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Native plant landscaping tour inspires gardeners – kechambers

Native plant landscaping tour inspires gardeners

By Maria Sonnenberg

Rebecca Heidenreich and Jamie Snider represent a new generation of gardeners eager to go native with their plants.

The two young mothers will open their native plant gardens to the visitors of the 13th Annual Landscaping with Florida Natives Tour hosted by the local Conradina Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

“We’re very excited about the two young ladies on the tour that are getting involved in native plants for their children and the environment,” said chapter spokesperson Jane Higgins.

Ticket holders can tour the featured locations at their own pace from 9 am to 3 pm, Saturday, Oct. 15

This year’s tour features six homes, a large commercial space, one public space, and one Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands site for visitor to learn what homeowners and public spaces have done using native plants in different situations.

Native plants are important to preserve our wildlife, pollinators and local heritage as well as requiring much less maintenance, water, and fertilizer, which benefits our local environment and the Indian River Lagoon.

“My grandmother instilled a love of backyard gardening at a very young age,” said Heidenreich.

“I got into Florida native gardening when I took a local herbalism course and the teacher, a fifth generation Florida girl, highly encouraged native plants,” she said.

“It pains me so much when we source plants from outside countries to replace the native ones that are beautiful and functional and wonderful in their own right! So here I am, three years, 140-plus native species later, loving it more every day .I absolutely love all the life it brings to my yard!”

Snider, born and raised in Palm Bay, never gave native plants much thought while growing up. A Marine for five years, she spent the following 15 as a Marine spouse, living in barracks, base housing or rentals where gardening wasn’t much of a prospect.

“I tried some container veggie gardening and failed miserably every time,” she said.

When Snider and her family returned home to family in Palm Bay, she was not thrilled with the shrubs and invasive queen palms in her yard, and ripped pretty much everything out, replacing them with pretty plants found at any nursery.

“What I didn’t know when I started planting was that the pretty-to-me plants weren’t really going to do anything for the butterflies that I wanted to attract to my yard,” she said.

Snider began researching native plants, and after another garden program, went almost 100 percent native.

Like potato chips, native plants can be addictive, as Snider acknowledges.

“I am addicted to host plants – food for caterpillars to transition to butterflies,” she said.

“I have plants to feed and provide shelter to the birds. I have flowering plants that provide nectar or pollen to the various pollinators. I chip away at the yard a little at a time creating as much habitat as will fit in my yard but still have space for the kids to play.”

With the inspiration and information garnered through a native plant tour, gardeners can follow Heidenreich and Snider’s example and soon be playing among the butterflies and birds, whatever the gardener’s age.

Purchase tickets on Eventbrite at 2022 Landscaping with Florida Natives Tour Tickets, Sat, Oct 15, 2022 at 9:00 AM | Eventbrite. Tour brochure and plant lists will be emailed within 24 to 48 hours.

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