Newbie Gone Wild

pabrocb(Sarasota/Cape Cod)November 22, 2011

In the past three winters, I've torn out, replanted, and have had some success and some failures.

I would like some help. I'm seasonal, live in Sarasota from Oct. 1st to May 1st, but fly down once a month in the summer to see my mother.

"Right plant, right place" is something I missed. I think my biggest problem is planting cape honeysuckle in a place it likes too much. I need to cut it way back or move it, but the bees are having a party. There is also a plant in the back that I put in and it's taking over the yard. Again, butterflies love it, so I'll won't cut it back until it stops blooming. Here it is:

In the front yard, the colors are fun, but the Cape Honeysuckle is taking over. I wanted the citrus trees to make a "second story".

I don't know what's going to happen to the sweet potato vine. It's not as lush as it was. It did protect some plants that can't handle the western exposure out front:

Along the side of the house, under some trees, I've planted Bromeliads. Only problem is the tree constantly drops leaves into the cups. I love that banana.:

Back of property, along fence and pool cage. I changed this all around after last year's frost. I was so mad. I didn't want to look at dead vegetation.

This is just fun. The ginormous orchid cactus in the big oak on the corner has yellow flowers that bloom at night, I've only seen them bloom in October and early November.

And some shots of "the farm":

Carol B. in Sarasota

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You said you wanted help, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why!!! Your plants look great, the design is good, color choices are fine, etc etc. Just keep doing what you're doing.
A couple of things....obviously, all of us lose plants due to cold, heat, drought or just bad luck. It happens and it's frustrating, but then again, we get to out and buy replacements!
Those big plants are porterweeds - it looks like you have both pink and blue? I have them too and they get huge and scraggly but to me, it's worth if for the butterflies.I think they look just fine where you have them.
I gave up on sweet potato - they do well for a year and then decline until you cut them down. I replaced mine with asiatic jasmine, which is slow to grow but eventually will cover a big area..
Your bromileads are beautiful - I am a big fan and have lots of them around. Yes, they hold leaves, but the leaves will eventually decay and help feed the plants. Or you can get your blower out if it really bothers you!
I love your cape honeysuckle.
I would love to have you visit my garden (in the Meadows) anytime and you should also visit Anna's . You would get loads of ideas from her, not so much from me as my space is limited.
Thanks for posting the pics - and, again, it all looks pretty darn good to me (especially given that you are gone all summer).

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 4:11PM
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Hey, you're not a newbie anymore. You've graduated. These last few winters have been challenging, so I understand your frustration. I'm pretty impressed you've managed to keep all that up being a seasonal resident. The big blue plant you mentioned is porterweed.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 4:12PM
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nice......! love to see it!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 5:13PM
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pabrocb(Sarasota/Cape Cod)

Thanks for the comments. It's hard to get a good photo of the front yard. I've planted five or six citrus out trees there and I'm afraid the Cape Honeysuckle will just over power them. Is there a good time of year to cut the honeysuckle back, or do they bloom all year long?

When I arrived Oct. 1st there was hardly a bee around. Now we have a bunch and I try to support them here and on Cape Cod.

I'm researching Asiatic Jasmine, thanks.

Hester I'd really love to see your garden and Anna's. I had wanted to see Sylvia's too, but I was in New England the day of her party.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 5:43PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Carol

Very nice looking garden! And I agree with Hester and Amber, there is nothing to fix and it looks great considering you are not there all the time, the farm looks good too, productive and healthy.
I have the asiatic jasmine in some parts in the garden and it is really no care, mine is the variegated, after I bought it I saw one better with some red leaves on it. I also have mimosa as a ground cover and I like it.
Keep up the good work!


    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 6:37PM
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I didn't think Porterweed got that huge!! I'm having second thoughts on where I planted mine now (O_O)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 1:40AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Lots of lovely things in your yard = )

Cape honeysuckle is invasive here as well, there was some taking over the house when we moved in 20 yrs ago - & it was a bear to remove - & there are still vestiges of it that I can't seem to eradicate = (

I have 2 kinds of porterweed & the darker flowered, skinny stemmed 1 can seed itself like crazy. I've been finding clusters of seedlings on the other side of my yard - definitely need to keep on it, or it'll take over, I think! OTOH, the larger, more purplish flowered 1 never seems to put out any viable seeds.

the other carolb

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 10:49AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I used to have a big blue Porter's weed when I lived near Vero Beach, Fl. It was about 3 1/2 feet tall. The zebra butterflies loved it. I have 3 of them now in the greenhouse. I have found seeds up to 8 feet away from the momma plant. They are descendants of one I got from a dear friend that passed away years ago. She was a snow bird also. Your place looks great considering you are gone most of the summer!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 11:45AM
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Randy Ritchie

Wonderful photos! And I absolutely adore that yellow orchid cactus growing in the oak tree! Oh, I could really get into gazing across your gardens, seated in a comfy chair, and sipping a cool libation. LOL!


    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 7:36AM
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Get rid of the cape honeysuckle. Unless you're here all year to control it, it's not worth it.

As for the leaves falling into the bromeliads, that's what's supposed to happen. They decompose and feed the plant. Mine were constantly full of leaves and grew like mad.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Beware the banana plant. It will grow huge and take over. It will kill anything near it. They are difficult to get rid of. I have been thru this. Now, if you like bananas, You will have plenty.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 11:24PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Hi Carol,

I think your garden looks nice. I love the large clump of porterweed as it looks now. I know they tend to get ratty looking in the winter. That might be a good time to do something about it. Your bromeliads and new area around the back look great. I like how you added the variegated ginger to contrast with the green foliage and all the different textures of foliage you used back there. It is really pretty. I also love the combination of the crown of thorns with the foxtail fern. I'd never seen that and I'm going to have to remember it. Veggies look scrumpdelicious! Great job.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 1:12PM
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mary_ruth(9b Space Coast)

Really nice, encourages me (just getting started) in Mid East Florida climate.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 4:50PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Mary Ruth, that was my old neck of the woods. We lived below you in Indian River county for 16 years. I miss the warmer weather and being able to grown tropicals.
I also love the foxtail fern and crown of thorns combo. You inspired me also. I've gotten into a planting rut. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 6:06PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Carol, your place looks GREAT! I'm with everyone else, I don't think you need to change anything....

Did you post about irrigation problems a while back? If so I may have some solutions to your problem of watering while you're away, I'll be posting some pictures this weekend after I finish my second irrigation line.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 8:55AM
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pabrocb(Sarasota/Cape Cod)

Hey TomCath, I love the irrigation system. I thought that Drip Depot had been recommended by someone on here, but may be wrong. It saves me hours and hours. It is true, that I had some problems with Y faucet splitters, the main feed popping off, and little feeds popping off. I only turn it on when I'm home.

But I've now found that we have a faucet in the pool cage that is attached to a well. Who knew? I don't mind setting up the irrigation system to run once a week when I'm not here if it's attached to a well. If there is a failure, town water would get a bit expensive, and people do come in twice a week to check on the house. (I am unwilling to leave the house water on when I go north, even for a weekend. Our house is from the 50's and has fussy plumbing.)

Anna, I am so not worthy. I dream of the amazing plants you have chosen, all the texture and foliage colors. Your gardens are spectacular.

Garf, I guess we newbies are nuts for bananas and tropicals. And some of the bananas that got chopped down last year after the freeze, have indeed come back. The big one in the Bromeliad area was here when we moved to the house. The leaves are so darn beautiful. The others we'll have to see.

Dirty, I'm going to cut back the Cape Honeysuckle as soon as my back recovers. I'll take 1/3 down low so there are still blooms for the bees and the butterflies. It is really in the wrong place for healthy citrus.

Randy, my family are crazy for epiphytes. So finding the orchid cactus was a true gift. Can you believe a landscaper said we should kill it? Next landscaper, please!

Other Carol B and Zacky, the Porterweed is purple. I put in two plants, and have not seen any offspring in two years.

Sylvia, we harvested the kale for Thanksgiving. I tossed it in hot pepper and garlic flavored oil in a very hot wok until it wilted and softened somewhat. Then I put Parmesan cheese, toasted pignoli nuts, and lemon juice on top. I almost felt like Sylvia!

Carol B. in Sarasota with an ice pack. No gardening for a week.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 10:16AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Found this thread after doing a search for Foxtail Fern. I see that your Foxtail Ferns are looking really good and you said that they are in a Western exposure. Do they take lots of full sun without any problem?

Second - WOW! I had no idea Porterweed got that big. Didn't notice it last time I read this thread because I didn't have one then. Now I do. I need to rethink all those cuttings I made. I don't think I'm going to need them. :)

Carol M. in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 1:16PM
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pabrocb(Sarasota/Cape Cod)

I haven't been online for awhile, but I'm bumping this thread because I've been busy tearing out Cape Honeysuckle thinking of dirtygardener73. If only I had listened to her! I do love the way these plants attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, though.

I just have to find a place where it won't be such a bully.

TomCath, a big thank you for my watering wand.

Hello to Hester and Ana.

Carol B. Sarasota

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Hi Carol!
Glad you're back in town...planning to stay for awhile?

And I wish you wouldn't take out the cape looked so nice when I saw it. I just hack mine down once a year . My hummingbird would miss it so...

Hope your garden survived your being away and also that your back is ok.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 3:13PM
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