Archive for the ‘Valley of Life Project St. Augustine Team Realty’ Category

Native Plants Project Update

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Sean Hessby Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook and Google+.

Last year we started a native plants project.  Here’s the most recent news on how it’s going.

To recap, since St. Augustine Team Realty opened in 2009  I’ve been making a donation to tree a planting organization with every sale that myself or my partners Ron and Kate closed.  The donations were going out of state to places like American Forests and the American Chestnut Foundation, which are both 4-star rated, but I really wanted to bring that money back to St. Augustine.

My yard was too barren even for the desert in Star Wars.

A location too barren even for Star Wars.

So I had an idea.

The most sterile soil in St. Augustine is in my own front yard, which I nicknamed “The Valley of Death.”  Even weeds have trouble growing in this sun blasted piece of earth.  It is such a forbidding place that scouts for the original Star Wars movie looked at it as a possible location for Tatooine.  It didn’t make the cut because it was too lifeless.

So I decided to start using the tree planting promo money to start a project in The Valley of Death–planting Florida native and drought resistant plants–to see if they could survive.

I started planting in June 2011, as sales allowed, with a few different varieties to see if they would take hold.  This was partly to keep the money local, but I also thought our customers and potential customers might see the project as a further benefit of using St. Augustine Team Realty.

After attending some native plant classes at the county ag center, I decided to plant Tender Fountain Grass “rubrum,” Society Garlic, Penta (an annual), and seeded Florida native wildflowers like Gallardia (Blanket Flower) and Black Eyed Susan in two separate batches.

It didn’t help that the county is/was experiencing a drought.  Drought is part of the normal cycle here, but this one has been especially long and especially rough.  The county has been short as much as 18 inches of rainfall for the year, and in some of the surrounding areas (like Jacksonville and Gainesville) it’s been even worse, with a deficit of 25 inches.  It is and was a hard time for planting.

The results?

Well, Society Garlic appears to be bomb proof…it’s thriving.  Now that I’ve planted it and know what it looks like I see it all around town in the professional landscaping beds.

Of the three Fountain Grass plantings only two survived, and the survivors looked pretty scraggly.  But they are at least hanging in there and with the recent heavy (and regular) rains the past few weeks they’ve really started to take off.  The important thing is that they survived and established their roots…hopefully they’ll start thriving.

The first wildflower seeding has been spectacular, though only Gallardia has shown up in abundance.  The second seeding, planted in November (30 days after the first seeding) and adjacent to the first, appears to have failed.  This is really odd…same location, conditions, etc., and the only difference was 30 days, which shouldn’t have mattered much with the really mild winter we had.  But we’ll watch it all summer and see what happens.

Recently we’ve been blessed with heavy rains which Tropical Storm Beryl kicked off in May.  I took the opportunity to do some more planting.

The new addition has been a Florida native called Coontie.  It looks a bit like a fern but it grows up and out a bit like a sago palm.  I also added some more Pentas for color, some more Society Garlic, and some Fountain Grass…just because I didn’t think it got a fair shot in the extreme planting conditions of last summer.

Below is a list of what I’ve done so far.  I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!

Property SalePlanting
1200 ArdmoreFountain Grass ‘Rubrum’
1820 WoodstoneFountain Grass ‘Rubrum’
2204 Blackstone WayFountain Grass ‘Rubrum’failed
601 Santa TeresaSociety Garlic
224 Brantley (buyer)Society Garlic
224 Brantley (seller)Society Garlic
414 PrinceSociety Garlic
501 Cabernet (seller)Society Garlic
501 Cabernet (buyer)Wildflower Planting 1
112 Gargonza PlaceWildflower Planting 2failed?
1575 Timber TraceCoontie / Penta
5169 MedorasCoontie / Penta
372 New EnglandFountain Grass ‘Rubrum’
4475 US 1 South 202/203Fountain Grass ‘Rubrum’
6170 A1A SouthSociety Garlic

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty for Realtors that will help your real estate needs flower!  Email or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Gallardia (Blanket Flower) growing from our first wildflower seeding here in St. Augustine, Florida.

Gallardia from our first wildflower seeding.