Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter in the wildflower garden

By Claudia Larsen

Winter is a wonderful time for garden evaluation. Questions to ponder:
  • How did my garden change from spring to fall?
  • How do I envision my garden in all seasons?
  • Is garden maintenance suited to my time and strengths?
  • Do I want my garden larger or smaller?
  • Do I need more plant diversity?
  • Do I want to add more pollinator host and nectar plants?
If your garden is too large:
  • Widen pathways or mulch an area for a garden bench.
  • Convert garden areas by using larger size plants that require less maintenance – there are many native herbaceous or evergreen shrubs to fit a variety of sites.
Look for signs of wildlife in your garden
If your garden is too small: 
  • Add a trellis or an arbor for vines – great vines are passionvine, coral honeysuckle, Carolina jessamine, trumpet vine. 
  •  Use large containers and plant a mixture of grasses and flowers. 
  • Use large hanging baskets to display short or trailing plants. 
  • Add a raised bed: Garden supply stores and Internet retailers carry plastic or metal corner posts that conveniently convert 6- or 8-inch boards into a planting bed.  
 Winter garden jobs
  • Mulch borders and pathways.
  • If you sowed wildflower seeds this fall, be sure and water every seven to 10 days during periods without rain.
  • Check for and control invasive plants. For a primer on Florida invasives, visit www.fleppc.org
  • Observe birds that may forage in your garden on dry seed heads or seeds that have fallen. What flower seeds do they prefer?
  • Check vines for birds nests, and watch the eggs to check their hatching process.  
  • Fix irrigation leaks, and consider changing any overhead irrigation to micro irrigation lines or spray stakes.
  • Buy a 2011 calendar and dedicate it to documenting wildflowers in bloom.
 Thinking about adding plants to the mix? Visit www.afnn.org for a list of what's available from a native nursery near you. For more on wildflower gardening, visit the Foundation’s planting Web page, flawildflowers.org/planting.php.

Claudia Larsen’s wildflower garden is at her Micanopy home, where she grows many Central Florida wildflowers.

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