Discover the Fun of Gardening
June 28, 2018   
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Drought Tolerant Landscaping   |   Featured Plants

One of the old mango trees.

We recently took a trip down to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. I remember touring it on a school field trip when I was younger and although the memories are fleeting, I remembered lovely gardens, lots of fun trees and interesting inventor stuff. It was just as 'cool' as I remember (actually it was wildly hot the day we went, as Maddy showed us here, but the grounds and exhibits more than made up for it!) We definitely weren't disappointed. Although the hurricanes and safety concerns over the years have taken their toll on the old mango trees (the picture at right is of one of the last of the old mango trees - the trunk was two feet across!) There were still tons of cool fruit trees to see: canistel (egg-fruits) with fruit on them, black sapotes and miracle fruits, but the star of the show to me was the enormous lychee tree. It was covered in fruit. Pictures wouldn't do it justice. It was 25 feet tall and wide - the trunk was at least 18 inches across and the fruit probably weighed a ton. Now too bad there wasn't a ladder handy . . . . The rest of the gardens were equally beautiful. There was a moonlight garden that has been restored to its original design, and of course how can I forget the gigantic banyan tree that greets you as you enter. It was planted as a four foot sapling and now covers almost an entire acre!

But the fruit trees and gardens are only half of the story. After all, Ford and Edison were two of America's great 20th century inventors and entrepreneurs, and these estates are where they lived
An Edison experiment before our trip.
and worked during the winter, sharing ideas, designing cars and working on an impressive variety of inventions (Edison had over 1000 U.S. patents in his lifetime!) The houses where they lived were interesting; it always adds a little perspective to see how people lived in a different time period. But hands down the coolest area was Edison's laboratory. It's still set up the way it was during his time there and the variety of different machines, experiments, books and documents was just amazing to see.

A few weeks before our trip, we did a little light bulb experiment to get the girls into the Edison spirit (pictured at left). You put together a bunch of D batteries and then connect them to a pencil lead, creating your own (short-lived) light bulb. Both girls love to tinker, but Abby is definitely our little inventor. Just this morning she was trying to devise a hidden drawer for her private documents, a pulley system (we emphatically rejected the idea of attaching things to the ceiling) and apparently she made some skis as well. Unfortunately it means that her room is constantly covered in paper scraps, tape dispensers and scissors. A lot like the Edison lab, just on a 7 year old's scale. I'm thinking we may need to convert part of the garage into a workshop to give them plenty of space to create. I mean if they want to be like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, we sure don't want to stop them!

So if you need a little summer trip to explore more of our local area, don't miss these estates. The gardens were fun to walk through and it has inspired us to add a few more fruit trees to our own garden, and of course touring the houses and the labs was a great lesson in the history of some of America's great minds. There is always something new to explore and sometimes it is right in your own backyard.

Happy Gardening,
The Kerby's Nursery Family

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Garden Tip
Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Watering is always the hard part when it comes to gardens. For some reason plants don't understand that we have busy lives and always want us to water them. The good news is, when you choose plants that are drought-tolerant, you'll find yourself having to water them less often and they'll still come through lush and beautiful.

1) Right Plant, Right Place - A drought tolerant plant that likes the shade won't be drought tolerant in the sun, so make sure that you select the proper plants for your area. Need help figuring that out? Come ask us, that's why we are here!
2) Get Plants Established - Plants won't be drought tolerant right away, although they may be more forgiving of a missed watering or two. Try your best to follow our new-plant watering schedule of daily for the first month (always in the morning), every other day for the second month and twice weekly for the third month to get plants established. When they are established with a strong root system, they'll grow well with minimal care.
3) Go Native - Plants that are native are used to the weather that Florida throws at them, so selecting plants that are made for Florida will always create an easier-to-maintain landscape.
4) Add Variety - Drought tolerant doesn't have to mean boring. There are cool groundcovers like the native sunshine mimosa, all colors of lantana (which butterflies adore) and beautiful grasses like pink muhly to add texture and variety to your garden.
5) Go For It - The summer is here and we're getting plenty of rain. That means it's a great time to plant and let mother nature take some of that watering workload.

Drought Tolerant Plants
Sunshine Mimosa

A Florida native groundcover
6" Pot - $6.99
Sea Grape

Florida native with large, lush leaves
10" Pot - $19.99
Beauty Berry

Great for wildlife
10" Pot - $16.99

Kerby's Nursery

2311 S. Parsons Ave.

Seffner, FL 33584
(813) 685-3265

Store Hours
Open Seven Days a Week
Monday - Saturday,  9am - 5:30pm
Sunday,  11am - 4pm
Weds. July 4th 9am - 12pm