Gumbo Limbo – Not a New Dance But Good for Native Landscaping

These days, most merry-go-round horses are made from molded fiberglass and plastic. However, in the days when they were carved from wood, most of them were made from gumbo limbo, Bursera simaruba. Gumbo limbo is one of the most recognizable trees in the tropical hardwood hammock of the Florida Keys. Its red, peeling bark has […]
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Florida Keys Cacti – Barbed-Wire and Florida Semaphore Cactus

While many folks associate cactus with the sand and heat of a desert in the western part of the United States, South Florida and the Florida Keys are home to six species of native cacti. In this week’s edition of Nature’s Corner, we will introduce you to two native Florida Keys cacti: the barbed-wire cactus […]
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Create an Oasis for Butterflies in Your Florida Keys Landscape

Most of us have heard the saying, “Build it and they will come.” Can we apply this to attracting butterflies? If so, what are we building? The answer to the first question is definitely yes. The answer to what we are building is a little more complicated. Before you create a butterfly garden you must […]
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Plants Iguanas and Key Deer Ignore or Eat

Iguanas and Key Deer are plant eating animals and will eat many kinds of plants. In particular, they like flowering shrubs, like hibiscus, berries, fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, strawberries and figs. The best way for eliminating iguanas is to keep them out of the garden in the first place. This form of iguana control […]
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Mangoes As Money Makes The Most Of A Fruity Season

South Floridians are no strangers to mangoes – the time of year when round colorful fruit falls from trees in backyards across the region. One local business is taking advantage, and using the fruit almost as currency. The Whip N’ Dip ice cream shop, 1407 Sunset Dr., Coral Gables,  has a sign in the window that […]
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Health Can Bloom in the Florida Keys Home Garden

No one thinks of the Florida Keys as a major farming community anymore, but it was in the 1800s. Thousands of bushels of tomatoes were produced and canned. In 1882 Keys farmers sold $200,000 worth of pineapples alone. They sold Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, and cassava, as well as the plentiful […]
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Poisonwood: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

More than 150 native plants call the Florida Keys their home and a few people can identify all of them. However, the poisonwood tree is one plant that everyone, both residents and visitors, should learn to identify. “Why?” you ask. Poisonwood – the Good: Although poisonwood may not be considered man’s best friend, it provides food […]
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Stock Island Nursery Cultivates Rare and Endangered Plants

The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is a Stock Island nursery that is one of the Lower Keys’ best-kept secrets, a sanctuary for plants and people just off College Road. And at the heart of the 7.5-acre garden is a native plant nursery where it all begins. The nursery was born of necessity, […]
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DOT Gives 4 Miles of Islamorada U.S. 1 a New Bloom

Rows of new pink bougainvillea and other plants now line four miles of the Islamorada U.S. 1 corridor on Upper Matecumbe Key. A five-month project to landscape the Islamorada highway shoulders from mile marker 81.5 to marker 85.6 should finish its planting phase in early June, said Paulette Summers, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department […]
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Dahoon Holly is Tolerant and Colorful

Pagans wore holly in their hair to ward off evil spirits and gave it as gifts in honor of the winter solstice at the Saturnalia celebration. Christians took advantage of its winter green-and-red colors, removed one ‘l’ and called it holy, comparing it to the crown of thorns and sacrificial blood. But don’t eat the […]
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Wildlife Corridors: Nature’s Highway In Your Yard

Public and private gardens, including the green places (Wildlife Corridors) in each individual’s yard, play a wide role in wildlife and bird conservation. They create an urban or suburban corridor to enhance migration. For instance, in Key West there is a corridor from the Botanical Gardens on Stock Island to the salt ponds beside the […]
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Florida Keys Hammocks: Story of the Understory

South Florida forests are known as “hammocks,” which is derived from a Native American word meaning “shade tree.” Walking into a hammock in the Florida Keys, you will see many tree trunks, and if you don’t know the trees by their bark, you will have to look up to find leaves to identify them. These […]
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Native Plants: A Better Florida Keys Alternative

“I got rid of my lawn,” said self-identified plant-aholic Patricia Nolan. “I covered it with cardboard, mulch and began building soil. Now my yard is full of birds, bees and butterflies, all like little children.” Nolan was speaking before the lecture at the Key West Botanical Gardens given by Janice Duquesnel, a biological scientist from […]
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