On January 13th, the Calusa Garden Club was host to a presentation on Native Plants and Habitats for Marco Island. The speaker was Eryk Jadaszewski, Landscape Designer and owner of Everglades Native Design. The Fellowship Hall at the Wesley United Methodist Church was filled to capacity with club members and residents interested in learning about the benefits of native plants.
Eryk is a native Floridian, born in Lake Worth, and grew up surrounded by native plants. He is a certified arborist and early in his career, he pioneered the movement to use native plants. He considers himself a native Floridian planting native plant.
So why native plants? According to Eryk, native plants are part of our natural heritage. They are best adapted to our soils and climate when planted in the right place. They are what our native pollinators, birds and other wildlife are interconnected too. Natives did just fine in the woods without sprinklers, fertilizers and lawn services.
Native plants are low maintenance once established. Though non-native plants from other parts of the world look great in a landscape, they come at a high cost. Some of these like the Brazilian Pepper tree, ear leaf acacia and melaleuca have become “invasive,” displacing native plants and animals and costing millions of taxpayer dollars to control.
The soil in coastal areas is very sandy and all native plants are well adapted to sandy soil. Eryk sometimes amends the soil by adding compost and organic materials and extra mulch.
Eryk also shared with the members his observation that there are many landscapes in Marco that are barren of butterflies and pollinators. But when he visited the Butterfly Garden on Winterberry, you are practically swatting butterflies—thanks to incorporating native plants to the landscape.
By adding native plants in your landscape, you will be attracting birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Pollinators are important for our food crops and with less and less native plants, we have fewer seeds, fruits, nectars for our pollinators.
According to Eryk, in the last 40 years, there has been a resurgence in the use of Native Plants in Parks and landscape due to the Native Plant Society and Association of Florida Native Nurseries. Also, we are doing better now with government state agencies, some county government and local government are now mandating the use of native plants in their landscape.
So, how can we use native plants around our landscapes? The same way that most tropical exotic plants are used. According to Eryk, the landscape is meant to soften the conformity of a house. Frequent trimmings in various geometric shapes and configurations that don’t exist in nature hurt the vegetation.
Eryk advised using native plants in a more informal and naturalistic setting, mimicking clues from the wild. It does not mean you are going to plant a jungle in your yard. If interested in native plants, please visit Eryk’s website at www.evergladesnativedesigns.com.
Calusa Garden Club meets the second Monday of each month from October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island. For more information, visit CGC’s website calusa.org.