In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
May, 2006
Regional Report

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Impatiens seemed like a good choice for this location at the foot of elephant ears, but they're still getting too much sun and not enough water.

The Best Laid Plans

We all make gardening goofs. We start with something in mind yet somehow things don't work out the way we planned. For example, everybody wants a nice lawn, and a shade tree to sit under. Unfortunately the two are incompatible, since healthy turf needs nearly full sun, and shade trees block it. From the dripline of a mature, dense shade tree in to its trunk, plant ground covers or make a mulch bed. Start the lawn where the shade stops.

Often we want flowers in the front yard, and fill up the bed with perennials, forgetting the offseason when they lack color and substance. Select dwarf flowering shrubs instead, and accent the seasons with a few perennials and some bulbs.

A vegetable garden is a very good idea for every home gardener, but don't overreach by planting more than you can tend. By midsummer, it will be a weed patch with a few tomatoes ripening. Start small and keep after the weeds and insects; you can always expand next season.

Ferns look beautiful hanging on the porch, but only if the porch roof overhangs the hooks. Direct sunlight parches all but the Kimberly ferns, and even they appreciate afternoon shade.

Annuals in a flowerbed are a superb idea, but there's nothing sadder than too few plants for the space. Buy a few too many instead, and use them to plant a coordinating pot.

Learning More
The best way to avoid common gardening goofs is to keep your eyes open. As you drive, walk, or bike, look for good examples in your own neighborhood. There may be a particular palm or crape myrtle that is especially well adapted to your soil, or a tomato variety that outperforms all the others.

Conversely, look for the shrubs planted too close to a house, the lawn allowed to grow into the flowerbed, and the sun-loving daylilies stuck in the shade, never to bloom. You can learn from others' mistakes, as well as your own.


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