An Independent Gardener
This past Saturday, I paid a visit to the special world of Just Fruits and Exotics, my favorite independent garden center. At this time of year, early spring warmth is slowly unveiling changes to the garden. Citrus blooms scent the air with lush fragrance, spring vegetables make their way out of the greenhouses only to slip back in before evening frosts, and the latest in flower fashion is just beginning to make its showy appearance, all to this gardener's delight.
What I love most about Just Fruits and Exotics is the relationship I have developed with owner Brandy Cowley-Gilbert, who started the nursery along with her father back in the 60's. The focus of Just Fruits and Exotics—organically grown fruits and vegetables, along with high quality ornamentals—mirrors my personal gardening interests. Brandy has been helping me create my own unique garden environment, where edibles and ornamentals happily co-exist in my Florida cottage garden setting. The mixed borders and working orchard at the nursery always offer new inspiration. As busy as Brandy is, she always takes the time to talk with me about the newest endeavors at the nursery, answer my questions, and steer me toward the perfect plant (or two, or three) to add to my ever-growing collection. I go to my independent garden center when I need professional advice, individual attention, and a respite from retail madness.
In addition to the plants that are raised at the nursery, Just Fruits and Exotics carries a nice selection of Proven Winners plants. When I visited last spring and fall, I loaded up with Snowstorm Blue® Bacopa to edge my vegetable beds and Flying Colors® Trailing Antique Rose, which is still happily blooming in my kitchen window boxes. Pots of the sensational Supertunia® Pretty Much Picasso® and Diamond Frost® Euphorbia welcomed guests to the cottage. I love that these gorgeous plants just keep on blooming, with minimal fuss or attention required.
This year we are embarking on a big garden project—the installation of a 32 X 8 foot island bed that will feature edibles and exotics highlighted by shrubs and ornamentals from Proven Winners. I used several articles on the Proven Winners website that were really helpful in my initial design, such as Basic Design Principles and Styles for Garden Beds and Basic Design Principles - Using Color in the Garden . Whether you are a beginning gardener or a master, it is always helpful to do your research before you embark on a new project.
A big garden project like a new border or large bed is where a relationship with your independent garden center is crucial. Not only can they provide you with advice and recommendations, but they can also source plants that you have selected for your project. Since I am focusing primarily on hot colors for this garden, we are considering masses of new Proven Winners plants for 2012, like Superbena® Royale Iced Cherry. We will also need anchor plants with height and some softer color. I have my eye on Pink Chiffon™ Rose of Sharon as a great candidate.
With my garden plans in hand and several visits to Just Fruits and Exotics, I know my new garden plan will come to fruition and bring pleasure to family and friends for many years to come.
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