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Whip your garden into shape before days get too toasty

Although we had a few days of cool weather recently, it definitely has warmed up. After fours hours last Saturday in my front yard spreading mulch, planting annuals, weeding and trimming, I was glad I did not put these chores off any longer. It was amazing after all the rain we recently had, that everything was bone dry. The grass has even begun to wilt. It looks like I will resume my once weekly watering until the rainy season starts.

I pulled up the remainder of the petunias and replaced these with portulaca. I was limited on what I could find so I chose the yellow in the 4-inch pots. I prefer flats as, with just a little patience, I get much better coverage for less money. I'll add a few more flowers when I find the flats.

I gave my small azaleas a hard trimming, removing about two-thirds of the growth. I watered and fertilized them well and will continue to keep them moist using water from the rain barrel and fertilizing every few weeks. I want to force some bushy growth as they had become thin.

I did neglect to prune my big standard azalea and was too tired once I discovered my oversight. It is on my list for next week. I want to remove about two-thirds of the growth from that shrub also. As long as it is accomplished by the end of June, the flowers will be fine next year.

The eucalyptus mulch made the beds look fresh and at the end of the work day everything received an application of water soluble fertilizer. I expect both existing plants and newly planted annuals to really take off.

Of course, everything is really "taking off" because we had the perfect weather — rain and warmth. Your garden should be growing well; maybe too well. The weeds are growing rapidly and those plants that may be in areas that are too small require trimming on a regular basis.

I've set a gardening goal for myself. I will be putting in extra effort to find new, interesting nurseries. I've gotten in a rut returning to the same garden centers again and again.

I have always preferred local nurseries. Athough they may be a little out of the way, it is worth the extra effort and time to discover plants you don't normally come across. Also you may have the chance to speak with the owner of the nursery. Most of these nursery owners are in the business because they love it. It is a hard competitive occupation, so those without the true gift usually don't make it.

They are also very generous. If you are looking for a particular plant and they don't carry it, they may be able to tell you who has it in stock. They will also tell you if that "must have" plant is a good choice for our area and, more important, whether your yard with its microclimates is a good fit.

Finally, I have a question for my readers. Recently I was reminded about pervious concrete. Apparently it's also called porous or permeable concrete.

I learned through a quick Internet search that carefully controlled amounts of water and cement materials are used to create a paste that forms a thick coating around aggregate particles. It has been around for many years but because of the emphasis on environmental issues is gaining some favor. This concrete allows water to travel through it and into the soil beneath the walkway, parking lot or whatever the project.

My research documented that the equipment used for pervious concrete is the same as for "regular" concrete. I did not see any cost comparisons. I have thought about adding a walkway to the west side of my house for years. I used stepping stones instead because I thought it would be better than a solid concrete walkway, since the water can percolate into the soil between the stepping stones.

I wonder if perhaps this pervious concrete would not be the perfect application in that spot. Anyone have any experience with this product? If so, I'd love to hear from you. You can drop a line to North of Tampa at 14358-B N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33618. Or e-mail

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

Whip your garden into shape before days get too toasty 05/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:57pm]
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