My Garden Path

A Florida & National Backyard Wildlife Habitat nwf_18126   

We purchased our property over 20 years ago and worked hard to make it our Eden as well as a paradise for wildlife.  We removed all the grass and planted support plants for birds & butterflies.  In areas where concrete and deck covered the ground, we potted trees and planted vines to provide shelter.  

The entire front yard is filled with butterfly nectar and larval plants. 

For a list of Nectar and Larval plants to use in your Florida butterfly Garden visit
A Garden Diary .Com

We added a lattice fence laced with passion vines in reds, whites and purples. Then, planted many nectar and food plants for butterflies like this Gulf Fritillary who is laying her eggs on the white passion vine (Passiflora subpelata)

Two simple clay saucers become a "fly-in" restaurant...
a place for Blue Jays to wash up and have lunch.

What was accomplished by adding the fountain was our best endeavor.   In a narrow strip of soil (2'x 20'), where a single springerii struggled for survival; we created a habitat.

Now its is a place where  birds bathe, fish swim, frogs slumber and butterflies dance.  Perfect proof that you don't have to have a lot of land to create a refuge for wildlife.

Water iris bloom in the fountain and a profusion of pots hold an assortment of sun tolerant greenery...Welcoming a blackbird to bathe, flowers to blossom and frogs to nap in the reeds.

Even my hibiscus is a huge hit! The 8" blossom on the right is called "Burnished Gold".

The large pink blossom , is called "Lady Emma". My friend Winn Soldani named it after me.
Burnished Gold
passiflora inscense


Flowers Frogs Zebras Dragons
We all like it here!


Knight Anole

Click on the image for a close up view.

Over the years I have kept a log on all the visitors (other than the two legged ones) to enter the yard.  In April, 2002, as I was weeding the butterfly area next to the avocado tree, I looked up to see my first Knight Anole.(12" in length)  I rushed in to grab my digital camera so I could share my discovery with you. 

Basking anoles are typically  brown; fighting males turn green with a  black patch behind the eyes.*  It's a mad male. (You can tell because male anoles have a flap of skin on their throat) When male Knight anoles  are angry, territorial, or trying to court a female, he will display a red dewlap from his throat almost like a fan.) I must have been threatening because he "flashed me".  Of course when I wanted to capture that on camera he did not cooperate.   Perhaps, he wasn't angry with me anymore since I did not evict him. 

About the Knight anole (Anolis equestris)
Knight anoles are native to Cuba. They have been introduced into southeastern Florida, and there are now breeding populations in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties

Knight anoles grow to a length of 13 - 19 3/8 inches. They are the largest of the Anolis species. The snout is long and wedge-shaped. The tail is slightly compressed with a serrated upper edge. Each toe is expanded in the form of an adhesive pad. The adhesive pad occupies the central portion of the toe and is of an elongated form. The adhesive toe pads allow the knight anole to easily run up smooth, vertical surfaces, or run body downward on a horizontal plane. The body is covered with small granular scales with a yellow or white stripe under the eye and over the shoulder. They are bright green in color which can change to a dull grayish-brown.

Diet: In the wild they eat grubs, crickets, cockroaches, spiders, and moths

Bob HaehleM.E. DePalma
Attention South Florida Gardeners!
Horticulturist, Bob Haehle and I have written a book together called
"A Garden Diary: A Guide to Gardening in South Florida" 
You can find excerpts from the book at the web site
You can purchase the book from your local bookstore and at

Appearances on the NBC 6 South Florida Today Show:

  • M.E. DePalma on Herbs - Click to view: Herb information in A Garden Diary on NBC TV *Requires Real Player.
  • MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE ENVIRONMENT - GOING GREEN (video)....M.E. DePalma talks about - 12 things you can do in your yard that will reduce the size of your footprint on the planet. View the12 step list and download a pdf file that will teach you how learn how to  MAKE YOUR OWN RAIN BARREL  (pdf)
  • Valentine's Gardening: Heart-Shaped Flowers (video).....M.E. DePalma
  • Attract Birds To Your Garden (video) ... July 20, 2006 -- M.E. DePalma shows Kelly Craig what to do to bring the sound of birds into your garden.
  • Batty Plants For Halloween ... Oct. 26, 2006 -- M.E. DePalma and Rose Butman from the Fort Lauderdale Garden Club show us some plants to incorporate into your Halloween.
                                DePalma on the nbc6 Today Show
Treasures from Trash -click on the title  or the image and * a Quick time movie will open in a new browser window for you to enjoy.

ME DePalma is speaking on creating designs and contrived flowers  using items you normally throw into your trash.

Learn to create beautiful Hibiscus and Iris from Philodendron spathes -  Magnolias from plastic spoons and much more on the
NBC6 South Florida Today Show

Jerold Ford and M.E.                                           DePalma Ford with Kay

In March of 2007, our garden was awarded Broward County's highest environmental award.
The 2006 Emerald Award Certificate Winners - NatureScape Broward Category View Article as an image 180 kb

Their Garden was also featured in:The August 2006 Issue of Florida Gardening Magazine To view select: fl-gardening.pdf and in City Smart Magazine  view: Thorns, Winds and Beautiful Things

In 2021 we were awarded the "Legacy Award" here is a link for you to Take a Virtual Walk through the garden.

For more information on NatureScape and Awards go directly to

2010 Wilton Manors Renames Park In Honor of M.E. DePalma

M.E.’s place

Commission renames park in honor of resident

By Michael d’Oliveira
Pelican Staff

It may be small, .10 acres, but it’s hers; at least in name.  On July 28 Wilton Manors Commissioners unanimously voted to rename “Slash Pine Park,” located at the corner of Northeast 20 Drive and Northeast 7 Avenue, to “M.E. DePalma Park.”

 Commissioner Tom Green called DePalma “an inspiration” to him and said he wasn’t happy with the park’s original name.  “I hate the name of that park.”  DePalma, a 17-year resident of the city and former planning and zoning board member, played an important role in getting Wilton Manors certified, in July 2006, as a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

 “I am so grateful for you and all those who have worked with you to build up our community,” said Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.

 The goal of the program is to get people to landscape their yards in a more environmentally friendly way that also provides shelter, water and a source of food to native birds, butterflies and other species.

 At the commission meeting DePalma held up a map, showing 152 homes, businesses and places in the city that are certified as Wildlife Habitats.  “These are the people that live in Wilton Manors that think this city is an important place to live,” said DePalma.  “I didn’t make the difference, they did.”

 She also thanked Diana Guidry, with NatureScape Broward, and Patrick Cann, Wilton Manors leisure services director.  “He just kept being there for me,” said DePalma of Cann.  Wilton Manors was the second city in Broward County to be certified; Coconut Creek was first in 2005. 

 DePalma also served on the board for Naturescape Broward and helped get the county certified.  In 2005 Broward and Arlington County, Virginia tied as the first two counties in the nation to be certified.

 “You helped my wife and I get our house to be one of the ones that helped push the city to be what it is today and it’s a greener, meaner place to be in, so to speak.  It’s a remarkable thing that you’ve done for this community,” said Commissioner Scott Newton.

 “She does so many things.  She says it’s everybody else but she’s really the catalyst of it all,” said Hadny Fayyaz, vice president of the Fort Lauderdale Garden Club, of which DePalma is a member.

 DePalma joked about when Flippen first approached her with the idea.  “I think that would be absolutely wonderful but I think you have to die to have that done, and I’m not ready to die.” 


A ceremony to officially rename the park took place February 17th, 2010 at 6 PM

The City installed a walkway and a monument and planted butterfly attracting plants
like native salvia, beauty berry, wild coffee, milkweed, porterweed, pentas and wild lime.   

To see the photos from the dedication ceremony, current  images of the park, the plants selected that will attract birds, and a list of nectar and larval plants you can use to attract butterflies to your yard, Visit:

Wilton Manors Woman Crowned National Ideal Ms. Florida Senior 2011-2012
The interview "This 70-year-old is passionate about gardening" by Christina Hernandez|  on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 is no longer available on NBC

M.E. DePalma Wilton Manors Pioneer - 2017


If you would like information on how to make your yard a Backyard Wildlife Habitat
check out the following sites:
Florida Cooperative Extension Service Wildlife Habitat information:
Certify your Yard with The National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program
NatureScape Broward.
My friends and I have taught classes in the city since 2003 and worked on the Wilton Manors NatureScape Committee.
I am pleased to report that in 2006, Wilton Manors became the 17th City in the USA to be declared a National Community Wildlife Habitat.
If you live in the area, you are welcome to attend the classes held at the Wilton Manors Library on the second Wednesday of each month October through May. 
There is no charge for the classes.  For the class schedule and directions go to and select NatureScape

I am a member of the Moringa Garden Circle which is affiliated with the  Fort Lauderdale Garden Club
If you would like to join a garden circle or just want to know more about the club visit their web site
For garden clubs in the State of Florida see: The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs
Other states visit: The National Council of State Garden Clubs

To see more huge Hibiscus and to order plants for your garden visit
Winn Soldani's Tropical Hibiscus

Go to my Home Page home
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The Duke & Duchess of Wilton Manors 
My work camera

Photos from the Moringa Garden Circle's 1998 Garden Tour & Tea
The Blue Ribbon Design Winners from the FGC 1998 Flower Show
The Annie Beck Tree
The Key West Garden Club 1998 Tour Photos
The Secret Gardens of Martin County
 Great Gardening Links