Native Park History and Description
Native Parks 1 & 2 (hereinafter “the Park,”), located at 3312 Park Street in the Riverside Avenue Historic District, were set aside as parks on the 1921 plat of the Avondale neighborhood in west Jacksonville. The Avondale Garden Circle helped establish the Park in 1923 and began planting native species there to increase public awareness of plants indigenous to north Florida. Native Park was formally dedicated in 1932 and demonstrated that while exotic species often struggled during adversity, the region’s native plants prospered with little care during periods of drought, freeze, and hurricanes. In the center of the Park #1, a brass plaque embedded in stone commemorates these two dates and is testament to the role that the founders intended for the park, namely….”the study of Florida Plant Life.”
After some years of decline, the parks were rejuvenated by the work of Dr. Robert Ragland, who devoted many years after his retirement, from the early 1980s through the early 2000s by planting native species and helping with maintenance. As Dr. Ragland aged, and Mother Nature took its course in the park, it didn’t take long for the Park to become a tangle of invasive exotics and overly vigorous natives.
In 2010 Native Park 1 was adopted by the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society as part of the City's Friends of the Park program to carry out the Park's original purpose and advance the mission of the Florida Native Plant Society.
After many Saturday mornings spent removing invasive and other non-desirable plants, Ixia Chapter members and other volunteers have planted over 130 native species to add to the 37 native species growing there when work began in 2011. Individual plants are identified with metallic labels providing both botanical and common names.
Native Park 1 was the first COJ park to receive an Outstanding Park Award presented by the Riverside Avondale Preservation Society/St. Johns Riverkeeper organizations. It was also featured for the first time in the 2012 Riverside Avondale Home Tour and again during the 2015 - 2019 Tours. An information kiosk was installed in Native Park 1 in 2018 and includes chapter information, park maps, plant lists and some of the awards that have been granted to the park.
In early 2020 Ixia started working with the city and the park neighbors to extend its reach into Native Park 2, which is across Avendale Blvd. from Native Park 1. Native Park 2 was mostly native in name only with only a few native trees. The park also features a non-native hedge around its perimeter. After gaining approval from the city and the neighbors, Ixia installed 2 large native beds, a walking path and a sign in Native Park 2 in the early summer of 2020. The theme of Native Park 2 is "front yard", in other words, more formal than Native Park 1, which is now refer to as "back yard".
The Chapter’s future plans include additional beds in Native Park 2, benches, and community workshops to encourage people to plant more native plants that still prosper with little care as they did in 1923. The Chapter’s fundraising events and donations by neighbors have made the plantings and improvements possible.---
Native Park TLC days are the Saturday following the monthly meeting. Times vary depending on the time of the year. Please check the calendar for details and updates.
Volunteering for an hour or two at the park is a great way to learn about native plants and to envision what ones will work best in your yard. Come and join the group working in the park and enjoy the beauty and fellowship.
Native Park Plant listsby Common and Latin names below; FNPS Ixia Chapter Project: Native Park Restoration