Plectranthus Mona Lavender Excels in Florida

April 3, 2010 by Rick

Plectranthus Mona Lavender

In this link on the History of Mona Lavender from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in South Africa you will see all the effort that went into developing this spectacular hybrid. Technically speaking, it is the result of a difficult crossing and selecting from thousands of plants. It was a long and arduous process of hand pollinating, germinating, growing and then selecting the best performers with the best looking plant and flowers. The tricky part was they were using a species that bloomed in the short days of the year – a winter bloomer - and crossing it with a species that bloomed in the long days of the year – a summer bloomer. Well it wasn’t that simple because Roger Jaques made crosses and back crosses many times and others have not been able to duplicate this combining of incompatible species. Florida gardeners are the main beneficiary of all this effort. Turns out Mona Lavender blooms year round here when protected from frost. It acts as a tropical perennial when the top is frosted as it quickly resprouts from the roots when the weather warms.

For this reason it is an ideal candidate the Pot-in-Pot garden. Plectranthus Mona Lavender Pot-in-Pot plantings

It was a joy to have them blooming in my garden all winter. Pot-in-Pot Updated link. On the many nights when we had freezing temperatures I was able to lift the pots and put them in my garage. Mona Lavender is the perfect plant to use in rotations in your Pot-in-Pot in a container gardening since it flushes with flowers so many times throughout the year. Rotate it with another bloomer that fits your scheme when it has too many spent flowers. Pull the pot and pinch it back and in 2-4 weeks you can put it back in your container garden.  Look for Mona Lavender in the VIGORO perennial pots at these Florida Home Depot garden centers.

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Knot Gardens and SausEdge TM

March 30, 2010 by Rick

If you are planning your garden and imagining wonderful gardens you have seen you will enjoy some of the knot garden images in the slideshow below. Perhaps you just want to get a little formal and add and edge to your garden. SausEdgeTM is the perfect choice for a cost effective border that is easy and quick to install and maintain. They are available at these Florida Home Depots. 




See this Knot Garden Pruning Video. 


and the SausEdgeTM video…





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Blue-eyed Grass in Full Bloom

March 26, 2010 by Rick

This Florida native plant is in the Iris family and is so drought tolerant that it thrives along our sunny roadsides, embankments and ditches throughout the state. It survives when submerged in ditches that stay filled with water for months at a time during our rainy season. It will grow in partial shade and spreads by reseeding and can easily be divided. You can also mow it as it survives the DOT mowing it gets just fine.


The heaviest bloom is in the early spring however it does bloom again less spectacularly in the fall.

Blooming is about 4-6 weeks late this year and it is putting on a grand show right now that should last 3-4 more weeks then the wild phlox and native tickseed will put on the next roadside show.

Blue-eyed Grass is available today in these Florida Home Depot garden centers. Try some and I am sure you will enjoy this long lived native wildflower for many years to come.



Use Blue-eyed Grass in place of thirsty turf as it never needs more than rain water to survive. It is well adapted to survive without fertilizer. You can also use it as the primary plant in a wildflower garden and sow phlox, tickseed, blanket flower and milkweed among them. These wildflowers do not require water or fertilizer either but need lots of sun to flower their best. Butterflies will dance happily in your garden when you plant these wildflower combinations.

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Time for a Little Pot-in-Pot Creativity

March 23, 2010 by Rick

If you want to change your annuals in your containers with the season or change them with Easter Lilies and maybe hardy mums in the fall and poinsettias at Christmas try this method.

Reasons to use this method:

  1. where you have container perennials and want to add seasonal annuals
  2. where you have container perennials and want to add holiday poinsettias
  3. where you have container perennials and don’t want disturb the root systems
  4. where you have container perennials and want move them to a different location and change the color theme with a different annual
  5. where you want to save time in refreshing your containers
  6. where you want to add a tender annual before the last frost free date and have the option to lift and protect it
  7. where you need the ability to experiment with color in the design

Here is the link to the earlier Pot-in-Pot for Container Gardening post with more images and ideas.

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Fairchild Tropical Garden in Spring 2009

March 20, 2010 by Rick

There is always something special happening at Fairchild. Last spring I took these images. I always get ideas of how to use Florida Friendly Plants when I visit the gardens. New species and hybrids on display in unique combinations get my design mind in gear. They display plants in colorful arrangements that are interesting to the viewer at all levels. Groundcovers and foreground plants draw your eyes forward and down the path. There is a picture of a new vignette with every few steps you take so don’t go without your camera. I wonder what new plants I will find on my visit at the end of March? Look for them here or plan your own trip.



Go through these Power Points to see some flowering trees at Fairchild Gardens and some new and interesting plants that will be coming to a Florida nursery near you soon.


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Categories: Florida Friendly Landscape | Design | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Butterfly Garden | Succulents
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Florida Friendly Landscaping TM 101 April 24

March 17, 2010 by Rick
This years program moves to The Hillsborough Community College Plant City Campus to accommodate more participants and to see the University of Florida Teaching Gardens. Excellent speakers will answer all your gardening questions. Learn the latest on safe insect control from the Dr. Jim Price and ask him about the Jerry Baker and snake oil formulas that make extravagant claims.
Florida Friendly Landscaping TM 101 Program
8:30 – 9:00 am Registration and refreshments
9:00 – 9:30 am Recent Landscape Regulations - State Bill 2080 (Lynn Barber)
9:30 – 10:15 am Alternative Vegetable Gardening (Dr. Sydney Park Brown)
10:15 – 10:30 am Break
10:30 – 11:15 am Bats and Snakes (Dr. Steve Johnson)
11:15 – 12:00 pm Safe Solutions for Insect management (Dr. Jim Price)
12:00 – 12:15 pm Green Learning – Local Educational Opportunities
(Lynn Barber, Erin Givens & Matt Freedman, Dr. Sydney Park Brown)
12:15 pm Questions & Answers


Last years pictures of the Teaching Garden.


Growing Green- April 24, 2010 Click to see who is going and sign up.

Time:8:30AM Saturday, April 24th

Location:Hillsborough Community College Plant City Campus

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Design | Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Use Contrast to Catch the Eye

March 14, 2010 by Rick

Yellow and Violet like Red and Green and Orange and Blue are Opposites.

Opposites attract attention. You can brighten up your patio, entrance way or garden with interesting  colorful plants.








Paper Daisy




Pentas Dwarf Red

Some plants and things to look for on your next trip to your Florida Home Depot Garden Center where you can find most of these plants and many more today. Also look for the amazing Ray Petunias and Littletunias in the Premium Flowering white  Florida Friendly pots.


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Categories: Design | Design
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The Outdoor Room with Jamie Drury or HGTV

March 11, 2010 by Rick


In this episode of The Outdoor Room Jamie and his team remake this backyard into useful and fun destination for the family. This is one of the best gardening series I have seen and this episode, Edible Garden, is my favorite so far.


The Outdoor Room engages you with the reality TV type conflicts through the design and installation phases and then of course there is the happy ending.

Monrovia Nursery sponsors this great series that kicks up the fun and gives you lots of ideas on how to transform parts of your outdoor spaces into rooms you can enjoy.

Check out Icee Blue Podocarpus from Monrovia Nursery.


This plant has performed well in our Tampa area garden. It is about 9 feet tall now and busting out with new blue growth. The color works well with our bluish native Silver Palmettos.


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Garden Coaching in Florida

March 7, 2010 by Rick

Every day folks come in to shop at their Florida Home Depot Garden Centers and see beautiful flowers and wish they had some one to tell them how to get started. Many people would spend more time in their garden if they had a sense of what works where and why. The plant tags in the containers help but getting it right takes some trial and error. Gardeners of all levels use our Plant Database for details of where to place plants and how big they grow. When you see a neighbors garden flourishing you realize that that gardener has some real insight on how to select and cultivate plants. We call it Right Plant – Right Place to keep it simple as you learn how to select what will thrive and beautify your garden or patio.  If you don’t have time you may want to hire a Garden Designer to come in and draw a plan. purchase, plant and guarantee large and small plants. If you do have time and you want to get good advice and buy a few plants at a time, check out this link to a Florida Garden Coach. As I said, every day gardeners walk into Home Depot expressing a desire for some level of help with their garden.

Right Plant – Right Place color contrast & bright colors for shade


I don’t hesitate to recommend Cynthia. This is what she offers:

Scope of Services
Serving the Tampa Bay Area
813-417-4546~~ Call today to set up your consultation.

There are many reasons to hire a garden coach.
It is my goal to help you achieve the garden you dream of having. Whether it is your landscape, a peaceful sitting area, an entry way, or even a vegetable garden I will work with you to make it a success.

There are many possible and fairly easy steps you can learn to help you overcome the obstacles many gardeners often experience with gardening in Florida.
Think of coaching as having your very own personal, private tutor. As your coach, I will personally teach you best practices and simple techniques for nurturing and enjoying your gardening space you desire.

Engaging me as your 'Florida Garden Coach' and mentor will give you the increased confidence you need to become a better Florida gardener.

Initial Consultation

  • Initial consultation will last between 1 and 1.5 hours.
  • A flat fee applies for up to 1.5 hours.
  • An hourly rate will be applied beyond 1.5 hours.
  • I come to your garden and listen to your thoughts about what you would like to accomplish in your garden.
  • Photos will be taken of the specific area(s) you desire to begin working on.
  • Using the photos and notes I've made,
    I will summarize our meeting and add my design suggestions and ideas and give those to you approximately a week later.

Follow-up Coaching Sessions

  • An hourly rate applies.
  • There is a 2 hour minimum rate for each session.
  • I work with you in each session teaching you as we work together. Each mentoring session will last 2-3 hours. (Possible exceptions could apply for longer sessions.)

Services Available
Cynthia will help you with just about anything you can think of that is garden related. A list of common requests includes:

  • Create focal points for interest in the garden
  • Create gardens specifically to attract butterflies and wildlife
  • Create herb or kitchen gardens
  • Create beautiful, long-lasting container gardens
  • Increase your garden's curb appeal
  • Grow a vegetable garden
  • Assist you with design for specific areas in the garden
  • Starter ideas and fresh design tips
  • Learn what grows well in sun and shade; and when to plant what in our Florida climate
  • Learn how to combine plants with best results for visual appeal
  • Learn best practices for organic gardening  and eco-friendly habits
  • Learn how to compost making the most of your garden waste
  • Low-maintenance gardening and xeriscaping options
  • Specializing in Florida friendly and native plant selections for easy care

Some helpful questions to ask yourself in determining the scope of service which interests you.

  • Would you like to spruce up a focal point in your garden or increase your curb appeal?
  • Would you like to create a butterfly garden or an herb garden but need a little guidance to get you started?
  • Do you enjoy gardening but need some help with design in specific areas in your current garden?
  • Do you have a desire to grow your own vegetables but aren’t sure how?
  • Do you need some starter ideas or fresh design tips?
  • Do you want to learn what grows well in the sun, what thrives in the shade, and what plants in general do well in our Florida climate?
  • Are you looking for a low-maintenance garden but aren't confident which plants will work?
  • Have you thought about incorporating more Florida-friendly or native plants into your landscaping?
  • Do you need some inspiration with designing seasonal plantings or container gardens?
  • Would you like to identify some existing plants and learn what best compliments what you have growing?

Contact me:


Right Plant – Right Place hot colors for sun – low water requiring plants


If you know of other Garden Coaches in Florida that I can recommend please comment below.

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Succulent Success part 3

March 4, 2010 by Rick

Debra Lee Baldwin demonstrates how to make a beautiful container garden with succulents. Watch how she selects the component plants using what Debra Lee says are the most important design features - contrast and repetition. You are sure to enjoy her books Designing with Succulents and her latest book, Succulent Container Gardens. Check out her sites Debra Lee Baldwin and Succulent Chic where you can get information about her books and much more inspiration. Visit Debra Lee’s blog, Gardening Gone Wild, for updates on what she is doing and her thoughts on garden design.



In most Florida Home Depot stores you will find an assortment of succulents and all the materials to begin a creative adventure in succulent gardening. Remember to ensure you have a well drained site and add perlite to your containers for success. Succulents are long lived and they multiply and propagate easily making them the ideal plants to share with friends.

See also Succulent Success part 1 and part 2


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