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Friday, Aug 01, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

How Does Your Garden Grow?: ‘The deer know when we are out of town’

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NORMA WALKER, CORY LAKE ISLES, NEW TAMPA

Q: Describe your garden.

Answer: The front yard consists of loropetalum, shefflera, confederate jasmine, firebush and snow on the mountain with lots of caladiums, pentas and coleus for color. Palm trees and crape myrtle add to the community’s tropical landscaping theme. The backyard garden has a more natural look, consisting of philodendron, bush daisies, canna lilies, cassia, a weeping willow and a crape myrtle tree. The backyard borders Flatwoods Park and the plants need to be deer resistant. In the side yard, palm trees, crape myrtle trees and philodendron provide a tropical look while serving as a landscaped wall for privacy. Sweet potato plant is used for ground cover bordering an open outdoor patio area beside the pool.

Q: How long have you been gardening?

Answer: I have been interested in gardening for many years and became more serious when I joined the Temple Terrace Garden Club in 2006.

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

Answer: As a member and past president of the Temple Terrace Garden Club, I have learned from master gardeners, getting ideas while traveling and from the landscaping in our community common areas. I have also learned from Garden Club members about what works and what doesn’t work for them.

Q: What are your go-to plants?

Answer: Caladiums, coleus, pentas, bush daisy, canna lily.

Q: What was your biggest gardening mistake?

Answer: Planting plants that are not easy to grow and not planting freeze-resistant plants. The wrong plant in the wrong place never works.

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

Answer: The deer like to prune plants at their discretion in the backyard. The deer know when we are out of town. When we return home, the sweet potato plant, Mexican petunia and other plants have been pruned by the deer. The deer have also been known to venture into the front yard.

Q: What is your best advice to fellow gardeners?

Answer: Planting the right plant in the right place makes gardening easier, along with low-maintenance and high-color plants. Choose plants that tolerate freezing temperatures or bounce back from a freeze. Do not pull out dead plants. Remove the dead foliage instead. Often the plants come back. I cut back a ficus tree that had no signs of life after a bad freeze and watered it for weeks. Finally, it came back and is now more than 12 feet tall. For the environment, choose low-watering plants.

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).

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