The Coastal Star

Local Voices: Planting project goes native

Julia Walker (l-r), Dr. John Wootton and Rita Ginsky of the Ocean Ridge Garden Club with the native planting at Ocean Ridge Town Hall. Photo provided

The Ocean Ridge Garden Club has installed a native garden at the entrance to the Town Hall.
Why native? Native plant landscaping contributes to the preservation and restoration of our natural heritage. It creates an awareness of the beauty of the plants native to South Florida and it is especially fitting for a public building to be adorned with plants native to the area.
A native garden has benefits beyond the beauty of the plantings. 
At a time when we are drought-conscious, a native garden will help conserve water, minimize or eliminate the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and conserve energy resources. Once established, the plants will require minimal maintenance. A native garden also has the added benefit of attracting butterflies and birds.
The challenge in planning this garden was to select plants that could thrive in sometimes-harsh coastal conditions. All of the plants are wind-, salt- and drought-tolerant and suitable for coastal soil. A struggling red cedar was replaced with two 14-foot curved sabal palms. Seven thatch palms were planted between them to complete the centerpiece design for the garden. 
The sabal palms are appropriate for the setting of the Town Hall; they are the state tree of Florida and appear on the state flag. A quarter of the grass was removed and non-native plants such as oleanders and struggling plants were replaced with 200 new dune daisies, coonties and dwarf schilling hollies to provide a border and architectural design to enclose the garden.
Two benches have been installed at the entrance to the garden in front of a gazebo-like structure. The shape of their pedestals mirrors the design elements of the cape architecture of the Town Hall. The benches sit atop crushed shells to further add to the native  coastal theme. This is phase one of the garden that will continue to be refined. Future plans include plant labels and descriptions of their history and botanical characteristics.
This project owes its existence to the Ocean Ridge Garden Club, which provided the funding, and particularly to Julia Walker, chairwoman of the beautification committee, Zoanne Hennigan, president, Dr. John Wootton and Rita Ginsky. Two generous residents from Ocean Ridge donated the benches. Finally, Bob Glynn of the Delray Garden Center provided the necessary labor, machinery and much of the plant material at cost, allowing this project to become a reality.
— Rita Ginsky

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