Friday, November 18, 2011

Muhly Grass-A Fall Showstopper!

Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is blooming right now! If you take a drive around Polk County there is a good chance you will see the gorgeous blooms of this native grass. It is inconspicuous most of the year but it really shines during the fall months. This ornamental grass is drought-tolerant and easy to grow. It will grow about three feet tall and wide and looks best in small groupings or mass plantings. In the fall it sends up pink/purple feathery blooms. Muhly grass is a great addition to any Florida-Friendly landscape.

District Asks Homeowners to "Skip A Week" of Irrigation This Winter

Overwatering in winter can encourage pests and disease

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is reminding residents who irrigate their lawns to “Skip a Week” or more of watering during the cooler months of December, January and February.

According to research by the University of Florida, grass doesn’t need to be watered as often during the cooler months. One-half to three-quarters of an inch of water every 10–14 days is sufficient. In fact, if your lawn has received any significant rainfall, then you can turn
off your irrigation system and operate it manually as needed.

“Overwatering can encourage pests and disease in your lawn,” said Sylvia Durell, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ project manager. “Too much irrigation can also make lawns less able to survive droughts.” Skipping a week of watering is as easy as “off” for residents with irrigation timers. “Turn the timer to ‘off’ for the week that you want to skip, and ‘on’ for the week that you want to water,” said Durell.

You can determine when your grass needs water when:
· Grass blades are folded in half lengthwise on at least one-third of your yard.
· Grass blades appear blue-gray.
· Grass blades do not spring back, leaving footprints on the lawn for several minutes after walking on it.

Watering only every other week at most during the winter will help conserve drinking water supplies that the public needs for critical uses during the dry season. In fact, if everyone skipped one week of irrigation this season, it could save an estimated 1.9 billion gallons of water.

Most of the region experienced a disappointing summer rainy season. In addition to entering the dry season, drier-than-normal conditions are expected to continue through next spring. All
16 counties within the District are under a Phase I water shortage alert.

For additional information about water restrictions and water conservation, please contact your local utility or visit the District’s website at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Decorating Your Home WIth Florida's Nature

It's the time of year to start decorating and creating gifts for the holidays. Did you know that you can make some gorgeous gifts and decorations from natural items found in your yard? Take a look!

Create a festive wreath with palm fibers and found objects such as shells.

A great gift for a friend or neighbor! A candle tied with silver Saw Palmetto and jute.

Use a fallen palm "boot" on your holiday table. Fill with greenery, ornaments and pine cones.

Find a fallen tree branch to create this little reindeer.

Wrap a garden trellis in grapevine and hang Spanish moss, dried seed pods and treats for the birds. Add Christmas lights for a festive touch.

This colorful foliage arrangement was made from Croton and silver Saw Palmetto leaves.

Ginger cones and Coontie Cycad leaves create a show-stopping arrangement perfect for any holiday table!

Use your imagination and find your holiday decorations in your own yard. Look for colorful berries, evergreen vines, dried seed pods and branches to create something beautiful for your home or for a friend.

Thank you to Polk County Master Gardener Molly Griner for allowing me to take photos of her creative works!

Forsythia Sage is Blooming Now!

Forsythia Sage (Salvia madrensis) is a show-stopper in the fall landscape. Its gigantic blooms (up to 12 inches long) cover the large plant and will bloom until frost occurs. This salvia will grow up to six feet tall but will freeze back to the ground each winter. Its drapey form is a complement to many landscape plants. It looks beautiful when combined with ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, and with other flowering plants. Salvias attract butterflies and humming birds so use this plant in your butterfly garden for a big impact. Check your local garden center for the Forsythia Sage!