Florida garden writer Monica Brandies is hosting an open house (or should I say "garden") on November 7 and 14 from 10 am to 1 pm. Free cuttings, autographed books, and plants for sale. Enjoy some herbal tea and pommelo tasting. 1508 Burning Tree Lane, Brandon.
Monica has written a number of helpful books for Florida gardeners. Landscaping with Tropical Plants and Shade Gardening for Florida are two of my favorites that I refer to often when selecting plants for my shady garden. The next book on my list to buy is A Cutting Garden for Florida.
She is a wealth of information, and when we chatted online recently she agreed to share some information we may not know about her.
Q - What person or event brought you to gardening?
A - Probably my Aunt Joan who always grew flowers and made bouquets for every room in the house, but other people, too.
Q - What was the first plant you grew?
A - Zinnias and peanuts in a victory garden. I don't remember how they did, but I had measles and Mama had blankets at all the windows, but I kept peeking out to see my seeds sprouting and drove her crazy.
Q - What 3 landscape plants are proven winners in your central Florida garden?
A - Many, many, many: citrus, herbs, aloe, cassia, croton, pentas, firespike, tunnera alata and T. Ulmifolia (yellow alder), shrimp plants, all gingers, especially pinecone, butterfly and false blue ginger, cordylines, especially Dr. Brown, silver dollar eucalyptus, nasturtians, salvias, bromeliads, queenswreath vine, plumbago...I could go on forever.
Q - What's your favorite blooming plant?A - I love them all, but pentas is one of my favorites because it blooms 365 days a year and brings butterflies.
Q - What fruit plant/tree is a must-have in your garden?
A - Citrus. I have about 15 different kinds and keep looking for space to plant more. We make juice from November to June and eat many, especially the Poncans out of hand.
Q - What garden tool can you not live without? And why?A - The snippers in my pocket. I never go out without them. I have overplanted so much that I have to keep trimming constantly, but I don't mind. One of my friends says, "If you have weeds, you don't have enough plants." Of course, I also have to have a hoe, shovel, small hand cultivator, and larger pruners.
Q - What's your best frugal gardening tip?
A - Recycle everything. I do that mostly as mulch and compost, but I also reuse pots, and anything else I can. I think mulching is the best thing anyone can do for any garden, but especially in Florida's sandy soil.
Q - Describe your gardening style.A - Casual and Natural. Sometimes people are shocked at my jungle, but it suits me. And it takes less time to care for than if it was grass to cut and is much more fun and productive. Much of it is edible.
Other great books by Monica include: The Newcomer's Survival Guide (a must-have for those new to Florida gardening), Xeriscaping for Florida Gardens and Herbs & Spices for Florida Gardens.