GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2014 show16
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Show #16/3603
Landscape Designs With A Gardener's Touch

Summary of Show

Boca Grande Is A Unique Community

One of the best ways to get the pulse of a community is to talk with the folks who are involved in real estate. Mark Spurgeon has been involved in Boca Grande real estate for some time and tells us about Boca Grande. Boca Grande is a UNIQUE COMMUNITY, he hasn't seen anything like it anywhere. Here they have a great town that offers fantastic fishing, beautiful beaches, an amazing ecosystem and 750,000 acres of Charlotte harbor. It's a pristine environment, nothing he knows compares to it.
For More Information Click here

Native Soil

The NATIVE ISLAND SOILS are mostly shells and sand. Water retention is a big issue, having the correct kind of organic matter and nutrition is a significant challenge. Barrier island gardening is unlike gardening anywhere else, it is a constant battle. No matter how much fertilizer one puts down if the PH is too high the plant cannot use it. The objective is to acidify the soil, in other words, to lower the PH, bring it down and make the plants more comfortable and so they can use the nutrients one applies. Woody does that by amending the soil and using products that incorporate essential minor elements.
For More Information Click here

Testing The PH

There he feels certain the PH will be 7.2-7.5, possibly even higher. That is definitely very alkaline. They TEST THE SOIL in the courtyard with a Kelway soil tester. To use it they 1st clean the plate to get any contamination off, they loosen the soil a little, then insert the probe, pull the soil around the plates for a moment or so. Although there are many different testers Eric likes this type. It is particularly accurate and rugged and is user friendly.
For More Information Click here

Root Pruning The Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea was originally against the wall. Woody felt it important to keep those plants since these plants have been here since the original construction or over 50 years. So they ROOT PRUNED them, dug them loose, lowered them down and temporarily supported them in place so work could proceed on the structure.
For More Information Click here

The Library When Finished

Woody shows us a garden that represents WHAT THE LIBRARY WILL LOOK LIKE when finished. It has a nice mix of plant material. There are several varieties of cordyline, varieties of dracaenas which lend a lot of color to the garden and are very tropical plants. Additionally they will work with different varieties of bromeliads, they are the kind of plant that will flower annually and are colorful even when not in bloom, they are a very useful piece in the landscape and nothing makes a landscape feel more tropical. They provide a nice blend of color and texture.
For More Information Click here

Finding the Right And New Plants

Marie likes her landscapes to have a gardening aspect, not just filled in with green plants. A big part of designing a garden is FINDING THE RIGHT PLANTS and finding new and unusual plants. Marie loves doing that, it's almost a discovery process. She will go to industry conventions where they have displays from the growers and from plant breeders. When there she asks many questions, she really takes the time to go through those shows carefully.
For More Information Click here

Converting the Cul-De-Sac Into A Tropical Masterpiece

Marie walks us through the process of taking a tired, ordinary landscape and CONVERTING IT TO A TROPICAL MASTERPIECE. Plant selection was the key although they did start with some wonderful plants already here. For example native cabbage palm, hearty Indian Hawthorne, ixoras and bougainvillea were originally here so they had a good base from which to start. But they wanted people to know they were in Boca Grande Florida, so they wanted palm trees, they wanted color, they wanted a tropical look.
For More Information Click here

Creating A Visual Focal Point

Eric likes the fact that this design creates a screen. As one is driving down the cul-de-sac you don't even see the 2 homes behind it, thus it provides some privacy, but it also PROVIDES A VISUAL FOCAL POINT at the end of the street. It was hoped that people would slow down and look and it works. People are actually stopping to enjoy the plantings. Marie did a great job of creating multiple layers of interest. There is a nice foundation of green and some silver foliage. And texture.
For More Information Click here

Backside Of The Garden

They next visit the BACKSIDE OF THE GARDEN. Again they had to keep site qualities in mind, the parameters they are working in. A neighbor across the street has some interesting plantings and Marie thought it would be nice to bring in some of what she had planted into this cul-de-sac planting. So she took out the long grass and substituted Jasmine variegated.
For More Information Click here

How To Handle Challenging Spots

GardenSMART viewers are often interested in HOW TO TACKLE THESE CHALLENGING SPOTS, gorilla gardening if you will is getting more popular. What would be Marie's advice for these type spots in the community that are really not tended by anyone? The 1st thing is to be sensitive to the site, do you have water, how big is the area, available sunshine, what kind of soil conditions? Be sensitive to those needs. Accordingly the plant selection will be key to the success of the landscape.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

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

Community Gardens Are Caring Gardens by Bill Dawson

Plant List

 

3603. Landscape Designs With A Gardener's Touch

Transcript of Show

Whether an individual tackling a formerly unloved patch of ground or a whole town pulling together to restore one of its' landmarks, community gardens provide us with inspiration and passion. In this episode GardenSMART visits a Florida town where their passion for gardens is impressive and inspiring.

One of the best ways to get the pulse of a community is to talk with the folks who are involved in real estate. Mark Spurgeon has been involved in Boca Grande real estate for some time and tells us about Boca Grande. Boca Grande is a UNIQUE COMMUNITY, he hasn't seen anything like it anywhere. Here they have a great town that offers fantastic fishing, beautiful beaches, an amazing ecosystem and 750,000 acres of Charlotte harbor. It's a pristine environment, nothing he knows compares to it. The Island was discovered at the turn of the century by wealthy industrialists. They came here for the beach and the fishing. To make things more comfortable they had the resources to develop the infrastructure, much we still see today. There are libraries, community centers, they built a social system, put in the infrastructure, water and safety, they have their own health clinic, etc. It was amazing that they built all these independent entities here on the Island. Importantly today, the torch is being passed and the current residents continue keeping these facilities up, up to date and prosperous. Boca Grande today is still very community oriented. And active, many people when here for the season, then go home to rest.

There are at least 2 wonderful community based projects worthy of note in Boca Grande. The Johann Fust Library is one, it was built in the 50's and is currently undergoing renovation with the goal of making it more appealing to the modern world. The 2nd property is the brainchild of a private individual. Mark thinks that is one of the unique things about Boca Grande, private individuals have the ideas, then the initiative to bring that vision forward. They are not waiting for someone else to create the amenity, they get the idea, the inspiration, then have the resources to move these initiatives forward. It's great to see. Mark has piqued Eric's interest, he's anxious to see more, thus thanks Mark and is off.

Eric next meets Woody Thayer who has decades of gardening experience and a lifetime of stories. We join him on the site of his most recent project to discuss the process, progress and implementation of landscape improvements at the Library. Woody first tells us a little about himself. Woody has been in the horticulture field for 35 years. He began working for the state of Florida at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. The gardens were quite extensive. He has also spent time at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. But for the last 20 years he has worked on Boca Grande, his company is Horticultural Services of Boca Grande. They grow plants, perform garden maintenance, they consult, they design and care for landscape projects. Woody performs a wide range of horticultural services.

He is currently involved with a very interesting project. Eric immediately sees there is a lot going on, we are catching Woody in the early stages of construction. This is a total renovation from the ground up. The Library was built in the 1950's and the gardens were installed at that time. It was just time to make some changes, to make it more usable for the community, to improve the facility. Woody shows us the plans. It will be a much more tropical environment, it will have a lot more going on. This was originally a very simple garden, planting was done differently in the 50's, things were simpler then. This will be more elaborate, therefore will lend itself to many activities. Those activities will range from arts, education, social events, community meetings and conferences, it could even be used as a wedding site. Although it is a challenge, they are embracing it.

The NATIVE ISLAND SOILS are mostly shells and sand. Water retention is a big issue, having the correct kind of organic matter and nutrition is a significant challenge. Barrier island gardening is unlike gardening anywhere else, it is a constant battle. No matter how much fertilizer one puts down if the PH is too high the plant cannot use it. The objective is to acidify the soil, in other words, to lower the PH, bring it down and make the plants more comfortable and so they can use the nutrients one applies. Woody does that by amending the soil and using products that incorporate essential minor elements. Eric was a grower for many years and one very important consideration with every different plant was the correct PH that plant needed to grow. For the most part that was going to be in the 5.2 to 6 ish range. But typically plants wanted to be in the fives to grow. One thing to remember is that when the PH is 7 or higher so many nutrients, especially some of those very important micro-elements are not available. It is really worth the time to take that extra step and determine the PH of your soil. Whether one buys a PH tester or takes a soil sample, then takes that to your extension service where they send it off and have it tested, it's important to know what is going on in the soil.

Woody and Eric go into the courtyard of the Library. This area appears to be in much better condition than the soil outside. Over the years the gardener that previously worked here spent a great deal of time composting and improving the soil in the courtyard, consequently it gives Woody an extra foot up. Woody knows the soil in here will be much better than outside. There he feels certain the PH will be 7.2-7.5, possibly even higher. That is definitely very alkaline. They TEST THE SOIL in the courtyard with a Kelway soil tester. To use it they 1st clean the plate to get any contamination off, they loosen the soil a little, then insert the probe, pull the soil around the plates for a moment or so. Although there are many different testers Eric likes this type. It is particularly accurate and rugged and is user friendly. Many of the older testing units one needed to apply liquid to this and that, whereas with this unit as long as one keeps the plates clean it typically provides an excellent reading. The guys are already noticing the tester starting to move down a little, off of 7 to about 6.6. Although that doesn't seem huge it is always quite an accomplishment to get even as much as a tenth or two out of amending the soil.

Next the guys visit the interior of the courtyard of the library. It looks like it is shaping up to be a pretty incredible space. It will be something when finished, quite elaborate and quite a change from what has been here in the past. It will create a lot of open space with very lush, tropical gardens around the outside edges. This area will serve a multitude of purposes. Originally there was a row of tall trimmed ligustrums, then a hedge row about 4 or 5 feet tall and in the center a large concrete shell fountain. A lot of work has already been done.

Bougainvillea was originally against the wall. Woody felt it important to keep those plants since these plants have been here since the original construction or over 50 years. So they ROOT PRUNED them, dug them loose, lowered them down and temporarily supported them in place so work could proceed on the structure. Then 30 days later when the work was done they pulled them back in place and refastened them to the walls.

There is a beautiful pathway currently being constructed. Some pavers are older. A big effort has been made to recreate the exact look. Thus they have mixed shells with concrete and they do look just like the original pavers. Once the paver forms are removed there will be Zoysia grass placed between the stones.

The large center area will be turf to allow for functions, setting up chairs, tents, whatever should happen to come along. The objective, once again is to make this area more useful for the community. The outside edges will be very lush. The utilities and things of that nature will be concealed with plant material, there will be no more wall surface visible than necessary.

They have managed to hang on to several of the eureka palms as well as some of the scheffleras and of course the bougainvillea espaliered to the walls. It's a great advantage to start off with some old established plants. They provide some nice vertical elements.

Woody shows us a garden that represents WHAT THE LIBRARY WILL LOOK LIKE when finished. It has a nice mix of plant material. There are several varieties of cordyline, varieties of dracaenas which lend a lot of color to the garden and are very tropical plants. Additionally they will work with different varieties of bromeliads, they are the kind of plant that will flower annually and are colorful even when not in bloom, they are a very useful piece in the landscape and nothing makes a landscape feel more tropical. They provide a nice blend of color and texture. As well they will have alocasia and cycads and some small ferns. Some of the ferns are native. They will utilize several other native plants like dwarf coontie, holly ferns, sertomium and silver palmettos.

Our time in this garden has come to an end. Eric thanks Woody. Most of the gardens we visit have been finished for a long time, it was fun seeing one that is being re birthed. Woody invites us back to see the finished product. It does look like it will be spectacular.

Eric next meets Marie Magrath. Marie is a plant enthusiast and has been a professional gardener for nearly 20 years. Marie's father and grandfather initially sparked her interest in horticulture. She went on and earned a bachelor of science degree in ornamental horticulture, then started her business about 20 years ago. Its by-line is "landscape design with a gardeners touch." She pretty much concentrates on residential and private landscape design work.

Marie likes her landscapes to have a gardening aspect, not just filled in with green plants. A big part of designing a garden is FINDING THE RIGHT PLANTS and finding new and unusual plants. Marie loves doing that, it's almost a discovery process. She will go to industry conventions where they have displays from the growers and from plant breeders. When there she asks many questions, she really takes the time to go through those shows carefully. She also goes to horticulture field trials that are available to her and she is on, she thinks, every email list out there. She reads them, sits in front of her computer and does computer searches about plants.

Marie has a very special project that's a little different from much of what she typically does that she wants to show us. This is a fairly nontraditional garden. Her client lives on this street, thus drives down this street everyday as do the other residents in this community. They all had to look at the planting in the middle of the cul-de-sac. It was rather tired looking, it primarily had some cabbage palms and St. Augustine grass. Because of her clients love of plants and because her client wanted to share that love with her neighbors she asked Marie to come down here and help come up with a design that would be pleasing to look at and be a lovely site. Marie has certainly done that but it must have been a fairly difficult place to start gardening because it's encircled by 25 or 30 feet of asphalt and as well is maybe 150 feet off the Gulf, thus getting salt spray and a lot of heat. Definitely a lot of heat, full sun, a challenging site. The plant selection had to be carefully thought through, particularly so because her client wanted to share that lovely plant pallet they have down here and wanted pretty plants.

Marie walks us through the process of taking a tired, ordinary landscape and CONVERTING IT TO A TROPICAL MASTERPIECE. Plant selection was the key although they did start with some wonderful plants already here. For example native cabbage palm, hearty Indian Hawthorne, ixoras and bougainvillea were originally here so they had a good base from which to start. But they wanted people to know they were in Boca Grande Florida, so they wanted palm trees, they wanted color, they wanted a tropical look. Thus they incorporated cycads in addition to the palms and agaves, the whole tropical look. Texture of course is important so it goes from real structured plants down to finely textured ground covers. And they needed color, as people are driving down the street it is important to catch their eye.

Eric likes the fact that this design creates a screen. As one is driving down the cul-de-sac you don't even see the 2 homes behind it, thus it provides some privacy, but it also PROVIDES A VISUAL FOCAL POINT at the end of the street. It was hoped that people would slow down and look and it works. People are actually stopping to enjoy the plantings. Marie did a great job of creating multiple layers of interest. There is a nice foundation of green and some silver foliage. And texture. There is a sizable array of large leaves and some really fine leaves that create a backdrop for the intense color in the foreground. The layers help bring the eye through the landscape from tall to medium to short to very low. And that was a design element Marie was hoping to incorporate.

Eric doesn't notice many annuals in this design, it appears to be mostly perennial plants. Marie feels annuals are a lot of work and for a community garden like this that would just not be a wise choice. So she incorporated a small bed of annuals that gets changed out maybe twice a year at the most.

This garden also has native Florida limestone rocks which add a nice element of design, they really help set off the plants. It's wonderful that they get to use that element.

They next visit the BACKSIDE OF THE GARDEN. Again they had to keep site qualities in mind, the parameters they are working in. A neighbor across the street has some interesting plantings and Marie thought it would be nice to bring in some of what she had planted into this cul-de-sac planting. So she took out the long grass and substituted Jasmine variegated. The tree is a beautiful yellow flowering tree, verawood, that is salt tolerant and provides height. It is cold hearty and drought tolerant and not a fast grower. Again she used Indian Hawthorne, a nice plant that produces flowers and berries and brings in birds. This is a fantastic spot, Marie has done a remarkable job.

GardenSMART viewers are often interested in HOW TO TACKLE THESE CHALLENGING SPOTS, gorilla gardening if you will is getting more popular. What would be Marie's advice for these type spots in the community that are really not tended by anyone? The 1st thing is to be sensitive to the site, do you have water, how big is the area, available sunshine, what kind of soil conditions? Be sensitive to those needs. Accordingly the plant selection will be key to the success of the landscape. Also think about the plants, how will they look in 3-5 years? Rather than using a hundred plants possibly you only will need 25 plants. Also make sure those plants are something you wouldn't mind taking care of, thorny plants, scratchy plants may not be the best choice. All great things to think about when planning a garden for the community.

Eric thanks Marie for spending the day with us, for sharing her passion and this beautiful garden. Marie says the pleasure was hers and welcomes GardenSMART and the audience back anytime.

In this episode we have visited with 2 very talented gardeners that had 2 very different community gardening projects. The lessons both gardens presented can apply no matter where we live. We hope you enjoyed the show as much as we enjoyed producing the show. Join us next week as we GardenSMART.

LINKS:

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

Community Gardens Are Caring Gardens by Bill Dawson

Plant List



   
 
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