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Friday, Nov 28, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

‘My middle name is Gardner’

Published:

BILL CARR, PLANT CITY

Q: Describe your garden.

Answer: It’s on two-thirds of an acre. A path wanders through the garden, creating the opportunity to make small, special boutique gardens, such as the Bird Lady garden, along the way. Container gardening has received a lot of attention in recent years. On a walk through the garden you will see bromeliads mixed with Florida natives, crotons, gingers, lilies, palms, angel trumpets, desert plants, begonias, bamboo and other grasses, and more. Mass plantings create the opportunity to convey eye-catching color by painting a picture with plants with contrasting colors, textures and design.

Q: How long have you been gardening?

Answer: This garden was started in 1985. Over a 60-year period, different kinds of gardens have been created across the southern United States, from California to Georgia, wherever we lived.

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

Answer: My middle name is Gardner, and my grandmother, Sally, inspired me to enjoy gardening as I marveled at how she rooted azalea cuttings. As a lover of bromeliads and other tropical plants, much of my knowledge came from plant societies such as the Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay, books from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System and now Internet resources.

Q: What are your go-to plants?

Answer: Plants that tolerate high shade that protects them from freezing, such as bromeliads, arboricola, burfordii holly, podocarpus, ferns; for color, crotons, coleus, caladiums; for accents begonias, crinums and more.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your garden?

Answer: Irrigation was solved with exclusive use of drip and mist. Freezing was managed by some freeze cloth and by organizing the garden to take advantage of high shade, and eliminating tender plants or treating them as annuals.

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

Answer: Plan your garden around a path that provides locations for the plants you love. Treat all newcomer plants as if they are in a trial garden and don’t be afraid to move them until you find where they like to grow, as every garden is different. Don’t be afraid to prune; like humans, plants can benefit from a haircut.

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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