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February- March 2014 
Calendar Offers Ways To "Skip The Yard Work, Save The Water"

Pick up a Be Floridian calendar at a Sarasota County library or administrative center to learn simple ways to protect the waterways that make living in Florida fun.

The calendar was illustrated by 13 elementary school students who entered a calendar art contest sponsored by Sarasota County's Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team. Each month offers a different tip to reduce water pollution from yard runoff, such as planting native plants, setting your irrigation system correctly and keeping grass clippings out of storm drains. 
Third grader Grace Milton of Tatum Ridge Elementary with her illustration urging homeowners to "Keep the baby ducks happy. Do not pollute!"
"The 'Be Floridian' campaign is all about protecting our fun - boating, fishing, swimming, and all the other water activities that make living here so great," said Rob Wright, who coordinates the county's calendar contest. "This year's calendar focuses on what each of us can do to keep Sarasota's waterways healthy."

Pick up your calendar while supplies last at the downtown Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota; at R.L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice; and at any county library.
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meet our partners header Lisa and Dave Burns of Backyard Getaway  


Lisa and Dave Burns of Manatee County help people create beautiful outdoor spaces for relaxing and entertaining, especially water features such as ponds, fountains and waterfalls. Their company, Backyard Getaway, serves homeowners from Tampa Bay to Sarasota Bay. 


Prior to launching Backyard Getaway in 2004, Lisa and Dave owned a drywall contracting business. Then Dave bought a pond kit from a Big Box store as a hobby.  He kept expanding that starter pond until it wrapped all the way around their home! In the process, he discovered there wasn't a one-stop shop that sold everything he needed for his new obsession.  That's when he and Lisa decided they could fill that need, opening two retail pond supply stores in the Manatee-Sarasota area. Friends and neighbors began to ask him for advice and help with their own ponds, and soon they began installing and maintaining ponds for people --eventually closing the retail locations to focus on the service side of the business.  


Today, the creative couple builds all types of  water features and outdoor living spaces such as patios and firepits, in addition to installing Florida-friendly landscapes. They also sell a full array of pond equipment and supplies online, and perk up existing ponds with renovations and cleanouts. See Dave and Lisa in the Backyard Pond video in this newsletter.     

"Backyard Dreamer" by Lisa Burns


Dave and Lisa also create whimsical "yard art" from repurposed items like pallets, hub caps and old garden tools.  Lisa even contributed a rainbow-colored fellow she calls "Backyard Dreamer" to the flock of custom-painted plastic yard flamingos we're taking to community events this spring.


What could be more Floridian that having your own outdoor oasis? We are truly pleased to have Backyard Getaway as our newest Be Floridian business partner! Check out their  creations at: http://backyardgetawayponds.com/    


Need some expert advice on 

Gardening Like A Floridian?


Check out the Garden Coaches, Landscape Designers, Lawn Care Companies and Nurseries that support our mission to protect the waterways that make living in Florida fun by clicking here  

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Classes and workshops offer free or low-cost instruction on how to save time and money by practicing Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles. Check out your county extension service to get started or to learn advanced skills. Most workshops are free or very low cost.





Be Floridian
Univ. of Florida/Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ 



Floridata Plant Profiles



 Tampa Bay Estuary Program



Sarasota Bay Estuary Program



Lawn Reform Coalition



Florida Native Plant Society



Florida Yards



Follow The Flock



"Fresh from Florida" Recipes


Artist Anita Long of Temple Terrace with "Dottie"
Artsy Flamingo Flock is Getting
Ready to Land!
After three years on the road, our popular but shopworn flock of plastic pink yard flamingos is getting some pizzazz this Spring!

"Marilyn Monroe" by artist Charlene Jones of Sarasota
Artists from throughout the Tampa and Sarasota Bay watersheds are putting their creative touch on 25 of our 50 yard birds, making each one a unique masterpiece of outdoor art.  The custom-painted flock will be the centerpiece of our community outreach campaign this Spring, helping to promote our message to skip the fertilizer during the summer rainy season and "Garden Like A Floridian." Look for the colorful flock at art and community festivals all over the region.

Our Sarasota campaign partners will have their own brightly feathered flock to parade, courtesy of uber-talented students at the Ringling College of Art and Design. 

Make sure to "Like" the Be Floridian and Follow The Flock Facebook pages to find out where these one-of-a-kind flamingos will be landing this Spring.

Thankful to Be A Floridian
 Photo Contest Winners 

Once again, our Facebook fans rose to the challenge this holiday season when asked to submit original photos illustrating why they are thankful to "Be Floridian."

More than 81 photos -- from beach sunsets to cypress swamps to stately herons and egrets -- were entered in the contest. Facebook fans voted on their favorites.

Lee Smith of Davie earned first place with his spectacular photo (below) of the Dania Beach Pier at sunrise. Lee is a web developer and Internet marketing consultant who has been an avid photographer since he acquired a Kodak Instamatic at age 10!

Second place went to Anette Monroe of Gulfport for this beautiful scenic of Bradenton Beach. Anette and her husband own the Gulfport Dive Center, so her livelihood depends on the clean water that the Be Floridian campaign promotes!

Both Lee and Anette received prize packs including Be Floridian mousepads, native wildflower seeds and Florida gardening books.  

Check out our Pinterest page to see all the photos entered in the contest. 

Plants for True Floridians

Florida Native


Ardisia escallonioides

Marlberry photo by Sue Dingwell
Photo by Sue Dingwell

Also known as marbleberry, the marlberry bush is a common shrub often seen in Florida hedges lining buildings, driveways and  fences. Its shiny pointed leaves form a star-like frond sprouting delicate and fragrant white flowers and dark berries that birds love to snack on. The hearty marlberry is drought tolerant and thrives in hammocks with sandy soil. This sturdy perennial can grow quite high  if you let it -- up to 15 feet -- so keep it pruned to maintain an attractive hedge. Plant in shade or part shade.

Florida-Friendly Non-Native

Brunfelsia pauciflora
yesterday today tomorrow
Photo from Floridata.com 

The pretty Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow is so named because it blooms with purple flowers that fade over a period of several days through a progression of blues and lavenders until they are pure white. The small pansy-like blossoms appear in large multicolored clusters from spring through summer. The shrubby bushes can grow from 3 to 8 feet tall and can handle some sun, but prefer filtered shade. YT&T makes an attractive hedge, but needs regular watering. 


NEW! Be Floridian Video


Maintaining Your Backyard  Pond



Maintaining Your Backyard Pond


 Boost Your Pond IQ: Answers to five common questions  

about Backyard Ponds featuring our Be Floridian partners

Dave and Lisa Burns of Backyard Getaway

Recipe for Relaxing  
If it's February, it's strawberry time in Central Florida! Enjoy fresh-from-the-farm berries in this easy, low-fat dessert while you're making your spring Florida-friendly gardening plans.

Strawberry Parfait 
2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, whipped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
4 graham crackers, crushed
1 lemon, juiced
4 sprigs fresh mint for garnish


In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine whipped cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice. Fold the yogurt into the cream cheese mixture.  In four wide mouth glasses, evenly layer cream cheese mixture, strawberries and crushed graham crackers. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. Serve chilled.


Recipe and photo from FreshFromFlorida.com


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What's Be Floridian?


Be Floridian is an educational campaign sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Our partners include Manatee, Pinellas,  and Sarasota counties; the cities of  Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa; and a variety of landscape designers, gardening coaches, fertilizer companies and lawn care specialists.  We are calling on all Southwest Floridians to help protect what makes Florida so fun -- our bays, lakes, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico -- by skipping the fertilizer in the summer to prevent water pollution and creating landscapes that flourish in harmony with Florida's quirky climate.