think local, think natural, think native


Tim Cash (1954-1993)

Nursery Founder

Tim Cash

Tim founded Florida Scrub Growers, a native plant nursery in Old Miakka Florida, in 1982. He wanted to grow local species of native plants and use them in landscaping instead of exotics. This was unheard of at the time and native plants were not widely available. To do this he bought ten undeveloped acres in Old Miakka and devoted much of his time to collecting local seeds from surrounding hammocks, wetlands and scrub and growing plants for the landscape market. He was especially inspired by the scrubby flatwoods plants found on the ESLOC Old Miakka site across from the nursery. He envisioned using many of the plants adapted to this upland community in local landscaping.

Tim was a visionary with a real sensitivity for the environment. He gave lectures and educated everyone he came in contact with. He helped found the Sarasota-Manatee Native Plant Society. He worked with Sarasota County on wetlands mitigation projects and donated mangroves and other aquatic plants to the Sarasota Bay Estuary projects. He provided many of the original native plantings for the Florida House, Sarasota County’s sustainable living educational site.

Tim was a leader in the evolution of butterfly gardening and provided butterflies and butterfly plants for the Gulf Coast World of Science.

Tim gave generously of his time to the Historic Old Miakka Community he lived in. He helped roof the Methodist Church and Old Miakka School house and was active in the local volunteer fire department. Tim died on Oct. 2, 1993. All that remember Tim remember his passion for what he did. He shared what he learned and generously gave of his time to educate others and promote the use of native plants. He said his goal was to recruit enough people to return Florida to a more natural state.

The owners of the Florida Native Plant Nursery (formally Florida Scrub Growers) are honored that the Old Miakka Park Loop Trail was named for Tim Cash, our founder, on the 25th Anniversary year of the founding of our nursery.

Laurel Schiller

Nursery Co-owner, B. S. Wildlife Biology, M. A. Ecology, Landscape Design

Laurel Schiller

Laurel has a degree in wildlife biology from Oregon State University and a degree in systematics and ecology from Indiana State University. Laurel taught biology at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She also worked as a mammalogist at the New York Zoological Society (Bronx Zoo) and at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. She is a former National Landscape Design Critic (Florida Garden Club), a Florida Master Gardener, and a Florida Master Naturalist.

Since moving to Venice, Florida, in 1994, with her husband and three children, Laurel's interests have been channeled into preserving the natural environment. She has served two terms as vice-president of the Florida Native Nursery Association and chair of the State Education Committee for the Association.

She has served on the board of directors for the Friends of the Rails to Trails Park in Sarasota, many years on the county park's board and as vice chair for the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council. She served two terms as president of the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park, Inc., two terms as a Sarasota County Planning Commissioner, is the former chairman of the City of Venice Planning Commission and Vice-President of the Manasota Chapter of the Florida Grape Growers Association.

Laurel designs native plantings for natural areas for homeowners as well as homeowner associations. She specializes in native plant restoration and mitigation work and enjoys creating wildlife habitat. She has worked on native plant designs for numerous school sites and for state, county, and city lands.

Laurel is on the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' Speaker's Bureau and Sarasota's Peace Center Speaker's Bureau. Laurel presents programs and seminars on Florida native plants, natural Florida landscaping and eco-gardening to groups and societies throughout Southwest Florida.

With her nursery partner, Dan Walton, Laurel has written Natural Florida Landscaping published in 2007 by Pineapple Press.

Fran Palmeri

Nursery Co-owner, Photographer, Writer, Florida Master Naturalist

Fran Palmeri

Fran Palmeri, an award-winning writer/photographer, worked for the "Washington Star" and was editor and publisher of “Women’s Work” a national career- planning magazine. In the 80’s, she started a property management company, Property Specialists Inc., and also during that time was trustee of the Quaker Burying Ground at Galesville, a park-like old cemetery in Maryland.

A visitor or resident of Florida for over forty years, her recent work has focused on natural Florida. Photographing and writing have been pathways to understanding the rich diversity of the peninsula and realizing how fragile it is. She publishes regularly in the Florida press, including the “Pelican Press” in Sarasota, and in national and international magazines. She did the photography for “Natural Florida Landscaping” and contributed photographs to this and other websites. Her work may also be seen at Oscar Scherer State Park. Currently she is working on "Green Pilgrimage" a book of nature essays and photographs.

She has served as Secretary of the Friends of Oscar Scherer and Is Vice President of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and a member of the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council.

Over the years she has photographed the cycle of seasons, the growth of plants, and the doings of animals (including humans) at the Nursery. She considers it a peaceful sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of Sarasota.

Web Editor's Note: Fran donated many of her outstanding photos to this website and wrote a lot of the informative text. We couldn't have done it without her. See more of her wonderful work at

Dan Walton

Co-Author of Natural Florida Landscaping, B. of Chemical Engineering, Ph.D. Plant Physiology

Dan Walton

Dan is a Chemical Engineering graduate of the University of Delaware and has a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the State University of New York at Syracuse. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Plant Research Institute. He initially worked for the du Pont CO. in Technical and Economic studies. After obtaining a PhD he moved into the academic profession at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, where as professor in the departments of Chemistry & Biology, he taught and did research on seed germination and hormone biochemistry.

Dan is a former master gardener, served on the Sarasota Park and Recreation Board and was an adjunct member of the Environmental Horticulture department at the University of Florida.

Marta Ellis

Nursery Plant Specialist, Sales Associate, Florida Master Gardener

Sharon Fitzpatrick

Marta got the "plant bug" from her grandmothers in Uruguay. Both lived in urban areas and a visit to their homes always included a tour of their tiled flat roofs where they kept their potted plants. This "bug" kept growing through her college years.

After moving to the United States, she joined the Horticulture program of Sarasota County Technical School. In this program, she studied nursery and landscape operations and landscape design. in 1987, during this 2 year program, her class toured Scrub Growers and she met Tim Cash, founder of the nursery and former student of the class. This was her introduction to native plants.

At first she had learned how to take care of plants the chemical way, doing her best to keep up with new products, and obtaining a pesticide license, but she had to spray all the time. She realized she was polluting herself and the environment and got disenchanted with this practice. In 1992, she started butterfly gardening and she stopped spraying. Her yard was so full of chemicals that it took her one whole year to have her first butterfly. From then on she has not sprayed for bugs, and the natural balance took over.

In 1995, she took a class on native plants offered by the Adult Community Education Center with instructor Bill Booth, whose enthusiasm for natives was contagious. As part of the course, they visited both Myakka and Oscar Scherer State parks, Corkscrew Preserve in the Everglades and Lake Placid Research Station where they observed native plants growing in their natural habitats.

In 1996, she took the Master Gardener course and she has been active in this program ever since. She has worked in garden centers and plant nurseries where she learned about horticulture therapy, organic herbs, and edible gardening.

For many years now, she has worked at the Florida Native Plants Nursery, where all her gardening experience has come together.

James Caudell

Nursery Manager, Billing, Permitting

James Caudell

Joining the Florida Native Plants Nursery in January 2010, James brings with him 15 years of managerial experience in the environmental field. He currently manages billing and payroll for the nursery.





Annie Schiller

Native Plant and Butterfly Garden Design and Maintenance, Eco-Florist (William's Wildflowers), Media Manager, Graphic/Web Design, Plant Grower

Annie SchillerAnnie designs and maintains organic and natural gardens that feed butterflies, birds, pollinators and Floridians. With her art background and the hands-on experience of working with her award-winning mother, Laurel Schiller, since 2010, she knows how to create and maintain hardy local gardens that benefit people and the environment and that are also aesthetically beautiful. In addition, her current nursery projects include designing, creating and maintaining and, the Nursery's newsletter and social media sites, and growing and designing for the Nursery's latest project William's Wildflowers.

Since being in Florida, Annie has completed Annie's Project offered by the Florida Agricultural Extension Service where she was certified with 24 hours of Farm Management. She is also a certified Master Naturalist through the University of Florida's Master Naturalist Program.

Annie spent most of her youth in Florida and received a BFA with honors from Florida State University. After college, she moved to New York for six long and adventurous years working at an independent bookseller in Manhattan (the Strand!) selling art books. She did graphic design and photography at an environmental consulting company where she worked her way from a field assistant to Media Manager.

In January, 2010, Annie moved back down to Florida to be nearer to family, the land and nature. She is fluent and creative in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver. Annie continues to pursue experience with and knowledge of native Florida plants and ecological landscape design, sustainable and organic plant nursery practices, media and marketing, flower farming, and floral design with wildflowers and foraged material. She also loves bioregional herbalism, growing organic edibles, and getting her two kids out in nature.

Rachel Andre

Horticultural Intern, Eco-Studio Florist, Flower Farmer (William's Wildflowers - New York)

Annie SchillerRachel is a graduate of Hunter College in New York City and has worked as an intern at Florida Native Plants Nursery. She was a volunteer for San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Botanical Gardens and has a passion for wildlife and a strong interest in promoting native flora for a sustainable environment. Rachel is the manager and developer of - William's Wildflowers in New York, the nursery's latest venture.