Well before Ponce de Leon discovered the fountain of youth, thousands of plants were here, and you will have a chance to learn more about them.
Lee County Extension Service will offer its annual Florida native plant seminar that will include a guided preserve tour at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Florida has approximately 2,800 plants that are considered natives, meaning that they were present when the first European explorers arrived nearly 500 years ago.
The idea of this program, which the extension service has done in various forms for years, is to get people to understand these plants, both good and bad, according to Stephen Brown, master gardener at the extension and its Lee County agent.
"It puts these plants into perspective. They have their good side and bad side and we want to examine them both," Brown said.
This event will introduce people to just a handful of these plants, and will clear up some confusion between popular natives and look-alike invasive or other exotics.
Learn about what can go wrong with some of the most cultivated Florida natives, including insect and disease problems, and take an afternoon tour of Prairie Pine Preserve to see native plants living in community as nature intended.
"The more people see, the more you appreciate and the more ideas that come to mind," Brown said.
Three, one-hour programs are being offered that include: Sustainable Gardening with Native Plants; Mistaken Identity: Friendly or Invasive; and Pests of Native Plants.
"It's all about education and information and selection. It allows people to make their own choice as to where they want to go," Brown said.
"It's just a fun gardening class and that's how it should be looks as."
Lee County Extension agents offer educational services through a three-way cooperative arrangement between the Board of County Commissioners, the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Local extension agents are off-campus faculty members of the University of Florida.
The cost is $12.
For additional information and registration go the Extension webpage at lee.ifas.ufl.edu or call 533-7504 or 533-7513.