We are new – and not new – to Brevard County. I originally moved here in 1968 when my mother bought this house – and yard. I attended college and “visited” here until graduation but after my husband and I married we lived in Brevard County for five years. In 1977 we moved to Tallahassee but continued to feel a tug to return. In 2014 I inherited my mother’s property and we began renovations to the house and yard. We repatriated ourselves permanently on the last day in January of 2019.
During our 40 year absence Palm Bay grew from a town of several thousand to the largest community in Brevard. There were more people, more buildings, more roads, and less natural greenery. We knew the plight of the Florida landscape and the Indian River Lagoon and we wanted to contribute in a personal way to its healing.
We met Tim and Anna from Native Butterfly Flowers who helped us develop a plan. The yard was razed with only a few plants and trees retained in memory of my mother. Tim and Anna drew up a garden blueprint with an eye to diversity and especially with the propagation of various butterfly species in mind. This year I felt privileged to watch Atala butterflies flutter around the coontie ferns and lay their eggs. Then excitement erupted when multiple red-with-yellow-dots caterpillars began crawling up and down the fern stems. Now those caterpillars are dissolving into suspended cocoons. Amazing!
The “native plant life” is just beginning for us. From Tim and Anna we are learning names and identifications as well as which type of soil and light is good for which plant. We watch the magical self-propagation of blanket flowers, partridge pea, and horsemint as they seem to move across the ground. Their flowers are as interesting as their plant names, especially the purple pagoda like tips of blooming horsemint.
Right now, we have settled on the goal of making the front yard look “landscaped” with several sections of defined native plantings interspersed with stretches of grass mixed with frogfruit and other spreading cover. In contrast, little “manicuring” takes place in the back yard. Here, the space is much smaller but hearty in its contained wildness. For me, the back yard offers a little patch of Florida paradise.