FGCU professor, Dr. Bovard, presented an engaging and enlightening program at February’s General Meeting. An advocate for sustainable gardening practices, Dr. Bovard—Brian—enumerated the significant environmental challenges SWFL faces due to enormous plant growth and expansion that upends the natural order of things. He warned of serious consequences if our aesthetics and gardening practices don’t change.

As Brian noted, our meticulously manicured communities and award-winning median strips are not native, and their beauty comes at an environmental price. Excessive planting, particularly of non-native plants (known as exotics) require water–lots and lots of water, often leading to shortages.

But, current gardening practices don’t just compromise water quantity— its quality is threatened as well. To force bigger blooms and greener grass, gardeners and landscape companies pour pounds and pounds of fertilizers into the earth. These plant “steroids” find their way to water, killing fish and birthing red tides.

To stem the damage and rebalance our ecosystem, Brian advocates the planting of more natives and other sustainable gardening practices. Rooftop gardens, container gardening, bioswals (dips in the lawn that collect water runoff), and vertical gardening— “living walls’” to you and I—are among the good gardening practices our speaker urges us to adopt in order to protect our piece of paradise. After all, isn’t ensuring the health of the environment for our children and grandchildren more important than a yard boasting non-native geraniums? It is exactly this type of moral choice (Brian’s term) that we must make as we adjust our planting practices.

What does that mean for us? For starters, we can resist the urge to buy mass amounts of exotics at big box stores, and search out suitable greenery and nurseries that stock more native plants. Several members stuck-around to ask Brian’s advice on how we can change the collective mindset. Hopefully, he shared wisdom that we can now circulate amongst each other.

Click here to explore suggested resources for learning about and finding Native Plants.