St. Petersburg Taoist Tai Chi™ Center, 2007
Late this summer the St. Petersburg Florida Branch was honored to receive three awards for its natural-scaped yard and garden: just in time for its 25th Anniversary celebrations. With all the great news about the Fenway Center blooming out of the Dunedin Branch you could say that celebration was a real growth industry for in the Tampa Bay area in September!
When the Branch moved into their new location on Dr. Martin Luther Jr. Street North near central St. Petersburg in 2007, the yard was a pretty dismal sight. Under the leadership of then President Jean Swantish, the Branch Council and Patty Callaghan, chair of the Gardening Committee, the membership jumped in and got to work in tidying up years of neglect. Numerous “Weeding Days” took place and before long things began to come alive. But all the while members were very mindful of the need to respect the surrounding environment and the decision was taken to investigate how best to adopt a natural gardening approach, called “xeriscaping”, to move forward in a harmonious and balanced fashion.
That’s where Bill Bilodeau of the Pinellas County Native Plant Society came in. After fundraising the required funds, the Branch was able to follow Bill’s inspired direction and in 2009 replaced species that were not flourishing with Florida native plants, shrubs, and other vegetation that would be water-wise, attract pollinators and continue to propagate in a sustainable fashion. To further help achieve that vision of sustainability and naturalness that is the Taoist way, the well on the property was deepened and a low-volume drip irrigation system was installed.
Five years in (and after tons of hard work and mulch!) and the results are dramatic as evidenced by the awards by the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Not only was the Taoist Tai Chi™ Society named as the 2014 City Beautification Award winner, we also received the Community Water-Wise Award and a Gold medal for Florida-Friendly Landscaping from the County and the University of Florida.
As the City of St. Petersburg award states:
The Society demonstrates the use of sustainable concepts for reduced reliance on water, fertilizer and pesticides as well as an interesting use of native plants in both form and location and a landscape that is evolving and improving over time, with an unhurried spirit.
Taoist Tai Chi™. It works in the garden, too!