By Jan Engoren
Migrant hummingbirds, painted buntings and butterflies are back and so is the Native Garden Tour, hosted by the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.
In the society’s first major tour since 2019, visitors on Nov. 6 can visit five unique private gardens and one public natural habitat, all landscaped with Florida native plants.
“We’re very excited about this year’s tour,” says Melissa Moyroud, conservation chair of the local chapter. “Our last tour in 2020 was for members only. This is the first time we’re opening to the public since 2019. It’s a big to-do.”
One of the highlights on the tour is Jean Sealey Laragh’s five-star garden and habitat in the Village of Golf.
Moyroud says the garden has a gopher tortoise habitat with aquatic, endangered and rare plants as well as nature pathways. All the native plants sustain the gopher tortoise population.
In Delray Beach, visitors will see Jim and Lora McCoy’s garden at 4 NW 16th St. Over the past five years, they have planted and nurtured native plants and trees partly as a way to dampen the sound of leaf blowers. A sign at their gate announces the property as “a wild animal sanctuary and a bird and butterfly friendly landscape.”
Nearby, at 236 Dixie Blvd., Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon’s garden is her “backyard paradise.” By planting natives, Gannon says, she uses less water and fertilizer, has fewer bugs and does less maintenance.
Also on the tour is the Delray Beach Historical Society Heritage Garden, located at the 1924 Cason Cottage at 3 NE First St.
Conceived in 2017 as a collaboration between the Historical Society and the Grass River Garden Club, the garden aims to teach the importance of using native plants and of preserving the dwindling green space and natural habitats in the city.
Heritage Garden highlights include a Florida scrub section, a pollinator garden, the Lower Keys, oak hammock, and Dade County pine forest. The garden has wetland plants such as swamp milkweed, a host for monarch butterflies, fragrant water lilies, buttonbush and a pond apple tree (Annona glabra).
“It’s an asset and a green oasis in the midst of downtown Delray Beach,” says Winnie Diggans Edwards, executive director of the Historical Society.
In Boca Raton, the tour features the Clint Oster garden at 845 NE 71st St., billed as “where the sea grapes meet the mangroves,” and Michael Kohner’s garden at 447 SW Eighth Terrace, with laurel oaks and more than 190 species of native plants.
The Oster garden boasts an edible forest of native and Caribbean fruit trees, a tiered pond with wetland plants and trees, and an old sea grape tree trunk giving shade to the back deck.
The Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society is a not-for-profit dedicated to the preservation, conservation and restoration of native plants and native plant communities of Florida.
If You Go
What: Native Garden Tour hosted by county chapter of Florida Native Plant Society
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 6
Cost: The entrance fee for non-members ($10) can be paid by cash or check at any of the gardens.
Reservations: To visit the Laragh garden, provide your name by Nov. 4 via 561-247-3677 or www.palmbeach.fnpschapters.org.
Learn more: Docents at each property will be available to answer questions. The venues will display plant lists and labels, and native plant literature will be provided.