What to do? Use more native plants! And
four years ago, a new chapter of the Florida
Native Plant Society, The Villages Chapter
FNPS, formed with this vision: “The Villages
becomes renowned for its extensive use of
native plants and award winning native
The Villages Chapter FNPS focuses on
converting local turf-dominated yards to all
or mostly native plants, following community
rules and standards and applying
Florida-friendly landscaping™ principles.
Designs, installation and maintenance is
done by a mix of native plant professionals
and volunteers. The yards look terrific and
every year, the chapter persuades more
homeowners to convert.
Of course, this small group of pioneers
has a long way to go in this ocean of turf and
needy non-native plants. But they are making
steady, measurable progress. And
they’ve developed resources, including lists
of preferred plants and suppliers, and are
working with the University of Florida to develop
standard landscape designs for the
different lot types (e.g., rectangular, cul de
sac) in the communities. They provide
monthly education programs, landscape
tours for residents twice a year and have
published multiple slideshows and videos on
YouTube.com. Chapter President Steve
Turnipseed speaks regularly at native plant
education programs around the state and
has won awards for his personal landscape.
What they’re doing, you can do too.
Above: Water bill shows reduced consumption over past
year for landscape partially pictured on page 5. This Villages
property owner reduced their water use by 70%,
simply by converting the turfgrass areas to native plants.
Using properly selected native plants can dramatically reduce
your need to irrigate. Think about it: who’s watering
the woods? Native plants thrive on rainfall.
Left: This orderly backyard in The Villages provides
habitat for wildlife and some privacy for the owner, who
lives on a busy golf course. In the foreground, Sunshine
Mimosa, Mimosa strigillosa is the groundcover. To the
right, a pergola planted on top with a native flowering
vine mix of Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens,
and Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, attracts butterflies
and shades a seating area. The rocky pond recycles water
and supports wildlife. Neatly trimmed native trees and
shrubs provide nesting area and cover for many birds.
For professionals and plants:
Also see “Going Native in The
Villages” video at FlipMyFlorida-
Yard.com, sponsored by the Native
Plant Horticulture Foundation, and
search YouTube.com with keywords
“native plants” and “The Villages”
For your local chapter of the Florida
Native Plant Society: FNPS.org
For strategies and community
education programs, your county
http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/ and the
University of Florida Florida-friendly
Tips for Homeowners
Know the rules and play by the rules. You bought into the community.
Don’t break the rules and hope for approval after the fact. You may make
enemies and lose support for your goals.
Don’t like the rules? Get involved and use community education to
change values and rules.
Look around and study your community’s landscaping. You’ll want to
mimic the style but probably make better (native) plant selections.
Learn about your local native plants. Join your local Florida Native Plant
Society chapter and go to programs and tours that feature local native
Start a list of native plants that you like and think are a good match for
Work with a native plant professional that can help you select the right
native plants and help you understand how to keep them looking good.
This is even more important when someone else does the maintenance.
Don’t be surprised if the mow-and-blow crew damages your new native
plants. You may need to educate them.
You’re designing for looks, for the environment and for maintenance.
When you go through your association’s application process, explain how
you are designing to fit with community standards, explain the benefits
of your plants without being preachy, and be prepared to explain how the
plants can be maintained year round.
WWW.PLANTREALFLORIDA.ORG GUIDE FOR REAL FLORIDA GARDENERS FALL 2018 | 7