We bought our house in May of 1998. The Water Oak that stands as the sentinel in the backyard was there when we moved in. I started the garden journal September 13, 2000. First page in my journal reads “Yard To Do List”, remove weeds, remove ponytail palm, remove oyster plants, remove purple queens, remove arecas, remove ti, remove bromeliads and pot (eek)! Then came the buy/move coonties, plant mimosas, buy more mimosas, plant satin leaf. Oh my, the list kept growing as the list to remove non natives became larger. The following 4 excerpts are from the journal.
I noticed that the first thing I bought from Maple Street were the dune sunflowers. I saw them in a garden tour I went to, the yellow seemed to brighten up the garden. Homeowners on the garden tours told me they were dune sunflowers. I went home, I couldn’t stop thinking of that yellow in my garden, I was hooked on those flowers!
After careful study of most of the natives, I’ve discovered that the plants original locations that I picked sometimes didn’t work out. Fortunately, I was able to move them and found that they were successful in rooting and thriving. It has definitely been a learning experience from the start. To achieve my goal of a certified native plant garden I researched natives that would grow on our beach side plot that needed to be salt tolerant and could sustain periods of drought and wind. There is no irrigation in the yard except for rain barrels.
In our circular driveway, where a non-native (tababouia) tree stood, natives now take over. An Acacia was planted in November of 2015, it grew to 15 feet and in April of this year the trunk cracked at the base and it was unable to be saved. In the spring we have experienced high winds and we believe that and the heavy rainfall caused the damage. Street side is edged with Beach Elder (succulent look and feel) and dune sunflowers of course, in addition to rouge and muhly grass.
Hurricane Matthew took care of the Varnish leaf shrubs, that had been planted in November of 2015 along the front of the house. They were a good 12 feet high and not capable of handling the wind and rain. Although we didn’t completely lose them, we did have to stake them back up. They’re doing quite well now, but they have their buddies, the fiddlewoods to protect them. You talk about a strong bunch of shrubs, they can be used to make fiddles and furniture. Glossy leaves and small white flowers, create a great addition to any garden. The Florida privet hedge stood mighty against the storm, windburned to everyone’s amazement, it had small leaves 5 days later.
We have been a certified native plant yard for a while and proudly display the placards. Florida Friendly Landscape – Gold (UF-IFAS Extension), Lagoon Friendly Lawn (KBB-Keep Brevard Beautiful), and Certified Florida Native Landscape (FNPS – Conradina Chapter).
I would like to thank Maple Street Natives (Drew Dolan) for all his advice on purchasing and placement of natives. Thanks to Sharon Dolan for referring Custom Garden Design by Lois. She’s been a big help with the garden moves and maintenance tasks (especially weeding)! She’s become a good friend.
I pass along the advice that coincides with my grandfathers motto: “Don’t work in the sun when you can work in the shade”. My garden journey has been a long one, requiring patience, market umbrellas, box fans and downright luck at times. See you in the garden October 16th!