Penny’s a Nurture And Hold (NAH): Nah, I won’t pull that out yet, it’s still got a green shoot. She likes dragonflies, lady bugs and new stuff only after weeding, pruning and fertilizing.
Kim’s a Want It Now (WIN): Everything pretty, everything now. She will resort to full-spectrum insecticides in desperate situations, and believes it’s her duty and right to buy new plants every weekend.
Both advocate Plant Choice (SOMEthing besides crotons. Please!), lots of color and low maintenance. We don’t agree on everything, but we’re smart enough to learn from each other - and from you.
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Off to Laura Barber’s garden to steal ideas and anything else we can get our hands on!
Posted May 8, 2011 by Penny Carnathan
Updated Jun 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Kim and I were thrilled to snag an invite to one of Friends of Plant Park’s members-only shindigs last weekend. Their “Conversations in a Garden” is a twice-a-year thing where one member hosts the club for a garden open house. This year, Laura Barber was the victim …. er, hostess. Friends of Plant Park is the group that puts on GreenFest, Kim and I looove GreenFest. Kim and I also loooove all the Lauras associated with GreenFest. (There are many.) So we were very happy to be invited.
This is Laura Barber. She’s as sweet as she looks. The great big vase is full of cut caladiums, which she has only recently learned make great, long-lasting cut “flowers”.
Her tiniest-leafed caladiums made an adorable decoration in the open-faced bathroom medicine cabinet.
On caladiums as cut flowers, here’s what Laura posted yesterday (May 9) on Facebook: “I had two colors (the white ones shown and red ones with green trim). I cut them all on Wednesday, April 27, and I still have two of the four original containers almost two weeks later! The large whites (shown in photo) are still in the best shape; the medium white still look pretty good. The minis, alas, were around only about a week.”
Laura and her husband, Steve, bought their house on Prospect Street (old neighborhood – South Tampa) in 2003. Both house and yard were pretty rundown, so they had to start from scratch. They had some big ficus trees along the rear perimeter of the backyard, but those were lost to hurricanes a few years ago. (Aside: Ficus trees, which get huge, were the most-toppled trees when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami in 1992. If you plant, keep them far from your house!) The Barbers went from shade (and no view of the neighbors) to sun (and opportunity!) The central part of the yard is now a rose garden.
That bench in the back corner they bought from Charleston, S.C., a place they love to visit.
Kim and I had some serious Conversations in the Garden about how we might spirit away Laura’s arbor – a GreenFest purchase a couple years ago. She has Confederate jasmine working its way up the sides. (Good plant choice, but I bet she’ll be sad when it completely covers this beautiful arbor!)
Alas, neither Kim nor I figured out a good way to get away with a heist of this magnitude.
Laura has fountains throughout her yard – to mask the noise from neighbors’ pool pumps and A.C. compressors. It works! But it takes a lot of fountains. This was one of our favorites.
Laura says she bought the owl separately (I never would’ve guessed!) at Bloom Garden Shop in South Tampa, so Kim may have trouble copy-catting. (Yes, she expressed that desire. No, there is NO shame in copy-catting.)
And yard art? She’s as big a sucker as the two of us. We loved the little tree with orchids and art hung like Christmas decorations.
Lest, I forget, there are also lots of plants in the Barbers’ garden, including several raised veggie and herb beds and unusual plants like Dutchman’s pipe and a paw-paw tree purchased specifically to invite particular butterflies.
I loved this Florida native swamp hibiscus. It’s one of my new favorite plants—I have a different variety, which has lots of buds but no blooms. Laura’s is in a pot because it produces lots of little volunteers, which she potted up and gave away as favors. Mine is in a pot because there’s nothing remotely “swamp” about my yard.
Last but not least, the rain barrels. Laura and Steve went to great lengths to install rain barrel systems in both of their side yards. They couldn’t find a rain barrel expert (perhaps a good business opportunity for some young jobless college grad?) so they did it themselves.
Laura’s coup is the brown garbage-bag-looking thing in this photo. It’s actually a big out-flow “pipe” that can be used to direct water wherever you want it when the barrels are over-flowing.
I could go on. I’ve already borrowed ideas not even pictured here. Laura’s angelonia comes to mind first. I now have three. Kim wants that arbor. She’ll have to keep looking.
But that’s half the fun!