Garden Victory

Expert offers advice on creating a great garden


Looking to plant a beautiful spring garden?

Then Kathy Esfahani, owner of Kathy’s Gardens & Nursery, has some bad news for you: It’s too late.

But she also has some good news: Florida has a 12-month growing season, so you can now confidently plant a beautiful spring/summer garden.

“We have blooming flowers all year long,” she said.

That means flowers like snapdragons and pansies will not survive into the fast-approaching hot months, but bougainvillea, hibiscus, mystic spires, pentas, vinca and succulents are great for this time of year. Other flowering plants you might try are bush daisy, gaillardia, porterweed and salvia.

If you’d like to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, try bottlebrush and shrimp plants.

Esfahani knows what she’s talking about, having been in the business here for the past 17 years. And those new to the Sunshine State or simply new to gardening quickly learn the value of seeking out expert advice.

“The most important thing to know is: the right plant in the right place,” Esfahani said.

That means knowing where the sunlight falls in your yard. Some plants love it. Others thrive best in shade. That may sound simple, but shadows from nearby trees and other houses can spell dramatic changes at different times of the day. It can be helpful to note the patterns of sun and shade on your property hour by hour — even take photos as a guide.

And don’t completely trust those little tags attached to plants you buy. They may say “full sun,” but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Full sun up north is totally different than full sun in Florida,” Esfahani said. “I actually plant roses in our morning sun and afternoon shade, because the heat in Florida is just so extreme.”

If you’re looking to create a landscape that turns heads, what you plant, where you plant it and how you present it can make all the difference. And it starts with knowing which plants are annual and which are perennial.

Annuals bloom the brightest, but are temporary. Perennials last for years, at times looking beautiful and other times not so much. But the right combination can produce the best results, assuming that you don’t want to replant your entire landscape every four to six months.

Esfahani recommends planting 10% annuals and 90% perennials.

The best places for annuals: by the street — especially around the mailbox, near the front door and in the living spaces of the back yard. Fill out the rest with perennials.

Then, planting at different elevations will produce the most satisfying effect. Add dimensions and heights. Get those annuals up where you can see them, rather than waiting until they can grow large enough to stand above the surrounding foliage. This principle holds true with planters of various sizes, which can be further enhanced with cascading flowers.

Kathy’s Gardens & Nursery, located at 196 N. Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach, is a good place to take your questions. Esfahani and her staff are valuable resources, and designers there can help create that ideal landscape. In addition, the business sells not only flowers, but trees, pavers, planters, water features and more.

It is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The primary phone number is 904-655-7373.