SWC Demonstration Garden
Self-Guided Tour of Native Plant Trail
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Donate to the Garden -- Click "Donate Online," and be sure to specify "SWCDG&T"
A new outdoor learning site is under development on the campus of Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC), at the South Walton Center. It is located at 109 Greenway Trail just north of the intersection of US 331 and US 98. The Native Plant Demonstration Garden and Self-Guided Nature Trail will be the first of their kind in Walton County, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), the Walton County Master Gardeners (WCMGs) and NWFSC.
In the first phase of the project, a Wildflower Meadow was recently planted in a swale north of the college campus clock tower. The Master Gardeners enlisted the help of 5th and 6th graders from the nearby Boys and Girls Club. The site was prepared, and then wildflower seed was mixed with compost and spread over the area. With cooperation from the weather, the area should be filled with flowers next spring and summer for all to enjoy.
The second phase of the project is the Self-Guided Nature Trail, which is nearing completion. It will serve as a hands-on outdoor learning lab for the college as well as other interested groups and individuals. The quarter-mile trail is paved for multi-modal use. It meanders through a woodland of ti-ti, rusty lyonia, anise, sumac, oak and maple trees. Rare pitcher plants, mallows, and native azaleas will be planted to enhance the retention pond which borders a section of the trail. Click here to download the Trail Guide to learn more about each of these plants!
The more formal Native Plant Demonstration Garden will be located on the east side of the South Walton Campus. Many of the wild plants seen along the Nature Trail will be featured here, thus “demonstrating” the versatility and beauty of Florida’s native plants. Less reliant on valuable resources of water, fertilizers, and pesticides, the vast array of Florida native shrubs, trees and flowers can thrive in home and commercial gardens. Use of rain barrels will illustrate water conservation practices, as will the use of composted materials and wood chip mulch donated by the Walton County District 3 Road Department. Additional plant material will be “rescued” from construction sites, or grown and donated by CBA and Master Gardener volunteers, nurseries and wild plant enthusiasts.
Landscape architect, Kristen Koehnemann, created the original design for the Native Plant Demonstration Garden. She is the daughter of one of the Master Gardeners. Her conceptual drawings are available here (overview and details) and are on display at the NWFSC Campus Office. The public is welcome to stop by and see the layout. When completed, the entire area will be open to the public. Both locals and visitors will able to enjoy this endeavor.
Start-up funding for the project is from the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Walton County Master Gardeners and Northwest Florida State College. As work progresses, business and individual contributions of dollars, garden supplies, plants and labor will be welcome. Checks may be made out to the NWFSC Foundation (501.C.3) and earmarked for the South Walton Center Demonstration Garden & Trail (SWCDG&T). They may be mailed to or dropped off at NWFSC, 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Or donations can be made online by going to www.nwfscfoundation.org and clicking on the donations button – be sure to specify SWCDG&T!
Contacts: Project Coordinator, Mary Lutz, at the Walton County Extension Office, 850-892-8172 or Julie Terrell, CBA at NWFSC, 850-200-4162.