A perfect opportunity to enjoy some native wildflowers of Florida is taking a walk through the Native Wildlife Restoration Area, right across from the Four Winds. Jono Miller, former director of the Environmental Studies program, recently directed a group of students through this area, naming plants and explaining the importance of various species of grass and berry.
“I try to do [wildflower walks] in October when most of the flowers are blooming, as you can see some of the October Flower that was really spectacular two weeks ago is now just kinda yellow and green,” Miller explained, referring to a plant native to florida and part of the buckwheat family.
Students who frequently walk past the Native Plant Restoration Area may have noticed the wild grasses and young palm growths, but at closer inspection even a casual observer can see the unique and extraordinary wildflower activity taking place.
“I like to do [walks] in the fall, it’s more dramatic and there’s more to show people,” Several students accompanied Miller on the latest walk, Nov. 1, and were invited to taste, smell and touch many plants a that they may not have seen before. When asked if a purple berry was edible, Miller laughed.
“Well New College students eat them!” Miller then passed around a handful of the berries for people to try. “People are welcome walk through, but don’t pick things, you can sit in the chairs in the middle and relax.”
Two chairs have been installed in the center of the area’s path, and are very nice. This is different, Allegra Nolan, Zero Waste Teacher’s Aid (TA) and member of the Council of Green Affairs (CGA), noted, from last year when the chairs in the center were old and falling apart.
Florida is in a unique place geographically, with the peninsular shape jutting into temperate and subtropical zones, this combined with the unique mix of salt and freshwater present in many Florida waters puts the state in a position to have an extremely varied array of plant and animal life.
Miller and a group of dedicated students have been working for years to bring in other native Florida plants to the area, and on the walk Nolan checked on some newly planted flowers and pines. The floor of the area is covered in pine needles and Miller expressed intense interest in having a prescribed fire for the area, to simulate a natural fire and help some of the plants germinate seeds.
“We want people to come and enjoy the plants, that’s why we had the trail ending right in front of the Four Winds, that way if you’re going that way you can take a nice detour.”