By Mary Glazer
In a given year most gardeners in the Gulf Coast states face the typical climate challenges: too hot, too cold, too wet, and too dry. Here in north Florida the 2013 weather event that packed the most punch was an unseasonably late freeze. My one and only ruby-red grapefruit tree, which had been producing 150 grapefruits per season, lost almost all its blossoms. Today, almost nine months later, the result of that freeze is a paltry seven grapefruits to eat this winter.
Luckily I have control over other conditions in my yard. With clipboard in hand it’s always a pleasure to plan for the next year. I like to walk around my landscape and jot down a general survey. I use separate sheets of paper for the front, back, and side yards. On each sheet are three columns: “Maintenance,” “Plants to Move,” and “Things to Buy.”
“Maintenance” could be anything from repairing a broken wind chime to weeding. The “Plants to Move” category has dropped significantly since I started considering the needs of my landscape plants before planting them. Even with years of experience, paying close daily attention to the newbies in my garden is the best method. Landscape plants can take from six months to one year before their roots establish. After that I won’t hesitate to move them if the micro-environment isn’t working. I just try to avoid moving plants during the heat of a Gulf Coast summer. It’s a bit too much stress for a plant.
My third column, “Things to Buy,” is the most enjoyable to fill out, as I walk through my garden and make assessments. Would a couple of large stepping stones leading to the spigot look pleasing and provide a safer surface for me to walk on? Did the ponytail palm outgrow its container so it needs repotting?
I also list things I’ve spotted at the garden center or learned from garden magazines and other gardeners. Then I verify whether a potential new plant is appropriate and works in the space I had in mind, especially for light and watering needs.
With the last of the summer-turned-to-fall weeds removed, new bedding mulch in place, errant limbs trimmed, a new container for the ponytail palm, and some patio pavers, my garden is ready for 2014.
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