Wild Flowers are her
Joanna Booth is keeping
Madison County naturally beautiful with wildflowers
By Janet Schrader
County Carrier/August 2006
Joanna Booth and Wally
Davis of Farmers Supply company stand behind a vase filled
with Coreopsis and packets of wildflower seeds you can buy
at Farmers Supply.
(Greene Publishing, Inc. Photo by Janet Schrader, August
Coreopsis lanceolata is
the state wildflower. Joanna Booth is working on making the
seeds of this lovely flower available commercially.
Joanna Booth owns and runs Salter Tree and Herb Farm off
Cattail Drive in Madison. She raises flowers, herbs and
trees, but her passion is for the wildflowers.
"I've worked in yard and vegetable gardens, had a bedding
plant business, and watched Dad's native nursery for most of
my life," said Booth. "Now, I feel young again working with
the wildflowers. I go to work in the fields with a big smile
on my face and don't really mind the Florida heat much
anymore. Producing seed from Florida's wildflowers makes me
feel like I'm doing something that matters."
Booth took her ideas about planting wildflowers around the
county and producing and selling seeds from them to the
Madison County Commissioners. “I have no problem at all
getting up in front of a group of people and talking about
the value, beauty and importance of wildflowers,” Booth said
about her visit to the County Commissioners. Booth was also
there to solicit help,
obtaining a grant for making the Florida state wildflower,
Coreopsis lanceolata, available commercially. The flower is
sometimes called tickseed and is considered a weed by
farmers. It is not rare in Florida, but it is rarely found
available commercially. That means you can’t buy the seeds
to plant in your garden. Booth raises lanceolota on her farm
and was asking the city fathers for their support in gaining
grant money to make it more available commercially. She
spoke to Allen Cherry and several other Madison County
Commissioners and they were all very supportive, according
“We were all behind her idea to plant wildflowers around the
county in various locations,” County Commissioner Allen
Cherry said. Cherry said Booth told the commissioners she
wanted to plant wildflowers in front of the annex and on
Rocky Ford Rd. as well.
According to Booth, Clerk of the Court Tim
Sanders supports projects to beautify the public buildings in
the city. Booth also said Supervisor of Roads and Bridges, Jerry
McClune, has been beautifying roadsides in the county for years.
Booth had a grant last year for research and development of
the lanceolata. She found the flowers growing wild out on
the Blue Springs Road and got permission to collect the
plants. With those plants
she was able to begin generating seeds and is now ready to
market seeds from them. If you’d like to buy some of Booth’s
wildflowers, she has phlox, black-eyed Susans,
basilis and the lanceolata for sale in two places locally.
You can get them at O’Toole’s Herb Farm in packets and at
Farmers Supply Company on Range Street. Booth plans to start
a mail-order business selling her flower seeds in the
future, but currently to get the seeds she would love you to
support the local businesses that sell them.
Besides the four wildflowers she markets, Booth also raises
drummundii, hirta, blue-eyed grass, mollis, leavenworthii
and contradina canasens. You may not recognize their names,
but many of these wildflowers are sights we are all familiar
with on the roadsides and in the fields of Madison County.
Not only does Booth raise wildflowers on her farm, but she
raises trees as well. The trees she has chosen to propagate
are a little different. No pine trees for this lady. She
raises trees that provide food for butterflies and birds and
also raises trees that show off fall colors.
The late Charles Salter first opened the Salter Tree Farm
nursery in the early 70's and was a pioneer in the
beginnings of the native plant industry in Florida. While
her father was a tree and shrub man, Joanna reopened the
nursery and added medicinal and culinary herbs and in
2004 became interested in wildflower seed production. "My
dilemma developed when all my weeds became wildflowers!"
said Booth laughing. "So, I adopted the Florida Friendly
slogan allowing for native plants and wildlife to coexist
with the nursery."