OCEAN RIDGE, February 9, 2021
Ocean Ridge Garden Club (ORGC) has completed a third stage of replanting a small stretch of dune along Old Ocean Boulevard by installing native plants favored by pollinators. These include plant hosts for caterpillars, others with flowers that are par-ticularly preferred by butterflies, and some that provide food for both. For instance, caterpillars feed on the leaves and butterflies sip the nectar from flowers of bay cedar, black bead, frog fruit phyla. But yellow top plants attract only the butterflies, while passion flower is a plant of choice only for caterpillars, so these plants must be paired with another species. Each was also carefully positioned according to its level of salt, sun and wind tolerance. The plants are part of Butterfly packs that were donated to the club by the Institute for Regional Conservation along with guidance for planting.The dune was gifted to the Town of Ocean Ridge over a decade ago, and ORGC has maintained the site by trimming back existing plants. But the dune had gradually been taken over by invasive plants until last year when it became obvious that a drastic make-over was needed. The project leader is Allison Adams, a Master Gardener and the new Chair of ORGC’s Beautification & Conservation Committee.Since dune ecosystems are protected by law in Florida, a local representative at the Department of Environmental Protection was consulted to make sure the club had approval to get started with the first phase in August of 2020. Allison began the project by researching dune-friendly plants to select hardy salt-tolerant species that had deep sand-stabilizing roots and required little maintenance.
“The dead plants we removed from the dune were primarily golden creeper. Although dune friendly, it does not like salt spray,” said Allison. A group of ORGC members assembled on the dune in August to plant a dozen small saw palmettos. Then in October, the spaces between the palmettos were filled in with dune daisies to provide a ground cover. Allison said that her committee views the dune as a long term project since it will always need maintenance.
“Over the next year we will continue beautifying the dune with the help of our Garden Club members by adding more plants,” she said. As com-mittee member Julia Ward explained, “In addition to restoring the dune, the goal of the project is to create a showcase of native plantings as an example of sustainable con-servation that can be replicated all along the Ocean Ridge dune”. In doing so, ORGC hopes to increase awareness among beachfront property owners of the benefits of restoring native plants to dune areas. Pedestrians and bicyclers on Old Ocean are invited to visit the dune regularly to view the progress. The dune is located near the end of Tropical Drive, and is marked by Town of Ocean Ridge signage as a beach access point.