Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Looking Good in the Demonstration Gardens?

The gardens at the Extension Service are thriving!  This time of year can be cruel to many landscapes, but our Florida-Friendly Landscape is colorful, lush and looking great.  Visit the gardens to see summer-blooming perennials, butterfly plants (and butterflies), aquatic plants and native wildflowers and shrubs.  Here are some highlights of the gardens:

The bog garden and surrounding areas are in full bloom.
The water lotus, Lobelia and Pentas are looking great!

We have just revamped our palm garden.  Did you know that all the palms we feature are cold-hardy palms?  A great place to get ideas for your newest palm addition! 

Over at the Stuart Center we have installed container gardens.  Each container is watered with micro-irrigation and does well in this hot, sunny area.  Our color containers are amazing! 

The tropical garden features tropical plants that can withstand Polk County's winters.  Get inspiration for your tropical oasis here!

Visit the Florida-Friendly Demonstration Gardens at the UF/IFAS Extension Service, 1702 US Hwy 17/98 South in Bartow.  We also have gardens at the following locations that are looking good and awaiting your visit!

Mackay Gardens & Lakeside Preserve
900 Mackay Blvd., Lake Alfred

Polk Training Center Nursery
111 Creek Rd., Lake Alfred

SPCA of Florida
5850 Brannen Rd., Lakeland

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Extension Centennial Celebration: Summer Lunch & Learn Series

  • 12:15-1:15pm, Friday, June 13
    “Farm to Fork: Connecting with Polk County Farms”
    Location: Visit Central Florida Polk Outpost 27 (Davenport)

  • 12pm-1pm, Wednesday, June 25
    “Vegetable Gardening”
    Location: Polk County Extension office & Master Gardener Tour (Bartow)

  • 12:15pm-1:30pm, Friday, July 11
    “Lifestyles for a Healthy You”
    Location: Auburndale Historic Depot & Historic Baynard House Tour 

  • 12pm-1pm, Wednesday, July 30
    “Getting Outdoors: Connecting to Polk’s Environment”
    Location: Bartow History Center

  • 11:45am-12:45pm, August 6
    “Florida-Friendly Landscaping”
    Location: Winter Haven Garden Center

  • 12:15pm-1:45pm, Tuesday, August 12
    “Livestock & Cattle in Polk”
    Location: Circle Bar B & Cow Camp Tram Tour (Lakeland) 

  • 12:15pm-1:15pm, August 20
    “Raising Leaders and Sustaining Communities”
    Location: Lakeland Main Library at Lake Morton

    *Note: All Lunch & Learn sessions are brown bag style and we welcome you to bring your own lunch!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Functional Lawn Areas

Maintaining a lawn can be a lot of work, but it also can be a necessary part of your landscape.  If you have kids, dogs, or need to maintain lawn for aesthetic reasons, it is important that is it a functional lawn area so that you can keep maintenance to a minimum.
What is a functional lawn? 

A functional lawn is a turf area that is minimal in size, a simple shape, and is easy to maintain.  The shape in important for proper irrigation and mowing practices.  Make sure that you follow the Right Plant, Right Place principle to choose the type of turf that is best suited to your yard.

When maintaining your functional turf area it is important that you follow recommended irrigation practices as well as local watering restrictions.  Make sure you have adequate sprinkler head coverage, are applying the correct amount of water and have a functioning rain-shut off device.  Applying the correct amount of water and mowing at the correct height will directly impact the roots of your turf, making them deeper and more drought-tolerant.  

A lawn can be an important part of the landscape as it is often the best plant choice for play areas, erosion control, stormwater swales and steep embankments.  If you have large areas that are currently turf, consider minimizing that area and converting the rest to landscaped beds or low spreading groundcover.  For suggestions on how to minimize your lawn and create a functional lawn contact the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program.  Also consider the following publications that can assist you with designing your landscape with a functional lawn in mind: