Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Landscape Update - Front of House

The Gardening Gone Wild blog hosts a "Garden Bloggers Design Workshop" to share gardener's experiences in landscape design - what worked and what didn't work! I've been wanting to do an update on my new garden (2007), so I thought I would join in with her post.

2007 - I was fortunate to have a clean slate with this garden. My past gardens (5 all together) were already established and I tweaked them to include my favorites. But all of them had plants that needed trimming on a regular basis and that is one garden chore that I absolutely do not like. So I was determined not to plant any shrubs that needed haircuts.

One negative for this new garden was the soil. Florida is known for its sandy soils but this "builder's sand" was devoid of any organic materials. My first step was to enrich the soil with peat humus and compost.

I wanted to plant low-growing plants so that they wouldn't be growing up over the front porch. The finished design included: Indian hawthorne for its ease of care and pretty spring flowers, Fashion azaleas for their bright reddish-orange color and long-lasting bloom time (Oct thru April), Blue Daze for its mounding growth and blue flowers, African iris for its bloom and adaptability to poor soil, Bush Daisies for some yellow color in winter, a Tabebuia tree for beautiful yellow spring flowers and lots of variegated and regular liriope as a filler.
I was pleased with the overall look when I finished it, and amazed at how quickly everything grew in this very hot area with lackluster soil.

Now, two years later here's a look at the front flower bed and what worked and what didn't work.
What worked - the Indian hawthornes are lush and in need of a slight trim to keep them compact (I don't mind trimming things once a year), the Fashion Azaleas also have done well. I planted them in the shape of a triangle and they have grown together nicely to form a hedge like look. The liriope have all thrived as well. And the Tabebuia tree is growing faster than I had anticipated and looks great.

What didn't work - There were some dissapointments and some changes that had to be made. The biggest dissapointments were the Blue Daze and the Bush Daisies. After thriving at first, both seemed to begin to dieback and look rather unsightly, so I yanked them out and replaced the Blue Daze with more liriope and the Bush Daisies with crotons and purple pentas. So far the replacements are doing well.

The African iris performed well but I had to replace them with a lower growing plant (Blanket Flowers - Gallardia) because they were blocking the other plants from receiving water from the sprinkler system. I relocated them to a new location and planted the blanket flowers which I love, and they seem to thrive in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer. I also added two yellow knock-out roses in the center of the azaleas and they are making themselves right at home.
Even for gardeners who've been at it for awhile, it's still trial and error to see what looks good and what will perform in a particular area. But putting the design together, tweaking it and watching it develop is the best part of gardening!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is great. I like the way you made sure things you chose wouldn't get too tall. I have never had a garden that didn't have something in it when I started out. That would be fun.

Nan Ondra said...

Hi Susan! I apologize for taking so long to get here. I'm so glad you joined us for the Gardening Gone Wild Design Workshop this month. Your post is an inspiring example of what a gardener can accomplish with time, work, and love. It does seem easier to create a second or third (or fifth or sixth) garden, doesn't it? Even then, things don't always turn out as we expect!

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