Photography by Alice Mary Herden
We caught up with Hernando Audubon Society President Marcie Clutter. Clutter and a group of volunteers which included members of the Hernando Native Plant Society, Hernando Master Gardeners, and the Hernando Audubon Society planted 8 cubic feet of native Florida plants during an Audubon Day event at Challenger K8.
It was 2018 when the National Audubon began a program to try to coordinate plants to attract butterflies, birds, and other beneficial insects essential to pollination, particularly of plants native to Florida.
According to Clutter, the number of pollinating species has been dropping drastically, largely due to pesticides.
Clutter went on to say that the typical American yard may have some oak trees, but few to no native plants. “People go to stores to buy plants from Asia, Africa, India …” A snowball effect has resulted in the diminished numbers of native plants and their propagation by pollinators.
A $2,500 grant by the Florida Audubon Society, Florida Power and Light (FPL) has allowed Clutter and the Hernando Audubon Society to hold the planting event at Challenger K8 this past July. Challenger has a Junior Audubon chapter that began last year.
Clutter remarked that the soil was tested at Challenger before planting, and it was found to be very alkaline. Most plants like a neutral pH level of 6.5 to 7.0 and the soil at Challenger tested at 8.1. “That’s something you see down near the Everglades, but not here.“
Clutter and her volunteers fixed the soil situation by purchasing and applying topsoil with the appropriate pH level. The results were beautiful.