The Dirt on St Bernard's Lily

June 21, 2009 by Rick

Penny Carnathan from the Tampa Tribune posted on her Blog, The Dirt, comments and pictures from her recent visit to our farm to view new and current production items. Here is a picture of St. Bernard's Lily that will give you a good look at why I like this plant so much and promoted it to Penny.

St Bernards Lily

Saint Bernard's Lily - Anthericum saundersiae. This grass-like plant has long, narrow leaves that are dark green forming a clump with upright arching leaves. Showy white flowers with yellow stamens are produced throughout the year. Give it well drained soil and it grows to 3 feet. We have found that if you cut it to the ground every other year it sprouts back rejuvenated and to a similar size quickly. Use it as a 'THRILLER' in the center of a large combination planter for a long lived and trouble free focal plant. Mass plantings are very attractive especially when they are flowering heavily. You can check out a beautiful mass planting at The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden that has been in place since the garden was first planted.

Sanford Florida is Florida Friendly

June 21, 2009 by Rick

We recently visited my father in law, Dr Charlie Park, in Historic Sanford. Sanford has a very interesting history. You could easily spend a day driving around Sanford and visiting all the restored 1800 era homes, buildings, waterfront, park, zoo and the museum.  Mayor Linda Kuhn is the driving force behind the efforts in this community and Linda is an enthusiastic gardener. Linda invites you to enjoy the efforts of an inspired community. As you drive around Sanford you will see beautiful plantings of flowers, trees and shrubs and flowering combination baskets hanging from ornate lightposts.

I can highly recommend the Stones Throw Bistro for lunch or dinner in downtown. Fried Green Tomato Crab Cake with White Wine Hollandaise might be the best appetizer I have ever eaten.

Bulbine is a very drought tolerant Florida Friendly Plant and used extensively in the Sanford landscapes. I will get some pictures of the city and how they use Bulbine for a future post.

JellyBurnPlantBulbineFrutescensHalmark  JellyBurnPlant

Jelly Burn Plant - Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark' - Orange Stalked Bulbine, similar to Aloe this plant also contains the same glycoprotiens that ease burns, rashes and itches but this variety blooms year round and is hardy down to 20 degrees. Bulbine is an FNGLA Plant of the Year and favored by gardeners wanting to replace thirsty turf areas with drought tolerant, carefree ground covers. Find it at your local Florida Home Depot.


Real Turf vs. Fake Turf and the Environment

June 18, 2009 by Rick


Have you seen the modern Astroturf? The 2009 version is very nice and can be seen at EPCOT. It feels really good to walk on and you can add a rubber under layer for play areas.

Artificial Turf 1 Artificial Turf 2

Artificial Turf Artificial Turf 4

Artificial Turf 5 Artificial Turf 3

There is an interesting pro and con article at Sustainable Gardening Australia if you think this is appealing to you. In some Florida counties we have Energy from Waste plants where the synthetic turf product will be incinerated 10-25 years after installation rather than land filled which adds to the facts of this article.

Artificial Turf 7 Artificial Turf 6

For more inspiration check out  Felders New Lawn

Tell Us About Your Community Garden

June 15, 2009 by Rick

Seminole Heights Community Garden in Tampa is one of many around the world building stronger communities and sharing ideas and learning together how to garden. Leave us a comment and a link to your community garden so we can share your efforts and accomplishments with other Florida gardeners. Florida Yards and Neighborhoods puts on a rain barrel workshop for Seminole Heights Community Garden members. 


Sarasota county runs 4 community gardens. Here are the addresses and information about joining their community gardens.

UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension
Community Garden Program

Community Garden Benefits
  • Provide you a place to garden even if there is not enough space or soil nearby your home.
  • Improve your family’s health and nutrition.
  • Utilize open space and help improve unsightly neighborhood locations.
  • Promote a sense of community pride and social fellowship by meeting and learning from other gardeners.
  • Reduce food costs by providing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.
  • Provide valuable recreational and therapeutic benefits.
We Provide
  • educational materials and information
  • a garden plot
  • compost and water
  • basic gardening tools
  • demonstrations and instructions to help you start a vegetable garden
  • soil testing and recommendations for soil improvement
  • help with gardening problems
  • guidance on how to harvest and use the vegetables
  • instructions on how to preserve and store garden produce


Think you might want to start a community garden? Here is a link with what you need. Community Garden Toolkit

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

June 9, 2009 by Rick

Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Lee and Palm Beach county citizens should feel good about their leadership in developing Energy-from-Waste (EfW) programs also known as waste-to-energy (WTE). Each Floridian produces 1 ton of recoverable waste per year. That 1 ton of waste is converted to the equivalent of 1 barrel of oil or 1/4 ton of coal. The county government leaders in the 1980's made these plants possible in response to Federal programs requiring recycling and by using the corresponding grants to get them started. The citizen response to curbside recycling and bulk recycling by local farms and businesses have made these programs overwhelmingly successful and models for similar action around the world. We hear about China opening a new dirty coal fired plant every week but what gets little press is they are contracting 130 Energy-from-Waste plants for the future. China is far ahead of the US  with their National Geographic Greendex Score.

With more cooperation from our global, federal, state and county leaders there is plenty of room to displace more coal fired power companies growth with Energy-from-Waste (EfW) programs. Bone up on the facts so you can throw your support behind the right people and the right programs. Florida utilities and coal producers around the country are lobbying hard for more coal fired plants. Check out this climate change update from Al Gore on TED TALKS.


Fact Sheet

Quick facts from Covanta's web site - It All Adds Up

250 million tons of municipal solid waste processed to date is equivalent to:

  • the annual amount of waste landfilled in the U.S.
  • over 30 million garbage trucks full of waste, that if placed end to end, would circle the earth over 4 times.
  • If landfilled, the waste would have buried the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, completely covering the Washington Monument.

Annually, Covanta facilities process:

  • enough MSW to fill 18 Empire State Buildings

250 million tons of greenhouse gases avoided is equivalent to:

  • planting 6 billion trees
  • pulling more than 41 million cars off the road for a year
  • the growth of a forest the size of Minnesota in a year
  • offsetting the use of 49 coal power plants for one year

Annually, Covanta facilities offset:

  • nearly 16 million tons of greenhouse gases

250 million tons of municipal solid waste converted into electricity powers:

  • over 11 million homes for a year

Annually, Covanta processes enough MSW to power:

  • over 1,000,000 homes
  • all the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia and suburbs

In processing 250 million tons of waste, Covanta has recycled over 5 million tons of metal, enough to build 60 Golden Gate bridges.

Annually, Covanta facilities recycle:

  • 360,000 tons of metal, enough to build 275,000 hybrid cars


The Hillsborough County site produces enough electricity to power 100,000 homes. They cleanly burn and convert 12,000 tons of waste per day. Hillsborough County is adding a third incinerator at this site on Faulkinburg Road to greatly increase energy output and further reduce the demand for new coal fired plant expansion.

Categories: Environmental Awareness Education
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Mama Mia - Garlic Extract Controls Garden Pests

June 4, 2009 by Rick

Garlic_cloves clip_image001

When thrip or aphid insects blow in at Riverview Flower Farm we use Alsa once per week, a garlic extract, to control these pests. We add it to irrigation water that is applied to the soil at the top of the pot through our drip irrigation system. It is in a solution of the 8 ounces of water we give each gallon pot on hot sunny days when pests are in the plants. This is absorbed into the plant roots and translocated throughout the plant and flowers and stays active for about a week.

Alsa is a natural crop protection product that relys on the odor and taste compounds derived from garlic. These compounds, effective against harmful insects such as thrips and aphids, are present in garlic and effective when they are correctly dissolved in oil.

When garlic extract is applied, the scent and flavor of your plant changes in such a way that insects no longer find it attractive. The insects become restless and leave their hiding-place. Natural predators are then much more effective in the fight against pests. Preventative use of garlic extract ensures your plant remains in healthier condition. Garlic extract is not 100% effective and no pesticide is but it significantly reduces the use of synthetic Chemicals so there is less impact on the environment.

Garlic extract remains active in the plant for approximately 7 to 10 days. After this active period, the compounds are transformed within the plant which are recycled and used in natural plant metabolism. Thus, weekly doses of garlic extract are recommended when you have thrip or aphid infestations. Garlic extract can be used on any plant, any stage of growth, and cannot be mistakenly over-used. Garlic extract is natural and safe.

Chili thrips are a problem on roses in hot weather. Garlic extract disrupts their destructive feeding tendencies. You will find ready to use garlic extract in stores and online. Homemade garlic extract recipes are easily found with a Google or Bing search. Look for ones that recommend soil drenching for absorption by the plant roots. The trick is to allow the crushed garlic to steep in the oil long enough to release effective levels of odor and taste compounds. Pay attention to their cautions and warnings so you are not destroying beneficial insects or your plants by misuse. You can learn much more reading these books by Jeff Gillman.

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Categories: Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education
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The Orange for Every Garden

May 31, 2009 by Rick

Crossandra 'Orange Marmalade' - Crossandra infundibuliformis is one of the best Florida Friendly Plants to be developed in the last 3 years. It is a reliable perennial in sunny or partially-shaded Florida gardens. It is moderately drought tolerant once established and is insect and disease free. It blooms heavily in all the warm months of the year and a little less in the winter. Protect from hard frost and freeze for best year-to-year performance of these long-lived plants. Orange Marmalade is a sterile hybrid that holds its flower petals for several days longer than the older types or seed produced varieties that have exploding seed pods. Older varieties are also very tender to moderately chilly weather and often show damage when temperatures dip into the 40's. You will easily notice the major performance difference once you try Orange Marmalade. Use it as a 'FILLER' component in a complimentary container design with flowers that are in the blue shades. Go Gators! You should readily find this at The Home Depot stores in the Warm Season.

Image Title 

Orange Marmalade 

 Orange Marmalade Crossandra

Orange Marmalade has been on the market 3 years now and I am begining to see more of this perennial in home gardens as I travel around the state. Tell me if you think it is as great a plant as I do. I would like to share any photos of Orange Marmalade you have. Please leave a comment and I will contact you about posting them.

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Categories: Container Gardening | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Warm Season Gardening
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"Consult the genius of place in all"

May 28, 2009 by Rick

Alexander Pope's 1731 statement is one for the ages. Today gardeners can seek local genius from the U of F's body of Florida research by scientists that seek out and publish facts to make us successful. As gardeners we benefit from the knowledge of what plant works in what setting. Right Plant - Right Place. The recently updated Vegetable Gardening Guide tells what modern and heirloom varieties of vegetables will work in the part of Florida where you live but just as importantly what dates we need to plant them to ensure a harvest.


If you garden in Florida your genius bookmark should be Solutions for Your Life. There you can easily access the knowledge database from the U of F Cooperative Extension Service and find the right answer to common and not so common problems with your turf, garden, house plants, pets, energy consumption, home economics and much more. The information is local to your county and staffed by a local genius who is just a call or email away and it's FREE.

You will also find your local county extension office is also the office of your local Florida Yards and Neighborhoods coordinator. FYN information is largely based on U of F research and partially funded by the DEP and water management districts to help you decide how to plant the Right Plant in the Right Place the right way to protect our rivers and lakes. Pass along these links to family, friends and neighbors so Florida's environment can improve. Learn what it takes to do your part to protect the environment and you too can become a genius of place.

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Perennial Mania at The Home Depot - Day 5 - Memorial Day

May 24, 2009 by Rick

The WOW price on perennials in the green Florida Friendly Plants containers continues through today Memorial Day, Monday May 25 while supplies last. Tell a friend. Click the Pass it on Florida link at the top of the page. (See store for limits and details). Lantana camara is the most popular flowering perennial in the Deep South. Lantana New Gold is the most popular variety as it blooms heavily and continuously and requires little care after it is properly established. Butterflies frequent these nectar rich flowers which come in a variety of new colors.



Lantana montevedensis - Purple Spreading Lantana


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Categories: Butterfly Garden | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Turf Substitute
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Perennial Mania at The Home Depot - Day 4

May 23, 2009 by Rick

The WOW price on perennials in the green Florida Friendly Plants containers continues until Memorial Day, Monday May 25 while supplies last. Tell a friend. Click the Pass it on Florida link at the top of the page. (See store for limits and details). Purslane - Portulaca oleracea are a favorite warm season tender perennial that are very popular throughout Florida. The new Pazazz series significantly upgrades the flower power. Find them this spring at most of your Florida Home Depots and you will have more flowers that stay open all day. Pazazz Purslane will make a great long lived 'SPILLER' item in combination planters for hot sunny spots. Pazazz Purslane is very forgiving so go on vacation and water it when you return and it will be just fine. Pazazz will be available in the convenient Classic Selection 9 count trays and gallon containers in a variety of colors.

PurslanePazazzPinkGlow PurslanePazazzRoseGlow

PurslanePazazzSalmonGlow PurslanePazazzUltraPink

PurslanePazazzVividYellow PurslaneHybridSamba

PurslaneHybridSambaBicolor PurslaneHybridSambaWhite

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Categories: Container Gardening | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Turf Substitute
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