Garden and Landscape Articles by Jesse Durko

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Summer Gardening

Summertime is a glorious time for gardening in South Florida and with the tropical downpours our gardens look more like Hawaii than mainland America, lucky for us without those pesky volcanoes. It is a great time to fertilize if you haven’t done so already and you should keep your clippers handy as at this time of year some plants seem to double in size overnight.

Truly it is amazing how resilient our gardens are, and really to the average visitor it looks like we never even experience a hurricane. Still you might have lost some shrubbery or now realize you are in desperate need of some additional shade or maybe some privacy screening. Now is the best time to do your planting and by taking advantage of all our tropical rain new additions will readily establish quickly and easily.

At Jesse Durko’s Nursery in Davie, we feature something to fit every garden situation and every gardeners budget. We are proud to boast “Florida Friendly Species” these are plants that are grown in-house without using pesticides and yet we can still provide a rainbow of flowering trees, shrubs, and groundcovers from which to select. We also grow dozens of palm species as well as clumping Bamboo.

If you happen to be a naturalist, we have you covered, as there are several easy to grow hedging plants that will give you privacy, and if you prefer to watch birds and butterflies instead of your naturalist neighbor we also have what it takes with an outstanding collection of bird and butterfly attracting varieties. .

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From Zero-Lot Line to Garden Oasis

Many homes are built on small lots with zero lot-lines, or with irregular dimensions shaping their perimeters. Here are some solutions that can help solve this dilemma. This wedge shaped property with only a few feet of green space flanking to the left and right of its entrance had no street side parking. Necessity forced the majority of front yard's space to be dedicated to parking.

Making matters worse, the view out of the living room looked across the residence parking and directly into more of the neighbor's parked cars. To top it off there was only three feet of plantable space down the majority of one side. I design on paper, but whenever possible, I prefer designing on the spot and usually follow the design school of "Form Follows Function." In this case the design was dictated by the required spaces of traffic flow, allotment of parking areas and connecting pathways. This landscape has a circle-linear line, not so geometric and straight-edged, that seemed pleasing.

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I laid these beds out by simply using a garden hose, which is a good design tool as it allows changes to the spaces and curves easily. When a functional and aesthetically pleasing design line was achieved, I painted along the hose with marking spray paint.

Now with our parking and beds laid out we can get an estimate of our materials needed for the hardscape, in this case pavers.

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Choosing a surface is important and you'll need to consider how the color complements the house. Remember that light -colored porous surfaces are more environmentally friendly and cooler, which in turn will make the space more usable and inviting. We took the opportunity while waiting for the paver installation to plant some larger specimen trees. Using a lot of imagination the goal was to create the feeling of a garden patio and thus, what was primarily a parking lot in the front yard has now become a garden oasis.

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Yellow Bird-of-Paradise
Notes by Jesse Durko

 Stelitizia regina, commonly called Bird of Paradise, produces one of nature's most dramatic and exotic looking flowers. They are easy to cultivate in tropical or subtropical climates and make good container subjects elsewhere. They seem to tolerate most every condition except overly wet, but when it comes to dry they are one of the best, capable of surviving prolonged drought. I'm not saying that giving them a drink after three or four weeks without rain wouldn't help, but they truly can go a full year in Florida without additional water and still preform well.

Bird of Paradise are salt tolerant and like well drained soils, even sandy, rocky or alkaline soils. Plant them in sunny areas for best flowering, or move potted plants into the sun after frost. I like to use a gravel mulch but if you are using an organic mulch, keep it away from the crowns as this could cause rot. Bird of Paradise can be grown under regular garden conditions, though they only need a watering every week or two. If your plants are small or if they struggling to grow, use a high nitrogen fertilizer on them. I use palm food either once or twice a year in the fall and or early spring.

In addition to their being excellent exotic garden specimens Birds of Paradise make good long lasting cut flowers along with the handsome gray green foliage, for floral arrangements. Once plants become large they can be prolific bloomers.