Sharing a Restoration Success Story


Our Learning by Leading™ (LxL) Urban Horticulture team had a great experience this semester meeting onsite at the Arboretum with representatives from the City of Oviedo Recreation and Parks and Public Works Departments, and Dix.Hite + Partners landscape architects and designers. Several of the students on the horticulture team plan to pursue advanced degrees in landscape architecture and the opportunity to interact with these professionals in a real-world setting was extremely valuable and impactful.

The meeting was initiated by Chris Hite, President and CEO of Dix.Hite + Partners to tour the Arboretum’s ecological restoration of the major drainageway that courses though the west side of the Arboretum Park.  This long-term project is a great example of incorporating stormwater infrastructure into public spaces and creating biodiverse ecosystems from simplified drainage.

The ecological restoration of the Arboretum drainage ditch started in the early 2000’s when former Arboretum director, Dr. Martin Quigley worked with then engineering professor and UCF Stormwater Academy Director, Dr. Marty Wanielista to reshape the linear drainage ditch creating a more winding waterway and allowing water to course through more slowly and create more natural features.  More recently, Ray Jarrett, the natural resource manager who oversees the natural resources and urban forestry teams, started planting a variety of native aquatic plants and trees along the ditch.

This drainage ditch is one of the primary drainages for impervious water runoff for campus. The ditch was covered by non-native, invasive plant species and was being degraded from eroding banks. From 2013 – 2015 the invasive plants were treated, and more than 70 native canopy and sub-canopy trees were planted in and along the canal banks to help stabilize the erosion and establish a native canopy providing shade and minimizing nuisance plant species. Additionally, several species of aquatic plants were incorporated to help with stabilization, and to increase biodiversity at the site.

The City of Oviedo is working with Dix.Hite on a landscape plan for a new park in Oviedo incorporating existing stormwater features into the design for the city park.  The visit was beneficial for all parties, especially our students. It was a pleasure to be recognized for the great restoration work of our natural resources team and build relationships with our local colleagues in natural resources management and landscape architecture. The intersection of these two disciplines is where the real magic happens in the world of urban horticulture. We are grateful to have the opportunity to create these spaces here at UCF with our students.

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