Sunday, March 22, 2009

This Time for Sure!

Almost another year has passed.  We (husband Philip and moi Victoria) have been in Florida again for the winter and very soon I must leave this Paradise and go back to my job in Massachusetts.  I actually enjoy getting back to work - There are worse jobs than working at a garden center, and these days those of us who are still employed should certainly feel good about it.

Forget the virtual assistant stuff - Who has time to figure it all out?

Last winter we bought a house down here,  in zone 10 west coastal Florida.   We are about 1/4 of a mile from the Gulf of Mexico and have an acre and a half of land.  It is a challenging gardening environment, sandy and calcitic, nothing I would call soil: 

Not very inspiring, I suppose - But it is to us.  The native plants do fine here, even despite the current drought: Marlberry, Myrsine, wild olive, wild lime (watch those thorns!), wild coffee.  Hmm, there seems to be a theme here...There will be much trial and error, as there always is.  I once had a customer tell me she'd been gardening for years and had never lost a plant.  I theorized that she used only plastic flowers - how else could that be possible?

At this point in our lives we can be here 3 - 4 months a year (D.H. can manage it a for bit longer than I, a benefit of being a professional gardener in a northern clime) so plants we put in must be able to hack it without too much supervision.  Philip has put in irrigation to get new plantings started, we will have a friend turn it off once the warm weather rains begin.  We will plant a minimum of 75% native plants...This brings up the whole "native" issue - Down here, the word refers quite clearly to plants that are at least Florida natives, if not natives to this precise latitude and longitude.  Up north, you will find that native could mean native to New England...or to North America.  And which North America?  pre- or post colonial? and on and on. At any rate, we are conscientious.

We were greatly inspired last week during a tour of several private gardens in the Miami area,
 all designed at least in part by Raymond Jungles, a well-known landscape architect in these parts.  We were even lucky enough to sit with him and his lovely fiance Gina at lunch - enabling us to grill him with just a fraction of the many questions we have as neophyte tropical gardeners.

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