Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Let's Not Spend Any Money on the Garden

Mr. Meems and I agreed at the start (April 2013 when we bought the new-to-us house) that we probably shouldn't spend any money on the new garden. It made no sense to dump too much energy or cash into a yard that was quite acceptable just like it was. We were looking at it as more of an investment property than like it was our own home. The plan was to resell it as soon as possible. Besides that, I was very preoccupied with plans for renovation ( of both houses), packing to move and actually caring for my own garden. If you missed the story about why we bought the house next door you can catch up on that here.
Trees in the back yard with big gaps for lots of full sun plants.
That said it's important to note that this new yard has really great bones. After all it is as old as my previous garden and has undergone many years of change and evolution. The front yard has wonderfully mature live oaks and a couple of pine trees. The back has different trees. Different from what I've been used to in my old garden. I think I've identified them as Red Bays and Swamp Bays and yes, there are a couple of oaks in the back corner. There are several planting beds throughout the yard. Most are fairly large.

The back yard just before we purchased it... camera pointing west. 

The ones in the back are rather awkwardly shaped and stretch horizontally across at least 2/3rds the width (about 100') of the back yard. One end of the sunniest bed (maybe a 5th of it) had some existing perennials (plumbago, lantana, and Mexican petunia) that were literally covered with that awful (invasive) skunk vine and the rest of the bed was completely empty. Empty. Are you kidding me? Now you tell me. Who in their right mind would expect me to live in a house with a large empty planting bed and leave it that way. Even in a temporary house. I don't think so.
Maybe this will help explain. The back yard just before we purchased it... camera pointing west. 
I didn't do much in this new yard from April 2013 (when we bought the new house) until September 2013 aside from lame attempts at controlling weeds. Sometime last summer (2013) I had the lawn man trim all the existing overgrown-with-weedy-vine plants in that back sunny bed (you can see them in the left side of the photo) to the ground. They were so overgrown with skunk vine that you could barely see or identify the plants. I just thought I'd take my chances. It was a survival test. If it survived I'd work with it. If it didn't ... oh, well.  I was able at that point to start pulling the skunk vine out at the root and then stayed on top of it to eliminate it. Well, at least it is under control finally. We will never be rid of it. The plumbago has been slow to return, but finally looks healthy again. I ripped out the lantana and Mexican petunia even though it keeps trying to come back. I ripped out the dying roses in those awkward brick planters except for one healthy Knockout rose that was planted as a memorial to the previous owner's deceased wife. I've kept it trimmed and fertilized in honor of her.
Same awkward shaped planting bed with photo taken from the side ... camera pointing south. September 2013.
Last September (2013) I started spending a little bit of time in this garden. I decided to plant a few plants in that large, mostly empty bed. In keeping with our decision not to spend money on it, the few things I did plant came from divisions or transplants either from my own garden or some from the new garden. I made stabs here and there at minor improvements to this yard. Really minor. For instance, one of the first changes I made here involved discovering a big batch of chartreuse bromeliads overgrown and hidden under an Azalea shrub in the back.  I pulled them up, separated them and more or less plopped them in some containers (found those hiding in some bushes also) and also spread them around in an empty front bed under a big pine tree.
Indian Hawthorn Standard 'Majestic Beauty' struggled in my garden due to lack of sunshine so I decided to donate them (two) to the new garden. Photo September 2013.
Then gradually I started digging up plants from my garden. There were those that were not getting enough sunshine in my garden like two Indian Hawthorn 'Majestic Beauty' standards and a cuphea (Cigar plant or firecracker plant) I moved to the new garden. The back garden faces east and stays sunny almost all day. Yikes. So-very-different from my previous garden that is mostly shaded by huge oak trees.
Camera pointing south on the second mostly sunny bed that parallels the first one I showed you.
The next step was to move some native ad ornamental Florida-Friendly grasses over to fill in the big center space of both sunny gardens.
20 yards of free mulch delivered in January 2014. It helped toward mulching both yards.
I mulched as I went along from the giant free pile a tree service delivered. Gradually, I added some flowering plants from my own cuttings of Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' and Pentas. The butterflies were following me from my garden to this one and that was inspiring me onward.
The new planting bed I made behind the open deck. Caladium bulbs were given to me also from Classic Caladium.
That's how it all started. We weren't going to spend money on this garden. We physically moved into this house mid-November 2013 but only moved the furniture and what we needed in a temporary home. Ha!

Once January's inspiring cool weather rolled around, I broke with our agreement not to add any new beds and I added ONE. Just one. And it was small. The area around the newly re-built deck was begging for some continuity. You know, for resell purposes. I spent money on some potting soil after the grass was dug out, but the plants I installed were again cuttings or transplants.
This is a current photo of the awkward sunny bed. I've enlarged it to create a better flow. More details on this to come.
The challenge to enhance a garden without spending any money became a motivator. It was fun. I would see a plant when out shopping at a garden center and I'd have to remind myself that I wasn't going to spend any money. It caused me to 'shop the garden'. I looked around at the new garden, thought about what I might need to add that wouldn't cause me or a buyer too much work, then I'd go dig up something from my garden to transplant. Or I'd go dig up a plant like bulbine and separate one plant into 10 for edging. (Example is in the new bed behind the deck photo above.)

It's amazing how fast a garden can change with a little bit of attention. When we signed the contract to sell our original home and garden and stay here on June 1 I went into high-gear to make this garden my own. I'm excited about the progress and about having some sunny areas to play with. I've lots of before and after photos to share in future posts... so stay tuned.

By the way, I just made my first purchases for this garden THIS week. Until now I really didn't spend any money of the garden (except for that one tiny departure I mentioned earlier).

Happy gardening,

Come hang out with me and other gardening friends for daily updates at Hoe and Shovel on Facebook... here's the link:
*** Hoe and Shovel on Facebook  **


  1. What a treat reading about your new gardens! It all looks lovely and will only grow to be more so with time.

    I look forward to reading and seeing more.


  2. Your previous garden has so many wonderful plants to "borrow" from I am not surprised that you could upgrade your new garden without purchasing a whole lot. It will be fun to see what all transpires here.

  3. I can attest to the fact,it's a different world gardening in the sun,compared to shade.So much to learn.Plus it's hotter.But it looks like you have it under control.Can't wait to see it!

  4. It's a whole new world now that your garden has so much sun, huh? I can't wait to see what you've done. Enjoy the ride, Meems!

  5. A stunning garden. And how nice that you had enough plants to move to a happier, snnier location. A lot of work though. I certainly admire the results.

  6. You've already show much more self control than I ever could!

  7. Love that you are "re-purposing" plants from your beloved next-door garden without spending a bunch of money. The new-to-you landscape already bears your design signature. Can't wait to see the ongoing evolution!

  8. It's all growing up pretty rapidly with our summer rains Flower Lady.

    The old garden didn't even miss the plants I took it had so many to choose from. lol

    A very different world in the sunny garden, but I am really enjoying the change.

    I have to time my gardening better to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Other than that I really like having a sunny place to plant plants I've not grown well in the past.

    Finding better homes for some of the plants that were struggling in my old garden was a great feeling. I had no idea when I first moved some of them that they would end up being mine again instead of the potential owner. Now that I am the owner I'm glad I moved them when I did. :-)

    I assume you mean by *not buying new plants? It was easy because I had so many of my own to work with. Now that the initial plantings are finished I've loosened the restraints on my purchasing. :-)

    Firstly, there were so many plants given to me that I just couldn't leave behind. Then there were those that were begging for better sun conditions anyway. It became a fun challenge... especially when I was tempted at the garden center. Thanks to you too for your contributions. I can't wait for my narrow-leaf sunflowers to bloom (and multiply). :-)


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway