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discerning weeders

A Newsletter of the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association –– April 2011

Invasive Species Revisited

Thank you, Sheila, for a great presentation last month on what we might see in the way of invasive species, both plants and animals. The green anole has been a friend in our garden for many years. Now there is this brown anole that is beginning to ruin the neighborhood.

Lynn Fabian

of the back on females and juveniles. The male ʻthroat fanʼ is bright red. Euthanasia of the brown by catching and freezing is recommended as the brown anole is pushing out our native green anole.

Some of the differences between the two critters is the shorter, more blunt nose and shorter tail of the brown.

Anole carolinias

The green anole can be 5-8 inches long and has no markings on the back. The throat fan of the male is pink rather than red. Anolis sagrei

There is also a line of pattern down the middle

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

The green anole is part of the overall IPM system in any of our backyards. Letʼs keep them around. %27%20Lizards.htm#Brown%20anole

Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hellbroth boil and bubble. W. shakespeare

Field Trip

Stacey Taylor

Most of you probably received this e-mail from Stacey but in case you didn’t... Come Join Us As We Stimulate the Economy and Drain Our Bank Accounts Master Gardeners' 2nd Quarter Field Trip will be on April 28th to: Just Fruits and Exotics

Go to one or go to them all!! Lunch will be at Food Glorious Food! I will have a sign-up sheet at the April meeting. If we have enough people going we may need one person with a van or covered truck to transport plants back. Definitely need carpool drivers! (Contact Stacey)

Tallahassee Nursery

Departure will be at (ugh!) 0600 from places yet to be determined

Maps will be available at the April meeting

Native Nursery

(for those who don’t want to leave at 0600, you can still leave at 6:00 a.m. and make it!!)

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


A Walk on the Wildside Spring has arrived in all her glorious splendor, and short as the season is in our area I don't think anywhere else could top the beautiful blooming trees, shrubs and flowers that we get to enjoy in the Panhandle. Spring activities among our diverse wildlife are also in full swing. Here are just a few that you may see.

Linda Meyers

Amphibians Pine Barrens Treefrogs begin calling.

Birds Bobwhite quail nest now through September. Migrant warblers concentrate on coasts after cold fronts.

Dept. Of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

(Found in Florida only in the panhandle, usually within about 100 yards of breeding sites. Breeds in hillside seepage bogs.) Reptiles

Robert Lubeck/National Geographic

Most Florida snakes begin mating rituals. Beginning of Sea Turtle nesting season on Florida beaches. Alligators begin moving about, seeking new territories and mates.

Watch for hummingbirds feeding on blooms of columbine, buckeye, and others. Grosbeaks, warblers, tanagers, orioles, and thrashers begin returning to North America.




Black bears begin moving after winter's inactivity. Long-tailed weasels, minks, and river otters will be born April through May. Endangered Gray Bats return to Florida caves to raise young.

Plant extra parsley for black swallowtail butterfly larvae to eat.

Š Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

The cobia migration is in full swing in the Panhandle.



Wildlife We Can Do Without

Lynn Fabian

Coral Snake

-- and it can easily be recognized by the distinct pattern of brightly colored bands. Check for:

A friend proudly showed me a picture of a snake she found in her yard and I silently repeated the poem...

1. Black snout - Harmless look-alikes have red snouts.

Red touch yellow, kill a fellow. Red touch black, OK, Jack. Sure enough, she had seen a coral snake in her backyard. Now, the backyard is in Valpariso. Gives one pause! I had the idea (mistaken!!) that this was a snake that loved South Florida. IFAS documents say they occur all over Florida except for the Keys.

2. Red bands touching yellow bands Harmless look-alikes have red bands touching black bands. Another memory hook is “red and yellow -- STOP”. 3. Tail ringed with black and yellow.

But not to worry, they “are seldom encountered because they are quite secretive and spend much of their lives underground”. Funny, this one ran across her foot and finally under a bush. It was there long enough to have its picture taken. As you begin to work in the garden this spring, be aware there are a lot of things that could cause a Spring fling. There is only one species of Coral Snake in Florida -- the Eastern or Harlequin Coral Snake

The office has a copy of the new ID flip pack Identification Guide to the Snakes of Florida. Look for it the next time you are in the offices.

He who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string. ~ Persian Proverb

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


A Passion for the Past Looking out my bedroom window, I can’t help but smile at the clusters of White Cemetery Iris blooming happily around the base of the birdbath. What gardener/genealogist wouldn’t appreciate this hardy plant that survived under the most neglected conditions at an abandoned cemetery. Visiting many cemeteries over the years, hunting for the last resting places of my ancestors, I have grown to admire many heritage plants marking the plots where crumbling tombstones can no longer be read. Family history has always been a passion of mine. Even as a young child, I remember curling under the kitchen table and listening to the colorful stories my mother, grandmother and aunts would inevitably share at family gatherings. Many of my fondest memories revolve around gardening with my mother, or enjoying those wonderful family meals on Sunday afternoons, with recipes that have been handed down for generations. Holiday traditions have also been a wonderful way to share the “family” with the children. Those memories and stories we tell not only warm the heart but bring back those we have loved and lost, keeping favorite relatives in a special place of importance so the family will always remember them. I’m sure you also have wonderful family memories that can’t help but bring on a smile. Perhaps you recall with fondness as a little boy trying to keep up with Grandpa in his big boots as he walked down the rows of his vegetable garden. How you enjoyed helping him water the tomato plants and peas, and staring with wonder as he skillfully chose the vegetables that were ready to be eaten. You may remember your first pet caterpillar he let you keep in an old Band-aid can. I remember mine

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Linda Meyers

was a worm, and I loved the way it tickled as he gently placed it in my hand. You may have been curious about your family history, but for one reason or another have put off family research. Next to gardening, few hobbies offer the fun and rewards of genealogy. You will quickly find yourself on the fascinating journey of discovery that will take you places and stir feelings of excitement and amazement as you pursue your ancestors. Perhaps you feel your family is ordinary, and there wouldn’t be anything of interest to discover. I promise, you may be very pleasantly surprised. There may not be royalty dangling from the branches of your family tree, but finding that immigrant ancestor, and following him from the old country to a port of entry here in America, then tracing his steps as he migrated across the country and settled with his family, can be very rewarding. You may discover he was a farmer who battled drought and famine, struggling to keep his family alive. And how he fought and died in the Civil War, leaving a young widow to raise their five children alone. How she sadly lost the farm but by doing laundry and making baby clothes for her neighbors she kept food on the table and raised her children until they were old enough to work and contribute to the family. One of those children was your grandfather. All this will give you a whole different perspective of the history surrounding your family and the important role your ancestors played in creating it. “But where do I begin?” you may ask. That’s easy you start with what you begin with you and you start at home. Walk around your house gathering documents, photo albums, family Bibles, scrapbooks, school records, letters, diaries, anything that can give


you information about your life and those of your family. It’s the paper trail we have left behind that will tell our story and help provide clues to past generations. Interview older relatives, and ask them the questions you were always curious about, where were they born, what was their school like, what games did they play, do they have old photos, and can they identify the people in them and remember the place and occasion the photo was taken. If you are lucky they will share many wonderful family stories with you. Don’t delay in talking with your elders, when they are gone those precious stories will be forever gone with them. There are over 2 million websites on genealogy that can help you learn about how to organize what you have found, gather information that will further your search, and forms that are available to download free to record the information you have discovered. You can even take free lessons, or find excellent articles on how to do family research. Many megawebsites offer databases with millions of

documents including census and vital records that you can search. You may even find family trees that others have posted that will help you with your own family branches. Some popular big sites are: FamilySearch <>, Rootsweb <>, Ellis Island <>, Ancestry <>, USGenWeb <>, Footnote <>, just to name a few. You can also venture out and search libraries, courthouses, cemeteries, old hometowns, battlefields or other historical sights. Visits to some of these locations can easily be incorporated with family vacations. Celebrate your ethnic heritage at a cultural festival, or visit the actual port of entry where your ancestor first stepped on American soil. These are just a few ways that you can share your family history and bring it to life for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. I wish you happy hunting!!!

My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower, but they were there to meet the boat. Will Rogers

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


Presidentʼs Message

Howdy, Folks. The field trip to Eden Gardens State park was super! Thanks to Klare and Stacey for setting it up. We had a small turnout, and those of you who didn’t make it missed a guided tour by Larry, who identified dozens of plants and gave great info on all of them. The camellias were in full bloom, but the azaleas were just getting started. Nancy and I had a big lunch at Goatfeathers on 30A afterward and would have enjoyed having some of you join us. We have a regular visitor to the Annex on Fridays. He is an elderly (perhaps more so than many of us) gentleman who needs a cane to get around. His name is “Fred,” and he is a

Bill Buckellew

wealth of information. He has given us numerous tips on growing vegetables and probably knows more about greens and containers than most of us will ever know. Fred had not been to the Annex since last fall, and Bob, Dick, and I were getting worried about him, but he came by last week. He told us he was getting ready to put “weed & feed” on his lawn. We stopped him and explained the proper times for the application of fertilizer and pre-emergent. He appreciated the information and will return the W&F to the store. The moral of this story is that none of us “know it all,” and Fred, as expert as he is on veggies, needed good advice on his lawn. What better reason to volunteer at the Plant Clinics, Annex, or Extension offices? Bill

Coming Events

–MG General Meeting Wednesday, Apr 6th, 9:00a –E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center Open House, April 9 –April Board Meeting TBA Apr 13th, 9:30 a –Plant Clinic, Wednesday, Apr 21rd, 10a-1p –Nursery Workday, Wednesday & Friday, 10a-2p –MG Field Trip to 3 nurseries (see article page 2), Apr 28th (E-mail events to Editor/Compost Pile)

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


Plant Sale Did someone mention plant sale??? What a novel idea for MGs to provide plants to folks and earn $$ doing it. October is the projected month for this event and the folks at the nursery are busy doing things to increase the number of plants available for the sale and other events. If you havenʼt helped out at the MG nursery at the Annex in FWB, plan to do so during the Wednesday or the Friday workdays. IF YOU ARE AN INTERN, YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO FINISH YOUR OFFICE TRAINING BEFORE YOU WORK AT THE NURSERY. Forgive me for shouting but Andy tells me that not many of the class of 2010 have come down

Last Word There be


to help out. Working on a fund raising project is another of those pesky requirements to becoming a fully qualified MG. EVERYONE is invited to this party. To all seasoned and new MGs, please make plans to come out and help. These sessions are great learning experiences and better than a quilting bee for swapping information and telling stories. Bring your favorite garden tools (trowels, pruners, gloves) and wear the old clothes. Check with Andy or Jenny about times and whether to bring a lunch. Water bottles are also good. Wednesday and Friday are usually the days to work the nursery and the web site lists particularly important days when help is needed. <>

Lynn Fabian this picture does not look like anyone’s idea of a handsome suitor. He was shedding his skin and needed a good facial...all over!

in our backyard. We caught these two fellows (digitally speaking) as they squared off last year. (Girls don’t fight like this!!)

Probably the ladies were Fabian waiting in the wings to see who the ‘macho-ist’ anole was. The fellow in © Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


Spring, so far, has been a delight; If you ignore the 3 million (approximately!!) bonsai trees that 8

need repotting. That has been a labor of love too and the urgency is beginning to slow down. It will be fairly quiet until the tropical trees need to be repotted and pruned. I supposed now is the time for true confession. I froze my first brown anole. The biggest miracle is that I caught it! At the April MG meeting, Laurie Mackey will introduce us to a book written by her niece, Emily Bracale. Bracale has written and illustrated a book about her experiences dealing with Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is often thought of as something that is a problem in the Northeastern states but it has been diagnosed in all fifty states. Prevention is the best defense against this growing problem. With this book, Bracale hopes to make people more aware of this lifechanging illness and the people who are affected by it. Laurie will have a copy of In the Lyme-Light at the April MG meeting. ISBN: 978-1-936447-99-2 See you next time. ––Lynn

About Us

The Compost Pile is a publication of the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association.

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association is a volunteer organization sponsored by Okaloosa County Extension and the University of Florida IFAS.

The Foundation for the Gator equal opportunity institution. Lynn Fabian, Editor Linda Meyers, Co-Editor Ed Fabian, First Reader Marg Stewart, Web Site

© Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


April, 2011  

The green anole has been a friend in our garden for many years. Now there is this brown anole that is beginning to ruin the neighborhood....

April, 2011  

The green anole has been a friend in our garden for many years. Now there is this brown anole that is beginning to ruin the neighborhood....