BRANDON – Spring fever may be blamed for feverous efforts to clean as well as landscape the yard.
Gardening club leaders and master gardeners in Hillsborough County are helping people channel their spring giddiness in April and May with plant sales and programs.
Cheri Donohue, president of the Temple Terrace Garden Club, said her club has a work day planned for May 31 when it will plant trees in cooperation with the city of Temple Terrace.
“Each year, the club plants a tree or trees in recognition of members who have passed away during the club year,” Donohue said. “We maintain Woodmont Park in Temple Terrace and have a memorial garden with many of those trees and plants there. Our park is filled with little signs reminding us of each of them.”
She said the club also planted three golden trumpet trees, also known as Tabebuia, to honor those who died on 9/11. The trees stand vigil on the first hole of the Temple Terrace Golf Course.
“When all three bloom at the same time it is breathtaking,” she said. “All along the golf course the yellow ones are just spectacular. People comment about them for about three weeks.”
Meanwhile, the Brandon Garden Club will host a “Naturescaping: Growing a garden from the ground up” program with Kelly Liebzeit on April 16 at 7 p.m. at the Senior for Seniors Center, 311 Park Ave East.
On May 24 at 9 a.m., the Brandon club is having a plant sale at 2020 MacGregor Ave. in Brandon.
Nicole Pinson, an extension agent skilled in urban horticulture and master gardener coordinator with the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, helps novice gardeners figure out how to attract butterflies to their yards. Her office offers several master gardening plant clinics to help people celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day throughout the year.
“Although monarchs are not in danger of extinction, their migration to overwintering sites is threatened by a number of factors such as habitat loss, disease, herbicide and pesticide use, and less available larval host plant material,” Pinson said.
She said some experts recommend planting native milkweeds, which also attract pollinators.
“In Florida, monarchs may suffer from predators and disease,” she said. “Disease can also occur when raising caterpillars in containers. Homeowners may affect monarchs and other butterflies by their landscape practices, for example, use of broad-spectrum pesticides harms butterflies and beneficial arthropods.”
She said residents of Hillsborough might encourage butterflies by planting a variety of host and nectar plants.
Monarchs prefer milkweed plants while zebra longwings prefer passion vines as their host plants, according to Pinson.
“Choose a sunny location, and mix plants, flower shapes and flower colors,” she said. “Having a shallow water area nearby encourages puddling.”
Upcoming master gardener plant clinics through the extension service include a “Composting and Organic Vegetable Gardening” program May 6 at the Riverview Library from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. and a “Butterfly Gardening” program May 7 at the Bloomingdale Regional Library from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Other topics offered throughout the county include rain barrels, backyard wildlife habitat and drought tolerant plants.
For more information on locations and times, call (813) 744-5519.