Plans for Rejuvenation Landscaping in Central Florida – Part 1

My mother passed away a few years ago and left us her tiny home in central Florida. Let me describe the little blessing she left us:

Our little doublewide in sunny Florida
Our little doublewide in sunny Florida — See the big bushes in the front planting bed with lots of gaps. The only thing thriving near the house is some volunteer wild pointsettia and 3-year-old dusty miller.

It is a little manufactured home with aluminum siding. Actually it dates from the 1980’s and is a double-wide trailer that was moved onto the site, wheels removed, and tied down to a concrete pad for hurricane resistance. We’ve been spending January through March here for the last 3 years. We have pretty much left the outside landscaping alone for these past few years, getting the exterior of the place painted and doing other general necessary repairs. It is in desperate need of landscaping rejuvenation. Most of the plants remaining in the yard are foundation plants around the house, with the foundation plantings expanding into little beds here and there. But it isn’t a large lot and there isn’t much space for anything other than foundation planting. Our thoughts are that the landscaping should not be “new” but a rejuvenation. There are large “holes” (gaps) where something had been growing at one time. We have no idea if the gaps are because the irrigation system didn’t water those plants or just the wrong plants were in the wrong places.

Gap in landscaping bed
I wonder what used to fill this planting bed? Plants remaining (left to right) azalea, ligustrum, ligustrum, etc. The brown is mostly sand. The green grass is St. Augustine — quite invasive — hence the concrete scalloped edging.

For about 7 years now, we have left the place to a man who mows monthly, and who whacks at the plants to keep them neat, but doesn’t water, fertilize, or baby them in any way. We are allowed to water once a week in our community (we share a well and filtration system), and we have an automatic irrigation system for that (repaired by DH last year, when he dubbed it his “automatic irritation system.”) Whatever is growing is tough enough to survive the continuing drought in this State, so we didn’t plan to remove any of it. Mostly what is left is a few boxwood, many ligustrum, a few podocarpus, pittisporum, some sickly azaleas (at least compared to what we are used to in Maryland), and some superb holly trees. There are some varigated plants (boxwood and pittisporum) edging the postage-stamp-sized patio out back and some other bushes on the north side of the house we haven’t yet identified that we will leave alone.

The other side of the Florida house before landscape intervention
The other side of the Florida house before landscape intervention – we call the glassed-in area in front the “Florida room”

There is one sycamore in the center of the front yard, with a volunteer saw palmetto growing out of a sandstone boulder in front of it.

Volunteer saw palmetto in center front of yard
Volunteer saw palmetto in center front of yard backing up to sycamore tree (trunk only in photo)

So we Googled “Florida azalea” and discovered that these plants need at least 4 to 8 weeks of winter to thrive, that they won’t survive one more zone south of us, and with the last two or three years, only about a month of winter could be said to have visited us down here — so no more azalea, and we’ll steel ourselves to replace what is marginally hanging on now.

When a blossom appears on the azalea, it is lucious!
When a blossom appears on the azalea, it is lucious!

So that is our little blessing in Florida – DH loves the winter climate here and I love just relaxing – it is a lot easier to maintain this place than our place up north. We’ll continue the tour as we follow our plans for rejuvenation. Come along with us….

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