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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

‘I prefer an eco-friendly, healthy garden’

Published:

CATHY MARTINSON, TAMPA

Q: Describe your garden.

Answer: My garden extends from the side of my house that faces north into the pool cage, which has a waterfall. It is filled with seasonal and perennial plants that are very colorful. I use repurposed items to decorate my garden, such as a baker’s rack, wrought iron chairs and items that can become plant stands. The garden is multi-layered with a mix of plants in the ground and in pots, and a pathway that winds around to the pool cage. It also has mirrors and artwork on the fence to add to the decorative look.

Q: How long have you been gardening?

Answer: For 35 years. I started in my early 20s in the first house that I lived in as a young adult.

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

Answer: My parents. I have wonderful memories of watching and sometimes helping them tend to their gardens. Their plants were so special to them that every time we moved, they moved the plants to the new house. I also have friends who enjoy gardening as much as I do, and we share ideas and experiences.

Q: What are your go-to plants?

Answer: Coleus, pentas, succulents and ginger plants, because they do so well in our climate.

Q: What was your biggest gardening mistake?

Answer: When I first moved here from the North, I had to learn what plants would grow well in Florida. Just because they are sold at a local garden center does not mean that they are meant to thrive in the Florida climate. Another mistake I made was planting Mexican petunias in the ground and not in a pot — they were so invasive and spread more than I preferred.

Q: What are some challenges you face?

Answer: Controlling pests, especially since I do not use pesticides or fertilizer. I prefer to have an eco-friendly, healthy garden.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for fellow gardeners?

Answer: Don’t pull that apparent weed too soon — it might really be a plant that you want.

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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