Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Somewhere in Louisiana

The Florida Native Plant Society conference in Gainesville was well-planned and -executed. We met a few native plant growers/nursery people. There were a few designers and architects, and some researchers. But mostly we met native plant enthusiasts who promote them for the same reasons we do: when used properly native plants conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate natural resources.

Karina Veaudry, executive director of FNPS and landscape architect, gave us a glorious introduction. Photos of our project in Santa Rosa Beach (Walton County) flashed on the screen as she read excerpts from the narrative about the project. We approached the podium to accept our award and congratulations from one of the judges. I looked out into the audience, believed to be one of the best-attended FNPS conferences, and found a sea of beaming smiles. Cameras clicked and flash-bulbs illuminated us holding our award. After the ceremony several members greeted us and invited us to "come back and do more projects in Florida." We appreciate their hospitality.

If you have never visited Gainesville, I recommend planning a trip soon. It's home to University of Florida, so arts, sports and college-mentality permeates the community. Joggers and cyclists enjoy the extensive trail system. Live Oaks with Spanish Moss dangling like necklaces from their branches define this as a Deep South city. People were friendly and intelligent, seemingly very earth-focused. I really enjoyed this adventure; I discovered there is more to Florida than lovely beaches.

The next day, Earth Day, we spent hiking Topsail Hill Nature Preserve in Walton County. I'll post pics later. What a gorgeous place! We also found our friend, Kendall, in Grayton Beach and visited with her and her friends before joining them for a WaCo Ramblers concert in Gulf Place. Home by 8pm, we enjoyed dinner with friends and hosts, Angie and Steve. All in all, I think this was the best Earth Day weekend. Ever.

David has packed the truck and is waiting for me to finish this post. I have a boatload of plant pics and other stuff to download this evening when we return home. Stay tuned! And Happy Belated Earth Day!

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