Straughn Center Demonstration Gardens

flax lily plants in Straughn Landscape

The conservation and protection of Florida’s natural resources starts at home.

The Straughn Extension Professional Development Center landscape plan was designed as a demonstration area for Florida-Friendly Landscaping™(FFL).

The goal of the FFL program is to educate Floridians on the protection and conservation of water resources through landscape design and maintenance practices. The Straughn Center landscape will provide a showcase for FFL on the UF campus and opportunities for the general public, students, and IFAS faculty and staff from across the state to learn the principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.

The nine FFL principles, which provide the foundations for sustainable landscape practices, are demonstrated through a combination of planted areas and landscape practice displays, which are accompanied by interpretive signage. FFL principles accomplished through plant selection and landscape design are physically demonstrated in the landscape, and maintenance based practices are explained through interpretive signage.

The FFL team, which includes the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program state office staff, Dr. Gail Hansen, Erin Alvarez, Tom Wichman, and the CLCE Information Office staff, worked with the Straughn Center staff to develop the FFL demonstration garden. Two welcome signs and interpretive signage lead visitors along a winding path connecting the main entry courtyard to the west parking lot. A series of shade trees, longleaf pines, and cabbage palms line the path. A variety of plant materials create an inviting garden with suitable plant choices for use in home landscapes. Wildlife habitat and rain garden display areas demonstrate construction and planting techniques. The cistern display offer homeowners irrigation options.

All of the plant material will thrive in the conditions found on site and have been selected for low-maintenance requirements. After establishment, the landscape will thrive on very little supplemental water, which will be provided, when needed, by a microirrigation system supplied by the cistern on the north side of the building.

The FFL team and Alachua County Master Gardeners continue to work in the demonstration garden. The Florida-Friendly Landscape installed on this site will serve as a model of sustainable landscape practices and provide information and inspiration for homeowners and commercial developers alike.