A great article by Donna Shelly for the South Miami Town Center magazine, now called SOMi…. Look for a copy around town.

Contact Donna for freelance writing @ writeamount@yahoo.com


Going “green” to reduce greenhouse gasses, shrink the size of our carbon footprint and wean ourselves off an insatiable thirst for petroleum involves a wide variety of potential solutions. In some cases, the remedies are complicated and costly; in others, they are straight-forward and downright economical.     

We would like to share some of those environmentally-responsible practices with you through a series of columns over the next year. We hope to inspire you to adopt new habits and make informed choices for a healthier planet. And we want to hear from you. Tell us your success stories and share your greening tips with us and the readers of SoMi Mag.

The choices you make regarding what you plant in your backyard or on your balcony can have a profound impact on the environment. That is especially true in our neck of the woods where certain exotic plants, freed from the ravages of frost, went from being pretty to being a pest. In some cases these species were brought here decades ago to dress-up the native scrub, sand and palmetto landscape. The list of invasive-exotic flora is quite extensive in Florida. In SoMi, we fight two of the State’s most noxious plants:  rosary pea vine (Abrus precatorius), with enough poison in one pea to kill a human and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), a particularly adaptive member of the sumac family that thrives in all eco-systems from hammock to mangrove swamp.

Selecting appropriate landscape materials can save water, reduce the need for pesticide and fertilizers, and make gardening a whole lot easier for you. Not bad when you think of it—cheaper, less work, and good for the environment.

To start “Going Native,” we recommend some websites that are packed with great information about native, non-native and invasive plant life, xeriscaping, integrated pest management, composting, capturing rain water for irrigation, and more.  (Narrative wc = 309)

www.floridaplants.com  Is chock full of information.  Warning! You could spend hours here.

www.ifas.ufl.edu This is the University of Florida’s site with particulars about plants that help you make an informed decision before venturing out to your local plant nursery.

www.floridanativeplants.com  Florida Native Plants descriptions and prices

www.floridagardener.com Listing and links for many Florida Native Plant providers

www.afnn.org  Association of Florida Native Nurseries

www.fnps.org  The Florida Native Plant Society

www.nsis.org  Your Florida Backyard with a lot of information about all aspects of gardening in Florida, including how to attract butterflies.

www.compostinfor.com  Florida’s Online Composting Center

www.miamidade.gov/conservation/rain_barrel.asp  Rain barrel workshop information

www.davesgarden.com Make your own rain barrel, with pictures to help you along.