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Show #24/4411. Environmentally Friendly Gardening

Summary of Show

Green Aspect Of Construction

They could see that the GREEN ASPECT was going to be a big part of the whole process. This property is a great example of a green or environmentally friendly design. In this home they used materials that were green rated in all aspects, including the landscape. Eric wants to know about some of the biggest advantages to building green.
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Courtyard

The guys next visit the COURTYARD. When Craig arrived work had started on the pool so some structure was forming. But Craig had been here before and there had been no significant attempt at organized landscaping. It was a little of this and a little of that. He was able to reuse some things like larger Travelers Palms, a Phoenix reclinata, which were up against the house and were reused but for the most part because of the native canopy, the environment dictated the direction they needed to go.
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Plant List Plan

Eric wonders what criteria was involved in putting together a PLANT LIST FOR THIS PLAN. Craig weighs in, this landscape has even more determining qualifications. This home has an owner that is here different times of the year. And they want to maximize the effect those textures and colors will have during those specific times. He wants to maximize the effect that textures and colors have working together but the biggest thing is to make sure that he groups things together that require similar amounts of water.
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Talk Plants

Eric is ready to TALK PLANTS. What were some of the selections that worked particularly well. In the courtyard they were able to utilize plants that could be called, tropical. It has arboricola, which has good coloration as far as the leaf, the bougainvillea adds color, wild coffee is here. It is a nice plant, has kind of a shiny leaf, with a bit of waffle. The ixora has a nice, pink blossom.
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Plants At Waters Edge

The next part of the property is very different from the more cloistered, protected courtyard. This area backs up to the EDGE OF THE WATER, we're probably only 30 feet from the breakers. And that creates many environmental challenges, a complete 180 from the other side of the house. The wind, salt, and exposure dries things out much more than the other side, therefore the plant pallet becomes very restrictive. Here they must use material that is native to the front line dune.
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Maintaining A Green Landscape

MAINTAINING A GREEN LANDSCAPE, keeping it looking beautiful is different than a conventional landscape. Because in a green landscape one is concentrating on lower volume as far a irrigation, things stay drier and that reduces a lot of maintenance effort. Regarding pests Craig utilizes an integrated pest management program. Understanding how the environment influences issues with pests is important. And controlling moisture levels is important.
For More Information Click here

 

LINKS:

Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce
Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce|

Boca Grande Real Estate
Boca Grande Real Estate, Inc. | Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals

Randy Porter - McHugh-Porter Builders, Boca Grande

"Growing Your Garden Green" by Anne Moore

Plant List

 

Show #24/4411. Environmentally Friendly Gardening

Transcript of Show

Keeping the environment in mind as we garden is of increasing importance. In this episode GardenSMART visits an exceptional example of a green garden on the Gulf in Florida.

Susan is the founder and publisher of "Make It Better" as well as the owner of this beautiful beach front residence. Susan tells us about the property. It was originally built by Louisa and Frank Crowninshield. Louisa DuPont Crowninshield grew up in Winterthur and was the 1st member of the DuPont family to come to Boca Grande and make their home. This home came to Susan's family in the 1960's when her mother in law bought it. She unfortunately died about 9 years ago. At that time Susan and her husband took it over and decided that it needed to be renovated. And they have made a lot of changes. But they honored what was historically great about the house and renovated it to the highest green standards. It is very environmentally friendly or sustainable, in terms of water use, utilizing native plants, landscaping, etc. Eric wonders how one builds a green landscape, what might one consider when constructing a green landscape? They started with one landscape contractor who had a lot of experience on the Island. They kept pushing him to use native plants, plants that were not water hogs. He just couldn't get it so after 9 months they found Craig Larsen and have been delighted to work with him. He understood what mother nature wanted to work with and how to make it lovely at every level. There is an art and science in designing an environmentally friendly landscape. A lot comes from an in depth understanding of plants. The whole point is putting the right plant in the right place and utilizing plants that are well acclimated to the natural landscape. That is the trick, especially when next to salt water because it is a very challenging environment. And Susan and her family love the finished results. Her favorite story is - Last fall their next door neighbor returned after being away for the season, the neighbor commented that Susan's yard looked so lush and green and wanted to know the secret. That was a ringing endorsement and made it all worthwhile.

Eric next meets Randy Porter, who is a contractor who works specifically on the design, construction and renovation of homes in the historic district in Boca Grande. Eric welcomes Randy and asks how he first became involved in building homes. Randy explains his father in law was a general contractor in Florida and he went to work for him at an early age. He initially got involved in the carpentry aspect of building homes and liked seeing the fruits of his labor every day as a project would come together. Today he has his own firm, which is different from many. His firm is always looking for that edge in building, new technology and products, that sort of thing. They could see that the GREEN ASPECT was going to be a big part of the whole process. This property is a great example of a green or environmentally friendly design. In this home they used materials that were green rated in all aspects, including the landscape. Eric wants to know about some of the biggest advantages to building green. Randy explains that one of the most important green products are the solar panels. They have solar electric, solar pool heating, the windows have special solar treatment, they used a lot of recycled building materials, many of the structural beams were reused or repurposed as were architectural and trim elements in the house. A lot of the trees and landscaping were saved and used in the final design. Water is a big issue on the Island since this is a barrier island water comes from off the island. Thus it is very costly to make the water and pump it to the island. This property had existing cisterns that have been refurbished. They use these to collect rainwater and that is used to water the plants. They have a lot of salt here thus needed drought tolerant plants and that comes into play as far a water conservation. We've found this fascinating. But Eric is ready to dive into the garden, he thanks Randy and is off.

Eric next meets Craig Larsen a horticulturist and landscape contractor who over the years has developed a specialization in xeriscaping and environmentally conscious landscapes. Eric welcomes Craig and asks about his horticultural background. Craig was going to school to become a microbiologist but decided he didn't want to work at a beer factory so developed an interest in plants based on his hobby. He has a degree in horticulture from the University of Florida. He came to the xeriscaping or environmentally area because of a demand from certain clients. He found it particularly satisfying that the conservation of water and sound horticultural practices benefitted the environment and planet and importantly, resulted in lower maintenance. Craig has won awards in the field based on some of the landscapes on Boca Grande. This property is a great example so they get started.

Eric thinks these plants look like they're quite well established and wonders when Craig got involved. The renovation construction ended on the house in 2009 and at that point he was called in to take a look at the existing plan and see what they could modify to better suit the owner's desire for lower maintenance, lower water consumption, no pesticides, little to no fertilizer, that kind of thing.

This is a fairly large site and was quite extensive. The entire process, including some of the hardscape aspects with which they were involved, lasted about 6 months. The initial plan had plant material that didn't fit the bill as far as low maintenance or low water needs. There were even some issues with the Department of Environmental Protection as to what they would accept this close to the water. So Craig came in, modified the plant pallet, resulting in the changes one now sees. Everything has grown in really well in about 4 years. During this time they have done their best to follow the owner's philosophy of never using fertilizer and keeping water consumption as low as possible. The choices of plant material are native and non native and all are drought tolerant. When they have a pest issue, for example, they use things like extracts of carnations, chrysanthemums, or others like that. It's evidently working because everything looks very good.

The guys next visit the COURTYARD. When Craig arrived work had started on the pool so some structure was forming. But Craig had been here before and there had been no significant attempt at organized landscaping. It was a little of this and a little of that. He was able to reuse some things like larger Travelers Palms, a Phoenix reclinata, which were up against the house and were reused but for the most part because of the native canopy, the environment dictated the direction they needed to go. The understory plants, things like older coconuts, cabbage trees, gumbo limbo and sea grape were well suited for this site even though some of those plants may have been part of the clearing. They played into what they were trying to design and accomplish here. Those original plants told them what to reuse because they had survived, even thrived. It's important when looking at a site to look at what has done well at that site, it can be very instructive as to what will grow at that location.

One of the most important components of a great landscape plan is determining where each plant should be placed. There is an art and science involved in making those selections. And with a green landscape that is even more important because the plant pallet is limited in many different ways. Eric wonders what criteria was involved in putting together a PLANT LIST FOR THIS PLAN. Craig weighs in, this landscape has even more determining qualifications. This home has an owner that is here different times of the year. And they want to maximize the effect those textures and colors will have during those specific times. He wants to maximize the effect that textures and colors have working together but the biggest thing is to make sure that he groups things together that require similar amounts of water. He is not using all natives rather integrating natives with material that is often more common. Thus sun exposure and wind exposure all must be considered. Experience and knowledge tells one what will not work but often finding what will work is like chasing your tail. Plus, again, they made selections based on the environment and knowing when the client was going to be here.

Even though there are plants here that don't require significant amounts of water the site is still irrigated. Everything is irrigated but irrigated with a drip irrigation system that utilizes the cisterns as a water source when that water is available. From time to time it does need to be supplemented by some irrigation wells. But controlling the amount and the frequency are the biggest challenges. There is no potable water being used because creating potable water takes energy.

Many green landscapes look more like what we might find in nature. They typically have a kind of wild component about them. But this is beautifully designed, well organized, it's a gorgeous landscape. Eric feels Craig has addressed the environmental aspects but additionally it's an aesthetically beautiful place. Many when thinking natives think it will be boring but by integrating natives with non natives as long as one pays attention to watering requirements and things like integrating texture variation and color variation it can look beautiful. And this landscape looks beautiful.

Eric is ready to TALK PLANTS. What were some of the selections that worked particularly well. In the courtyard they were able to utilize plants that could be called, tropical. It has arboricola, which has good coloration as far as the leaf, the bougainvillea adds color, wild coffee is here. It is a nice plant, has kind of a shiny leaf, with a bit of waffle. The ixora has a nice, pink blossom. Some of the native material like silver and green buttonwood are attractive. The cycads flower, lantana is a native. Again, it's playing a game of mixing the tropicals with natives to create good variation, good interest to the eye but understand that the plants chosen must tolerate lower water values. The courtyard certainly does have a tropical feel, there are a lot of blooming plants that will provide color through out the year. Several of Eric's favorites are the Indian hawthorne and it is in flower right now. There are some sensible ground covers like Asiatic Jasmine, as well as variegated flax which has a really long, linear foliage with gold and small purple flowers. There is a tremendous variety inside this design. And the color doesn't just come from flowers, much comes from leaf color. This garden has visual interest by mixing textures, colors, it makes you want to look more closely, again and again.

The next part of the property is very different from the more cloistered, protected courtyard. This area backs up to the EDGE OF THE WATER, we're probably only 30 feet from the breakers. And that creates many environmental challenges, a complete 180 from the other side of the house. The wind, salt, and exposure dries things out much more than the other side, therefore the plant pallet becomes very restrictive. Here they must use material that is native to the front line dune. When the tide is up and they have really rough seas the sea wall acts as a back splash. The water comes up, the wind blows it almost up to the house so as a result these plants must be able to deal with that kind of salt exposure. Here Craig has used helianthus debilis which is known as dune sunflower. It grows in the 1st line dune situation. As well Craig used tall grasses, sea oats, carissa, natal plum with its dark shiny leaf, white flower and an edible red fruit.

Eric has also notices the turf and knows turf can be a challenge in saline environments. The owner had no desire to make this a country club look so they chose a pasture grass. It covers the ground, stabilizes the ground and as they say - it is what it is and it's green. It creates a very different look from the courtyard but provides a natural feel right up to the waters edge. To try to do something in this area with plant material that's not native to the environment is just a waste of time.

MAINTAINING A GREEN LANDSCAPE, keeping it looking beautiful is different than a conventional landscape. Because in a green landscape one is concentrating on lower volume as far a irrigation, things stay drier and that reduces a lot of maintenance effort. Regarding pests Craig utilizes an integrated pest management program. Understanding how the environment influences issues with pests is important. And controlling moisture levels is important. And they don't have a lot of pest issues. Occasionally they will have a scale issue with the citrus trees, sometimes a white fly issue but there are products on the market that can be utilized. Organic sprays, like dormant oil sprays work well as long as you follow the program. Horticultural soaps, a couple table spoons of Ivory soap in a gallon of water, spray that on a plant and it will do an amazing job on things such as aphids and some of those piercing, sucking insects. But the secret is to be repetitive because it doesn't have any repellent action, it has no real poison to it, it acts as a suffocant and kills the insect by suffocating it. Proper mulching is the key to good weed control. Otherwise they utilize hand weeding. They have tried salt water, kind of works, kind of doesn't, depends on the kind of weed. But proper mulching is the key. By doing that they don't have a real weed infestation problem. Look around at the plants, the exposed areas are covered with mulch therefore there's not the ability for weed seeds to become vibrant and viable and compete with the good plants. By mulching one good, solid mulch application per year, possibly some areas will require more, the mulch goes a long way in controlling weeds. For mulch they use leaf litter and shredded organic mulch which comes from compost places. It is beneficial not only for weed control but additionally recycles nitrogen back into the soil.

Eric thinks these are some great tips and applicable to any style of gardening. Whether a green garden or a conventional garden these tips will work. This is a beautiful. Thanks Craig for sharing your garden knowledge with us and our GardenSMART audience.

 

LINKS:

Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce
Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce|

Boca Grande Real Estate
Boca Grande Real Estate, Inc. | Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals

Randy Porter - McHugh-Porter Builders, Boca Grande

"Growing Your Garden Green" by Anne Moore

Plant List




 
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