Branching Out: Celebrating Florida's Arbor Day,

January 19th, 2024

The Beautiful Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Welcome to our January 2024 Newsletter,

Held annually on the third Friday in January, this special day is rooted in a rich history that began in Nebraska in 1872. It symbolizes our commitment to planting and nurturing trees, recognizing their vital role in our environment. In this edition, we delve into the verdant world of trees suitable for Northeast Florida, with a special focus on palms that thrive in this region. Additionally, we'll explore three fast-growing trees perfect for those looking to add greenery swiftly to their landscapes. Lastly, for nature enthusiasts, we present an article on the best trees to attract wildlife, creating a harmonious and lively ecosystem in your backyard. Join us in this leafy journey as we commemorate Florida Arbor Day, a day that encourages us to plant a better tomorrow, one tree at a time.

Hands Down, the Best Trees to Attract Wildlife

Matthew Barlow, Garden Center Manager

I have two clear favorites regarding attracting furry and feathered friends. The first is the Bottlebrush tree (Callistemon citrinus. USDA zones 8b-11). This beautiful evergreen grows to 15' tall and wide. It blooms intermittently throughout the year here in Jacksonville, Florida, attracting birds and beneficial pollinators year-round. Once, I spotted a hummingbird flitting about the tips of the branches, looking for a snack even when it was out of bloom. It must've remembered how good the nectar was when the red flowers were there a month or two earlier and wanted to make sure there wasn't something to eat even though the flowers were absent.

Bottlebrush trees are easy to grow and thrive in our Northeast Florida climate. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, squirrels, and various songbirds are all attracted to this majestic shade tree. If you don't need the Bottlebrush to reach its full height, it can be pruned and trimmed to keep it much lower. Many gardeners train these trees into a bush or easily keep them as hedges.

The Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus. USDA zones 6-9) is another southern tree that stops traffic when it's in full bloom. The Vitex is deciduous and blooms off and on throughout the year. The lilac-colored flowers are unique in the South, and although they've been grown here for years, they are not as ubiquitous as other blooming trees like Crape Myrtles. To encourage heavier reblooming, trim the trees after each flush of flowers to promote more blossoms on new growth.

All sorts of beneficial pollinators enjoy this tree. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees who use the pollen to make honey will all stop by for a sip of nectar. Like the Bottlebrush, the Vitex can grow to 15 feet tall and wide and be kept much smaller with occasional pruning.

Top Palms for Northeast Florida

In the lush landscapes of Northeast Florida, palms are more than just trees; they are symbols of tropical beauty and resilience. Our region is blessed with a variety of palms, each adding its unique charm and benefits to our gardens. Let's explore some of the top palms that flourish in our area:

Phoenix Sylvestris

(Silver Date Palm)

Known for its elegant, silvery-blue leaves, this palm adds a touch of sophistication to any landscape. It's drought-resistant and thrives under the Florida sun.

Queen Palms

With their long, graceful fronds and smooth trunks, Queen Palms are a favorite for creating a tropical oasis in your backyard. They are fast growers and can add significant height to your garden.

Sabal Palm

The state tree of Florida, Sabal Palms, is a symbol of the Sunshine State. They are extremely hardy and can withstand various weather conditions, making them a reliable choice.

Roebelenii Palm

(Pygmy Date Palm)

Perfect for smaller spaces, these palms are known for their compact size and feathery fronds. They can be a charming addition to any garden or patio area..

For those interested in discovering more about the diverse range of palms suited to our region and considerations when selecting the perfect palm for your landscape, visit our detailed page at Earth Works Garden Center. Here, you'll find a wealth of information tailored to the unique climate and aesthetics of Northeast Florida.

Three Fast Growing Trees

Let's get right to it. The Florida native Red Maple, the Drake Elm, and Japanese Blueberry are fantastic fast-growing trees for Northeast Florida. Each one is entirely different and can serve different purposes. Let's break it down and find out which is best for your space.

Florida Red Maple

(Acer rubrum)

This large tree grows to 40’-60’ tall and about 40’ wide. It has beautiful red color in the spring when it flowers and the new leaves emerge and gets fall color that could include red, yellow, orange and even shades of dark purple. This fast-growing tree is disease and pest-resistant and can tolerate anything Northeast Florida can throw at it. Plant this tree at least 20’-30’ away from homes, sidewalks, and driveways due to its strong root system. They prefer full sun and can grow in normal or very wet soil conditions. If you have an area that holds water and you’d like a tree to help suck up that excess moisture, this could be the tree for you.

Drake Elm

(Ulmus parvifolia)

The Drake Elm is another fast-growing medium-sized shade tree that performs very well here in Jacksonville, Fl. It can grow 30’-35’ tall and wide. Plant this tree about 10’-15’ away from structures. It drops its leaves each winter, but not before they turn yellow for a bit of color early in the winter. The bark of this tree is very attractive. Over time it will begin to flake off, leaving attractive patterns on the trunk. This tree performs best in full sun with well-drained soil.

Japanese Blueberry (Elaeocarpus decipiens)

can grow 30’ tall and about as wide. Plant this tree about 10’-15’ away from structures. As opposed to the previous trees, this one is evergreen. Fast-growing and reliable this one keeps its leaves year-round, but just like other evergreens, it loses leaves intermittently right after they turn bright orange or red. This tree is definitely underutilized and provides great shade every month of the year. In addition, the berries produced in the fall attract birds.

Outdoor Living: It's More than Just a Pool!

Follow along as our team skillfully installs a luxurious landscape around a pool, followed by the creation of an exciting mini golf course. Be mesmerized by the elegant water feature installation in the front yard, enhancing the home's curb appeal.

Nature's Melody: The 'Bitter Sweet' Blend of Ornamental Kale and Fragrant Florals

Welcome to "Bitter Sweet," a unique container garden recipe that harmoniously blends the unexpected and delightful elements of gardening. In this exclusive arrangement, we juxtapose the robust, bitter charm of Ornamental Kale Nagoya Rose and Nagoya White – not for the table but purely for visual pleasure – with the sweetly fragrant Nemesia Sunshine and Violet Knight Alyssum. This combination creates a sensory experience that encapsulates the essence of our cool season in Northeast Florida. The white alyssum adds a delicate touch, enhancing the overall aesthetic. "Bitter Sweet" is more than just a garden; it celebrates contrasts, where the bitter meets the sweet in a symphony of colors and scents, perfect for our unique climate.

1. Nemesia Sunshine is a stunning cool-season annual perfect for adding drama to garden containers and flower beds. With buttery yellow flowers and a sweet honey scent, it makes a beautiful thriller or filler in any container!

2.& 3. Flowering kale, known for its vibrant ruffled foliage in shades of pink, purple, and red, is a striking yet simple-to-cultivate choice for pots and garden plots. They flourish in cooler climates and remain resilient against mild frost, maintaining their beauty in winter in warmer regions.

4. Violet Knight® Alyssum is a vibrant and fragrant spiller, beautifully cascading over the edge of the pot. Traditionally a cool-weather annual, this flower has been modified to take on the heat, extending its ability to go all year long.

5. Alyssum Snow Princess is a compact, low-growing annual plant with a rounded, spreading shape. It continuously produces small, white, aromatic flowers throughout the season. This robust plant flourishes in varying temperatures and is ideal for hanging baskets due to its prolific and sweet-smelling blossoms.

Shop this Recipe

Give Your Lawn Its Best Start for Spring!

Our naturally sandy soil requires nutrient replenishment for your best Spring and summer lawn. Proper care of your lawn during dormancy will make for a healthy, vigorously growing lawn that holds up best to pests and pathogens. Earth Works Lawn Care can provide you with an estimate for AERATION & TOP DRESSING.

Call today 996-0712 ext. 212

The Science

Concerned About the Upcoming Freeze?

Here is a link to December's newsletter covering "What to do in a Freeze"

Winter is Pond Clean Out Season!

Request A Clean Out 

Heartfelt Thanks to Our Community!

We're overflowing with gratitude! Thanks to your support, our "Planting Seeds of Joy: Garden Gifts That Give Back!" campaign was a resounding success. Your purchases have spread the beauty of nature and made a real difference in the lives of the children and families at the Sanctuary on 8th Street.

We are proud to announce that, together, we've made a significant donation to help nurture young minds and spirits in Jacksonville.

Thank you for joining hands with us in this meaningful initiative.

Let’s keep this spirit of giving growing!

Looking for a great place to celebrate Florida Arbor Day?

Make a trip to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Botanical Gardens! Called “the hidden jewel” in Northeast Florida, the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens opened in November 2008 – covering 120 acres and offering seven natural trails through 13 distinct ecosystems. Newly planted palm, tea, pollinator, raised bed gardens. Points of interest and cyber yoga stations can be accessed through QR codes located on posts along the trails. A great place to find peace and connect with nature!

The Trails
Garden Center Hours
Monday through Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm / Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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We would like to thank you all for your continued support!

Earth Works Gardens | |996-0712 | 12501 Beach Blvd.