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Monday, May 21, 2018
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How Does Your Garden Grow? ‘It’s my nature sanctuary’


Q: Describe your garden.

Answer: My garden is a lush, green oasis of potted plants gone wild. It’s my nature sanctuary in the midst of a crowded, zero-lot-line neighborhood. My yard is long and narrow, barely 10 feet wide, mostly under the canopy of a large oak tree.

Q: How long have you been gardening?

Answer: I’ve always been fascinated by plants and enjoy bringing the outdoors inside with potted plants. I’ve been nurturing my backyard potted plants for 10 to 15 years. For a number of years, I grew vegetables using the “Square Foot Gardening” method (densely and efficiently planted garden beds). It was the perfect method for my small lot.

Q: From whom (or what) have you learned the most as a gardener?

Answer: I enjoy reading gardening magazines, books and watching gardening shows. I love Florida Gardening magazine. It’s the magazine that relates to Florida’s unique conditions and growing seasons. For vegetable gardening, I recommend “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.

Q: What are your go-to plants?

Answer: I’m a big fan of liriope. Its leaves are like a fountain with movement. It always looks healthy without any attention or maintenance. I inherited my mother’s spider plants, and they have flourished, multiplied and provide that pretty variegated, contrasting foliage. I love azaleas for masses of beautiful flowers and an attractive shrub throughout the year.

Q: What was your biggest gardening mistake?

Answer: It was a mistake and waste of money trying to grow grass in the backyard with a dog. It was too narrow to survive the wear and tear from the dog, and I couldn’t use chemicals to maintain it for fear of harming her.

Q: What are some challenges you face in your garden?

Answer: The root system of the large oak tree in my neighbor’s yard makes it nearly impossible to dig a hole for planting. Since I can’t plant in the ground, I plant in pots of various sizes. Filling in the ground around the pots are vining plants like jasmine and philodendron.

Q: What is your best advice for fellow gardeners?

Answer: Don’t hate that oak tree, instead enjoy its shade and plant lush, shade-loving plants under it. Large pots require less frequent watering. Clay pots evaporate water too quickly. The summer rains make the garden work free. I highly recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix. Place a bird bath in your garden!

Have you ever been so proud of your garden that you wished you had some way to show it off? We’re looking for readers’ photos and growing tips for our “How Does Your Garden Grow?” feature in Baylife. It doesn’t matter if you have a small container garden or a long-established landscape; we want to hear about it. Just answer the questions above and email them along with a couple of jpgs of your garden to [email protected] Or mail your answers and photos to Baylife, The Tampa Tribune, 202 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606. Please include a phone number and/or email (not for publication).

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