiple times. Top of the list would be Greenville, SC. Our team spent a lot of time in this beautiful City, walking its streets, visiting its cultural destinations, and, best of all, enjoying its food! I had the opportunity to spend my second week with Dix.Hite + Partners in Hawaii! On the Island of Oahu for a weeklong design workshop, the trip was filled with site visits on the water and hiking Diamond Head. Beyond travel, I have greatly appreciated working in Florida with the ability to see built landscapes come to life and provide so much benefit over time. Of these, my 10+ years of work at Starkey Ranch and recent openings of Winter Park Village and the Packing District in Orlando stand out.

How did you get involved with the Florida Wildflower Foundation?

Living in College Park, we spend a lot of time walking in the community. In doing so, I met Dena Wild, a long-time board member. She learned that I was a Landscape Architect and asked me to consider joining the Foundation. I joined excitedly and have only come to appreciate the people, its mission, and our wildflowers more over time.

Starkey Ranch

How does your experience as a Landscape Architect and your leadership at Dix.Hite help advance the Foundation’s mission to protect, connect and expand native wildflower habitats?

I thrive on having impact. For me, planting landscapes that decrease demand on our infrastructure (water, (loud) maintenance, herbicides, pesticides etc.) is key. I am constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with cities and counties, developers, and other key stakeholders to increase awareness by getting plants in the ground. With this, we learn more about the species, increase biodiversity and further normalize native landscapes in the public’s eye.

What are some of your favorite areas to visit and see native wildflowers? 

My house is top of the list. Each day after work, my wife, daughter and I spend time in the garden looking for new advancements. We constantly incorporate new species into the mix to understand how they perform and what beauty they bring. In doing so, I gain professional comfort in how we can use these plants in our work. Second to that is the Bok Tower Gardens, especially the Children’s Garden. Its landscape curation beautifully contrasts the clean and simple architecture, celebrating both forms.

Kody’s native plant landscape at home.

What is your favorite native Florida wildflower?

Stoke’s aster (Stokesia laevis)! This is a species I’ve been watching in our own yard and it’s one that still has a sense of mystery to me. It seems to appreciate both shade and sun. It’s one that builds its blooms rather slowly. Also, it’s purple – which is a great compliment to the mostly yellow and red blooms seen in Florida’s most common wildflowers.