Hi all- I'm new to the forums here

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi All-
I'm new to the forums here at DG. I've started a few threads but haven't introduced myself.
I'm told I work too much- I'm a Garden Designer and Horticultural Consultant. I own a custom specialty Design/Build landscaping company. I do yard 'makeovers'-from a garden bed to the entire property. Native plant, edible landscaping including orchards and kitchen gardens (I was a market gardener at one point in my life), bird, butterfly, hummingbird gardens, meadows, 'Florida-Friendly'... A current project in the prep/planning stage is to transform a client's Weeki Wachee yard into a Japanese Garden. I'm fortunate that work is something that I truly love, and I've been blessed with some wonderful clients.
During "off"hours I help out in the area as a Master Gardener.
My companion and best friend of 11 years passed a few months ago. I'm still learning how to cope...
This was the first year for my new Peach trees to come in to production. The peaches were really good! Planning on adding additional varieties later in the fall. I'm determined to put in a few personal vegetables this coming cool season so I'm going to start prepping the beds now. Got my compost pile going again.
I've enjoyed reading through the threads.
Have a great week everyone!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Welcome Please come join us over on our chat thread

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)


Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

WOW, LG! I sure wish I lived near you, I would volunteer to work with you for free just to learn!
I'm sorry about the loss of your partner. There are many fantastic DG'ers in Central FL to help with your loneliness.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I agree..................if I lived closer I'd work for "knowledge". I'm new to FL and am learning by my mistakes!!!!!

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

It's all a learning process- I learn something every day. I tell my crew that if they've reached the end of the day and are thinking they didn't learn anything it's because they missed the opportunity for one reason or another. It seems that the more experienced the crew personel are, usually the reason they missed the opportunity is because they think their learning process is complete and they don't have their mind open to the possibilities.
In the niche of specialty Design/Build, most projects include some aspect that is new- be it a construction technique or an expansion of my plant palette. I embrace that for knowledge and artistic growth- often it's the artistic voice that needs the development of materials skills for full expression. Currently I'm working out the techniques to inset patterned cobbles into mortar for a decorative pathway that functions as an acupressure relaxation base when you walk over it in your bare feet.
Wonderful intention, both of you. However, when realizing how much of it entails just plain heavy-duty back-breaking labor in 96 degree high humidity heat the new knowledge that would make the biggest impression on you is "this ain't so sexy after all!" :) As a volunteer, though, you'd be able to go collapse in the shade and take a break whenever you'd like.
Thanks, cyberageous. It's been an...adjustment.
Qwilter, what region are you from? A book that would be well worth your reading time is 'Florida Gardening: The Newcomer's Survival Manual' 2nd Ed. by Monica Moran Brandies. She's written a handful of Florida gardening books. This one in specific explains our "soils", climate, various plant pest and disease pressures, plants typically successful here... She gives a good intro to our differences and some of the techniques and approaches proven successful here. She also included a list of resources and an excellent (although not exhaustive) recommended reading list. (A note regarding her reading list. Yes, it includes a number of her own books. This does NOT speak of her ego. She's a wonderfully down to earth lady full of humility. This speaks of the fact that most of her books are solid, informative "Florida- must be included in your library -books".) Could clear up some questions I'm sure you have and save you the grief of a few mistakes. If you're into veggies, the reference manual is "Vegetable Gardening In Florida" by James M. Stephens. He also wrote "The Manual Of Minor Vegetables" which covers the more uncommon ones. A website you would benefit from is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ which is the University of Florida's database of info. Also go to www.SolutionsForYourLife.com which is more U.F. info, including the IFAS online bookstore (Florida specific plant/gardening topic books including the above veggie books) The website for trees is http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody. This is Dr. Ed Gilman's website. His work has revolutionized what was thought to be known regarding tree growth. He also wrote the definitive tree pruning book, "An Illustrated Guide To Pruning" 3rd Edition. This man is the ultimate teacher. Contact your County Cooperative Extension Service for a copy of the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Handbook "A Guide To Florida-Friendly Landscaping". If you have difficulty getting a copy for whatever reason (usually county budget cuts), let me know and I'll make sure you recieve one. There is also a Florida gardening magazine, titled..."Florida Gardening" (imagine that). Subcribe P.O. Box 500678 Malabar, Florida 32950, online www.floridagardening.com. $21 per year/6 issues. The magazine also has a "Book Shelf" where you can order Monica's books (among others). I've seen some of these books at Barnes and Nobes, Books-A-Million. Worth checking the online booksellers. Welcome to Florida! I wish you many more eventual successes than mistakes in your gardening efforts! Remember the mantra- compost, compost, and more compost!
Thanks for the welcome!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the information, I was born up here in Northeast Florida but am still learning

A not one the "A Guide to Florida-Friendly Landscaping" you can down load it to your computer http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/handbook.pdf

Green Cove Springs, FL(Zone 9a)

Welcome LG! We have a similar reference list it seems. I also design and though originally a Floridian, I learned much of my plant knowledge on the opposite coast. I've found many of these titles invaluable as I learn about Florida better... and I so agree on always learning something new!
How long have you been working in Florida? What's your favorite project you've built to date?

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

Thank you for the reading list!!!! I did get the magazine for a year and have the FL friendly landscaping pamphlet. I've spent most all my life in the PA/MD area and can garden like crazy up there. Just a learning curve needed for down here. I'm making small inroads. I have joined the local Garden Club so hopefully some knowledge will rub off on me.
I'll look for the books you mention at the library. Then decide which one(s) I need on my shelf at home.

Cape Coral, FL(Zone 10a)

Welcome LandscapeGardner!

Your new project sounds amazing! I have seen pictures of some Japanese gardens and they are so beautiful. You will have to share some picutres fo your project. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your companion. I lost my grandmother a few years ago, we were very close and she was more like my mother than grandmother. In fact, my husband and I moved to Florida to be close to her and built a house down the street from her. I still find that I will see something and think how much she would like it. You will definately find friendly people on Dave's Garden.

I moved from Indiana, to Central Florida, to South Florida and feel like I learn something new about gardening all the time. There is always a new plant to discover and nature has a way of surprising you.

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

Qwilter- 2 additional books to check out for the "getting started" list is "Your Florida Landscape-A Complete Guide To Planting And Maintenance" by Robert J. Black and Kathleen C. Ruppert, and "Gardeneing and Landscaping in Central Florida: A Low Maintenance, Environmentally Friendly, Personalized Approach" by Marlys Bell. Something to keep in mind is that a good number of the Florida specific books were written by U.F. IFAS personnel, so much of that info is available (just in a different format) at no charge through the IFAS websites. These people have prolifically published material there for the downloading/saving/printing out. Whatever the topic- turfgrass diseases, citrus varieties, butterfly host plants, palm transplanting...there is a tremendous amount of info available on the IFAS websites.
Gardening here is so completely different than in other regions. Do you mind me asking what has been troublesome regarding your learning curve? Gardening clubs are often wonderful resources. Books have an indispensable role, but vital can be the gardener who has "been there, planted that". When I give talks/presentations to garden clubs and botanical gardens I'm always drawn in by the passion the members have for the subject. It's such an honor to be able to spend that time with people who share that passion. It seems to be a common trait among gardeners.
AmyMorie-I'd feel completely lost without my books. Those listed above are just a few I recommend as "getting started" Florida titles. My personal library is quite extensive. I'm an obsessive studier (not sure if the usage or spelling is correct, but there it is). I expand my knowledge base beyond the formal classes with a LOT of self-study (just not the various forms and usage of the word study). The Florida titles are just one category- books on general horticulture, botany, landscaping, design, construction, graphics, business/project management, and others are central to what I do every day and are referenced in one way or another every day.
I began Florida-centric study 12 years ago, began working professionally 9 years ago.
I can't point out one specific project as my favorite. There are a some that I consider my favorites for various reasons, but not just one. I'm open minded- maybe that ONE has yet to be created!:) Two in the favorites group were done in courtyard homes- walk in the front door and find yourself in an open space screened instead of roofed, all the rooms surrounding the courtyard area are walled with sliding glass doors, courtyard usually has a pool, sometimes also a hot tub. A various amount of sq. footage is intended for "landscaping"- that depends on the builder. These two clients had an area artist do murals on the non glass courtyard wall. The first one was a jungle scene- lush greenery, monkeys, birds, elephants drinking at a water hole, a black panther lounging on a tree limb. What I proposed and created was the "third dimension" to the wall scene, extending those elements out into the courtyard. There were two main focal points in my 3-D extension of the jungle scene. The water hole became a water feature sited so the viewer seemed to be standing at the edge opposite the elephants. The other main focal point was based on the black panther. I brought in a tree trunk and big limbs to simulate a fallen tree. This was an extension, the 3-D, of the limb the black panther was lying on. I knew I had accomplished my intended effect (and why it's one of my favorites) when I was told repeatedly "It looks like that panther is going to get up and come right down that tree at me".
The other mural was a beach scene- dolphins leaping in the distance, lighthouse, gulls, etc...client told me he doesn't like the public beaches, he wants his own private beach. So I built him one. Attached part of a dinghy to the wall to site it in the mural, brought in sand, built pilings, planted Sea Oats, a palm tree... My intended vantage perspective was the viewer looking out to sea from behind the dune. Client was thrilled with it. To this day he says everyone who sees it for the first time has the same response- "it's your own private beach!" That one was fun to do.
One built favorite began with the client asking for some shade to the 10'x12' patio at the back of the house. When I was done the backyard had become a two level paver patio with shade structure and water screen with the remaining yard area rising in three terraced retaining wall levels with a staircase running up the center. As I went into construction he continually requested add-ons to the job. A funny favorite because you just don't know where that initial request is going to lead.
Others are in the favorites group for various reasons, or a part of a project is a favorite (for example the stonework on a dry-stack retaining wall, the streambed of a water feature, "made art", and various plantings) but I really can't pick one single favorite.
Despite all the bling, the favorites most special to me are the plantings that are on the list for whyever- an effect captured as wanted, a combination right on... to me it begins and ends with the plants. I stay focused on that central base- it's why I named my business as such.
What about you? Can you choose one favorite above all? How long since you've returned to Florida?
Floridabunnie- thank you and condolances regarding your grandmother. I'm not so sure you ever really get over the loss of someone close.
You've had to relearn after your double move because there is a big difference between gardening in Central and South Florida. The plant palette especially. There's much you can reliably grow that we can't here. I have some clients who would envy your ability to grow some tropical fruits, especially. I've found West-Central Florida is a compilation of smaller microclimates oriented north/south within the larger region. Seems every 5-10 miles is a sometimes subtle/sometimes much more obvious shift or change in the plant palette. I don't just mean what can be grown, but a discernible change in what will do well. Also a difference in growth cycles, tendencies, size, etc... I find myself intentionally planting something so that I can compare it to the same variety/cultivar growing 5-10 miles north or south. The results are always interesting, and sometimes surprising. Drives me nuts sometimes when a plant displays a growth characteristic not readily explainable. Sometimes it's simply "that's how Mother Nature works". And that's a wonderful thing!
I haven't uploaded images yet, or done DMail. Gradually trying to figure out customizing the Home Page and the custom menu screen, etc... That needs it's own forum.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

Weeds are my biggest issue!!!!! I have these things that look sort of like a Venus Fly Trap - stem with lots of tiny leaves - everywhere. Don't remember seeing them until this year. Previously I dealt with the Dollar Weed but I have gotten that almost under control. Weeds are followed by squirrels who seem to love my Myer's lemon blossoms!!!!

I must be doing something right because most of my Hibiscus are happily blooming - except 1 that looks beautiful and bushy w/out a single bloom.

Many of the perennials I plant die off and don't come back. Others that should die off continue thru the winter and on thru the following year.

I have joined the local Garden Club and will start going to their mtgs in Sep (off for the summer). Also my sprinkler system is back up & running so that should hopefully make more plants happy. I have my zones set so I can water the plants but not a lot of the grass areas.

I plan to grab some books from the library and do some reading.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Welcome LG,
We are a congenial bunch here and share experiences and knowledge. Also plants and seeds.
Some of the most cherished plants in my gardens are from DG members and roundups.
You are only about an hour from me in So. Clermont so the garden gate is always open for a visit.
If you like koi I have 2 ponds and one is full with beauties I really enjoy.

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

Qwilter- can you upload a photo of your Venus Fly Trap lookin' weed? I can be specific re what to do when I know exactly what you're battling.
While at the library look for "Weeds of Southern Turfgrasses". It's not restricted to just turfgrasses. Identifying a weed is one step in the direction of determining whether it's a cool-season or warm-season weed, and whether it's an annual or perennial, which all helps in establishing your combat strategy. Before I launch into the weed management "talk" (sounds better than "lecture") I do as a Master Gardener, contact your County Cooperative Extension Service - and/or surrounding counties if close enough- and find out the schedule of classes. There should be one for weeds. These classes are no charge to attend, you don't even need to be from that specific county. While there, pick up some printed publications re the topic of your choice (weeds might be one of them:)
Also, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_guide_weed_mana is a source of info. It's the IFAS site.

Bonnie- I'd love to see your gardens and ponds. Thank you for the invite. When garden plants have a cherished, personal story of origin it adds a tremendous resonance to the depth of meaning a garden holds in our lives. How wonderful.

Oldsmar, FL

I'm new here as well and found this thread to be very informative. Though I am a native Floridian living in Oldsmar, after moving around a bit, it has been quite a while since I have had a "real" garden. We just settled into a house on a little over an acre and I have discovered a huge character flaw--fear of commitment (to design that is). In my house I have two huge pantries and we are coming from an apartment with a pantry the size of a linen closet. I am somehow convinced that there is a 'correct' way to organize the pantry and still have stuff in boxes in front of it for fear of doing it wrong LOL. It is very annoying.

The same goes for my gardening. There is so much I want to do from fruit trees, berry bushes that will grow well in Florida, herb gardens, flower gardens etc and I am overwhelmed thinking about it. So much of the fun is in the planning but I am really having trouble moving forward.

I am going to take a look at the reading lists you suggested and hopefully gain some inspiration and confidence!

Most of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. I am happy that you have a hobby and business that you are passionate about and hope it helps you through. When I am battling with feeling low, I know that being outside (I call it Vitamin G for green) helps a lot.

BTW, what type of Peach tree did you plant and can you give a good local source?

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

I know you didn't ask for advice, but I feel compelled- when feeling overwhelmed with a large space and many "wants" on the list it sometimes helps to divide your area up into smaller spaces according to what the areas will generally be (orchard fruits go over there, big flower bed over here, etc...), then focus on the smaller area in thinking out the details. Take it one smaller area at a time, mentally block out the rest in the meantime. But remember, a garden continually grows with the gardener, so things can be moved and changed as you see fit as time goes on. Putting it on paper can be of help in working out where you would like things to be- less digging that way:)
I'm still just taking it as best I can on any particular day. Some days are better than others. I'm still liable for meltdowns and guess I will be for some time to come. Thank you.
I planted a UF Beauty, will be planting Tropic Snow and UFO. Great source is www.justfruitsandexotics.com they're up on the curve going into the panhandle. She'll ship your trees. Brandy Cowley-Gilbert owns it and really takes care of her plants. Tell her I sent you and I say "Hi".

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

I love Just Fruits and Exotics planing to take another trip over there to pick up some more plum trees and any thing else that I like. LOL

Spring Hill, FL(Zone 9a)

Tell Brandy I say "Hi!"

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Will do if I remember, will not be going until it cools down some.

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

If you need to landscape a yard with shade, we have a surplus of cast iron plant.


These are in one gallon pots and begging to be planted in someones yard.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

I can relate to the unpacking dilema. We downsized and I have the opposite problem you do. I had 3 pantries/storage closets in my old kitchen and just 1 pantry here. It's still a mess and I routinely get in & rearrange everything to make it more "user friendly". But, I don't think there are any "pantry police" so just get brave & unpack.

I agree that breaking your yard into manageable chunks is the way to go. I got a decent looking garden going in the front yard this spring and now just stare at the almost empty back yard. A few frees & weeds. I'm working on my Fall Plan for the area down the left fence line. I've had good luck with Canas and believe they will be a nice back drop. And my cousin wants to thin hers this Fall - even better - a free source!!!!
I also have quite a few plants in 5 gallon pots (old buckets) so that I can move them around & see where they appear to be happiest.

I love the Lowe's 75% off plants. Then I don't feel as guilty if they don't do well.

I've found that the Southern Lawn Weed killer does indeed kill the weeds. I'll go see if I can find them on the link provided.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

Would be nice if they posted pics of the weeds....................................

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