Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener—Updated (2021)

I'm Ginny Stibolt, a botanist and a lifelong gardener, but when my husband Dean Avery and I moved from Maryland to northeast Florida, I was flummoxed by gardening in such a different climate. I began writing columns as a community columnist for The Times Union, a newspaper in Jacksonville. I called them Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener. I also recorded more than 100 podcasts for the newspaper during this time. In addition, here on my own website, I kept a garden log with more adventures and links to my columns and other resources I thought were interesting. Read my new articles, more of my background, and my books on the About Page on my GreenGardeningMatters.com blog and connect with me on Facebook including my Sustainable Gardening for Florida page.

 

When the community columnist program was ended, most of my old columns were posted on Floridata.com, a plant encyclopedia, which hosted them for more than ten years. During the Covid 19 pandemic (in 2020 and 2021) I wrote a new book (my 5th), "Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener: Advice for Gardeners New to Florida." (It will be published by University Press of Florida in April 2022.) While I did not quote entire columns in the book, I do mention them and provide 2020 hindsight from a decade later. So I decided to bring them back here--to my own site where they can better tell the stories of my adventures.

I have selected columns that I have referred to regularly over the years and have not included those that were "of the moment" and not particularly useful a decade later. Those old podcasts are no longer available from the Times Union website, so I've removed those and other outdated links. (Note: For some of these articles, I've made comments in parentheses like this to add updated information and/or 2020 hindsight.)

Here is the cover of my new book. -->

In addition, for simplicity, I've deleted the old garden log on this website—it was fun for me to go through all those old posts, but I felt that they would not useful for today's gardeners.

I've arranged the selected and updated columns by topic. Enjoy!

Ginny Stibolt
Summer 2021
gstibolt at gmail dot com

 

Ecosystem gardening

Working with Mother Nature instead of against her, makes your landscape friendly to birds and pollinators. From reducing pesticides to using more native plants, everything you do makes a positive difference to wildlife. These articles cover a wide range of projects that make our landscape more of a working ecosystem. For further information, Doug Tallamy's books, "Bringing Nature Home" and "Nature's Best Hope" provide well-researched and easy-to-understand arguments for using more native plants in your yard, no matter how small.

A Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly sips nectar from
a snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea). >>

- Creating backyard habitat
- From stump to butterfly haven
- Invite birds to your yard
- Just say No to poisons
- Managing a natural meadow
- Pond pleasures
- Florida natives for your landscape
- Instant landscaping?

Edible gardens

Vegetable gardening in Florida is vastly different than when I grew edibles in Maryland or New England. Now, I grow enough food to have reduced the food expenditures for the two of us by 15%! My adventures in her north Florida edible gardens have also led to her writing "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida" with Melissa Markham Contreras, who gardens in Miami. It was published in 2013 by University Press of Florida.

Sweet treat carrots >>

- The royal herb: sweet basil
- Florida blueberries
- Sweet treat carrots
- Edible flowers
- The skinny on onions
- Tomatoes are for summer
- Grow more veggies: Kids can help

Trees, shrubs, & vines

Woody plants play important roles in your landscape. Take care to choose the ones with the best chance of success and use the best practices for planting and ongoing care to increase the odds.

Florida's state tree, the cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto)
can have boots or not boots. >>

- Longleaf pines
- My magnificent, but messy magnolias
- Palmettos in the landscape
- Red bay trees are dying
- Trees and shrubs: the "Bones" of your landscape

Herbaceous plants

Herbaceous plants may do the most to decorate your landscape. They may also be your worst weeds. Ginny works to sort through some of these important landscape plants and some science on how the southern grasses have become so efficient in the hot weather.

- No need to beg for beggarticks
- The calla lilies are blooming again
- Hidden ginger lilies and other intriguing monocots
- There's gold in our meadows
- Sensational sunflowers
- Jewels of summer

Sustainable lawncare practices:

- Reducing the lawn in your landscape
- The lawn less mown
- Cutting edges

Botany and science:

- A plant by any common name
- Water science and gardening
- The science behind southern grasses, including turf
- Pee-yew! Those smelly stinkhorn fungi

Water drops on a sunflower illustrate the tendency of water to
adhere to itself. As gardeners it's helpful to know more
about water science. >>

Dealing with plants in containers:

- Troublesome spot? Convert to containers
- Pot bound!
- Give peace (lilies) a chance

Dealing with rainwater

With more droughts and water shortages; you can harvest some of the rain to use for plants and compost. They'll appreciate the lack of chlorine and other additives used in our drinking water. I cover how to build your own rain barrel systems, build rain gardens to capture the extra storm water, and how to handle drainage issues with French drains and dry wells.

- Climb up my rain barrels
- Rain barrels revisited
- Three more rain barrels
- Rain lilies for my rain gardens
- Expanded rain garden
- Ooh la la! French drains
- A new bed and standing stormwater
- Hurricane-scaping

Composting and mulching

I love wood chips as mulch. They are sustainable on so many levels: the tree guys working in her neighborhood can dump their load before they leave, the wood chips perform well as mulch and they are free.
Composting is that magical gardeners' process that turns waste into black gold, which is so good for the soil in gardens and around newly planted trees and shrubs. Ginny shares her various composting strategies. Mulching builds soil, but not before it protects it from weed invasions, temperature changes, and loss of moisture.

- Composting for your garden
- Wide-row planting and trench composting
- Follow the yellow mulch road

Celebrating the holidays in the garden

Plants have always played an important part in celebrating holidays.
I have taken note of some of the myths and traditions in these columns.

American holly (Ilex opaca) >>

- Poinsettias are NOT poisonous
- Holly, ivy, and more
- Myths and history of mistletoe and magnolia
- The recycled Christmas wreath


Ginny Stibolt is a life-long gardener, a botanist, a naturalist, and a garden writer. You may contact her or read more of her articles posted on her website: www.greengardeningmatters.com.

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Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener