Thursday, March 26, 2015

Plant List for the 9th Annual Backyard GardenFest & Plant Sale

Spotted! Plants at the Local Garden Centers

It's always nice to spot some of the plants we recommend at the local garden centers.  Here are a few photos I snapped recently.  If you have visited any local nurseries, let me know if they have anything interesting or share in the comments section below.

Blue-Eyed Grass
Home Depot

Sedum Groundcover
Ajuga Groundcover
Home Depot


Breeze Grass
(this is a super tough grass that I never see--grab it!)



Monday, March 23, 2015

Demonstration Garden Feature: SPCA of Polk County

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden at the SPCA of Polk County (5850 Brannen Road in Lakeland) was started in 2011.  The unique feature of this demonstration garden is the fact that the garden is pet-friendly.  Our Master Gardener overseeing the project has paid close attention to the plants being installed in the garden to make sure poisonous plants are not used.  All of the plants are labeled, so if you are looking for pet-friendly options for your yard, visit this garden!  

This garden features micro-irrigation, flowering perennials and hardy shrubs, pervious paving options and faux turf grass for the dogs!  Our newest expansion is currently underway and we expect to have it completely by this summer.  Give us some time to label the plants and update the signage and then plan your visit!  If you are an SPCA customer (or are hunting for a pet), take some extra time to wander through the garden while you are there.  

Informational signage throughout the garden
New garden expansion 

New garden expansion. Master Gardeners working to complete this area soon!
Blue-Eyed Grass is blooming in the garden now!

A lovely spring bloomer!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Demonstration Garden Feature: Mackay Gardens

The Florida-Friendly demonstration garden at Mackay Gardens & Lakeside Preserve in Lake Alfred may be small, but it is a huge success!  This full sun garden is currently being expanded and features a mix of perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses.  There are quite a few Florida native plants featured at this demonstration garden that are not found at others.  Garberia, Agave, Conradina and saltbush grow very well in this garden.  There is no irrigation and both pine bark and melaleuca mulch are used.  A plant list can be found on-site and all the plants are labeled.  This a great little garden that thrives in a sunny, sandy location with very minimal care.  Visit Mackay and the Florida-Friendly garden to get some inspiration for your own garden!  

Next week we will feature the garden at the SPCA in Lakeland.  It is our only garden that features pet-friendly plants!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spring Into Florida-Friendly Landscaping

Spring in central Florida is a welcome sight even though we don’t have the typical winter that other parts of the country endure.  Consistently warm temperatures and budding branches have us ready to work in our yards.  Whether you are tackling a large planting job, or just doing some routine spring maintenance, it is important that you follow the principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.

      What is Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and why is it important?  Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is an integrated approach to landscape design, installation and maintenance.  Following the principles can make creating and maintaining your landscape easier, can save you money, and will help you create both a beautiful and environmentally-friendly yard.  A Florida-Friendly yard prevents erosion and runoff pollution, attracts wildlife and conserves water. 

 If you are doing a spring-time spruce up of your yard, consider adding the following items to your to-do list.  

·    Replenish mulch to 2-3 inches in all mulched beds.  Use a recycled or by-product mulch such as oak leaves, pine straw, pine bark, melaleuca or eucalyptus mulch.
·         Repair and calibrate your sprinkler system.  Turn on your system and check for broken heads, overspray and other problems.  Calibrate your system by measuring how much water you are applying to your yard and make sure your time clock is accurate.
·        As you prune your plants, consider adding the waste to a compost pile instead of piling it by the curb.
·       Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and properly draining onto to the lawn or planting area. 

If you are starting a larger project that involves installing new plants, follow the principle of Right Plant, Right Place.  Right Plant, Right Place emphasizes choosing plants that match the site conditions found in your landscape.  Proper planning can ensure your plants will thrive once they are established.   After you determine the site conditions your new plants will be living in (soil type, sunlight, space) you can select plants to match.  There are so many choices at the nursery so it is helpful to do some research before you go.  Utilize websites such as,, and  The UF/IFAS Extension Service can also help.  We offer landscape planning assistance and educational programs that focus on designing landscapes and selecting plants.  For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, contact us at