At this point the overwhelming majority of invasive species have been removed from the property. Although I am well aware of what my thoughts were for the master plan of the property, the newly cleared land provides even more stimulating ideas for what this area could be. Along with Dr. Craig Huegel, my expert botanical advisor, we discuss and formulate possibilities for the newly liberated land. One of the property owners, Maryann Bishop, who always joins us as we walk and survey the property, gazes out upon the area which will end up being the wildflower meadow.
On the north side of the owner’s house two new structures have been built. If you look closely in the next photograph you can see two chimney swift houses. These were constructed in order to divert the birds away from the actual chimney on the house where they have been making a home during their normal roosting season.
There are several bat houses which will be constructed closer to the lake and away from the home. While there is no way to attract or make bats utilize the houses you have provided we all hope that the houses with their prime location next to the lake and a comfortably secluded area of the property will result in a bat family occupation. We have also selected a beekeeper for the property and look forward to the imminent installation of the beehives.
In this very early phase of the overall master plan it is so nice to be able to see the forest without the invasive trees. The removal of all the undesirable species is nearly complete at this point. Many multiple acres of property have been cleared and the resulting debris will either be composted or burned. If the removed materials are burned, any ashes or char will be collected and utilized in various ways. Nothing goes to waste on this project. The ashes can be used to return valuable minerals to the soil and the charcoal left behind can be used for filtration and other cleaning processes.
This is part of the lake was nearly invisible due to the overgrown forest of invasive plants. One of the additional difficulties with this type of complete removal of plants is that it will create disturbed soil areas. Seeds which have been dormant for many years can now germinate. Some of these may be beneficial but many of them will be invasive species. As a temporary measure we will use leaves and other debris to cover the disturbed areas. Despite the challenges ahead it is wonderful to see some acres of newly recovered land free of invasive, undesirable plants.
Once upon a time this property was entirely composed of citrus groves. There were many long rows of orange trees forming a beautiful symmetrical pattern if viewed from the air.
As time went by the citrus groves declined and perished ultimately being replaced by numerous, native Florida plants. For a while, this ecosystem was probably relatively stable but ultimately it was invaded by many non-native species most of which were highly invasive. This drastic change in the landscape created an environment which was not desirable either to native fauna or humans. Many invasive species do not provide proper feeding or reproductive opportunities for animals or insects which inhabit the area. Removal of the overwhelming majority of these invasive species plants is one of the most important goals of this project. After removal the cleared areas will be replanted with native Florida species. At this point the clearing project has progressed very nicely as can be seen in the following photograph.
Removing over three acres of invasive species is NOT an easy task even if you have a strong work crew and heavy equipment. First you have to decide what you’re going to remove. This is complicated by the fact that many of the undesirable invasive species are intermixed with very desirable native species. My approach was to hire a Florida native plant horticultural expert, Dr. Craig Huegel. He is an author of numerous books on native Florida plants and wildlife ecology as well as an expert on plant identification in the Central Florida area. His guidance in determining what to remove, as well as the most effective and efficient ways to remove it, were essential to the success of the effort. Many of the invasive species has been growing for a very long time and had become quite well-established in the area. Several of the most undesirable plants required pretreatment with very expensive and specialized herbicides. These were very carefully mixed and applied in order to reduce any resultant damage to adjacent desirable plants. Removing these highly invasive plants with purely mechanical means could have left behind enough material for the plants to regenerate. It was therefore necessary to make sure they were dead before attempting the removal process. Along with the work crews several family members of the owners of the property participated in the removal project.
Preserving what is truly the real Florida is becoming a serious challenge. The rampant overdevelopment of land and coastal areas without regard for native plants and ecosystems is forever altering the natural ecological balance of living systems which have thrived for millennia. The Rosebud Continuum is a new, continuous and evolving project to restore and preserve a relatively large land and lake area in Pasco County Florida. The project will also incorporate a number of new and vibrant additions to the landscape including bee colonies, bat and bird houses, alternative energy sources, sustainable agriculture including hydroponic production, aquaculture utilizing the natural, spring lake on the property, native plant demonstration gardens, and eventually, buildings constructed to very high energy efficiency/sustainable levels for lectures, classes, research and other educational purposes. A part of the property zoned for commercial use will support a farmer’s market and organic food cafe or other similar use. The property also has a very unique historical connection as one of the owners was born on a Lakota Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota known as the Rosebud Reservation. Part of this project’s purpose will be to create a meaningful interaction with this Native American history.
The present state of the property is one of cultivated pasture along with vast amounts of invasive, non-native plant species. The following photographs show large amounts of invasive plant species which in many cases obstruct sight or movement through the property as well as reduce the ability of native plants to exist and thrive depriving the local fauna of food sources, shelter and other benefit.
The area was once a thriving agricultural location. It consisted mainly of citrus groves and farm or pasture areas as two of the following historical photographs show.