Annual flowers create bold statements in the landscape. Not only are
the flowers bright and beautiful but they can also compliment other
colors in the garden. This week we visit Cypress Gardens in Winter
Haven Florida. Cypress Gardens is one of the oldest theme parks in the
state of Florida. It is and has been known for its' water skiing events
and entertainment but it is a garden loaded with botanical treasures -
tropical and sub-tropical trees and beautiful annual beds.
Cypress Gardens has been in this location since 1936. It sits on 150
acres and was a botanical garden when it opened. In the 1940's a water
ski show was added and it started to grow. Many famous people have
visited. Ester Williams filmed the movie "Easy to Love" here, it was
based on Cypress Gardens and refers to the Gardens many times. Johnny
Carson, Carol Burnett and Elvis have skied here. Big names are
returning, The Smothers Brothers, Lonestar and Travis Tritt are a few
of the recent entertainment acts. But the gardens are still the reason
for the parks existence. Glenn McKelvie and Onesource are the people
responsible for these stunning grounds.
Glenn is the landscape supervisor and has some beautiful annual flower
gardens. The first is an island border, it seems to just float in the
sea of grass that surrounds it. It starts at the top of a hill and
floats down to Lake Eloise, like a little island bed. He has utilized
different Salvias, Pansies, Impatiens and Dusty Miller. When these were
planted, Thanksgiving and Christmas, then Valentines Day, were coming
up so red and white seemed natural selections.
It is a good idea, when you have a view of your garden from a distance
use bright colors. Bright colors like Red Salvia, yellows and oranges
draw the eye and they stand out. In a quieter area, in a shadier place
or a place where you see the garden closer use pastels like lavenders
and pinks because those are meant to be viewed close up.
There are also height differences in these beds. Glenn puts the taller
plants in the middle, otherwise if the larger plants were on the
outside they would cover the smaller plants. The bed is a picture and
the smaller flowers on the outside are the frame, you're just framing
the picture. The Dusty Miller, with their silver-white color around the
edge bring out the reds and yellows in the middle of the bed and makes
the bed bolder looking.
We next look at other, more subtle and soothing beds. This bed is
filled with Begonias. Glenn has added pinks into the reds and whites
which tone down the area. The Dianthus does a nice job of reflecting
the reds, whites and pinks. Because this is the topiary area he wanted
a more soothing effect, instead of a bold, in your face look. These are
harmonious colors because they're all the same hue. It has whites,
pinks and reds and are very soothing. Also since this is next to a
pathway people are viewing this bed close up.
The next bed has complimentary colors. It has Violas. In central
Florida this is a cool season crop. Glenn likes Violas better than
Pansies - they don't get as leggy, have a wide variety of colors, the
face of the flower is dainty and they will last until about May in
this climate. Since these colors compliment each other they make a
more dramatic presentation, they're on opposite ends of the color
spectrum. As the weather warms Glenn will be changing this bed, trading
these plants for others. Next he'll plant Coleus, Lantanas, Celosias
and Canna Lilies. Even in Northern areas if you have cool season crops
like Violas and Begonias you can trade them out in June or July once
they start looking stressed. Then put in things like Lantana, Verbena,
warm season crops that like the heat, then come back to the Violas and
Begonias later. With the breeding changes made to Begonias they are
heat tolerant, many will do well in the heat. In Northern areas they
can grow right through July and August.
Now that we've discussed different colors Charlie and Glenn discuss
maintaining these beds, how to plant them, fertilize them and keep them
looking good. This bed has a subtle feel. It has mixed Salvia bordered
by yellow Marigolds. When putting a bed like this together consider how
quickly or how much mass color you want. Glenn separates the plants
8-10 inches from each center. If you want quick color, right off the
bat, put the plants closer together, possibly 6 inches on center, if
more patient or want to save money place them 8-10 inches apart. Glenn
wants a good, rich bedding soil, something that plants can grow in. In
Florida, since they have sandy soils, he needs rich, loose dirt,
something that retains moisture and holds nutrients. Thus he
supplements the soil with cow manure and peat moss, a prepared mixture,
adds several inches to the soil and tills it in. He does this with
every planting. Glenn also uses a slow release fertilizer right before
planting but after tiling and raking. It lasts for about 4 months which
is about the life span of the flower bed. They supplement that every
3-4 weeks with a liquid fertilizer. Watering, particularly in Florida
because it's hot, is important. Glenn likes to keep the soil evenly
moist, not constantly wet. Touch and looks are important. When the
soil is dark it is moist, if it were light that means it has dried out.
If too wet it would be soggy, mushy. Too much water creates fungus
problems and creates root rot. Glenn likes pine bark mulch. He likes
the look, thinks it looks classier, and it lasts a good long period of
time in this climate. He freshens it from time to time to keep the
appearance looking good, by adding another layer or by raking a little
bit from underneath. By adding another layer of dressing it not only
makes it look better but helps in water retention. Since this is an
organic mulch it tends to break down. If in a hot climate, it will
break down faster than in a cooler climate like Wisconsin, for example.
Glenn shows Charlie a bed with Salvias. It has become unsightly, it had
a fungus problem. These plants either have to be pulled or cut back.
They decide to prune. In this situation Glenn cuts down to the base of
the plant, getting rid of the old growth. It will develop new growth
quickly. Cut at an angle allowing water to drip off. This stimulates
the bud and the ones below to start filling out. They will sprout very
quickly especially in warmer weather, similar to new plants from a
garden center. This can be done to most all Annuals, cut them back,
give them a shot of fertilizer, a little water and they'll sprout right
back up. This can extend the life of Annuals by several months.
Glenn has Annuals in some unusual locations. He likes, what he calls,
different props-rocks, different types of wood, etc. These are from
Cypress and Oak trees blown over in the last hurricane. Some had hollow
centers or Glenn made hollow centers, he then cut them into sections
making a natural container. He has used some unusual plants. In one he
used Alternanthera, a low growing plant used in their topiaries.
Included as well are Bromeliads and Maranta, often known as prayer
plant. Many people use these as house plants but since we're in Florida
they will grow outside. In colder regions homeowners could use Begonias
or Pansies or other Annuals. Glenn also used rocks to create a jungle
type look. If a rock has a crevice or indentation, enough to hold a
little potting mix, a plant can be placed there. It must be kept well
watered or a low maintenance plant like a cactus could be used. Use
whatever you have in your landscape to create a beautiful flower
Glenn and Charlie next visit a Banyon tree. It has been thinned out, a
lot of Cypress Gardens seems to have less of a canopy. Three hurricanes
within a month and one half of each other hit Polk county and caused a
lot of destruction last year. They're getting back to normal and as
soon as warm weather hits things will start to flush out, a lot of new
growth will fill in providing a nice backdrop very soon. The Banyon
tree was thinned a little but survived nicely. Glenn has used the tree
and the additional light coming through to plant some unusual plants.
He has Bromeliads popping out from the trunk. Glenn feels it provides a
natural setting where one might find Bromeliads, like a jungle or
tropical place. In crevices of the branches or trunk, or where the
roots come down he has planted Bromeliads. These are typical Bromeliads
that can be purchased at local garden centers in a 4 or 6 inch pot.
Find a nook and cranny between roots fill the space with a little loose
potting soil and peat moss with vermiculite, then pop in the Bromeliad.
Fill in with a little Sphagnum Moss around the base, keep it moist and
you've created a nice lush tropical area. Keep the area around the
plant moist, don't fill the Bromeliad with water because they'll rot.
If on a porch, water around the base. Bromeliads are one of the hottest
trends right now. If in the North use them as a Summer Annual. Put them
in pots, put them on your deck or patio, mix them in with Cactus and it
creates a lush, tropical look. Come September or October bring them
inside, treat them like a houseplant or let them go. Either way you'll
have the enjoyment of having a nice lush feel in a Northern climate or
in the South grow them in their natural environment.
If you have a beautiful Annual flower bed or a formal bed with lawn on
one side you'll want a clean edge between the two. It not only looks
nice but keeps weeds from encroaching into the bed helping reduce
maintenance. There are several ways to create a nice edge to your beds.
You can use a shovel, digging a line bit by bit but that gets hard on
the back. Available materials for edging include, plastic edging and
metal strips and wooden edging pieces. The wooden edges can be linked
together because they come with grooves thus can be made as short or
long as desired. If the soil is loose, simply push these into the soil
by hand. Another, easier way would be to use a power edger. This power
edger is an edger on the back of a string trimmer, is gas powered and
very easy to use.
Angel Trumpet is one of Charlies favorite tropical shrubs. Even in the
North it can be seen in containers. This one is Yellow Angel Trumpet,
Brugsmansia. It makes a nice accent plant in the garden. It can be a
small shrub or a small tree and has very fragrant flowers. It blooms
continuously in the warm summer months in Florida.
Thank you Glenn for showing us around Cypress Gardens. It has been most
Back to Top