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Florida Native Plant Society's 31st Annual Conference
by Ginny Stibolt

The Florida Native Plant Society's 31st annual conference is coming up: May 19th -22nd in Maitland, Florida. There are 40 speakers and 24 field trips. There's a 2-day kids program (ages 5 to 14). Space is limited, especially for the fieldtrips, and the kids' program, and registration is open now. Here's a link to the conference website.

Last year's conference in Tallahassee included dinner under
the live oaks at Tall Timbers Research Center.

The theme this year is: "Patios, Preserves, and Public Spaces: Making Connections." Many of the sessions will cover how conserving Florida's natural ecosystems is connected to what we do in our own landscapes.

The Keynote speakers are: Rick Darke, who wrote "the Wild Garden: Expanded Edition" will talk about how landscape design and native plants merge. And Rutherford Platt who wrote "The Humane Metropolis: People and Nature in the 21st Century City". His topic is "Blooming Cities: Restoring nature in Urban America.

The field trips around the Orlando area include hikes (easy to moderate), kayaking & boat rides, buggy rides, and more. The Disney Wilderness Preserve is one tour site-here's my take on DWP after a tour there ( and here is a preview of another tour area: ( Other field trips include Black Hammock, lake Lizzie Preserve, Wekiva Springs, X- Bear Track, Audubon bird of prey center, and Sawgrass Island.

Last year's native plant sale: One member takes home a a native pawpaw.


There will be a native plant sale throughout the conference and you don't need to register to buy some plants. Isn't it time to replace those tropicals that get frosted each winter with some native plants that know what to do about the seasons?

I went to the conference last year and had a fantastic time. You can link to my live blogging from the conference and also see more photos.

What was most interesting to me is meeting people who have made a real difference with some work and a lot of dedication.

Trout lily from presentation at last year's conference.


One of my favorite presentations last year was about the Wolf Creek Preserve. A small group of conservasionists saved the southernmost and 14-acre population of trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) just over the border in Georgia. It had been slated for development, but with the recession this group raised enough money through donations and grants to save not only the 14 acres, but a good margin around it for a total of more than 25 acres.



The Florida Native Plant Society thrives because of a large group of dedicated volunteers. At the meeting last year, a large group of folks who were part of the original organization were there. Impressive.

The 30-year members pose for a photo.

Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few transplanted gardeners here in northeast Florida trying to figure out what works and what doesn't in planting zone 8/9. She's written a book, "Sustainable Gardening for Florida," published by University Press of Florida.

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