Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Can Naturalistic and Tidy Meet in the Middle?
For the past several years it is reasonable to say our garden has been in a major transition.
Oh. So. Gradually. It is evolving away from the traditional Florida residential landscaping. You know the kind. One with lots of lawn grass and a perimeter of shrubs hugging the average sized ranch style home.
Granted we've had large stands of oak trees all along to assist in getting us on the right track with our gardening philosophy. One that sees the ecological importance of creating a space that blends with the natural systems of our area. Now we design with not only a place we love to live in mind but also considering factors like an environmentally safe and life-supporting habitat to wildlife as well as the plants we grow.
Those of you who know me recognize I have a natural bent toward organization and order. Chaos and/or disorder are not traits that work well for me. This need for tidiness inevitably spills over into my gardening style.
It stands to reason that in this conversion from the typical perfectly manicured lawn and sheared hedgerows landscape to a more naturalistic setting I've still tried to maintain order. We've reduced the lawn significantly taking a little more out with each season that passes. In its place structured planting beds have been created. The approach to naturalistic for us is not willy-nilly. There are plans and purposes enlisted. It is about blending a more free-flowing type of garden with composition. After all, we don't live in the woods we are in a residential setting.
In an effort to imitate nature more closely we've combined natives and Florida-Friendly plants placed in the correct place as far as what/where they require to thrive. Every choice makes consideration for what will attract and maintain wildlife and the eco-system we are blessed to nurture in our own little piece of earth. The birds, butterflies and other beneficial insects are welcomed guests as we minimize (and for the most part eliminate) the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Rather than placing the peach tree on its own it is mixed right in with the shrubs and perennials into a planting bed well-amended with organics it requires. It has been underplanted with Agapanthus and Guara and Rosemary resting nearby.
Each planting bed is chocked full of plants designed to blend together in a cohesive way but without looking like carefully placed nursery stock. Even though every plant is carefully chosen and carefully placed. One of the ways tidy has given way to naturalistic is in allowing some plants to sprawl over the borders. But, still, there are borders to delineate spaces which leans toward tidy.
With the use of a large variety of textures, foliage colors from light to dark in every appealing hue, varying heights, clambering vines, and leaf sizes from tiny to enormous the transition has been a labor of love and sheer joy of creativity. Making the most of these elements eases us into the naturalistic appeal we desire to acheive but doesn't forsake the need for tidy.
I guess what it comes down to is that we aren't completely naturalistic and we aren't completely tidy. And, of course, we aren't completely finished.
We haven't given up our tropical plants, we just mix them right in with natives in areas where they don't require any more attention than the rest of the plants chosen for ease of maintenance.
We aren't totally dependent on them so when they freeze back in winter, as has been the case the past two years, it isn't total devastation nor the end of the garden.
The natives are becoming the backbone and the tropicals are the accessories. It's a garden in progress. There are many more ideas swirling around but we feel we've found our happy place where naturalistic meets tidy.