Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Gardening

Gardening Green

It seems simple, plant a garden & your helping the environment. The truth is what you plant will determine how much you will need to water, fertilize & spray for pests. It is important to know how your landscape & gardening practices can have both positive & negative effects on Florida's environment. Below are several sustainable gardening tips you can adopt that will help you conserve & protect our natural resources.
Mulch helps to keep water in the soil rather than evaporating into the air, which will cut down on watering needs. As mulch breaks down, it will provide nutrients to the soil, which can help reduce the need for fertilizing. Make sure you use mulches that are from sustainable forestry practices like Melaleuca Mulch, not Cyprus mulch. Melaleuca or Punk Tree is an invasive tree in Florida.
Reducing Lawn Areas
This is my favorite tip! Lawns require frequent maintenance… mowing, fertilizing & chemicals to kill weeds & pests. Planting native wildflowers, bushes & trees to replace lawn areas will reduce the need to mow. Gas lawnmowers produce greenhouse gases, which contribute to the air pollution that causes global warming. Or better yet add a water garden to replace the lawn area. A pond provides food, water & cover for wildlife & plants. Having native plants in your garden will help you to maintain a healthy, natural ecosystems and reduces your time and labor working on the lawn leaving you more time to enjoy it.!
Xeriscaping is an approach to landscaping that minimizes outdoor watering while maintaining soil integrity through the use of native, drought-tolerant plants. With our current watering restrictions this is the best way to have a beautiful yard without the need for daily watering.
Removing Invasive Plants
When exotic or non-native plants are used, they can upset the delicate balance of a local ecosystem and sometimes will push out native plants to the point of extinction. Wildlife benefit when native plant communities are restored to their natural habitats, providing the best source of food for wildlife. Non-native plants will also require more work than native plants.
Water Conservation
To conserve water you should water, only on your designated day, with a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system. You will have less water evaporation than you would with a sprinkler, and it will provide targeted watering. Also, you should use a timing device with your watering system. Another great way to conserve water is to install a rain barrel that catches rainfall from your roof. The collected water can be used to water your garden.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Win A $16,000 ULTIMATE Backyard Makeover!

No time or money to fix it up?
Getting complaints from the neighbors?

If you’re a homeowner in Manatee or Sarasota County, you could win a complete yard makeover valued at $16,000. Enjoy your very own “backyard getaway” without getting your hands dirty.
We are looking for the ugliest, most bare, uninviting yard!

Contest runs from August 1 through August 31,2009
Winner will be announced September 23, 2009

Sponsored by:
Hosted & organized by:

On August 1st 2009 Log on to
Click on the Ultimate Backyard Makeover for details
To view the 17 + local companies that are participating in this contest visit:

Miss Attitude

Miss Attitude is blogging about our $16000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest.
Check it out at:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Check out the latest issue of Watergardeners e-magazine from Microble-lift. The front cover photo is our home pond. There are several pictures through out the magazine of ponds that were on our pond tour this past may!

We also have a two page feature article in the 2009 Water Gardens from Country Decorating of an above ground pond that Dave created in Sarasota

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Garden like an Eqyptian or an Italian or …

Most people, when looking for inspiration for their water garden, think of Koi & Japanese Gardens. You may be surprised to find that the Japanese were not the first culture to keep water in their garden. In fact there are many very diverse cultures that influence today’s water gardens.
The earliest depictions of a planned water garden actually dates back around 4000 years. Egyptians would plant their gardens inside the walls that surrounded their homes. Ancient records show hieroglyphics & paintings of formal water gardens, rectangular in shape, filled with fish, ducks & lotuses & surrounded by fruit trees, ornamental plants, & date palms. The Lotus was believed to be a symbol of the sun, to them, it represented creation and rebirth because it would close at night & re-open in the day.
One of the seven wonders of the ancient world is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon created by Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife. These formal Persian walled gardens with their pools & irrigation canals symbolized paradise in an otherwise hot & arid climate. There were rooftop & terrace gardens & fountains to cool the area. Water was brought to the top of the artificial mountain from the river below with a system of buckets, pulleys & pumps & men to power the system.
In the hills of northern Italy is the Villa d’ Este palace. This 16th Century garden is dedicated to water features of all sizes. The neatest fountain at the palace is called the Organ fountain. The organ’s pipes which are hidden under the water actually play music. Everything there is turned into a water feature from cement statues to stairs with rivulets. Another 16th Century garden is the Villa Medici which is very similar to the Babylon gardens. Unlike the Persian gardens, the Italian garden is on a hillside making it much easier for the water to flow over the waterfalls.
Many Roman gardens where built in conjunction with the public baths giving them a serene spot to meditate.
Moorish gardens from the 13th to the 16th century in Spain were primarily created with water, fruit trees & shade. The pools with ornate tiles & spouting fountains would be the center piece of the courtyard garden surrounded by shade trees & colorful plantings.
For 2500 years classic Chinese gardens have contained one or more ponds along with pavilions, bridges & bright colored flowers. These peaceful gardens are usually surrounded by white walls with a fancy gate or doorway. The Chinese use four elements in their gardens, water, plants, rocks & architecture, they believe that the garden symbolizes a living organism with the rocks being the bones, the water is the blood & the plants are the dressing. Chinese gardens are meant to bring balance, soothe the spirit & be spiritually uplifting.
Japanese gardens may be famous for their beautiful graceful Koi ponds but they draw inspiration from the Chinese gardens. A Japanese garden is a reflection of a larger natural landscape. Although water is a very important element in Japanese garden along with manicured shrubs, stone & moss it doesn’t necessarily have to be literal, as in a Koi pond, stream & small basin. Water can be simply represented by a dry stream or raked bed of pebbles surrounding a large boulder.
With varying tastes & styles, modern American gardens use elements of historic gardens from all over the world. The gardens of Europe being the biggest influence on North American water gardens. If you ask me a garden isn’t a garden without water.

"Of all the elements, the Sage should take water as his preceptor. Water is yielding but all-conquering. Water extinguishes Fire or, finding itself likely to be defeated, escapes as steam and reforms. Water washes away soft Earth or, when confronted by rocks, seeks a way around. . . It saturates the atmosphere so that Wind dies. Water gives way to obstacles with deceptive humility, for no power can prevent it following its destined course to the sea. Water conquers by yielding; it never attacks but always wins the last battle." (John Blofeld's The Wheel of Life)