Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Hate Grass!!

As Certified Master Gardener and Florida Master Naturalist, the Florida ecosystem is my love.

The quality of our water is paramount as far as I can see. As we all continue to cry over the price of gasoline, (yet fail to lower our consumption) I cry over the death of our Floridan Aquifer. This Aquifer provides a huge percentage of all the fresh water used in the world, and we've drained it to grow sugar and water lawns. We contaminate it daily with chemicals to green up non-native grass that provides no nectar or habitat.
I am doing my small part to save our water. I have turned off the wasteful 7-zone sprinkler system, planted native, drought-tolerant plants and habitat friendly plants at multiple height levels. MarshLand is a Certified Backyard Habitat by the Natural Wildlife Fund. So besides saving water, my yard has become a haven for butterflies, birds and pollinators of all kinds. Later I'll post more about pollinators and the decline of the honey bee, which is just as devastating to the eco-system as the loss of habitat and the pollution of water.
The requirements are simple: Food, water, nesting places, shelter and "Space" (basically space to do whatever the critter needs to do, feed, mate, play, hide from predators, etc.)
Marshland is a safe place for many critters, from dragon flies to bullfrogs to possum and hawk. Regular visitors include the Red Shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Great Heron, two Cardinal families, Ibis, and Robins. Some come through seasonally during their migrations, others live here year-round. All are welcome. Even the raccoons, whose playfulness leaves many potted pond plants turned over! The main thing is that even though I have encroached upon their habitat, I'm working to co-exist instead of killing everything in site.
Consider taking up some of that nasty St. Augustine and replacing it with a couple beds of native plants. Just a little bit at a time. I know most people cannot totally give up some grass lawn area, and that's fine. Just let's consider our water purity in all our choices. I for one want to have water to drink for the rest of my life.

Amazing wildlife!

Right here in my backyard! How great is it to be able to walk out my door for a break from the computer only to find a great heron standing by my pool! He/she was wonderful! He flaps his wings to get to the center in an attempt to get a fish (I guess! Could have been a frog too!).

Speaking of frogs, there are some huge bullfrogs sitting around the pool deck any time there is a light sprinkle! They look like they are garden decorations, they sit so still. I think they just enjoy the rain! There are young ones starting to crawl out of the pond!

I'll never forget the red-shouldered hawk taking a bath in the pond. Amazing thing to watch.

The water quality is so good that I think I could drink it. I'm going to take it into the county to be tested soon. I know I could swim in it. It's warm for about 3-4 inches depth, then it gets very cold. The lilies are really doing a great job of insulating. The Marsh hibiscus has had 10 blooms on it for this its second season! Last year, first year in the pond, it had 3 flowers.

I'm working on getting some streaming video working as well as some cameras focused on the pond to catch some of the critter antics! My website: will be updated by the end of July. I'm back in school learning how to create a good website! Please visit it and see what Marshland is trying to accomplish. It's all about education and saving our resources, water, electric, air, land and even cash!!