Have you ever noticed an unfamiliar bird in your yard and
wondered what it was? Maybe you’d like to create a butterfly garden but are
unsure what plants to include. Have you always wanted to explore a local
waterway but don’t know where to go?
You can find the answers this weekend (Oct. 3-5) during
Lake County’s 3rd Annual Wings and Wildflowers Festival based at Venetian
Gardens in Leesburg.
|Faithful Beauty Moth (Composia fidelissima) on Chicksaw Plum|
I always look forward to the festival because it focuses
attention on something I value — Lake County’s diverse and bountiful natural
wonders. From kayak trips to tram rides, rare plant hikes to scrub jay
sightings, there’s a field trip, lecture, outing or adventure to spark the
interest of anyone with curiosity about local plants and wildlife.
|Florida scrub jay|
With more than 100 programs and events to choose from — most
free or for a small fee — people of all ages can gain a better understanding of
the world outside their door. Pre-registration has been going on for more than
a month at the festival website, www.wingsandwildflowers.com
but there’s still time for last-minute festival goers to sign up for a wide
range of offerings.
Anyone interested in attracting hummingbirds to their yard
might want to check out Naturalist Lavon Silvernell’s free Friday afternoon
program, Hummingbird Habitat
. Silvernell, who recently retired as director of
Trout Lake Nature Center
in Eustis, will explain how the right configuration of
native plants, water and shelter can draw these diminutive feathered beauties
to any patio garden. Her program runs from 2 -3 p.m. at the Venetian
Gardens Community Building, 103 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg.
|Hummingbird drinking nectar from Wendy's Wish Salvia|
Another free program presented by a local expert is apiarist
Billy Fussell’s class, “Beekeeping 101
,” which runs from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Friday at the community building. Fussell, owner of Bee Fussy Apiary in
Leesburg and president of Lake County Beekeepers, is bringing a variety of
different honeys from around the region for participants to sample. What a
sweet way to learn.
|Bee approaching bottlebrush bloom|
Although Venetian Gardens in Leesburg is the festival’s home
base this year, many of its programs, especially field trips and water
adventures, take place at locations throughout the county.
There are still seats available for the a two-hour pontoonboat tour of Lake Dora and the Dora Canal
for $27 a person. It is set for 2-4
p.m. Sunday, departing from the Lakeside Inn
in Mount Dora. Attendees can ride
in comfort while a guide from Premier Boat Tours points out 2,000-year-old
cypress trees, herons, ibises, egrets, osprey, alligators, turtles and maybe
even a bald eagle or two.
|Bald eagle in pine tree overlooking water|
For birders in need of a bit of relaxation, head over to the
Birds & Beer
event from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at the Leesburg Boat Club TikiBar
, 31 Dozier Circle, Leesburg. JayMc & The Mountain River Band
will provide a free concert of old and new country music, including many
original tunes. Mingle with fellow birders while enjoying a cool brew in a
shaded waterside setting.
More into butterflies than brewskis? If so, bring the kids
to the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail
at 11490 Monte Vista Road, Clermont, all day
Saturday to observe butterflies in the garden and learn about the cycle of
birth from egg to newly hatched Monarch butterfly during Cathy Brown’s continuously
running program, “Butterflies are Free
|Learn how monarch butterflies are tagged at the "Butterflies are Free" presentation|
The festival’s website is the place to learn about the three
keynote speakers, Birds & Blooms magazine editor Stacy Tornio;
botanist, photographer and naturalist Roger L. Hammer,
and birder Greg Miller,
whose 1998 cross-country quest to view 700 species of birds in a single year is
the true story behind the 2011 film “The Big Year.”
You can also sign up online
to save your spot in any of the programs, including meet-and-greets with the
keynote speakers and other presenters.
Even if you don’t have time to participate in any of the scheduled events, stop by anyway to check out the vendors and exhibits. Last year, while browsing through the vendor area, I found three new Florida-friendly plants to add to my garden.
|One of my Florida-friendly plant finds: Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica)|
This year, in addition to poking
around the plants-for-sale section, I’m looking forward to seeing the ongoing
exhibit of nature-inspired art by the Pastel Society of Central Florida
With so much going on, it may be hard to decide what to do
first. My suggestion: Pick one and have fun. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Wonderful article Sherry!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Peg. Hope to see you there!Delete