Gathering in the Garden

Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles can guide our planting and our gatherings

Inviting friends over for a gardening party can make quick work of some planting tasks
Inviting friends over for a gardening party can make quick work of some planting tasks.

We love November and the consistently mild temperatures that come with it. Many socials are held outside because the weather is almost always perfect. Whether you’re a host or a guest, there is hardly enough time to worry about the curb appeal of your yard. One way to do more with friends and family is to schedule and prioritize your gardening activities. With a little planning, you can waltz into Thanksgiving with a more fabulous landscape. 

First, have a walk around your property, select small areas where you will make the most impact, and add beauty using beds or containers. The eastern side of my yard offers the “quick win” options. The bed near the mailbox needs new color, the front door must have another pot, and the east bed next to the deck will be replanted. These are the most visible portions of my landscape when I entertain outdoors. 

Then, select plants. Think about colors, textures, and care. Will they be in a container or in the ground? What preparation is necessary before planting? Will you need to buy soil or remove existing vegetation? I will add a few pentas and native porterweed at the mailbox. The new container by the door will hold pansies and snapdragons, with a little alyssum to offer a bright welcome. The bed near the deck will have a mixture of herbs and native flowers after I add a little more soil. Florida-Friendly plant selections require very little care after they are established. 

Colorful pots of flowering plants.
Colorful pots of flowering plants.

Last, assess labor considerations. Do it yourself, get help, or both? If you decide to do it yourself, one way to fail is to dedicate entire weekends to gardening. Instead, plan to work for 30 minutes most mornings. The bed near my mailbox is small, so I can have it prepared and planted in two mornings, excluding plant shopping. The planter by the door will be a one-morning trifle. If your plan includes many containers, consider inviting friends over for a potting party. My back deck is the monster: 3 inches of soil will not get into the bed on its own. I will trade brunch to a few friends in exchange for labor. Mimosas will replace trowels in under an hour. 

Finally, winter begins next month. Most ornamentals in our area prefer a more tropical climate where there is a year-round surplus of warmth and hydration. Plant growth slows down and some settle into a beautiful, almost evergreen, sleep during our cooler, dryer months. This is not the time to feed and over-water your Florida-Friendly Landscape. Help your plants remain cozy by placing them under a 2-to-3-inch-thick blanket of mulch or letting the turfgrass remain a little higher. Double-check your irrigation or other watering supply to ensure water can get to all sensitive plants. 

Hurricane season might be ending, but we must continue our love affair with the weather stations because cold snaps are very likely in our region. Enjoy November—winter is coming. 

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