ARDA CURTIS, CARROLLWOOD
Q: Describe your garden.
Answer: This is the garden in our front yard. Our front yard is small and has too many trees to allow grass to grow well. We don’t cut trees, so we needed to find something that would grow and be attractive and low maintenance. We planted native, shade-loving plants and put a small seating area between the garden and the house. It is a pleasant place to spend time in the shade and enjoy our quiet neighborhood.
Q: How long have you been gardening?
Answer: We have been gardening for many years. After moving from Michigan many years ago, we slowly learned the secrets of Florida gardening. We rely on native plants and pay attention to shade and sun-loving plantings.
Q: From whom (or what) have you learned the most as a gardener?
Answer: Most or our gardening knowledge is from trial and error. However, I always read your articles on “What to do this week” and “What to plant this week.” We also visit the USF gardens and the Extension exhibits at fairs and festivals.
Q: What are your go-to plants?
Answer: Ferns and bromeliads were growing well in the front yard, so we just expanded them and gradually filled in with other shade plants found at various vendors. They do well with occasional watering and thrive in the shade. The only area in our front yard that needs mowing is the small area between the street and the sidewalk.
Q: What was your biggest gardening mistake?
Answer: Several years ago we sodded this area with sod that claimed to grow in shaded areas. It did not survive. There was too much shade. So now we gradually add to the plantings and use mulch to surround the area. We have also added a small round fountain that provides relaxing water sounds.
Q: What are some challenges you face in your garden?
Answer: This garden requires very little effort to maintain. Some mulch once in a while and a bit of water when we have gone several days without rain.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for fellow gardeners?
Answer: Read about your plants and plant them where they can thrive. You can also plant what you enjoy and learn as you go. A garden should offer a quiet place to retreat from the noise of the TV or the sound of a phone. Enjoy the outdoors and be proud of what you plant and grow. It should make you happy and be “your place.”
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 Baylife@tampatrib.com. 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).