Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tree Thursday - Bald Cypress

For Thursday, July 26, 2012

I’m back from a mini-vacation and here’s some information on Bald Cypress trees –

Bald Cypress
(Baldcypress, Bald-cypress)
Taxodium distichum

Bald Cypress is a beautiful native tree that should be used more in landscapes.  While it naturally grows in wet areas, making it good for plantings in water retention sites; it also does well in dry areas.  Wood from this tree is used for Cypress mulch and some naturally growing trees are harvested just to make mulch so I would recommend purchasing other varieties of wood mulch to prevent the over harvesting of this native tree. 

Bald Cypress is a large tree, to more than 130 ft (40 m) tall, with a trunk diameter at breast height of up to 10 ft (3 m) or more. The young tree is pyramid shaped, but with age the top flattens and the crown may spread as much as 60 ft (18 m) or more. The lower trunk is often greatly enlarged and buttressed. The bark is reddish gray or brown with long fibrous ridges that peel off in strips. Unusual among coniferous needle bearing trees, bald cypress is deciduous. The needles turn rusty brown, then almost red before dropping in late fall or early winter. (Yes, even in South Florida.)

Bald Cypress occurs naturally in swamps, flood plains and along the edges of lakes and rivers on the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain from southeastern Delaware to southern Texas and up the Mississippi Valley to southern Illinois. It often occurs in pure stands: cypress swamps.
Bald-cypress makes a fine specimen tree for very large landscapes. They are best suited to wet areas, lake margins, and the like, but as noted above, they will thrive in normal, even dry soils. The feathery pale green foliage is attractive in spring and summer, and again in fall when it turns reddish. A nice shade tree in summer, bald-cypress lets the sun shine through in winter.
Bald-cypress has been called the eternal wood because it is extremely resistant to decay.
Pictured below is a young Bald Cypress showing the pyramidal growth, cones of the Bald Cypress and the leaves.

There are some naturally occuring Bald Cypress in Downtown Fort Lauderdale at Stanahan Park - the southeast corner of Broward Blvd and Andrews Ave. 

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Reduce Food Waste in 5 Easy Steps

Reduce Food Waste in 5 Easy Steps


The U.S. generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year, according to the EPA. Sure, you can compost perished produce, leftovers and food scraps. But the best way to lighten your kitchen’s impact on the planet is to stop waste at its source. To help, we’ve compiled five simple ways to reduce food waste in your home – without putting a damper on your culinary creativity.

1. Start at the grocery store

If you find yourself throwing away loads of spoiled food each week, you may want to consider revising your shopping habits to cut back on waste.
Start by taking smaller, more frequent shopping trips. This may seem like a bit of a hassle. But shopping a few times per week allows you to wait until perishables are used up before replenishing them, which will greatly decrease food spoilage in your fridge.
To help make the most of smaller shopping trips, write up a list of the specific items you need before leaving for the grocery store. And stick to the list while shopping! Avoid impulse buys, especially with perishable items.
And try to be realistic about the amount of food you buy. If you live alone or have a small family, stick to a limited number of perishables each week. If you have a busy work schedule, don’t shop as if you’ll be making everything from scratch. Buying only what you can use in the near future will save you the hassle of cooking, freezing or preserving extra food before it spoils.
READ: Help Your Supermarket Cut Food Waste

2. Use it up

When you’re working with whole meats, veggies and fruits, the best way to reduce food waste is to use the whole thing. Try leaving the skin on veggies like potatoes and cucumbers, and incorporate meat bones and vegetable scraps into stocks, sauces and gravies.
Think you don’t have time to make stock from scratch? Think again. Save all your vegetable and meat scraps in a reusable container in the freezer until you’ve accumulated enough to make a large batch of stock (at least 8 cups of scraps).
On a lazy weekend afternoon, consult our simple tutorial and whip up some homemade stock with less than 10 minutes of prep time. Use equal portions of flour and olive oil or butter to thicken your stock for gravies and sauces. Finished stocks, gravies and sauces can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.
For fruit scraps and other leftovers you don’t want to use for stock, check out our handy reuse guide for food scraps, and use your throw-aways for everything from cleaning the kitchen to shining your shoes.
READ: 5 Tasty Recipes for Overripe Produce

3. Understand sell-by dates

A staggering amount of food is wasted due to customer confusion about “sell-by” labels, the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) found last year. DEFRA published detailed guidelines for food and drink makers to relieve confusion in the U.K., but the “sell-by” date mystery affects shoppers worldwide.
Almost always, “sell-by” dates tell retailers when they should stop displaying goods on shelves. Wary of foodborne illnesses, many shoppers are quick to throw items away after this date. But if stored properly, goods are often safe for several more days.
“Even if the [sell-by] date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly and kept at 40 degrees or below,” said the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Consult their handy home storage chart to make the most of your perishables and get answers to all your food-safety questions.
When it comes to “expiration” and “use-by” dates, use your senses before throwing something away. If food looks, smells and tastes normal, it should be safe to use even if the expiration date has passed. But once it starts developing these characteristics, it’s time to throw it out, the FSIS said.
READ: UK Wants to Cut ‘Sell-By’ Date on Food

4. Finish the leftovers

A half-eaten casserole isn’t always the most appetizing meal option. So, try giving your leftovers a facelift to make them seem a bit more appealing to the family.
Toss leftovers like roasted meats, vegetable sides and cooked pastas into a crockpot for soups or stews. Wrap last night’s dinner up with some eggs in a breakfast burrito. Or make a sandwich using your Friday fish-fry.
For more recipe ideas, check out Lovefoodhatewaste.com, which provides a database full of delicious leftover-based recipes from top Scottish chefs, or download the free Love Food, Hate Waste app for iPhone and Android for on-the-go meal planning.
READ: This App Has Recipes for Your Leftovers

5. Store it smarter

Storing your food properly is the No. 1 way to reduce spoilage in your kitchen. Always store perishables in an airtight container, and know when to move foods from the fridge to the freezer.
Always freeze meats that you don’t plan to use within two or three days. Make sure meat is patted dry and placed in an airtight container before freezing to reduce the risk of freezer burn.
If you don’t plan to use fresh vegetables or fruits within the next week, you should also consider freezing to prevent them from going to waste. Not sure how to freeze fresh produce yourself? Check out our freezing and canning guide to get you started.
For product-specific tips, consult this detailed guide from the Colorado State University Extension, which includes preparation instructions for more than a dozen vegetables. For fruits, check out this helpful freezing fact sheet from the University of Wisconsin Extension.
READ: 5 Ways to Keep Food Fresh

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Funny

Hi & Lois

by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne, dist. by King Features Syndicate

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Funny

Pardon My Planet by Vic Lee, dist. by King Features Syndicate

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tree Thursday - Dragon Blood Tree

Dragon Blood Tree
Dracaena cinnabari 

A few times each year I receive calls concerning the identity of the tree growing on the northwest corner of the intersection of North Andrews Avenue and NW 2nd Street.  The tree is a Dragon Blood Tree, Dracaena cinnabari, and is the only specimen that I know of in South Florida.  I’m sure I’ll be corrected if there are others.  For years, I have identified it as Dracaena draco but now I believe it’s actually a Dracaena cinnabari.   I don’t know how this tree came to be where it is or its age.  One thing that I do know is that it is actually not a tree but a very large succulent plant.  Many of you probably have some type of Dracaena in your landscape or home or office.  Besides the natural shape, this Dragon Blood Tree has never been ‘shaped’, the other interesting characteristic is that the sap is red and that’s how it derives its common name. 
The Dragon Blood Tree is native to  to the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean and is sometimes called the Socotra Dragon Tree.  Unlike most monocot (palms and grasses) plants, the Dracaenaceae display secondary growth, D. cinnabari even has growth zones resembling tree rings found in dicot tree species.
Dragon's blood is used as a stimulant.  The root yields a gum-resin, used in gargle water as a stimulant, astringent and in toothpaste. The root is used in rheumatism.  The trees can be harvested for their crimson red resin, called Dragon's blood which was highly prized in the ancient world and is still used today. Around the Mediterranean basin it is used as a dye and as a medicine, Socotrans use it ornamentally as well as dying wool, gluing pottery, a breath freshener and lipstick. Because of the belief that it is the blood of the dragon it is also used in ritual magic and alchemy.
The unique flora and fauna of the Socotra Archipelago is considered a World Heritage Site a Global 200 Ecoregion and efforts are being made to protect this and many other species. 

Photos are of the Dragon Blood Tree in downtown Fort Lauderdale, taken July 19, 2012.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

8 Walking Tips

I get that you know how to walk, but do you know how to walk correctly?

By Josh Peterson
Los Angeles, CA, USA | Mar 23 2009
 Moving in a bipedal fashion is one of the ways we can replace our carbon footprint with our actual footprint. Using those strange, foot-adorned sticks that we call legs as an all-natural method of transportation is a green way of getting to point B from point A.
When you walk, there are a few things you must consider in order to keep your feet and body safe and in good health. Here are a few tips.
  1. Wear Proper Shoes
    Proper shoes makes walking more comfortable. Feet that don't hurt are more likely to get used. Therefore, wear proper shoes, and you won't wear out. Check out this
    list of walking shoes.
  2. Learn to walk properly
    From The Palo Alto Medical Center:
    • Keep your chin up and your shoulders back.
    • Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first, then roll your weight forward.
    • Swing your arms as you walk; this increases the intensity of your walking.
    • Start and finish with a few minutes of gentle stretching.
    • Think of your walk as having three parts: start with 5 minutes of slow walking, then increase your pace (walking uphill requires more effort), and end with 5 minutes of slower walking. Warming up gradually increases your heart rate and improves blood flow to your muscles. Cooling down allows the heart rate and muscles to return to normal.
    • Do a "Talk Test" you should be able to maintain a conversation with your buddy without getting winded. If you can't, slow down a bit.
  1. Stay Hydrated
    Drink water, but not bottled water. Carry a reusable Water bottle.
  2. Safety First
    Stick to clean, well-lit places.
  3. Notify Others
    If you’re walking a great distance, it’s best to let others know what you’re up to in case anything happens.
  4. Find a Friend
    If you are walking to lose weight, there is nothing better than a friend to motivate you and encourage you.
  5. Dress for the Occasion
    If it is hot, wear a hat and
    proper sun block. In the winter, wear a few small layers so you can adjust your temperature as necessary.
  6. Pack an a Spare Shirt
    If you are commuting by foot, make sure to bring a change of clothes and some
    all-natural deodorant.
Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eco- Friendly Camping

Eco-Friendly Camping Trip

by Josh Peterson

By Planet Green ContributorSilver Spring,MD, USA | Jul 05 2008
The Great Outdoors: It's still there, lurking at the edge of our cities, and every now and then, we load up coolers and cars and venture out to spend the night, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. We sing songs and tell tales of phantom hitchhikers. It is usually a good time.

We want to preserve those good times for years to come. We want to protect our wilderness so we can get back in contact with it, at least, on a decade-ly basis. When we head out into the wild for a weekend of fishing, fires and fun, we need to preserve and respect our parks as if they were our own house.

The biggest ecological problem with camping is littering and vandalism. Many of our parks have become degraded by vandalism. Stop those that you see vandalizing. Just report them if they are bigger than you. Don't get beat up.

Our society generates tons of trash. If you bring food wrappers into the park, you should leave with them. Don't burn them in the fire and pollute the air. Pack them up, take them home and dispose of them properly.

Try and leave the city behind when you venture into the wilderness. Don't bring portable electronics because you are afraid that you are going to get bored. If you get bored on a camping trip, perhaps you should vacation in a more suitable environment for your temperament.

Camp only in designated camping areas. Unless you are a wilderness expert, you have no right to camp willy-nilly. You can damage fragile ecosystems that you know nothing about. Stay in the designated camping area.

Campfires are fun and comforting. Make sure to burn only fallen wood. Don't cut down branches from a living tree. Don’t clear a new piece of ground to make a fire. Some campgrounds provide you with a place to build a fire. Only clear new ground if you have to. Always keep an eye out for previously cleared places. Reuse those if possible.

Many campsites have bathrooms. If there is no bathroom, all human waste should be disposed of by digging a hole. Some people like to take showers. There might be a shower facility at the campsite. When no shower is available, a pond might do. Do not take soap into the pond. It can damage the pond’s ecosystem.

Camping is fun. It should be a pleasurable visit to the natural world. By being responsible, you can keep it that way for everyone else.
 Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Monday, July 16, 2012

DIY: Notebooks Made with Waste Paper

Something for back to school.

DIY: Notebooks Made with Waste Paper

By Cara SmusiakNaturallySavvy.com, USA | Nov 23  2008
I have a little stationary problem. I adore elegant writing paper and I can't resist cheeky note cards, but my biggest weakness is notebooks. I know this addiction means cutting down trees, but I can't help myself. So in an effort to green my vice I began to look for notebooks with unbleached or recycled paper. Then I came across a notebook made with waste paper, no recycling required.
Many companies and designers have taken on the challenge of reusing or repurposing paper waste—from recycled paper notebooks, to waste bins, to insulation—but notebooks made with waste copy paper are so simple, easy and inexpensive you can do it yourself.
Start by gathering "gently used" paper: 8.5" x 11" paper that has been used on one side and is blank on the other, making the blank side perfect for note taking. Where do you find lots of gently used paper suitable for a notebook? The best source is a recycling box beside a photocopier or printer, since the paper is generally in great condition—there are no folds, no handwriting indentations, and the page thickness is consistent.
You can save your own waste paper from printing documents at home or work, or if you print on both sides of each sheet of paper (good for you!), raid recycling bins in public spaces, such as libraries. But the one-stop-shop for this project is printing and copy centers.
My favorite place to make these notebooks is at university or college campus copy centers. They have tons of waste copy paper, particularly around at the beginning and end of the semester, and you can't beat their binding prices. Campus copy centers also have great material if you're looking to be entertained by your notebook (a definite bonus in my books). My first notebook included copies of physics lecture notes, complex math equations, fax invoices and music sheets—fascinating stuff and great for a quick read now and then.
Wherever you choose to get the paper, ask before you take! There's nothing worse than doing the legwork only to find the paper is confidential or private property, or that taking it is considered theft.
Once you have the okay, simply grab a stack of paper and sort it into a neat pile with the blank sides face up. Make the notebook as thick or thin as you like; 150 pages is a nice size if you're not sure. Once you have the stack of paper sorted, simply have it bound at a copy center (easy to do if you're already there).
Coil binding should only set you back a few dollars, but the price will vary depending on the cover you choose. A basic cardstock is the most economical option and is usually available in a variety of colors. Antique finishes and other specialty stocks cost a little more, but can have a big impact - just remember some specialty papers have coatings that can be rough on the environment. You can also personalize the front and back cover by printing the card stock with text or images. Think monograms, company logos, pictures, graphic prints...the options for this eco-chic notebook are truly endless.
 Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Funny

I know it’s not Earth Day (but then again, everyday should be Earth Day), but if you have ever planted a tree (which I hope you all have!) you can relate:


By Mel Casson, dist. by King Features Syndicate

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tree Thursday - Jamaican Caper

Jamaican Caper
Capparis cynophallophora
(KAP-ar-riss sin-oh-fal-oh-FOR-uh)
This 6- to 20-foot-tall, native shrub or small tree  is an upright to spreading plant that is related to plant producing edible capers. The evergreen leaves of the Jamaica Caper are light green above, with fine brown scales below. These glossy, oval leaves are folded together when they first emerge and give the plant's new growth a bronze appearance. Jamaica Caper flowers have very showy, creamy white when first opening and turning a light purple as they age.  The flowering season is usually from April to July, but an errant flower or two can appear anytime during the year.  When ripe, the seed pods burst open and are bright red on the inside.  Seed pods develop from the flowers during July-September.  They ripen at the height of the rainy season. The seeds are wrapped in a sticky, oily, waxy substance that the birds really enjoy. 
Jamaican Capers can be planted as a hedge or pruned into a small tree.   In Fort Lauderdale, you can find Jamaican Capers used as a hedge in Greenfield Park (just south of the Galleria Mall) and as mature trees in front (next to wall) of the Social Center in Holiday Park. 

Growth Rate – Slow
Salt Tolerance – High
Drought Tolerance – High

Blooming tree:


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Energy Conservation Quiz

You can go to the National Geographic website’s Energy Conservation Quiz to find out just how much you know about carbon emissions and how to reduce them.  I scored an 88.  Try to beat that!  :)

Here's some trivia that might help you!

A Carbon Reduction Plan: The Savings
By investing in new technology or adopting approaches already available, we could cut worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by about 38 billion tonnes a year. The money saved from efficiencies in how we use energy could help pay for improvements in how we generate energy, optimize industrial processes and avoid deforestation.

Photograph by Tyrone Turner

Changing Bulbs
The light-emitting diode (LED) looks like the eco-bulb of the future. With no filament, just a microchip, it uses significantly less energy than an incandescent. But the price is high and reviews are mixed. LED illumination (in photo, center) can range from warm to what technology analyst Michael Kanellos calls "alien autopsy." The bulb casts its light in only one direction, which is fine for recessed lights and for spotlighting a specific area but could be a drawback in lamps or globes. In a few years, expect a cheaper, more versatile LED. Until then, experts recommend compact fluorescents (CFLs) for most home use—with a note of caution. Their mercury content calls for disposal as hazardous waste. —Linda Kulman

The average U.S. household produces about 150 pounds of CO2 a day by doing commonplace things like turning on air-conditioning or driving cars. That's more than twice the European average and almost five times the global average, mostly because Americans drive more and have bigger houses.
A gallon of gasoline adds a whopping 19.6 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere, a big chunk of our daily allowance. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity in the U.S. produces 1.5 pounds of CO2. Every 100 cubic feet of natural gas emits 12 pounds of CO2.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Green Ways to Kick Back This Summer

A very cool young lady…

5 Green Ways to Kick Back This Summer

Olivia Bouler Young environmental activist

A kid's year pretty much revolves around summer vacation. Time stretches out, letting us explore the world in a way we can't when we've got homework, sports and music lessons. During the school year, rarely do we have the luxury to hang out under a tree, watching birds and butterflies flutter overhead. Nature has a positive effect on a person's well-being. There were many studies proving that sunlight in classrooms and offices promotes learning abilities, mood and overall performance. Nineteenth-century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson recommended that people go into the woods to reset their inner compass. And would you believe there is even a syndrome called nature deficit disorder? Before summer slips away and you're packing up to head back to school, make sure you spend a little time in nature.
Here are five quick ways to get started.
One: For 15 minutes, go outside and unplug. Bring a novel or a field guide to read outside on the grass or even perched in a tree. Don't check your phone or emails --nothing is going to happen in 15 minutes! Sometimes I set a timer so I don't keep checking the time. After the first few minutes, I forget about everything going on, instead focusing on every sound I can hear. Then before long, a flock of doves passes by or a leaf flutters, something I would have never noticed if I had been distracted or busy. Even in the most busy urban neighborhood, you'll be surprised to find all sorts of birds, perhaps a falcon or two.
Two: Once I notice something exceptionally interesting, which occurs frequently in nature, I can't help but want to record it in some way. A notebook or sketchbook can be a place to write down what you saw, or make a quick sketch so you remember all the details. One of my favorite things to do when birding is to take pictures, since I often use my pictures as models for drawings down the road. Sometimes if I really like a picture, I load it as my desktop background so I can relive the moment.
Speaking of computers, another way to enjoy nature this summer is to check in with a nestcam. All around the country, birds are raising their chicks, getting them ready to leave the nest, and cameras have been set up so you can watch live on your computer. It's pretty awesome to see a great blue heron defend her nest from an owl, you know!
Three: Of course, nothing beats seeing birds in real life. To encourage birds to come to my yard, I keep bird feeders filled with seed, especially oiled sunflower seed. The birds hang out and sometimes I bring my lunch outside and eat with them. One experiment I did was charting which birds went to which feeders. I learned that some birds ate off the ground, while others liked only the feeders. One bird, a nuthatch, actually enjoys eating from the feeders upside down!
Four: My little brother Jackson has gotten into planting this summer. He's planted a vegetable garden for my mom, a butterfly bush to encourage butterflies to come to our yard and even native plants at the nature preserve. Like most nine-year-olds, he loves digging holes and getting dirty, but I can tell he also likes seeing the plants grow. One night we ate some of the lettuce he grew, but we are still waiting for tomatoes.
Five: If you get adventurous, think about asking your parents to take a hike with you. There are nature preserves and parks all over -- some may be closer to your town than you think. Not only do you get to enjoy nature, you'll be supporting conservation areas in your own community. Who knows -- you might even inspire your family to take an eco-vacation. Last summer I went to Costa Rica to visit the rainforest, and the year before that, I went to Maine to see the puffins.
Consider trying one of these ideas to bring a little nature into your summer. It's the perfect time of year to get outside and experience what's happening in your world. Who knows, it may just reset your inner compass!

Aspiring ornithologist, 12-year old Olivia Bouler raised over $200,000 for Gulf oil spill relief, and has been recognized as the ASPCA’s 2010 Kid of the Year, Disney’s Friends for Change, Audubon’s 2011 Artist Inspiring Conservation, and a Champion of Change by the White House. Her book, Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf (Sterling Children’s Publishing) was released in 2011.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where Do All Those Facebook Photos Go?

Something I’ve never thought about while using Facebook or any other site…

Where Do All Those Facebook Photos Go?

On the outer boundaries of the Arctic Circle lies a massive construction project funded by Facebook: the future home of thousands of server farms

By Mark Strauss           Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2012
With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility—60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them. Facebook’s Nordic operation—which will eventually expand to three 290,000- square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers—will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. The estimated cost of building the facilities is more than $700 million. Sweden hopes that construction subsidies and other incentives, including the promise of clean hydropower, will attract more digital companies to a region now being marketed as the “Node Pole.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Where-Do-All-Those-Facebook-Photos-Go-160287215.html#ixzz207lXTCZg

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tree Thursday - Silver Buttonwood

Silver Buttonwood
Conocarpus erectus var.sericeus

Silver buttonwood, a Florida native, is a variety of buttonwood that usually grows as a low branching shrub with several trunks, but under ideal conditions silver buttonwood can become a handsome vase-shaped tree up to 50 ft tall with a 20 ft  spread. The evergreen leaves are oblong to lance-shaped, 2-4 inches long and arranged alternately. Whereas typical buttonwood has glabrous (hairless) leaves, the leaves of silver buttonwood are covered with a dense mat of silky hairs which imparts a beautiful silver-gray color to the plant. The flowers are inconspicuous but the fruit clusters are rather showy brownish-red cone-like buttons, each containing many tiny fruits.
Buttonwood (whose wood is hard and without growth rings) was once an important source of charcoal in South Florida. It is said to be excellent for smoking fish and meat. Silver buttonwood, with its small, silver leaves and contorted trunk, is a favorite subject for bonsai.  http://www.floridata.com/ref/c/cono_ere.cfm

Growth Rate – Medium
Salt Tolerance – Extremely High
Drought Tolerance – High
Best planted in exposed area with good air flow to prevent mold on leaves.

Photos clockwise from top  –  (1) Very old Silver Buttonwood in the Gateway Median (East Sunrise Blvd and North Federal Highway),  (2) Trunk of a mature Silver buttonwood, (3) silver buttonwood leaves and (4) Silver buttonwood used as hedge plants and small tree at Sebastian Parking Area, Fort Lauderdale Beach. 

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Ways to Save Money on Air Conditioning

The average homeowner spends about $375 on air conditioning. Here's how to slash your summer energy bills, and still stay cool.

With a brutal heat wave spreading across the U.S., many people are turning on their air conditioners. The typical U.S. home spends 17% of its annual energy bill on cooling – about $375.
Summer is the time when electricity demand spikes, stressing the grid and pumping copious air pollution into the atmosphere. Emissions from coal-fired power plants, particularly, cooks in the summer sun to create smog and ozone pollution. (See 5 facts and myths about ozone pollution.)
These tips will help you reduce the amount of energy you pay for to run your air conditioner. How? You'll use it less, and use electricity more efficiently.

5 Ways to Save Money and Energy on Air Conditioning

So you already have an air conditioner, or you're planning to buy one... Save money and energy with the previous eight tips (after all, they'll help you use your AC less) plus these five maintenance and buying tips:
1. Adjust the thermostat
If you have central air controlled by a thermostat, use a programmable thermostat to save energy by increasing the heat significantly during the day when the house is empty. You can give up a couple degrees at night, too – especially on the hottest days. You may be surprised to find that the contrast between outdoor and indoor temperatures matters as much as the absolute temperature inside your home. When home, aim to set the temperature at 78 degrees to balance comfort with energy and cost savings. Together with winter energy savings, a programmable thermostat used properly can save the average home up to $150.
2. Clean the air filter
Whether you have central air or a room air conditioner, a dirty filter will reduce its efficiency, making it use more energy and cost more money to do the same job. Check your HVAC system's air filter monthly and expect to change the filter every three months.
3. Get an annual checkup
If you have central air, consider an annual checkup – once should cover both the heating and the cooling season. A professional should be able to diagnose any inefficiencies before you've wasted money on monthly heating and cooling bills.
4. Think small
Cooling one room with a window air conditioning unit requires much less energy (and investment) than a central air system. Ask yourself how you'll use your new air conditioner, and choose the smallest option that works. The government's Energy Star site has a handy guide to help you choose the right air conditioner for your space.
5. Buy Energy Star
Whether you're buying a central air conditioner (which could qualify for a tax credit) or a room unit, efficiency matters. An Energy Star central air system will use about 14% less energy than minimum government standards, and a room air conditioner will save at least 10%. Use the Energy Star Website before making a purchase, because while the vast majority of the 1,000-plus Energy Star window air conditioners barely meet the standards by using just 10% less energy than a standard model, some are clearly a better value. Compared to the typical, these nine models use at least 25% less energy:

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!

Monday, July 2, 2012

5 Ways to Green Your Disney World Trip

For those thinking about vacations…

5 Ways to Green Your Disney World Trip

Read these tips for planning an eco-friendly Disney vacation.

By Sara NovakColumbia, SC, USA | Wed May 13  2009

Are you tired of your kids incessantly begging you for a Disney vacation? For many children, a trip to Disney World or Disney Land is a right of passage. I definitely have some fond memories of the Magic Kingdom. So if you have a trip to visit Mickey and Minnie in the works, here are my tips for making it a little more eco-friendly.
  1. Take the train to Orlando.Trains can move more people while emitting less carbon than any other form of transportation. So while it's likely not the simplest way to get a gaggle of kids from A to B, it is often way less expensive. If you're coming from a distance you can easily get a "roomette" on the train with beds for the night. Also, all meals are included when you get a room on the train. Amtrak has stations located in both Orlando and Kissimmee.
  2. Pick a green hotel close to the park.The Green Hotels Association lists a number of eco-friendly hotels, motels, and resorts near Disney. The Hilton at Disney World has instituted a recycling program that includes paper, plastics, and aluminum. They also use water efficient devices, including low-flow bathroom fixtures, energy-efficient lighting, and Energy Star equipment. Stay in the park to take advantage of Disney's excellent public transportation system, which includes the Magic Express bus service, and eliminate the need for a rental car. The Walt Disney World Resort even relies on 1,500 alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric golf carts, hybrid trucks, Segways, and the electric monorails.
  3. Bring your own green snacks.
    While this works for almost any trip, it's especially true of a place like Disney World where food can be pricey. If you're paying for the whole family, food costs can really kill your budget. Think about bringing organic rolled oats or oatmeal to which you can just add hot water. Also consider bringing some organic trail mix, nuts, and granola for snacks.
  4. Check out Disney's exceptional green attractions.
    Zero-emission electrical vehicles are prevalent both within Disney's Magic Kingdom Park and within Disney's Epcot Center. Also check out the Animal Kingdom, which, at over 500 acres, is the largest of Disney's parks. It emphasizes environmentalism and conservation. Also plan on visiting the Kilimanjaro Safari to view antelopes and zebras, as well as a host of other species. Kilimanjaro Safari vehicles use propane, which emits less greenhouse gases, instead of gas or diesel. Also check out the Mahrajah Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to see Asian and African animals like gorillas, meerkats, hippos, giant bats, and tapirs. Rafiki's Planet Watch is awesome for teaching the kids about conservation.
  5. Buy green Disney gear.
    These new, greener merchandise collection items are made out of recycled materials, organic cotton, and earth-friendly inks. T-shirts are one of Walt Disney World's biggest sellers. Other items include purses made from re-purposed candy wrappers, plush Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse toys made out of organic cotton, and jewelry made from coconut and bamboo.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!