Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is there a career change in the future?

Lately I find myself answering many gardening questions, most friends and family assume that that I am the ultimate authority on gardening (No pressure) The truths is that in all my years of trial and error in the garden, I have acquired some knowledge of what works what does not work in my zone, I am far from a guru on the subject. I consider myself more like a grasshopper learning something new everyday.

A co-worker asked me for help this week; she wants a nice garden in her front yard. The first thing she told me was “I am a killer of plants, I don’t know how to take care of them, I want garden that looks nice and is labor free” (is there such it thing?) she also told me that she is on a strict budget. This is quite a tall order but I couldn’t resist the challenge.

This is my canvas; the house has a western exposure.

The large coral rock will move to the inside courtyard to be the focal point. (The house will get a new coat of paint) I am suggesting stone border around the walkway and replacing the gravel with mulch. Where the coral rock is today I would plant a juniper or sago palm. Under the arch I would put a couple of thriyallis with some silver dragon liriope around it.

The inside courtyard is the main focus of the job, here I am thinking of dwarf ixoras around the wall, the large coral rock in the center and maybe a couple of alocasias around it, different types of liriope grasses and some lantanas for color. On both sides of the walkway I would put Mexican heathers. If the budget permits some garden art would be nice.

On this side I would put Mexican petunias against the wall, and a collection of the same plants from the other side.

For this spot under the tree I am planning on planting several bromeliads from my garden at no cost to the budget.

I am open for suggestions, and remember the three main factors.
1 – Plants must be drought tolerant.
2 - Easy to take care (there will be no gardener on duty)
3 – Economical plants that will fit a tight budget.


Ami said...

When I saw that tree, I also was thinking that Bromeliads would be the perfect fit for that spot. How lucky of your coworker to get you as her landscape designer, even with free bromeliads! LOL

For added color, in addition to the lantana, what about the pentas and vinca? They are all drought tolerant, and care free. Even the vinca is annual, but they last very long and produce lots of free seedlings. The owner can just let them grow for the next round. Zinnia is also the same way. If she is lucky, she might also got lot of butterflies visiting her garden :)

Maybe some succulent plants as well? Such as burbines and sedum. Those are also drought tolerant and basically care free! Bulbines even produce the pretty yellow flowers all year long. I saw homedepot has it for sale right now. I have them in my garden. Love them!

I think a carrer change in the future is on the way for you!

Darla said...

Please post during and after photos. I know you will do an outstanding job. Rosemary is good too.

Rainforest Gardener said...

What a great project to work on! I will say that the variegated liriopes are quite a bit less vigorous than the solid green ones and that they do need more fertilizer and shade to succeed.
Of course, bromeliads are the perfect plant for a drought tolerant garden, and they would look great under that tree.
I would caution against the Mexican Petunias since they spread so fast that they may cause even more work in the form of weeding...
I agree with Ami on the sedum and bulbines... They would be great!
Cordylines like ti plant would be great for some height and excitement in the planting scheme too!
Also, natives like firebush, sea grape, wild coffee and cocoplum are great choices for maintenance free plants down there.

i can't wait to see what you come up with! (no pressure)

Colleen said...

What an exciting project. I agree with replacing the gravel with mulch, as it will break up the hard stone look and highlite the coral rock. Bromeliads under the tree was the first thing I thought of also. Sego Palm to replace coral rock in front; just because, eventually, Juniper will need to be reshaped (labor free.) Cordylines are great idea, I have a few, facing the west; they get a bit frayed in dry season, but they always come back.
During & after pics would be great.
Enjoy your project.

Floridagirl said...

You have done well, Grasshopper! Great choices. Ixoras would be quite perfect, I think. And broms from your own garden are the perfect groundcover for under that tree. However, I'll have to second Ami's suggestion of adding pentas and bulbines. Those are super-tough and great for wild visitors. Along with the lantana, you'd have a great butterfly garden there. That western exposure is probably killer, isn't it?

SiestaSister said...

Hope you keep us posted with pics as the job progresses. I have Mexican Petunias and they must be the sterile variety because they do not spread invasively.

How about a hanging basket from that arch closest to the house, not the one with the walkway. I have staghorns hanging from 2 of the arched in my courtyard. A less expensive suggestion would be a hanging basket of spider plants (have one in the third arch of my courtyard).

The pentas, zinnias and bulbines are great ideas. How about some butterfly weed to get the butterflies started?

marlo said...

Still enjoying your postings:
Sounds like a new job indeed....and a lot of fun.
You have many great ideas...I would stay away from ixoras so close to concrete...they require very acidic soil and can be hit or miss in South florida. The crown of thorns or cactus rose can be added as a bed around your focus plant.
best of luck,

My Little Family: said...

I think some african iris would make a nice foliage statement and add some flowers. While not an inexpensive plant, it can be divided to make more plants.

I love the idea of the broms under the tree area. Maybe your gardening friends can spare a few pups to make it economical.

My Little Family: said...

Oh and for some cleaver and inexpensive garden art ideas, have you visited Cindee's blog? There is a link on my page.

Susan said...

How fun this project is going to be. It's almost a clean slate and the arches are a great architectural feature. You've chosen some terrific maintenance-free plants. I agree with Ami that bromeliads would be a great addition. Please post before and after pics. I can't wait to see your completed handywork. She's a very lucky lady, and who knows, perhaps there will be a career change in your future.

David said...

Howdy from Texas,
I follow your blog and enjoy your posts. I can tell you love plants.
I used to do landscaping for friends and they loved my ideas.
Like you, I've used plants from my own garden. The trouble is...please tell your friend to water at least once a week. My friends would always be shocked and tell me the plants died. I asked, 'Did you water them?' and they would say..uh water?

Besides all the other great ideas suggested (BTW I love bromeliads)
you could also consider Agave desmettiana coupled with some of the bunch type grasses. Both are very hard to kill once established. They would go well with the rocks. Black foot daisy and the 3 colors of angelonia could add some color. We use lots of Rudbeckia 'Indian Summer' in full sun. It blooms all summer and is drought tolerant.
I also love gingers...the toughest are the Alpinias (shell gingers). They can stand neglect. I'd put them around the center bush, then put the nice, colorful bromeliads on the edge. You'll have lots of fun doing this and you probably have so many ideas you'll need to do some more gardens beside this one. :-)
Stop by my garden blog sometime.
All the best!
David at Tropical Texana

FLGardenGuy said...

Caladiums are always a nice maintenance free plant for Florida. There are Greens, reds, pinks and white for both shade or sun. And if you buy the bulbs in bulk from a local grower you can can get them for under a buck a peice. I like