Garden Tours: flaflwrgrl, Ann

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Posted by @Sharon on
Welcome to All Things Plants: Garden Tours. Each week we'll take you on a tour of the lovely gardens of one of our members. Join us now as we travel way down south to Florida where Ann will take us through the gardens she has created. You are going to love what you see!

Our home is in Zone 10, southern coastal Florida. We had a traditional yard complete with lots and lots of St. Augustine sod and spent about 15-20 hours per week caring for the grass; mowing, edging, weed eating, fertilizing, watering and treating for chinch bugs. Our water bill ran $90-$96 per month. And I might add that our yard was very small. The property is only 50' x 125'.

In 2007 we began to transform the entire yard into an extreme xeriscape yard. We didn't want one blade of sod grass to remain. We wanted to be kind to the earth as well as ourselves. For the previous 2 years we had been letting the grass die. We refused to water, fertilize or treat for chinch bugs. Believe me, without continual care, under tough drought conditions and abnormal summer temperatures, the high maintenance grass didn't stand a snowball's chance in Hades. With the grass dead, we began by edging both sides of the driveway with decorative pavers and wall blocks; from there we continued on to lay all the stepping stone walkways and to create the raised planter beds with the decorative blocks, one each in the front and rear yards.

Having grown up and living all but a few years of my life in that portion of Florida; I had a good deal of knowledge of the plants which will grow there. I chose the plants with great care. Well aware that the global climate change was going to make winters colder and summers hotter, I had to narrow the field of plants to choose from. I did not want things I had to baby through the winter. Every single plant was carefully scrutinized. If they were going to be in my yard they had to be tough as nails! They had to be capable of taking everything the weather dished out without much help from me. I would give everything 1 year after planting to become established and after that time they would have to survive and look good with little supplemental water other than what mother nature provided. There would be no poisons used against pests or diseases. It wasn't easy to strike old favorites from the list. The tropicals I had grown up with were so much a part of me and I love them dearly. But I was being ruthless -- I had to be.

Before the plants could go in, there had to be mulch and lots of it. Mulch is absolutely essential to conserve water, regulate the soil temperature and keep those pesky weeds from popping up. Since there was to be no grass, mulch would comprise the pathways where there were no stepping stones. We spread a 3-4" thick layer of Eucalyptus chips over the entire yard. It smelled heavenly. The Eucalyptus chips were chosen for a number of reasons. They repel insects, won't float or blow away and because of their large size, they break down more slowly than many mulches.

We finally began to plant. Everything was small and there were lots of bare places waiting for the correct plants to become available or to be located. But gardening teaches patience. The small plants would grow and fill in and I would eventually find the plants I was looking for. I told myself that over and over again.

Since xeriscaping our yard our water bill has never been over $35. Imagine the thousands of gallons of water that have been saved. No longer having any need for the mower, edger or weed eater, we got rid of them. No more air or noise pollution from such. We kept the leaf blower as one can always find a handy use for it. We used to blow dry our Australian Shepherd with it after her baths. That was a sight indeed!


These photos are early on in the planting process. Small plants still have to mature and more plants are to be added.

Front yard Back yard
2011-10-19/Sharon/04219d 2011-10-19/Sharon/964e75

For those who think not having grass will be uncomfortable for their dog:

2011-10-19/Sharon/2430c8 2011-10-19/Sharon/25f998

I promised her we would play when I finished gardening.

2011-10-19/Sharon/6d6c50 2011-10-19/Sharon/b4d062

Strip between the driveway & the privacy wall:


Things are growing & more plants have been added:

2011-10-19/Sharon/aa014a 2011-10-19/Sharon/41c26f
  Back yard
2011-10-19/Sharon/009da5 2011-10-19/Sharon/5ab836

More recently:

Russelia equisetiformis

Dietes bicolor --- the only plant in my yard with a permanent copper marker "Muy Linda" in memory of my dear friend Linda Gendron


Zephyranthes "Libra"
close up and en masse

2011-10-23/Sharon/a59100 2011-10-23/Sharon/08ea3a

Spathoglottis plicata -- various colors

2011-10-23/Sharon/3ede4f 2011-10-23/Sharon/75dc88

2011-10-23/Sharon/e23a0b 2011-10-23/Sharon/8df1e6
 2011-10-23/Sharon/32cc47  2011-10-23/Sharon/931ce6
2011-10-23/Sharon/9951df 2011-10-23/Sharon/327a00
2011-10-23/Sharon/14e515 2011-10-23/Sharon/46226e

Leptospermum scoparium "ballerina" (tea tree)

2011-10-25/Sharon/e57d7a 2011-10-25/Sharon/07c828
2011-10-25/Sharon/33804e 2011-10-25/Sharon/f317a9
2011-10-25/Sharon/393e6c 2011-10-25/Sharon/154a60

Neomarica longifolia (yellow walking iris)

2011-10-25/Sharon/47a0fd 2011-10-25/Sharon/bfe019
Thryallis Odontonema strictum (Firespike)
2011-10-25/Sharon/78409a 2011-10-25/Sharon/60aa66
Senna polyphylla (cassia) Hummingbird on cassia
2011-10-25/Sharon/56d704 2011-10-25/Sharon/f02353
2011-10-26/Sharon/53cbab 2011-10-26/Sharon/592aa9
2011-10-26/Sharon/e3f387 2011-10-26/Sharon/a7cb48
2011-10-26/Sharon/b41f40 2011-10-26/Sharon/5c3600
2011-10-26/Sharon/2d0006 2011-10-26/Sharon/b576b4

Male Painted Bunting on feeder hanging from standard Ligustrum


We have moved to the northern portion of our state to zone 8 and bought 5 acres which we will build a house on. The gardens will occupy the immediate area of the house. Again, I will concentrate on drought tolerant plants. I will be looking toward plants which provide food for birds, bees, and humming birds with a strong emphasis on plants native to the local area. As to the meadows, I'm seeing wildflower meadows where all that pasture grass now grows. Here are a few photos. We have our work cut out for us! A new adventure begins . . .

2011-10-26/Sharon/615a90 2011-10-26/Sharon/5bf95c
2011-10-26/Sharon/e6dfb2 2011-10-26/Sharon/d597b1

Painted bunting "greenie" (immature male or a mature female) in Plumeria with background of Podocarpus gracilior standard

2011-10-26/Sharon/ee0f00 2011-10-26/Sharon/462ce5
2011-10-26/Sharon/750a45 2011-10-26/Sharon/3de96c

Oh my, Ann! How very beautiful. What an amazing tour. And I'm so excited you're starting a second chapter soon. It's going to be beautiful as well.

Thank you so much for sharing your gardens with us. You are leaving them behind for someone else to enjoy, and it's going to be exciting to see what you do with your new home, your new land.

We wish you luck and happiness as you begin a new adventure.


Thanks for joining us, come back again next week as we tour the gardens of another of our members.


Garden Tours is a joint effort by Trish and Sharon.

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Missing Ann so very much by joannakat Aug 15, 2022 9:05 PM 0
So this, too, is Florida? by Aguane Jan 6, 2016 11:54 PM 3
What great plans by ge1836 Nov 14, 2013 6:15 PM 6
WOW! Beautiful by Cassie1943 Nov 7, 2011 1:01 PM 7
Beautiful by Mindy03 Oct 30, 2011 10:34 AM 16
Loved it! by dave Oct 29, 2011 10:46 AM 5

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