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Going Native Trending on Islands

January 24, 2024
Becca With Customers 1800

Planting native is thriving as islanders are redoing their landscapes post-Ian. Sales are booming and housecalls are in high demand at SCCF’s Native Landscapes & Garden Center.

“We welcome residents and visitors to stop by during our regular hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday,” said Garden Center Manager Becca Grotian. “If those hours don’t work for you, we now are also offering sales by appointment on Saturdays. Just call us during the week to schedule.”

With the help of a grant facilitated by the Shell Island Garden Club and generous donations to the “Tree-build” campaign launched last January, the Garden Center is also progressing with its own post-Ian restoration efforts.

“The local Garden Club applied to the National Garden Club’s Natural Disaster grant on our behalf for replanting the residential gardens directly around the historic Bailey house. Those gardens have now been fully restored,” said Grotian. “Other demonstration gardens are also coming back into shape.”

Demonstration gardens help customers envision how various island habitats can be landscaped with resilient native plants. By planting native, islanders help protect water quality and coastal resilience while providing habitat for wildlife. Native landscapes don’t need fertilizers, which are damaging to water quality, and they support birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Restoration is nearly complete on the Beach Dune garden and part of the Tropical Hammock garden. Other areas, including the Pollinator, Hardwood Hammock, and Scrub gardens as well as the Devitt Pond, are currently being worked on and weeded for future restoration.

“It takes time to recover from an event as pervasive as Ian. Like we encourage our clients, we all have to be patient and nurturing to revive our landscapes,” said Grotrian.

Donate to SCCF to earn a housecall

To thoughtfully approach replanting, many island residents and businesses are utilizing the Garden Center’s housecall program. Donations to SCCF of $100 or $250 for a business earn members an on-site visit.

“A landscaping for wildlife housecall entails a walk around a homeowner’s property, identifying the existing, or in a lot of cases now, what’s come up since Ian plants and explaining if they are native, non-native, or invasive species,” she said.

After the walk around, plant recommendations are made for the different areas of the yard, and questions are answered regarding maintenance and specific plants.

“From there, we put together a brief report that basically summarizes what is discussed during the site visit and includes lists of recommendations and plants identified on the property,” said Grotrian, adding that housecalls are currently booked out into April.

Privacy buffers and groundcover in demand

The Garden Center team bases its stock on customer demand and needs. They are currently finding a lot of demand for shrubs as customers are trying to revegetate their privacy buffers. Resilient and attractive native groundcover options are also in demand as residents are moving away from the use of grass or sod.

To learn about options for replanting and the best use of specific species, please check out SCCF’s Post-Hurricane Ian Replanting Guide.

Stop in for all your native plant needs Tues. – Fri. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please call or email during the week to set up an appointment to shop for your needs on Saturdays, 239-472-1932 or Donate to SCCF to qualify for a housecall and become a member of the SCCF family.


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