By Dr. Robert Norman, clinical Professor, Dermatology, Nova Southeastern University
The garden surrounding the pavilion is VISTA’s Native Plant Landscape, designed in 2020 by Bruce Turley, to model a landscape suitable for moist conditions (in this case, adjacent to our wetland) and still tolerant of dry periods.
During an HRS planning meeting, we identified six species (Monarch, Gulf fritillary, gorgeous Zebra longwing, Sulfur, Swallowtail, etc.) of butterflies nectaring and countless bees and many bumblebees at work. Vicki will point out the Teabush, which usually has an amazing swarm of bees – a present favorite of VISTA’s honeybees.
In our effort to “rewild” lawns, reduce fertilizer use, and conserve water, we model two groundcovers in this Native Plant Landscape, including Hammock twinflower and Creeping sage.
The garden near the Laurel Oak tree is the VISTA’s Monarch Waystation Garden. I consider Vicki Kuse, VISTA’s Master Gardener, the designer of this garden of water-loving plants. This garden models the Frogfruit aka Matchweed groundcover.
Our Florida Landscape Demonstration Garden, funded by the Florida Wildflower Foundation, is VISTA’s Wildflower Garden, also a model native plant landscape designed by Bruce Turley, former president of the Florida Native Plant Society. We are inspiring our neighbors and sparking the beginning of a pollinator corridor in Carrollwood Village with this garden. This garden models Sunshine Mimosa, Frogfruit, and Oblongleaf twinflower groundcovers.
VISTA’s Pollinator Garden at the Pond is designed by Janet Stanko and Barbara Kane to attract and support pollinators, including birds. Be sure to walk visitors around the back (east side) so that they see the “stand” of Tropical sage flowering in all three colors – red, white, and pink. Tropical sage is a close/ second favorite of VISTA’s honey bees. The garden models Hammock twinflower groundcover.
VISTA has native plant gardens north, south, east and west of our raised vegetable gardens in which our members grow organic food and edible flowers!
We are so proud of this element; true to the sustainability commitment in our mission statement. Native plants attract pollinators that support successful fruiting and provide beneficial insects to prey on/control non-beneficial pests and reduce the need for applying biological insecticides. For example, parasitoid wasps (that do not sting humans) devour tobacco hornworms and leafroller caterpillars and prevent them from devouring our tomato plants and bean plants respectively. – Jennifer G.
VISTA Gardens is a truly sustainable community garden. We use no electricity or public water; we are totally off the grid. Solar panels power the garden’s deep-well pump, and repurposed storage tanks supply the garden’s gravity-fed water spigots. Donated mulch is applied around the base of plants in the landscape to reduce the growth of weeds and retain water, reducing our water usage.
In large part because of VISTA’s collaboration with the Village Food Pantry, annually we compost over 16 tons of inedible fruits, vegetables, and kitchen scraps, saving “waste” from the Hillsborough County waste disposal facilities, and saving the food pantry hundreds of dollars in waste collection fees. The compost, aka Black Gold, we produce is used to amend our 65 raised bed plots, making composting one of VISTA’s most successful sustainability efforts.
Our vision is for VISTA Gardens to be the Native Plants Ambassador to our members, neighbors, and the general public by providing quality information about native plants and their importance to wildlife including butterflies, native bees, and other pollinators, hummingbirds and other birds, and other wildlife.
To schedule an individual or group visit, visit VISTA’s website at https://www.vistagardentampa.org/request-a-visit
VISTA is located at 13572 South Village Drive, Tampa 33618, in the heart of northwestern Hillsborough County, in Carrollwood Village.
Get out and enjoy The Great Florida Outdoors!
Dr. Robert Norman, Clinical Professor of Dermatology
Director–Center for Geriatric Dermatology, Integrative Dermatology and Neuro-Dermatology
8002 Gunn Hwy. • Tampa, Florida 33626 • 813-880-7546
61 books (series editor of 13 • 300+ articles • 25 videos and films • 16 photo calendars and
exhibits • 4 music CDs
Tampa Bay Medical Hero Award (2008) • Hadassah Humanitarian Award (2012)
Dr. Norman is an advanced master naturalist graduate of the FMNP program from UF and a board-certified dermatologist based in Tampa and Riverview. He can be reached at 813-880-7546.
61 books (series editor of 13) ● 300+ articles ● 25 videos and films
● 16 photo calendars and exhibits ● 4 music CDs
Tampa Bay Medical Hero Award (2008)
● Hadassah Humanitarian Award (2012)