Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Grateful Gardener

Christmastime always makes me think of the many blessings in my life. This year, especially, I am grateful for the many friends and colleagues who have helped make my landscape makeover a reality. Gardeners are by nature a generous bunch, and I feel so thankful for the help and encouragement I've received from these special people.

Pam, a retired Extension educator who is now sharing her knowledge and passion for plants as a wonderful gardening coach, gave me two of my three rain barrels from her personal "stock." A good friend, Sue, gave me the third.

Carlos, a colleague, gave me some baby coontie plants that he grew himself, along with a chickasaw plum seedling, all of which are thriving in my yard.  I had no idea Carlos was such a gardener until he read about my yard makeover and offered me the plants. His own yard follows Florida-Friendly landscaping principles and looks great!

Kelli gave me a starter supply of spiderwort and tons of moral support. She is another colleague whose gardening prowess was unknown to me until I started on the yard transformation. Now she and I share  garden gossip all the time. Her yard, too, is a colorful mix of native and Florida-friendly plants -- with a little bit of turf too, that looks terrific.

Vicki, a longtime gardener and Neem Tree farmer,  sent me some neem oil as a "varmint deterrent" when I told her about the possum with the Midnight Munchies who dug up my beloved bed of bulbine. I sprayed the neem mixture all around the bed and it seems to have worked, because I haven't seen any ripped-up bulbine since. Vicki, a sucker for butterflies, has also been known to make emergency deliveries of milkweed to help feed the insatiable monarch caterpillars, who are literally non-stop, milkweed-devouring machines.

Master Gardener Virginia Overstreet gives gardening workshops at my local Seminole Heights Branch Library. Not only is she an incredible resource on all aspects of gardening, she also brings free plants harvested from her own yard to her workshops to give away. The blackberry lilies, crinum lilies and lady slippers in my yard are all gifts from Virginia's garden. She has inspired me to grow a few plants of my own from seed to "pass forward."

When Rick and I embarked on our Bay-Friendly Landscape makeover, I knew it would be an adventure, and it definitely has been that! What I didn't realize is that I joined a continually expanding community of people who are committed to making their own little corner of the world both beautiful and sustainable. I now know that when you create a garden, you plant more than flowers and shrubs. You sow the seeds of friendship. Merry Christmas, everyone, and best wishes for a green New Year!