Working with corals might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a local garden club. That is however exactly what you would be doing if you where a member of the Garden Club of the Upper Keys. They are trying to help restore corals in the local area by propagating and relocating corals.
“Gardening underwater? Yes, we’re helping to restore our precious coral reefs,” says club President Marilyn Rogers.
The Garden Club of the Upper Keys is indeed a garden club in more than only name and is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Florida Federation of Garden Clubs has 13,000 members in 200 clubs and have chosen to welcome the Key Largo-based Coral Restoration Foundation as a yearlong member. The fundation is helping fund the restoration work on a designated reef site on French Reef in the Upper Keys
The members of the two usually unrelated disciplines say that there are many similarities between regular gardening and ”underwater gardening”. (like most reef keepers already now)) The “right plant, right place” is as an example an important adage in both types of gardening. The process of producing and replanting plants in your garden is also rather similar.
“First the coral is grown in a nursery until it is strong enough to be attached to the reef,” Rogers said. “The branching corals are then gathered and moved to the protected staghorn or elkhorn coral areas. Site selection and preparation are key elements for success. The gardener diver decides where to site the coral, in what position and preps the spot. The corals are attached with special marine epoxy.”
To find out more, go to www.coralrestoration.org.