Most of us learn by trial and - too often! - error...myself included. But I've learned those lessons well...and I'm here to pass them on to you!
Good question...I have no horticulture or botany degree, no master gardener's certification.
I've successfully grown many of the plants on this website. And the ones I haven't grown myself, I've found people whom I trust - some experts in their own right - who have actually grown these plants. Some are plant nursery owners. Some are also growers. Some are landscapers. And a few are people just like you and me with a lot of true growing experience under their belts.
IFAS, University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Services has many articles about our subtropical plants. I've often used their articles in researching certain particulars about a plant.
But there wasn't an easy reference guide (with pictures!), aimed toward homeowners like me - who just need the real scoop, the basics, to learn to grow a plant.
And so I created South-Florida-Plant-Guide.com.
When I was a child growing up in Pennsylvania, my father came home one day with 1,000 pachysandra plants. "Who wants to help me plant these?" he called out. My mother and sister ran for cover. That left me...and from that day on I was as crazy about gardening as my dad was.
I love plants. Always have. Love to dig in the dirt, potter about with growing things, and - most of all - love to learn more.
Sandy soil. Endless summer heat. Heavy rains. New-to-me exotic plants.
I asked the same questions you ask. And I was lucky enough to have asked the right people.
I've worked in the nursery industry since 2002. I'd suffered an injury to my hands through an auto-immune attack and had limited use of them. But I managed to talk my way into a job at a wonderful plant nursery. And from there, my learning began...and I couldn't get enough of it.
Soon customers caught my excitement about each plant and I became the go-to person. I wrote gardening books - including Snowbird Gardening, A Guide for South Florida's Winter Residents.
As I learned about plants, the natural progression of things led me to landscape design - how plants work together. At my nursery job I've designed garden areas or whole landscapes - often on the spot! - for people who brought me pictures, sketches or just a description of an area to be landscaped. And I've done freelance design and occasionally work as a consultant for other designers.
But writing about plants is something I love to do. As well as freelance articles - many on gardening - for my town's newspaper, the Bradenton Herald, I also wrote a popular gardening column, Suncoast Gardening, for several years.
Now those columns have been turned into ebooks...and I've written several more ebooks to help you accomplish the things you want from your landscape.
All the plant photographs for this website, my newspaper columns, books and ebooks, are mostly a result of me wandering local neighborhoods, knocking on doors for permission, with my trusty Sony (now retired) and Canon cameras.
I've given talks to local garden clubs and community groups, as well as writing info pages for nursery personnel to help them (especially new employees) advise customers with best plant suggestions and info they can use to answer customer questions.
But my favorite thing is to work at a plant nursery. I still work Saturdays at Burnett's Nursery, a big beautiful nursery in Bradenton - as much to enjoy being with the plants as helping customers.
The result of all this? South-Florida-Plant-Guide.com. Hope it's just what you need!
"There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder."
-Alfred Austin, British poet laureate