As mentioned the other day, we recently took a little field trip and visited several new native plant nurseries along the way. This is the second of three posts detailing those nurseries and the plants we bought there.
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is worth the trip alone, not to mention the great shelling along the beach. This year, we added a new "must-do" to our trip when we visited the Sanibel-Captival Conservation Foundation nature center and walking trails. SCCF is dedicated to keeping Sanibel and Captiva islands as much like nature intended as possible. They have removed invasive plants, restored wildlife habitat, and perhaps most importantly, educated the folks living on these islands about the right way to treat their environment.
As part of educating the public, SCCF has established a very extensive native plant nursery. They propagate their plants themselves, as you can see when you visit the shade houses, and so are able to provide healthy, happy plants that are perfectly adjusted for life on the islands. The plants are well-labeled and described, and the staff was on hand for questions. Many plants were available in smaller, more affordable sizes, as well as larger specimens for those looking for instant garden gratification.
Carolina or Climbing Aster (Aster carolinianus). As the name implies, this aster is a climber and can reach 12 feet tall with adequate support. It recovers very quickly after a frost, and is a prodigious late-season bloomer. Butterflies love to visit its light purple blooms when other wildflowers have started to fade. It is an champion climber but lacks the tendrils that make other vines like passionvine so hard to control. In My Florida Backyard, we planted it along the fence in a mostly sunny spot and provided a trellis to support its growth. It's pretty small now, but it won't be long before it begins to climb and thrive.
There was still one more native plant nursery to visit during our travels, so look for our next post when we buy out the store at All Native in Fort Myers!