Okaloosa County Gardening Programs

Small tree covered in fine white flowers

A white fringe tree in spring.

Ten Recommended Trees for your Northwest Florida Landscape

Wednesday October 18, 10-11am
UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County Office
3098 Airport Road
Crestview, FL

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners will host the final free gardening education lecture of the year on Wednesday, October 18. Our speaker, Maria Wilson, always an informative and engaging speaker, is a Senior Forester for Okaloosa County. She has spent a lot of her summer and fall out west working on the Norse Peak fire in Washington, and has recently visited some of the hurricane affected locations to help with the devastation done to the trees.

A few of the ten trees that Maria will help you to identify include red bay (Persea borbonia), white fringetree (Chionanthus virgincius), and sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrance). The red bay is a rugged tree and is an adaptable plant suitable to many landscapes including our coastal beach front properties. This tree thrives on little care in full sun or partial shade. Maria will address the current spread of the “laurel wilt,” most notable in the Blue Water Bay neighborhoods. Laurel wilt is a deadly fungal disease affecting red bay and other trees in the laurel family, which is spread by non-native red bay ambrosia beetles. This rapidly expanding epidemic also kills avocado trees. Maria will teach you how to identify the disease and how to treat for the disease.

Come hear about another great tree for your yard, sweet olive. It has evergreen foliage and in the spring, sweetly-scented delicate white flowers. It grows 2 feet per year, reaching 20 feet tall. Drought tolerant, and not fussy about soil conditions, it can be planted in full sun or partial shade.

Participants are encouraged to stay after the lecture and enjoy the nature trail located behind the office. You can walk along the trail and enjoy the native plants and trees, including white fringe trees, and 14 long leaf pine seedlings that were contributed by the Master Gardener nursery in Fort Walton Beach. There are also Eastern red cedars and a red maple. It is perfect way to enjoy a lovely fall day!

The program will be held on Wednesday, October 18 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am at the Okaloosa County Extension office, 3098 Airport Road, in Crestview. There is no cost to attend the lecture but seating is limited so registration is required by calling 689-5850.

PICTURED: White fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus). Bob Bayer, Okaloosa County Master Gardener in Crestview, and volunteer on the trail says, “Come see this tree on our trail following the program. Some consider the white fringe tree in bloom to be the most beautiful of all flowering trees. The outstanding feature of this 15-30 foot deciduous tree or shrub is the drooping clusters of fragrant white blossoms. This tree is also known as a Grancy Greybeard or Old Man’s Beard since the flowers burst into bloom in early spring. The flowers are composed of narrow ribbon-like petals that are snowy white. The botanical name means 'snow flower.' This native tree is one of the last to leaf out in spring. Although this tree is currently not blooming, fall is a great time to plant it in your yard. Prior to flowering the tree appears dead, and then makes a spectacular floral display.”


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