On the western edge of the Preserve, along the shoreline of Lake Virginia, an historic banana grove was restored in the spring of 2006. This area had been overrun with exotics such as camphor, flame vine and arrowhead vine for many years. Intense removal of these species, as well as other natives that were damaged in the 2004 hurricanes was necessary before the restoration could begin.
Due to the location of this restoration area, the vegetation was purposefully selected to integrate the nearby mesic oak habitat with the existing shoreline vegetation. Live oak, Southern red cedar, red bay and hickory were chosen to transition from the mesic habitat. Native bald cypress, Southern magnolia and cabbage palm, as well as several banana trees, remain in the floodplain; additional bald cypress, sweet bay and magnolia were planted closer to the lakefront to transition into the more hydric habitat. Chickasaw plum was also incorporated into this restoration; their spring blossoms will add color and fragrance to the canopy.
The restored banana grove can be accessed from the open area south of the Wind Song house. Existing stands of ornamental ginger and turk’s cap form a barrier between the restoration area and Genius Drive. Healthy banana trees also remain to the south of this patch as well as interspersed along the shore. A path entering the restoration begins with two majestic young magnolias. The path is lined with saw palmetto, scarlet milkweed, beautyberry, cedar, magnolia, hickory, red bay and oak. The path winds through the restoration and meets up with an existing path in two additional locations.
This restoration was the first to incorporate plants from the nursery; scarlet milkweed, native iris and swamp hibiscus are flowering plants taken from the nursery and planted as ornamental groundcover. Southern red cedar, Southern magnolia, hickory and wild coffee were relocated from other plantings on the Preserve.