Know Your Space

“Space. The final frontier.”
Or is it?
Well at least in the garden, space is the important frontier.
It can be the final say regarding what you plant and how you plant. The smaller the garden, the more important the amount of space you have. And the more important it is to utilize it properly. One of the first steps in using space properly is to know how much space you there is to work with.

Nothing is harder to do than to figure your space without taking measurements-inevitably you’re wrong. When you take those measurements, it’s important to be as accurate as possible, because in a small space an inch can mean a lot. A foot can make a difference with what type of plants you plant, and a yard to make the difference in the type of material you use for hard-scaping.
When taking your measurements, it is imperative to find out where the building sits on the property. While it is important to measure the windows and doors, don’t forget to look for the other little things you might not consider. The downspouts, hose bib, gas meter, utility area; all of these must be considered in your drawing. If you don’t incorporate them in the drawing, you will be in for a big surprise when you go to plant a six-foot plant in front of a 3-foot window. It’s a little hard to explain to the customer why their view is blocked because you didn’t measure properly. I’ve learned through my own mistakes and experience that it never hurts to take an extra measurement or two, because inevitably when you get back to the office and sit at the drawing table, there is a missing measurement somewhere. With other measurements, you can triangulate and coordinate where you will be planting and approximate that missing measurement.

landscape plan
But only knowing the measurements of the  length and width of an area isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Look up over your head. Are there power lines in the way of where you will plant that oak tree? Is there an awning you need to consider, or are you going to be blocking sunlight for the new planting? These are other considerations you need to think about when you’re measuring your space. If you’re adding hard-scape to your landscape, you also need to consider the physical movements of both people and items such as wheelchairs, a golf cart, a stroller or a gardening cart. Take into consideration not only the straight path these items will take, but the curves and arches they need to take to turn safely without damaging your landscape or your property.

There are some great tools on the market for measuring other than the good old-fashioned measuring tape. There’s even a battery powered one that automatically retracts for you. Some are measuring tapes that can electronically figure out your space by doing the math for you. And there’s even some new tapes that can visually measure and figure out your space without the use of a physical tape.

walking meas
Need a simpler tool? Try the walking measuring stick. The handle is attached to a counter and wheel, and it calculates the feet as you walk. When you’re measuring long distances, there’s nothing better, because let’s face it, a measuring tape will not go much farther than 100 feet. A walking measuring tape can be as sophisticated as you would like to spend the money on. They can electronically figure out your square feet of the area. For a larger project. you might need to hire a surveyor and get the site plotted out in more detail.
Don’t forget those underground utility lines. Many municipalities provide services where they will come out and mark the utilities for you. A good rule of thumb, is to always mark before you dig-there’s nothing worse than sticking that shovel in the ground and cutting off somebody’s cable, telephone or worse yet, breaking a waterline.

So remember to take all things into consideration when planning out your garden space. Get it right the first time and then you can enjoy the planting experience, rather than being frustrated. Once you’re all finished, grab that cold glass of iced tea and head out to the hammock to sit and relax and enjoy that beautiful space you just created.


As the Wind Blows

The wind and your landscape go hand in hand.
Without the wind, landscaping will not grow to its highest potential. The flowers need the wind for pollination. Cooling the heat from sun’s rays beating down on the foliage of the plants. Blowing away the dust and pollutants that settle on the plants. These are added benefits of a strong wind.
But the wind can also be a double edged sword. As cooling as it can be in the summer, in the winter that same wind can be brutal. Personally, I think the wind can do more damage than anything else to the landscape.

That’s why it’s so important the plants you pick are right for their location. For instance, the wind coming off the sea is going to be filled with salt. Even though you may not think your plants are in line to get hit by the salt from the waves, the wind can carry that salt just a few feet farther, dropping the salt on the plants. It goes without saying; the plants living in these conditions will need to be tough.
The wind can do more damage during cold weather then the drop in temperature. The air temperatures might not get down to freezing, but the constant wind and chill factor can quickly burn the leaves and damage plant cells. You might not see all the damage right away. The first sign of damage might be turning the foliage a reddish brown or distorted. Other damage may not show up until the air temperatures warm back up. Then you will see the leaves yellow and drop. One of the most tender plants in our area are the many varieties of Hibiscus.

The wind can do heavy damage by drying the foliage out of the plant as well. Even though the soil may feel slightly damp, the constant blowing of a strong or warm wind blowing against the leaves will pull moisture out of the plant faster than the roots can pull it out of the ground. This why it is important to know what part of your landscape faces the strongest, potentially damaging winds. These are the areas where you’re going to want to plant sturdy plants. You might even want to plant hardy plants to buffer more delicate flowers or lacy ferns.

We can’t control the way the winds blow, nor the temperature of the wind. But we can plant smartly, using native plants where possible, and providing protection to the more delicate plants.

The point is to enjoy our gardens. Knowing the environmental factors of your space and using the proper plants will help you achieve this.




When we were children we thought that being called a copycat was a bad thing. And maybe it was. We should always try to be as individual as possible, and not be afraid to let our true selves show.
But there is another old saying that goes “imitation is the best form of flattery”. In my opinion, when you’re dealing with a garden this is true. After all, aren’t we are simply imitating God’s creation when we create our own gardens?


As a designer I have no problem with somebody copying my work. As a matter of fact, our web page has a gallery of pictures of work I’ve completed, and I encourage people to go there and look for ideas.

Botanical Concepts Picture Gallery

Personally, I’m constantly scouring magazines, Pinterest, and other sources of pictures to try and come up with different ideas. Most of the time, when I find something I really like, I tweaked it to make it my own.
The little tweaks that I give can be as simple as a different color, a different style container or maybe a different plant that will grow with the same habit as that of what I saw in a picture.


Sometimes you have to make adjustments with what you see and what will actually grow in your location. That is why it is so important to know the plants that you’re dealing with. Know your growers and trust them.
Often I run into a situation where the exact container that I want isn’t available and I have to make some quick adjustments. I look at that as a challenge, and sometimes out of those challenges I create something much nicer than what I originally intended.


So, I say go ahead and be a copycat- take my ideas and make them your own.

We’re all dealing with God’s beauty, and you can’t go wrong planting a garden.

Our 1st Gardening Book!

I’m excited to announce that we have another writer in the family.

My husband has been working diligently in his office while I was in my office writing my mysteries. His results have created a useful little planting guide for landscaping in South Florida.
And I think he’s caught the writing bug because we have plans for three more books. He’s currently working on a butterfly garden guide. The next two future books will a guide for shade gardens as well as a guide for salt tolerant plantings.

We have talked about doing these books for a long time. We are constantly answering these questions for customers and friends and we decided that it was time that they could walk away with something in their hands to help them have successful landscaping experiences.
Landscaping in South Florida is different from what many northerners are used to when they come down here. As a new homeowner you want to have a successful gardening experience and hopefully our guides will walk you through it step-by-step.
After all, if you’re successful in one aspect of your gardening experience then you’ll be more inclined to try another experience. And if you take it in baby steps, a little bit of time. with proper guidance, before long you’ll feel like a successful Gardner
Living down here in South Florida, with year-round gardening time, you’ll want to be able to enjoy your gardens as much as possible. We’re happy to be able to offer this encouraging help for you.

So check out the first book in our series. It’s available on available.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Happy Gardening!

Container Gardening? Ask Questions!

Container Gardening can be so much more than just putting pretty flowers in a container.

Using the same design aspect that you would use with in-ground landscaping, you can create vistas for your enjoyment while you are outside. With the placement of pots in the right place you can create framing for visual blockage of unwanted views, traffic pattern and flow, accent existing landscaping, and add interest to patio furniture arrangements.


Be sure to take into consideration the style of the area that you’re going to be placing these pots in. Is the color of the container going to be crucial? Will it be something to give it a little extra punch to the design area? You need to determine if you looking for containers that are highly decorative or more standard such as Clay.

Container gardening doesn’t stop with just placing your pots in the right location. Once you place the container it’s crucial that you pick the correct plants to go in them. The most important factor to take into consideration when choosing your plants is the environment they are going to be planted in. Is it windy location? Does it receive full sun or partial sun? Are the plans going to be planted in an area that will be hard to maintain? If so you might want to use more durable plants.


Another thing to consider the fact that you might have animals or children. This would mean you would want to watch for poisonous plants or thorny plants. .

The plant materials that you use will play the biggest part of your container design. Add in the use of herbs and flowers for a please accent or even to repel unwanted past such as mosquitoes The third thing that you would want to take into consideration is your decorating style. Are you a traditional stylist or a little bit more bohemian? What is the overall effect that you’re going for? Are you trying to be conservative and a little bit old-fashioned, or are you trying for tropical effect with palms and exotic flowers?


It is important that you should have a good understanding to the answers of all these questions before you even set foot into the nursery looking for plants. If you’re lost asked for help and if you don’t feel you’re getting the right help from the people in the store that you’re at, ask for professional to come out to your site and work up a plan that will best meet your needs. You have to live with the results of what you plant and you want to be happy. So be sure to ask lots of questions and be willing to make changes if your ideas and plans don’t mix together.

But regardless if you are designing your own container gardens, or getting the help from a professional gardener, the most important thing to remember is…

Enjoy your planting experience!

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring

I was listening to the news last night and I came to the realization that spring in the south is quite different from spring in the north. Up north early spring can be anything from flooding in early and late snowfalls to crocuses peaking through. When I lived in upstate New York, spring was always my favorite season. Spring seemed to start with the celebration of Easter, with the daffodils blooming, the hyacinths scenting the air. New live is everywhere, from the robins in their nest, to the bunnies coming out of their lairs.

But last night on the news I heard signs of spring in a different manner, the signs of spring in the Deep South. The first thing that we had heard was at the riptides were extremely bad because of the changing directions of the winds changing from winter to spring. This might be bad for the swimmers, but the surfers sure love it.

The next thing we found out about was the man-of-war are all on the beach and their purple-blue but bodies can sting and so do those long tendrils. With care, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, but plan on staying out of the ocean.

Next, we are reminded about that the sharks are migrating; this is definitely a spring time item. Huge shivers (groups) of them can be found offshore. All within swimming and snorkeling distance of the fun loving tourist down for spring break.

sharks shiver

And finally we heard news that with the weather starting to warm up that the alligators are getting frisky. This means the alligators are getting warmed up starting to move around and getting rid ready for meeting season. Kayaks and fisherman need to take care on our river-ways.


Yes, spring in the south sounds a bit more dangerous than spring in the North! Daffodils and tulips up north verses down here we’re talking sharks and alligators.
I guess I’m a southern girl at heart and I’ll take my sharks and alligators and man-of-war over cold flooding waters and the possibility of a late snowfall. But I will admit I miss the glorious color and scents of the spring.


The Root of the Story

Appearances can be deceiving, especially when working with plants. It’s easy to assume that because you water the same day and same amount to every plant, that this is the proper way to water your plants. But you don’t know is what’s going on below the surface. The root structure of the plants is the first thing that affects the overall health and vigor of a plant

.tolumnia pink panther roots

So, with the root system being so important, what should you look for in a healthy root system of a potted plant? One of the most important factors to look for is nice thick white roots. These roots should go all the way down to the base of the pot, not just at the surface. If they’re only staying at the surface then chances are there is a water issue with the plant. The other thing that you want to look for a nice little running routes throughout the ball of the plant. These are the little feeder roots that are going to suck up nutrients and water. The thicker roots are there for anchorage and support, as well as intake of nutrients. What you should not see a brown mushy routes. This could be an indication of too much water or possible fungus and rotting.

rot root

Going back to the top of the plant; the overall appearance can look fine for weeks on end, but if there’s a root problem you’re not going see it until it’s almost too late to overcome.


So we get back to appearances; don’t assume because a plant has leaves that are wilting that it needs water. My best advice is to actually get in there and feel the soil. Use your finger, use a plant auger, use a moisture meter if you have to, but check the soil. With all three of those items, check the soil in more than one spot. You might have just watered on one side of the plant consistently, so one-sided the plant is showing problems. Also, be sure to follow any directions that are given to you read regarding the application of fertilizer; too much or too little is not going to help your plant. As a matter fact too much can easily burn the roots and cause problems in the growth of the plant.

So appearances can be deceiving-you need to know what’s going on down below the foliage area and in that root ball. Once you know how the roots are growing, you will have a better idea of how to take care of your plants needs.