Creating a Front Garden

Last winter and into spring, I decided to begin creating a front garden space to plant new perennials. When one older lady is doing this work herself, it takes time. I wanted to prepare the bed by killing the grass and weeds and adding some “good” dirt.

I bought the border bricks, which I put around a few other little gardens in the yard, and my son helped me move the bricks. I bought a load of dirt from a local landscape center and put that on top of my saved newspaper.

new garden
Getting the ground ready for a new garden

In New Hampshire this newspaper trick worked pretty well. Paper plus a layer of dirt kills the stuff underneath. I used to do it so it could sit over winter. But Florida growth is a different beast. For one thing it never really stops growing. There is no ice and snow to make it dormant. The newspaper and cardboard did help but some grass and lots of dollar weed came right up through everything.

Also grass here is not the slightest like northern grass. This grass is in vine form and it’s tough stuff. You don’t want to have to dig it up.

front garden area
The weeds are thriving

A strange tall weed began to grow and I let it. I still have no idea what it was. Once it got big, it had a few pretty little yellow flowers. Eventually the whole thing died and I pulled it out. Weeds can be interesting and beautiful.

Yellow flowers on tall weed
This weed had pretty little golden yellow flowers

All in all the work I did to remove the grass worked pretty well, but I still had a lot of stuff to pull up. The dollar weed is under control. The older part of the garden, as you can see below, is full of plants. My hydrangea looks pretty bad, but it’s alive. The blooming New Guinea impatiens are some of my favorites as they last a long time and brighten the yard for months. The red bromeliad was a Christmas gift from a friend.

Front garden with extension
Front garden Spring 2020

The new garden area, in the back on the photo above, contains only two crotons which I began from cuttings, and a spiky agave plant- at least I think that is what it is. I got it from a neighbor and haven’t been able to find a spot to plant it. Finally it’s “roots” were breaking the pot apart, so I stuck it here. But it will be in the way of the sprinkler head, so it might have to go. These things get huge!

Agave plant
New croton plant
The baby crotons are doing okay

My plan for this time of year was to buy some new plants for the front garden. I hadn’t decided for sure what plants, but a trip to Pells Nursery would have helped me decide. Now that everything is closed, thanks to the Coronavirus, and we have to stay home, I can’t very well shop for plants. So… change of plans.

I’m currently planning to plant some vegetable seeds I have saved in this empty garden space.

Rubber Trees in The Florida Landscape

It all began with one indoor rubber tree plant. When it started to look gangly, I cut it back and stuck the cuttings in water to see what would happen. You can read about the rubber tree trimming here. Many of the cuttings did root and I simply planted them in the ground. A few never rooted for whatever reason.

rebber plant cuttings
Cuttings in water

I ended up with four rooted stems which I planted straight into the dirt outside. I’m finding that my rubber tree babies are growing wonderfully in my Florida yard. But is there a drawback to having rubber trees in the yard?

Continue reading “Rubber Trees in The Florida Landscape”

Update on Garden Hydrangea, Surviving Summer

Now my little hydrangea is in the ground and here is what I’ve learned. Deadheading Florida hydrangeas is a good idea. I found new growth and new flowers hidden beneath those huge, dying blooms.

blue flowers turning green
Blooms turning green and dying

Until a few weeks ago I had not tried to grow a hydrangea in my Florida yard. I kept thinking there was no way it would do well in all this heat. So the fact that my little hydrangea plant is doing so well is a nice surprise. If it has been growing in a greenhouse it would adapt well to warmth, and it does seem to be thriving this summer.

Continue reading “Update on Garden Hydrangea, Surviving Summer”

Clusters of Purple Berries on The Beautyberry Bush

I’m all for learning something new each day, and today I learned that the clusters of purple berries on the stem in my backyard is part of the Beautyberry bush.  This odd stem of berries in clumps caught my eye as I walked through my small backyard.  I had to get photos, but the trouble I had was capturing the true purple color of these berries.

purple beauty berry
Beautyberry stem of purple berries

Using my iPhone, I took numerous photos of these striking purple clumps and none of the photos showed the actual dark purple color correctly. Below is the color my phone produced, but the other photos more closely match the actual darker purple. I had to replicate that in Pixelmator.

purple berries
iPhone photo is brighter purple color than reality

This stem is sticking out of my backyard hedge. The hedge is made up of a variety of plants which have grown very tall and create a border between the back of my house and the house next door. I did not plant the Beautyberry, but someone may have done so years ago. Or maybe it grew wild.

The Beautyberry is a southern bush with berry stems that show up in September. It’s berries feed birds and wildlife and the leaves and berries are good as mosquito repellent. Read more interesting info at the Garden.org site.

purple berries
A striking stem of purple berries

I found some other interesting flora to photograph that same day. The Elephant Ear was blooming and the banana trees had sent off a new shoot which would grow a long stem of bananas. A dead tree is full of clusters of dark purple berries and I don’t know yet what those are. There is always something new to learn when I step outside.

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