Native plant garden in Lakewood Ranch upgraded to attract butterflies, mockingbirds

dgraham@bradenton.comJuly 9, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Butterflies inspired landscapers to upgrade a declining native plant garden in Summerfield on Primrose Circle by adding garden elements designed to attract butterflies and mockingbirds.

"Primrose Park is a small pocket park that is easily accessible to the community and is a great meeting spot for residents," Lakewood Ranch director of operations Ryan Heise said. "The team provided new life into an area that was primed to take off with new blooms and exciting vigor."

Under the guidance of Ramon Sepulveda, landscape supervisor, numerous plants were added and others trimmed or moved.

"The park quickly took on new life," Heise said.

Originally planted as a native garden, some spots had begun to suffer, according to Heise.

"We started to work just by the empty spots and noticed that we had butterfly attractors like the firebush and mimosa, so we decided to add plants to attract more of them," Sepulveda said. "Residents like to walk their dogs. We like to make Lakewood Ranch a park that people can enjoy on their time off from work or if they just take a walk."

Raised on Hillsborough County's strawberry farms,

Sepulveda loves nature and wildlife, so gardening comes naturally for him.

"As I work and study plants, and as I plant them, I always keep in mind what they do, what they come from, what kind of growth they will have as they get bigger in life," he said.

With all the rain lately, "we're turning off the sprinklers at the moment andletting Mother Nature do her work," the gardener said. "We were at another park nearby there, inspectinga crepe myrtle, and itwas attracting a lot of hummingbirds. There wereyellow and striped butterflies."

Other plants Sepulveda and his team have used to enrich Primrose Park are the twinflower, palmetto palm, holly fern, coontie, crepe myrtle, plumbago and sakthi grass.

"We are in nature, turf areas and wetlands areas," Sepulveda said. "We see deer every day, small deer, raccoons, snakes, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, woodpeckers."

"It feels nice here in the morning. There are birds of every color -- red birds, blue jays and vultures -- and a lot of deer, young deer just running out in front of us in the morning," Sepulveda said.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-0411, ext. 7024, or @DeeGrahamBH.

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