The Great Florida Bird and Wildlife Trail: Leu Gardens is one of the sites selected to be on the Great Florida Bird and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT). The trail is designed to strengthen wildlife habitats, and provide wildlife viewing activities. Harry P. Leu Gardens is home to over 120 species of birds. A sanctuary for all types of wildlife, Leu Gardens provides vital shelter for animals at home in our community.
The Green-up Corrine Initiative is another step towards protecting local wildlife. Working with horticulturist Amanda Martin of Evolving Landscapes LLC, native Florida plants have been selected to be grown along Corrine Drive – all provide some sort of benefit to local wildlife. Trees and shrubs will provide shelter and food for the birds traveling along the Florida Bird Trail. Blooming flowers will attract an array of butterflies and pollinator bees.
The flora chosen to be planted in the pots along Corrine Drive are all endemic to Florida. The Beach Verbena, and Florida Green Eyes are in danger of being completely extinct in the wild due to their natural habitats being overly developed. The Audubon Park Garden District will be taking measures to protect not only Florida wildlife, but the plants that provide habitat space. These efforts will help provide wildlife corridors (alongside Leu Gardens) for traveling birds. A community focus on native flora and fauna is an important step towards certifying Audubon Park as a Community Wildlife Habitat.
Certified Wildlife Habitat:
Recognition as a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will help raise the Audubon Park Garden District’s neighborhood profile, and distinguish the APGD from other communities in Orlando. The neighborhood could further embrace the “Garden District” aspect of Audubon Park. Greening-up Corrine Drive benefits everyone in the community. Public spaces become beautiful while providing more sustainable habitats for local wildlife.
Ecosystems are naturally designed to benefit from native plants. There is an obvious correlation between endemic flora being planted, and stable wildlife populations. Native plants also assist in stabilizing environment conditions. They help purify air, filter water, prevent drought, and lower temperatures. Every measure that can be taken to promote native plants in APGD helps further that goal.
Meet the Players:
Simpson Stopper: A densely branched, and leafy evergreen shrub/tree. Simpson’s stopper flowers bloom during spring or early summer. The flowers appear in lush, white clusters, and give the plant a fuzzy appearance. Flowering is followed by fruiting. Little red berries often provide food for Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Mockingbirds (Florida’s State Bird).
Simpson Stoppers also attract butterflies, and bees. The thick canopy provides shelter for birds feeding on the go.
Garbaria: Endemic to central Florida, the Garbaria is a threatened species. The 4 to 8 feet tall evergreen shrub retains its leaves year round. Blooms between late summer and early winter produce pinkish/lavender flowers.
The Garbaria is attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies.
Chickasaw Plum: This tree/shrub grows between 3 to 10 feet tall. The Chickasaw Plum produces wonderfully fragrant flowers in the winter. White flowers bloom in abundance, providing a visual delight. Flowering gives way to the Chikasaw Plum’s delicious fruit. The plant bears sizable fruits that turn from yellow to red as they ripen.
The fruits attract birds, squirrels, and occasionally a human looking for a quick snack. A full canopy, and branch thickets provide excellent cover for a variety of animals.
GreenEyes: The common Green Eyes is a flower endemic to Florida. The Florida perennial is primarily at home in central Florida, and is not located in any other states. Commonly referred to as a Florida Dandelion, the flower draws back for the winter, and often appears in early spring. As the flower comes into bloom, yellow petals emerge around the circumference of the plant. Bloomage continues, and tiny florettes form from the central brachts of the plant.
The yellow flowering attracts both butterflies, and pollinating bumblebees. Seeds form from the start of bloomage to first frost, thus becoming a self-sowing plant.
Beach Verbena: This Florida perennial is in danger of becoming extinct in the wild. It is not particularly prevalent in commercial nurseries either. The Beach Verbena provides lovely coloring year round, and is an excellent ground cover. Purplish/lavender flowers form in clusters at the crown of the flower. Butterflies and pollinators are naturally attracted to their flowers.
Extremely rare in the wild due to heavy developments in its limited natural habitat.