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Native plants can be the solution for difficult garden location

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Let’s see what we can do with a small, inhospitable plot of land. I have in mind an area in my front yard, about four feet deep tapering to about two feet. It runs north-south, is about seven feet wide and backs up against the house. It’s rocky, gets brutal summer sun and intense rain, including runoff from my roof. In other words, the worst that South Florida weather can throw at it.

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Monsters of the Backyard

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My father taught me to appreciate the natural world of our home garden. The day-to-day of my young life was tied to the cycle of the plants, the animals and yes, even the insects. There was always a lesson to be learned, an eco-adventure to be observed, played with, or tackled head-on.  I grew up, but did not out-grow this adventurous ...

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The Antidesma (Antidesma bunius)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Florida is far from exhausting its list of possible fruit for testing and the antidesma now takes center stage. Dr. David Fairchild, namesake of Tropical Botanic Garden,  first brought the antidesma to Florida in 1900s from one of his expeditions to the Philippines. He intended to bring back a berry than can grow in South Florida to please the new residents coming from north of the United States. It has been over a century and the antidesma still grows in relative obscurity, being kept mainly as an ornamental....

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Botanic misnomers: the name conundrum

Saturday, March 15, 2014

You know that big, beautiful ponytail palm in your yard? It’s not one — a palm, that is.

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Beggar’s needle: an underappreciated Florida wildflower

Monday, March 10, 2014

You probably rip it out of your yard by the handful, but the humble beggar’s needle, Bidens alba, is an important native Florida wildflower, supporting our pollinators and native animals. Consider the attributes of this common “weed” before you curse it from your garden.

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Planting cycads will add spice to garden

Saturday, March 1, 2014

South Florida’s planting season is quickly approaching. I like to go with a theme. Maybe you want to plant a native garden or a butterfly garden. Or maybe you want to try something different.

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Some vanishing native orchids are being resurrected in labs

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Perhaps no other plant provokes such strong emotions as the orchid. People go to great lengths — some legal, some not — to possess them, with often disastrous results for wild populations.

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Learning to love leaf litter

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The health benefits of yard work and gardening are legion: a cardiovascular workout, increased muscle strength, joint flexibility and an improved mood.

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Growing your own chocolate

Saturday, January 18, 2014

We can grow so many unusual plants in our South Florida enclave. Even while most of the country — indeed some of Florida — is frozen, we can grow all but the most tender tropical plants out of doors. But did you ever think of growing your own chocolate? While it won’t produce little foil-covered bars, the Theobroma cacao tree does indeed produce the foundation for chocolate.

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Wild ‘Everglades’ tomato is ideal for South Florida gardens

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I cannot seem to grow a tomato to save my life. After purchasing some heirloom tomato seeds in fall 2013, I carefully sowed them in individual pots and placed them where they should be, receiving warm, morning light, sheltered from the extreme heat of midday.

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