- May 12, 2011
The Banyan Bay Club derived its name from a non-native, invasive tree, but those days of ecological irresponsibility are over. With help from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, the condominium complex just relandscaped what used to be known as “the swamp.”
“This was a huge puddle area. Every time it rained, it would stay there for weeks — lots of mosquitoes, miserable,” Terri Driver said. “Believe it or not, it was so hidden underneath all the invasive plants that you weren’t sure it was there or where the mosquitoes were coming from.”
Vines and Brazilian peppers had taken over the roughly 3,000-square-foot area. Even the palm trees weren’t native, but the replacement plants and trees are. The project started 10 years ago when Driver and three others went into the swampy, overgrown jungle to remove piles of trash, mostly construction leftovers like pallets and bags of concrete.
Six years later, the landscaping committee decided to clear the undergrowth and added a few plants, but the results were lackluster. Driver said they didn’t realize how many plants and how much money it would take to truly make a difference.
So last year, the committee applied for a grant through the Estuary Program and was awarded $8,862.53, which still kept the project on a tight budget.
“It’s a non-matching grant program, meaning that you don’t have to contribute financially to get the funds,” Public Outreach Manager Megan Barry said. “But we like to see there’s some type of community effort.”
Florida Native Plants Nursery guided the group on the number of plants, species and spacing, but volunteers did the shoveling. The grant paid for 134 plants of 13 different species and 630 bags of mulch.
“We’re working on a forest here,” Driver said. “We’re going to have an upper story and middle story and an under story.”
The freshly planted landscape looks sparse now, but given time, asters and twinflowers will hug the ground. Wild coffee and wax myrtles will fill in the middle. And Southern magnolia, red cedar and live oak trees will grow tall to fill in the top.
Because the plants are native, they don’t require pesticides, which greatly benefits Sarasota Bay. And in the spirit of the project, the plastic champagne glasses were getting washed and reused.