ARELENE WICH, CLEARWATER
Q: Describe your garden.
Answer: Visitors to our garden claim it is unique, a delight to their eyes. With a creative husband scouting street finds and garage sales, and with our unlimited imagination, plantings become enhanced with bottle trees, glass totem poles and wind chimes of mirror and crystals. Waste is turned into reclaimed objet d’art.
Q: How long have you been gardening?
Answer: I have been gardening a long time, since purchasing my first home back on Long Island, N.Y., in 1956, almost 55 years ago. When my husband and I retired to Florida in 1985, we discovered a whole new world of gardening opportunities and challenges. I have been creating and growing my current garden in Clearwater since 1993.
Q: From whom (or what) have you learned the most as a gardener?
Answer: I learned the most about gardening when I moved to Florida. I found that joining area garden clubs, reading gardening books and newspaper articles, and attending plant sales was a great way to gain knowledge. The IFAS Extension classes, such as the one on collecting rainwater, proved to be instrumental in making my garden grow. I now have five rain barrels.
Q: What are your go-to plants?
Answer: I grow a wide variety of plants, predominantly in containers. At last count I had over 200 potted plants of all types and sizes growing happily throughout the yard. By planting in containers, you can expand your gardening genre and have many go-to plants. Portability is also a must for storms, freezes and seasonal variations in sun and temperature.
Q: What was your biggest gardening mistake?
Answer: My biggest gardening mistake was purchasing plants too exotic or sensitive to the Florida growing conditions. I have had more than a few plants succumb to hard freezes or scorching sun.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face in your garden?
Answer: The biggest challenge to gardening in my yard has been the squirrels that love digging in newly planted containers. Deterrents such as moth balls, crushed red pepper and garlic don’t discourage them one bit.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for fellow gardeners?
Answer: Make your gardening fun. Don’t look at it as yard work, but think of the rewards to come.
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).