Landscape Designer and Property Manager Jill Ziebell is the proud recipient of the Beverly Fleming Landscape Award, for her gardens at St. Francis Inn. This was the inaugural year for the award, sponsored by Native Plant Consulting. It recognizes and praises those who promote the principles of the late St. Johns County naturalist Beverly Fleming by culturing native flora. “It was a meaningful day for those of us who knew Beverly so well,” habitat designer Renee Stambaugh said in presenting the award. “I think she would have been happy with everyone who attended in her honor.”
The St. Francis Inn's inviting gardens are enjoyed throughout every season. Owners Joe and Margaret Finnegan are dedicated to conserving and perpetuating Florida's natural environments. The Landscape Award applauded the Inn's gardens as “exceptional” in the award program’s commercial category, with a “good balance of diversity of species, design concepts and immaculate maintenance.” The award is aimed at promoting the importance of native vegetation in landscapes, not only for aesthetics but for functional, economic and maintenance reasons as well.
Jill is a University of Florida Master Gardener & Master Naturalist, responsible for the designs and maintenance of landscaping and gardens at all of the St. Francis Inn properties. Jill is a member of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and the Florida Native Plant Society. In addition to a handsome plaque fabricated from local resources, the award recipients in commercial, residential and public categories received a floral bouquet, discounts at local businesses, and, of course, bragging rights in the local landscape community.
St. Francis Inn's native garden plantings include:
Melanthera nivia, snow squarestem
Eragrostis elliotti, silver lovegrass
Lonicera sempervirens, coral honeysuckle
Zamia pumila, coontie
Coccoloba uvifera, sea grape
Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson stopper
Quercus virginiana, live oak
Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus, silver buttonwood
Psychotria nervosa, wild coffee
Viburnum obovatum, Walters viburnum
Sophora tomentosa var. truncata, yellow necklace pod
Muhlenbergia capillaris, Muhly grass
At St. Francis Inn, Jill has created Florida-inspired gardens with native plant species that wildlife depend upon, earning recognition for the Inn's gardens from the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Such sustainable habitats attract songbirds, butterflies, hummingbirds, pollinators, and other small wildlife.
The Inn's award-winning gardens provide a special sanctuary for guests year 'round. "We wanted to create a sense of place, and to comfort the weary travelers with a natural shift of energy,” says Jill. Many Inn guests choose the relaxing gardens for reading, contemplating, enjoying breakfast, sharing the Inn's evening social hour, or cooking Inn s'mores at the firepit. Plan to investigate and spend time in the St. Francis Inn's gardens on your next visit!