Gardendipity's Florida Friendly Garden in West Central Florida

Welcome to my West Central Florida Garden!

These are my adventures as I try to create a Florida Friendly garden. It's a lot of trial and error, but I'm having fun with the process. Our garden is designed to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and of course our regular Florida birds and wildlife. Thanks for dropping by, I hope you get some ideas for your own garden here!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Front Yard

This is our front yard, where my husband and I are taking advantage of the new Florida Friendly landscaping law.  We are in the process of removing all the grass from our entire yard.  Our goal is to be water-wise, and to extend our hummingbird and butterfly gardens.  In this photo, you can see our new plant bed.  I removed all of this grass and planted mostly new (and tiny!) young plants.  I designed the new bed so that there would be a path that starts at the sidewalk in the center of the yard, passes by the front door walkway, and then flows out into the next door conservation area where there is a retention pond.  For now this path is still (what's left of) grass, but we are going to replace this grass with some kind of water-wise, low-care ground cover that can take low foot traffic.  We are considering the perennial peanut plant, but we are still researching.  (The tiny path inside the bed is a maintenance access path that my husband wanted, when these plants grow up and fill in, it should not show at all - I hope.)

Here is another view from the front door walkway.  It shows the circular pathway a little better, and also the little maintenance path that is located in the middle of the new bed.  We are redoing the entire front yard.  The area where the bird bath is located (to the right, outside of this photo) is essentially completed.  The brand new bed where I removed the grass is mostly done, except for filling in with more plants over time.  We will be adding blue porterweed (or some kind of tall salvia) and pentas to these two gardens very soon.  We also want to complete outlining the new pathway with the varigated spider plants, but we need to buy a lot of them so we are waiting for a good sale.  There is a hummingbird that lives in the oak tree that is right in front of the pond in the center of the photo.  Here are the plants that we planted in this garden, once established these should be pretty drought tolerant and low maintenance, and they all do well in full sun:  we planted three red firecracker plants (hummers love them and so do I), three yellow bush daisies, and three Lion's Tail (leonotis leonutus - another hummer plant) and one milkweed plant (for butterflies and hummers) and four lantana (butterfly plant).  Two of the lantana were transplanted from another part of the yard where they weren't doing very well, and they seem to like their new spot a lot, they are filling in with new tiny leaves.  We also planted some little red salvia annuals as "transitional plants" to help make the bed look a little fuller as it matures and to add some color.

This photo is taken from the pond side of the house.  It shows our blue plumbago hedge that runs between the sidewalk and the road.  It is serves as a natural fence.  When the new plants in the new beds mature they will be about 3 feet tall or so, and that should help make the front yard feel more cozy.  This street gets a lot of fast car traffic, and this blue plumbago hedge adds a little more safety to our yard for the small children (grandchildren and nieces) in our family.

Here's the whole yard from another angle, standing in the driveway.  This bed with the birdbath in it was started last year, and it was half of this size.  This year I expanded it and relocated the birdbath to a new spot where it is centered with the front door of the house.  The two large brown plants in the front are lantana that are coming back from the freeze.  Little green leaves are coming out all along these stems, so I didn't want to cut it back (at least not yet).  Here's what we planted in this bed:  we started with two lantana and a small grouping of oyster plants (the oyster plants used to surround the bird bath, but I've relocated the birdbath to another spot), also we had several rosey-pink pentas that did very well all last year until the freezes.  The pentas appear to be coming back but this is a wait-and-see approach.  The new plants we put in this bed are:  one red firecracker, one yellow bush daisy , one milkweed and seven kalenchoe plants which circle the bird bath.

The garden that is up against the front of the house is a work-in-progress.  That area gets all shade in winter and full sun in summer - we have had many failures with this bed but we are still trying.  We just relocated three small Golden Dewdrop bushes into this bed which we will try to prune into trees once they are established.  Also, I planted a couple of yellow bush daisies and a red firecracker plant.  It will also get some porterweed or salvia and some pentas. 

This is the little garden that is tucked into the nook between the garage wall and the front door.  It is probably my all-time favorite little garden spot.  We have a fountain here with our Louis Philippe antique rose surrouding it on three sides.  There is also a yellow bush daisy here.  This is where I planted the bush morning glory which is new from a cutting and still getting its act together.  The little hummingbird feeder is hanging from a hibiscus tree. We have four matching hibiscus trees total, one on each side of the front door entrance and one on each side of the garage door.  We love the sound of the fountain, the sound of water falling adds so much to the ambiance of a garden.

Well, that is a pretty thorough tour of the front yard gardens, such as they are.  All are works in progress which I have come to realize is the truth about even the most established gardens.  There is still a lot to be done here, but to a gardener, is there anything worse than a finished garden?  I think not, we thrive on the creativity of putting it all together:  imagining how it will look when it's done, and relishing the knowledge that it will never be done, picking out just the right plants, nurturing them along the way, relocating some, cutting back others, and on and on it goes.  Creating a garden is like painting a self-portrait that you know you will never finish, because the image is ever-changing.


  1. That is going to be a beautiful front yard. I love it. I look forward to seeing more pictures as it grows. The curvy paths are really nice and I think the maintenance path is a great idea. I can see why the entry garden is a favorite of yours. That Louis Philippe is gorgeous. You are so right in saying that a gardener never wants to be truly finished with a garden.

  2. Thank you, NanaK. It doesn't look like much now, but we are enjoying watching it grow. All the rain helped a lot, and the plants seem very happy with their location.

    The ground under that maintenance path is hard as concrete, so it is a good footpath and also will help hold the mulch in place. I think the bed will look much nicer when it is obscured by the plants though.

    Thank you for the comment!

  3. Nice blog! I love your fountain garden area by the front door and what you are doing with your water-wise landscaping. My husband and I are close to completing a similar project, having ripped up most of the grass in the back yard. We also have lots of small plants in that area that I'm anxious to see grow! We put down a lot of mulch. Looking forward to photos of your progress!

    It was great to meet you at the Greenfest "Dirt" tent yesterday! Please send me your address so I can mail the hollyhock seeds to you tomorrow. I had them in my purse yesterday!

  4. Thank you, Janna! I've got some large plants in that small area surrounding the fountain. I wasn't sure if that would work, but it turned out great and because the plants are taller, they show up well through the dining room window and makes for a pretty little scene from the inside of the house. And we love to open that window and hear the water fountain inside the house too.

    I am excited to hopefully see some photos of your water-wise landscaping project. I will put some photos of my backyard on this blog soon.

    I e-mailed you my address and I can't WAIT to get the seeds. Thanks, Janna!

  5. You are going to have a wonderful front garden. I'm glad 'they' have allowed the Florida Landscaping Law where you live. Your Louis Philippe is doing wonderful!!! It's an old standby for me. It also roots pretty easy.

    Happy gardening ~ FlowerLady

  6. A maintenance path is a wonderful idea! I have one of brick through my garden, but have seen lovely ones with gravel or mulch. Once your plants grow up, it is a wonderful way to get to them to cut flowers, weed, etc. I have a cottage garden, so I have roses and other flowers that need constant attention and deadheading. Could not live without my paths! Good luck with your endeavor. It will be lovely. I have about 5 Louis Philippes and they grow very well here in St. Pete

  7. I got a link to your garden from Susan at central Florida Gardeners. You look as though you have some lovely plans there - I wish I had thought of the access paths before planting! It will be interesting to see what you use for the paths - I am always looking for new path ideas!

  8. Hi Africanaussie, thank you for your nice comment. How nice of Susan at Central Florida Gardeners to link to me! I will reciprocate. I've been off-line for awhile because my computer crashed and I didn't immediately replace it.

    I decided to remove the small access path, but left the main footpath. I'd love to use Peanut Plant for the foot path, but it would cost way too much money for us to buy enough plants to cover the path. Those peanut plants are expensive! Guess we'll live with the grass for a little while longer. Thanks again for your nice note!

  9. Hi Anonymous! Thanks for your comment. I'd LOVE to install a brick path but our homeowner's association would not permit it I'm sure. The path will have to be planted with something, and grass is the choice for the moment. We planted rye grass to get it greener, but that won't survive past the cold weather I guess. My husband trenched down the middle of the path and installed a drip-irrigation line, which left the path a little mottled at the moment but it's recovering. It I had a full yard of grass, I would install drip irrigation throughout, and not have to worry about watering it anymore!

    Thanks again for your nice comment!

  10. Flowerlady, thanks for you nice posting, I was offline for a while and had to wait to get a new computer. The Louis Philippe is my FAVORITE plant! I have several, and the one in the backyard is at least 10 feet wide and 9 feet tall!

    And "they" did not like it at all, thank goodness the law is on my side.

  11. Yuk! This looks sparse and ugly!!


Please share your thoughts.