A Big Shout Out to the City Of Coral Gables and its Mayor

I’m writing this at the beginning of March—it is such a lovely time of year!!

This year the mango tree is just covered with blooms—yum—lots of mangos come June. The orchids in the trees are blooming too. And the jasmine twinging the tree in my front yard. It’s also the spring bird migration so if you have your windows open, you hear lots of birdsong.

You know nature is really magical. If you give it just a little love… For example, I know I’ve always talking about native plants and pollinator plants but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything else. I’m a big fan of old roses and other scented plants as well like gardenia and jasmine. Old roses don’t take a lot of fussing and they smell divine. I’ve got them on trellises. Well its been so dry the last month that I’ve taken to watering the roses and the gardenia. Just a little water, just a little love, and new leaves are popping on the gardenia and new buds on the roses.

A Big Shout Out to the City Of Coral Gables and its Mayor

Carolina Vester, Vincente Lago, Deena Bell Llewellyn

Carolina Vester, Vincente Lago, Deena Bell Llewellyn

It was July of 2020, about a year and a half ago, that Dennis Olle, President of the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association was walking across the site of a future park four blocks from his house and saw 27 SPECIES OF BUTTERFLIES!!

All because the site hadn’t been mowed lately and what Steve Woodmansee of Pronative Nurseries calls “Lawnweeds of South Florida and the Butterflies that Use Them” had been allowed to grow! Dennis went to the City and asked them to not mow a rectangular patch in the grass so the “weeds” could grow. Well that was the first experimental butterfly patch in August of 2020.

But it took over a year and the enthusiastic backing of then Vice Mayor and now Mayor Vincente Lago to get to the next step—a pollinator patch with plants that people could actually buy at native nurseries. In September 2021, Carolina Vester, Assistant Director for Recreation at Parks and Recreation with the assistance of the Coral Gables Garden Club made room for the second pollinator patch at the Youth Center. Which, by the way, is flourishing and as Carolina Vester says “Needs no maintenance and blooms all the time.”

From There Things Just Snowballed

Beach sunflowers at Granada and Alhambra, Coral Gables

Beach sunflowers at Granada and Alhambra

From there things just snowballed with Carolina spearheading the Pollinator Palooza and three other talks in the fall and a series of Garden Talks at the Farmers Market this spring. It’s a great way to educate the residents about nature! HATS OFF TO CAROLINA AND THANKS!!

Meanwhile, Deena Bell Llewellyn, Assistant Director of Public Works for Greenspace Management has been following a policy for the last six months of putting in colorful wildflowers and other blooming native plants in small areas first in the downtown and other high visibility areas when the existing plants need to be replaced. She’s experimenting in small areas to see what works before expanding. HOORAY!! Drive by Granada and Alhambra and see the gorgeous stand of beach sunflowers. You would need full sun to have these in your yard. What I have instead, since I don’t have full sun is coreopsis, Florida’s wildflower. They are beautiful and they bloom all the time. Why wouldn’t you want some in your yard???? Once she has seen how these plants do in these higher stress areas, along roads and right of ways, she plans to expand their use in other areas. The Florida Wildflower Foundation has a great pamphlet called 20 Easy to Grow Wildflowers. If you are interested in getting it, go to flawildflowers.org/20-easy-to-grow-wildflowers

Hats Off to Deena and Thanks!

I HAVE TO SAY I AM SURE NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE MAYORS SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY–A BIG SHOUTOUT AND THANKS TO VINCENTE LAGO.

I also really appreciate the work and help of Bob Boberman, a now retired Landscape Supervisor on the first Butterfly Garden we did at the Coral Gables Library and just recently when I was knocking on doors looking to get things done!!

I am very proud of my little town coming from ground zero to native plantings in their landscape and educational programs for the residents in a year and a half.

Whats The Moral Of This Story?

I was at Fairchild Gardens Connect to Protect Garden Talk at the Farmers Market this Saturday and a woman came up to me and said she lived in South Dade and she could make no headway with them. I said to her, just like I said to Mary Benton of Miami Shores last fall–persistence pays, keep trying. Mary Benton kept trying and now Miami Shores is creating Pollinator Circles which protect the “lawnweeds” for the butterflies in their parks as part of their 50th year celebration…little by little.

Puleeeze Can We Do Away With The Perfect Lawn Idea

One of the TV stations I watch keeps running ads for a “Healthy Weed Free Lawn”. Well if you’ve read down to here in this article you know that those “weeds” are actually tiny butterfly host and nectar plants—do you really want to kill them? And of course weed free means pesticides which poison your soil—so no helpful fungi in your soil either. Is a perfect lawn really worth that?

About the Author

Linda Lawrence Waldron

Linda Lawrence Waldron currently writes the Green Gables column in Gables Living Magazine. Linda was Chairman of the Garden Club's Coral Gables Library Butterfly Garden Committee.

She is the author of the Coral Gables Library Butterfly booklet (PDF). It gives you the “how to’s” for having your own butterfly garden. 
Linda attended the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, England School of Garden Design.

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