Fragrance and Beauty for Your Florida Garden

November 5, 2010 by Rick

Burgmansias fill the garden with delicious scents in the evening. They are very undemanding plants and fill the space given in a home garden. With their big leaves able to capture light energy they are capable in growing in partially shaded settings. Burgmansias send their roots deep and are quite capable of surviving in our sandy soils on rainfall alone once they are established making them very Florida Friendly. Mulch them heavily once or twice a year and you can fertilize them only if you want them to grow faster or larger. Even after the extreme winter of 2009-2010 all the Burgmansias sprouted back from the roots and were in bloom by summer.

Check out Fred’s Blog for some of his new hybrid Burgs that may amaze you.

 

Another hybridizer, Alice Harris has some beautiful success stories to share too. Check out the availability of many Harris and Karchesky hybrids on their site.

Here are some Google images to show you the diversity of the new hybrids becoming available.

 

Check out some images and what Ewa is posting from Europe on Burgs.

If you really get into Burgmansia breeding and history there is a Registry of Hybrids to show who has done what. Enjoy and share gardening with friends.

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Leu Gardens, Always a Spectacle

October 29, 2010 by Rick

Harry P. Leu Gardens is owned by and located near the Downtown area of Orlando. This Florida treasure is worth supporting and maintaining. Quite a few Floridians have either been married at Leu Gardens or attended weddings there is this serene and beautiful setting. Check their schedule as they are booked up to a year in advance for weekend weddings.

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Google images show lots of wedding activity along with beautiful vistas and flowers.

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See hundreds of amazing Images of Leu Gardens on flickr.

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Take a camera and make some design notes. Most of the plants are labeled. They have home, butterfly garden and garden and vegetable demonstration gardens set and have much information to share and take with you. Look for new plants I recently left for the garden, Salvia Wendy’s Wish, an amazing hummingbird magnet that blooms year round with lipstick colored flowers.

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Florida Friendly Pumpkin Patch

October 20, 2010 by Rick

Gardeners are getting so clever with pumpkins these days. In Florida it is tough to grow pumpkins of any size with our summer heat and rain. A clever idea I have seen is to grow Ornamental Sweet Potatoes as a permanent easy to care for ground cover and place your pumpkins, gourds and corn stalks as if the vines had actually produced your crop. These imitation pumpkin vines contrast nicely with pumpkins or gourds and easily fool the untrained eye. For even more contrast you can add a colorful border to contain and frame your pumpkin patch by edging it with SausEdge.

Let your imagination run and look at some of these Links:

 

Pumpkin 1                Pumpkin 2                      Pumpkin 3                              Pumpkin 4

 

Another idea is to grow your Ornamental Sweet Potatoes in large containers as SPILLERS and arrange them on your front porch or patio with pumpkins and other colorful containers of Crotons as FILLERS and ornamental grass as THRILLERS. Try orange or black coleus for additional seasonal color that last longer than mums.

 Ornamental Sweet Potato Persian Shaield Combo

Add some Muhly Grass to your display and later plant if in a sunny spot in the garden. I also have a wonderful friend and great gardener, Janis, whose nickname is Pumpkin and here is her Blog.

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Water Saving is Global and Personal

October 12, 2010 by Rick

Floridians average 159 gallons of water per day for personal use which includes the potable water we spray on our lawns. We use 15 times per day more than people in developing nations. It is a great thing that our children are being taught in school about conservation, recycling and environmental awareness. Reducing the use and waste of water in our communities that are within 20 miles of our coastline is especially important because the aquifer is becoming salty as we over draw the fresh ground water. Reducing the amount of irrigated turf areas in your yard reduces this pressure and reduces your cost of water. Installing or retrofitting drip or micro irrigation on your flowers and shrubs instead of high volume sprinklers is another way to reduce your water usage. The Hillsborough Extension Garden Blog has this post describing Micro Irrigation for Florida Landscapes.

  

We have been using Chapin Drip Tape on our farm for 27 years to directly water our containers with 6-8 0onces of water per irrigation. The Chapin Company has developed and distributes small inexpensive Simple Drip Irrigation kits for small farms that undoubtedly has saved many lives.

 

Water filters, small pumps and sanitation kits are desperately needed in developing nations and UNICEF has many programs which need our help in procuring these basic essential items.

 

Join us and contribute to Facebook - I Wet My Plants and help us develop interest in spreading this word and knowledge of responsible water use, conservation and methods for efficient irrigation.

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Purple Muhly Grass for All of Florida

October 10, 2010 by Rick

MuhlyGrass

One of Florida’s most beautiful native plants and a Top 10 selection to grow in your garden, Purple Muhly Grass is available at most Home Depot garden centers now. Use it where it can get at least 6 hours of direct sun and in a place where you can see it dancing in the sun in all it’s glory. This grass gets about 4-5 feet across and 3-4 feet tall so give it plenty of room. Forget about the maintenance with this one as it takes care of it’s self. Should I repeat that? Use it to replace areas of thirsty, high maintenance turf where you do not need a lawn.

Meem’s has captured the essence of growing and displaying Purple Muhly Grass on her terrific Hoe and Shovel Blog.

 

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School Garden Classroom… Model for Florida Schools?

September 28, 2010 by Rick

Occasionally you get to see something that inspires you so much you can’t stop thinking about the possibilities. I met teacher, Mark Painter, and his enthusiastic volunteer staff of parents and admirers on a recent trip to Dallas at Stonewall Jackson elementary school garden. Mark’s philosophy is that you have to teach the younger children the importance of good nutrition and how healthy food is grown so they get the right appreciation for it before they have too many other distractions when they get older. At the elementary level, children all enjoy the garden and can easily grasp the concepts to develop a love for the environment and growing their own food. Then as they grow up their expectations are properly aligned with the kind of food we all need for a healthy diet.

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Mark told me the kids love to eat the tender raw okra right out of the garden. It is fast growing, prolific and a great southern crop to sink your teeth into. Mark teaches them to use lots of compost and an efficient no-till method. Free mulch from neighborhood arborists keeps the garden weeds to a manageable level. The students plant the okra in pots of compost enriched soil buried in the garden and use a micro sprayer in each pot to teach the value of water and how to concentrate it where it is needed with the least amount of waste. Mark says the children are fascinated by all the beneficial and pest insects attracted to the garden. Children get to share, work and learn science together in an educational setting they will remember for the rest of their lives. Read their recent blog post and you will see what I mean.

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With drip and micro irrigation and plenty of compost, Stonewall Gardens produces lots of food for it’s small size. More than that, Stonewall teachers work together with their science curriculum to inspire children for a lifetime of healthy eating and an understanding of good nutrition. There parents become involved and inspired to grow some of their own food in a small space at home. Imagine getting extra credit for growing some healthy vegetables at home for your family.

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You have to appreciate the large sums of cash from The Gates Foundation and Facebook and other private concerns going toward improving they way students learn with computers. This effort is more beneficial, in my opinion, because it does a better job of instilling a lifetime connection with science, nature, nutrition, management and learning. Instilling these values and knowledge in similar programs would be a great thing for the food industry, food retailers and agriculture to fund and connect their products and names to improving health, education and society. School boards need to be made aware of the Stonewall Garden project and how it can raise the education levels of their students.

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At Stonewall garden they plant herbs, eggplant and peppers in large buried containers to confine the compost and focus the irrigation and organic fertilizer.

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The parents volunteer with some of the weeding and composting to keep the garden neat and organized.

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In this exercise the students are taught to record their crops progress and to recognize the leaf shape so they can distinguish their seedlings from the weeds.

 

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The classes feed and tend the chickens which stimulate them to ask many questions as they become immersed in the garden and farm while learning where food comes from and how it impacts their diet.

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Students study and plant wild flowers and the butterflies and hummingbirds they attract. This close link to the environment broadens the understanding of these children raised in this urban area.

The Stonewall Jackson Garden website will answer more of the questions I hope I have stirred in this post. Read back through their blog posts to get a feel for how they interact with the community and the students. I hope you are as inspired as I am. This ought to be a feature on 60 Minutes.

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Washington Oaks State Park

September 25, 2010 by Rick

Elizabeth Mann’s Blog is a great one to follow in your feed reader. Check out this video she produced and then visit her blog for more on Washington Oaks and other gardens she has visited.

 

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9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscapes

September 18, 2010 by Rick

Austin Outdoors has a classy video to help you learn and remember the University of Florida’s 9 principles. Once you have studied them a few times these principles begin to sink into your way of gardening design and the way you decorate and maintain your outdoor rooms and gardens.

 

We have more articles here to help your gardening success with the principles.

 

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American Beautyberry

September 9, 2010 by Rick

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If you live near any wooded or open area, chances are you have volunteer Beautyberry seedlings that have sprouted in your garden periphery. It is one of the natives we recommend for your perennial and butterfly gardens on our Florida Friendly Plants website. Birds drop the seed everywhere so the chances of having them are high. If not, you can poke around in the woods or fence rows and find seedlings just about anywhere to transplant to your perennial border. Here is a link to all the images on the web to help you ID this wonderful native wildflower.

Eat the Weeds writer, Green Dean, has a website filled with information on what you can eat right from the wild. Check him out and bookmark him in case your fridge is looking a little bare or your feel like an eating adventure on your next trip to the forest.

Consider a large bed of Beautyberry to replace thirsty turf. The beautyberry will become a permanent garden plant that only requires an annual layer of oak leaves or other mulch to keep the bed more weed free and self maintaining. Cut the plants back hard in late winter and your garden chores will be reduced and the butterflies and birds will be stopping by for regular visits.

 

You can see Beautyberry on display at the University of Florida’s Teaching Garden in Plant City along with many other native, landscape plants and vegetable garden techniques. Here is the Florida publication on Beautyberry from Dr. Ed Gilman.

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Glass at the Botanical Gardens

September 4, 2010 by Rick

Always a big crowd pleaser, Dale Chihuly has displayed glass works of art in botanical gardens and enhanced the visitors experience. If you get a chance, take your camera. Here are just a few glimpses…

 

 

 

 

 

Visit the Chihuly Exhibit at The Morean Center in St Pete. Find them on Facebook.

 

 

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