Victory Gardens in South Florida

Our “stay at home” time will eventually come to a close, assuming there’s no startling news of a new spike, so while we’re still staying close to home and yard, why not start a Victory Garden? During World War II, citizens were encouraged to provide their own fresh produce and allow the transportation system to focus on the war effort. The labor force from America’s farms were overseas, so most home gardens were planted by the moms and children left at home. Everyone considered Victory Gardens as part of the war effort. It’s said that the sale of pressure cookers, used to can the food, increased 80%. 

Uncle Sam says– GARDEN to Cut Food costs

We’re in a war now — against a hidden virus. We are all doing our part to stem the spread. Recently, Florida has begun to open up for business, cautiously calling us to return to local restaurants to keep them alive, and while that’s a wonderful thing, there’s something very American about starting a Victory Garden, even now.

Any small patch of dirt or suitably-sized container will do. We’re in Zone 10, so the coming summer isn’t really the growing season for us south Floridians, but there are still some vegetables and herbs plantable in May.

First you want to prepare rich, pest and disease deterrent soil for strong healthy plants. While you may need to purchase compost from a nursery now, find a suitable area in the yard to start a compost using organic kitchen scraps and lawn cuttings. 

What to Plant Now?

  • Vegetables include cherry tomatoes, collards, lime beans, mustard, papayas, okra, snap beans, sweet potatoes, turnips, and yams.
  • Herbs plantable now include basil, chives, dill, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, mint and thyme.
  • Flowers like begonias, blue daze, coleus, cosmos, cockscomb, petunias, periwinkles, purslane, zinnias, and sunflowers can tolerate the coming rain and heat. Bulbs can be planted now too.

Ask us for a complete list of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and bulbs. We’re more than happy to share our knowledge of plants with our friends.

The Amazing Monarch

Danaus plexippus is the odd-sounding scientific name of a stunning orange and black butterfly that has us all “aflutter” in the spring — the Monarch.

Danaus plexippus — the Monarch butterfly

The Monarch comes from the largest family of butterflies (Nymphalidae) with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world; a medium- to large-sized butterfly with distinctive orange and black wings with white spots. It’s a migrator, that is, every fall in early October huge clouds of monarch butterflies make the 2,500-mile trek south to mountains of Mexico where they live in hibernation for six to eight months. Then, in February or March, they fly north again to the United States where the life cycle of this paper-thin insect weighing in at less than one gram starts all over again. 

The Monarch is a milkweed butterfly, sometimes called the common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. One thing is certain — it’s the most familiar North American butterfly and the champion pollinator of plants and flowers. Movies have been made that follow the life of the monarch butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult and its annual migration from the mountains of Mexico to the United States.

In flight, the monarch zips along at a healthy 5.5 mph, which is remarkable when you think that the average person jogs at a speed of 6 to 8 mph. 

For us in Florida, we don’t always need to wait for migration season to enjoy a Monarch. Because of our warm climate and availability of host plants, Florida monarchs stay around all year as long as the temperature stays above freezing. Even though, in March and April as migrating Monarchs and other butterflies come through our lawns and gardens, there’s a “frenzy” of activity among butterfly lovers and gardeners who care that there’s plenty of native-grown Milkweed to serve as host plants for larvae as well as nectar for the adults.

On Earth Day 2020 we were reminded that urban development has eliminated much of the monarch habitat by turning wild fields of milkweed into housing developments or industrial parks and by the overuse of herbicides. To support our planet, volunteer gardeners and students alike make a point to buy seeds and plant milkweed. They sow seeds in pastures and un-mowed areas free of herbicides, or germinate them in advance. 

It’s important to plant native milkweed, so when you shop for pollinator plants at Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart or any of our local nurseries, we suggest that you call ahead to be sure they are open and have “native” Monarch garden plants in stock. 

You can download the free Monarch Plant List from Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit that benefits Monarch conservation.

To help preserve this beautiful creature for future generations, please visit the University of Florida IFAS Extension article Native Habitats for Monarch Butterflies in South Florida and the Save Our Monarchs website.

Do you have a Butterfly garden? Share your photos on our FaceBook page!

The Salty Wind

Floridians love the sunshine and the joys of living close to the beach. But beyond the threat of hurricanes, living with balmy, breezy, salty air can also mean dealing with rusted iron planters and short-lived metal BBQ grills. Did you also know it can play havoc with our plants and trees? 

Recently, we had over 3 days of higher than usual winds and no rainfall. Easterly winds whipped up the beaches, tore across properties, around walls and between structures, delivering a cargo of saltwater that clung to surfaces indiscriminately, and without any rain to wash it away. Wind-borne saltwater was deposited on plants, the moisture evaporated, but the corrosive salt didn’t. Salt now covered every leaf, bud, twig, and needle.

A gallon of seawater contains 27 teaspoons of salt with dual personalities: corrosive and abrasive. Corrosive salt breaks down the surface of plants, burning the scales that protect leaves and buds. Abrasive salt crystals grind in the wind to fairly beat up young, tender buds and leaves. All factors add up to a dull, tattered, and burned out look to a variety of plants.

Learn more about salt tolerant Florida-friendly trees at the UF IFAS Extension (PDF) bulletin.

Coastal breezes and an occasional blustery day make choosing trees and plants for this salty environment a major consideration for landscapers and gardeners. It’s no coincidence that Coconut and Sabal palms and Sea Grapes are in abundance along our coastal roads. These are salt tolerant plants. Other smaller salt-tolerant choices are Green Island Ficus or Clusia, the variegated Peperomia, sun-worshipping Agave, ferny Cardboard palms, fruit-bearing Garcinia, Spartina grass, and Silver Buttonwood. Ground-hugging bloomers like ice plant/aptenia and Baby Sun Rose are also good ground cover and rock garden plants that tolerant our salty winds.

Our landscape designers understand our south Florida winter conditions and are available to help solve the problems of roller coaster temperatures, excessive rains, coastal wind conditions, fungus issues, leaf drop and more. Make an appointment today by calling (772) 546-2861 or email us at info@jenkinslandscape.com

Love and Symbiotic Relationships in Nature

Like Valentine’s Day and red roses, humans and plants are symbiotic. That is, they rely on one other.

Humans breath air that is about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. When we breathe in, nitrogen builds up proteins in our muscles, skin, blood, hair, and nails and oxygen fuels our cells, enabling us to think, feel, and move. When we breathe out, we release carbon dioxide— exactly what plants need to stay alive. 

Plants greedily take in the carbon dioxide, combine it with water from their roots, then use photosynthesis to convert it into oxygen before releasing it back into the atmosphere for humans to breathe.

This symbiotic relationship between plants that provide us with life-giving oxygen, and humans that provide plants with essential carbon dioxide is a perfect example of different species living together and depending on the other to live and survive.

Landscapes that are lush with lawns, plants, and trees are simply good for us. The rich oxygen that living landscapes give off enhances our mood and makes us happy. 

Footnote: February celebrates love. On Valentine’s Day, long-stemmed red roses will fly off the shelves and into the hearts of lucky recipients everywhere. The tradition of giving flowers on St. Valentine’s Day dates back to late 17th century Sweden where a popular fad of associating flower types with their meaning. For instance, giving a yellow carnation meant someone disappointed you, a purple hyacinth meant you wanted to be forgiven, and the red rose represented deep love.

So in February, add plants to your landscape, send flowers to your loved ones, and to assure that you choose just the right color of flowers this Valentine’s Day, learn about the meaning of flower colors.

Green Industry’s Best 2020 Management Practices

Florida ranks 4th among the U.S. states with the highest number of landscaping companies. No surprise here, considering our mild climate, rainfall amounts, and an ever-growing population. It is more important than ever that landscaping companies, like us, educate ourselves about fertilization practices in South Florida in order to conserve and protect our vital ground and surface water resources for future generations.

In 2018 the University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology hired a professional survey company to talk with Floridians who hire professionals like Jenkins Landscape Co. and others in order to determine “best practices” for fertilization.

Over 3,500 homeowners and HOAs were randomly surveyed about their a) neighborhood characteristics, b) what processes and products were used to fertilize their lawns and/or common areas, and c) how they were currently being informed about the issues of fertilizer use and best practices. The results of that survey formed a 2020 report entitled Floridians’ Engagement in Landscape Best Practices to Protect Water Resources.

We believe that our customers, suppliers, designers and employees will benefit from the survey results, so here’s a brief summation. We’ve rounded the percentages to make is easier to read and understand.

HOA Characteristics

Almost half of Floridians live in an HOA-controlled community, and 75% of HOAs have policies related to landscaping. About 64% of HOAs have landscape-related penalties, but only 20% of HOAs reward or recognize landscapers or homeowners who use best practices in the look of their landscape. 

Common Features in Florida Yards

The majority of Floridians (52%) have lawns, 40% of which have shade trees, and 36% have palm trees. About one-third (33%) have mulched beds, 24% use drought-tolerant plants, 28% have vegetable gardens, 17% use pollinator plants, and 17% have fruit trees.

Hiring Professionals

When it comes to hiring landscape professionals, Florida landscape companies employ people for Lawn Maintenance 34%, Pest maintenance 25%, Fertilizer application 24%, Tree pruning 23%, Weed management 20%, Irrigation services 14%, and Landscape design/installation 11%.

Water Conservation

Floridians appear to be conscientious about water conservation. Over 65% use low-water plants, seasonally adjust irrigation times (50%), use high efficiency sprinklers (45%), and have replaced high water plants with drought tolerant plants (44%). About 30% say they calibrate sprinklers or use rain sensors. Fewer people convert lawns to landscaped beds (32%), install low-volume irrigation (27%), and turn off irrigation for established plants  or use recycled water (25%). Fewer than 25% use a rain gauge (23%) or leave portions of a landscape not irrigated (20%). The least used methods of water conservation are smart irrigation (18%), use rain barrels (17%), or drip irrigation (15%). 

Fertilizer Best Practices

When asked whether they use specific fertilizer best practices, Floridians are least likely to hire a GI-BMP certified professional (27.7% ) or inquire about a professional’s training in the application of fertilizer (28%). Only 28% test their soil to see whether fertilizer is needed! 

Jenkins’ certified professionals are Florida Water Star Accredited in landscape and irrigation. See FNGLA Florida Water Star.

The above statistics represent a 2018 statewide survey of Florida citizen’s landscapes and landscape management practices. They are not meant to represent practices of the Jenkins Landscape Co. or our associates or customers. Our focus is, and always has been, on Florida-friendly landscape practices, association with vendors who reflect our values, and exceptional professional development within the ranks of our family of employees.

Live Plants for Christmas

Living plans as holiday decorations have benefits! Studies show that plants boost our mood, make us more productive, and help us to concentrate better. Not a bad idea during the rush of the season! Live plants reduce stress and they clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, adding humidity, and producing oxygen. And because we live in a mild climate, when the tinsel comes down some holiday plants can find new homes in our own backyards!

Let’s explore some of Florida’s best live plants for Christmas.

Rosemary looks and smells like the spirit of Christmas. Use on the kitchen counter to snip for use in savory holiday recipes, then let this sweet topiary live on—indoors in good light or in the garden—to grow your own rosemary all year long.

Amaryllis can be forced to produce stunning flowers indoors during the Christmas season. After the holidays, just plant its bulb it in the garden and enjoy stunning color in the spring.

Cyclamen is comfortable indoors or outdoors during the cooler Florida season. It’s dark-green-to-silvery leaves accent red, pink, or white flowers that twist and turn throughout this beautiful, dependable bloomer.

Norfolk Island Pine trees are often used as miniature Christmas trees for small spaces. They stay small indoors, but when planted outdoors, can grow to an impressive height of 60 – 80 feet! So choose your plant’s location judiciously.

Holly doesn’t do well indoors, but thrives in a patio container or in landscapes where it can grow quite large. Red berries burst from dark green foliage for that perfect holiday look.

Christmas Cactus is a holiday gift that anyone would be happy to receive. It’s a breeze to care for and its blooms are often considered an early warning system for shorter days and cooler temps. They can survive outside as long as they are protected during a rare freeze.

Living Christmas Trees in pots can be replanted, and live cut trees in Palm Beach County can be recycled and turned into mulch that is given out free to county residents.

Poinsettias are the classic Christmas icon that can be enjoyed either inside or in your Florida landscape. With a little love and care your poinsettia will survive the holiday season and thrive for years to come. Learn how to care for your poinsettias indoors and when to plant them outdoors.

Ask your Jenkins gardener to recommend holiday bloomers and plants that are best suited for your existing landscape and which plants are a good fit for your particular light and moisture conditions.

Why We Save the Bees

As landscapers, it’s not uncommon to freak out when we come across a beehive while clearing brush, or receive a call about swarming bees from an anxious customer. The media loved the Africanized bee scare of the ’70s and Hollywood capitalized on it in The Swarm a 1978 horror film about the killer bee invasion of Texas. Fear of bees even has a name—Apiphobia. So why, with so much fear of bees, does Jenkins Landscape try so hard to save them?

Honeycomb found during tree removal

The bee population is in decline. Since around 2006, bee decline in the U.S. hovers around 30% every winter season. Since 1945, domesticated honeybees have declined over 55%. Habitat loss, pesticides, and other agricultural practices are responsible. Bees work hard to pollinate plants and flowers, so the decline has had a negative effect on food sources. In fact, one out of every three bites of the food we eat depends on bees and other pollinators.

Humans must choose to protect bees. When a Jenkins crew runs across a hive, or if called out to remove a hive, we call a beekeeper.

Comb removed from fallen tree

The lifecycle of each bee is short, yet purposeful. Bees work together as a colony to build a hive in which the cycle of birth, life and death are at the core of their existence. There are three types of bees: the male is a drone; females are worker bees, and only one bee is the Queen. The Queen Bee larva is fed Royal Jelly, a creamy goop with a high sugar content. Once an adult, she mates with one male drone, gathering millions of sperm. It’s no wonder that after mating, the male promptly dies. 

A young worker bee’s first job is housekeeper, constantly cleaning the cells, nursing the larva, producing honey, storing pollen, and building and repairing the cells and building honey comb. Twenty days later they move up to the exhausting job of forager, finding and bringing back to the hive water for drinking, pollen and nectar as food and to make honey, and resin from tree buds to seal the hive. After about 500 miles of flight, they are worn out and die.

While foraging, the bees do a “waggle dance” to let other worker bees know where the best nectar is located. It could be your garden!

Comb transferred to bee relocation box

The “swarming” that alarms so many of us happens when the bee colony outgrows its home. The queen and 30-60% of the hive leave to seek a new home. Before heading out, they fatten up for the journey to a point that they can’t sting to protect themselves. At this point, they are quite vulnerable to predators, and the least likely to sting. The best approach is to leave them alone, but it’s also the best time for a beekeeper to “catch” them.

The hive that was abandoned is now the scene of some very peculiar goings on. A new Queen emerges and goes from queen cell to queen cell, stinging her sisters to death. It’s the way of the bees, giving both the old and new hives the best opportunity to survive. 

Bees adopt quickly to new hive for transfer

We want to save the bees because your plants and flowers depend on the bees for pollination. Without bees, wasps and other pollinators, your landscape trees, bushes, plants and flowers will be unable to transfer male and female plant parts. Can you do it yourself? Yep. Spoiler alert: you will need a paintbrush.

BEE NOTES

Some people, especially children, can be allergic to bee venom and a single sting could trigger a serious immune system reaction. We take this seriously and never recommend anything that could cause harm to a human.

Want to help feed the bees? Plant Sugar Palms, Firebush, Spanish Needle, PowderPuff, Loquat, and African Blue Basil. And talk with us before using any pesticides on your landscape.

Need a hive relocated or removed? Please call us. We have great recommendations for beekeepers and may be able to make relocation arrangements for you.

Working with Landscape Architects: the Difference

As homeowners become more discerning about their outdoor living preferences in south Florida, they expect authentic custom design, exceptional beauty and value, and the promise that the job will be done right. 

However, the biggest reason that we lose jobs is price. Since we are known for pricing jobs fairly and accurately, are FNGLA- and ISA-certified, and have over 65 years of knowledge and experience, why is this?  

You know the drill. Landscape architects compete for jobs with a flat-fee design proposal they hope will meet and exceed client expectations. Their bid has an acceptable profit margin that includes the cost of landscape contractors to execute the plan.

Contractors never intend to underdeliver, but to keep profit margins acceptable, low-bidding contractors are forced to cut corners, failing to match what they specified. For example, a landscape design calling for 30-foot trees can now afford only 16-foot trees — or trees of the right size but of lower quality. Plants delivered to the site are smaller in size or dull instead of colorful.

In all cases, underbidding means under-delivering. While the Landscape Architect remains focused on exceeding client expectations, a low-bidding Landscape Contractor must focus on cutting costs to meet your expectations.

 Jupiter Island Club, Photo credit Loulie Walker Events, NY (Pinterest)

From our earliest years, Jenkins adopted the design philosophy of renown New York landscape architects and designers of the Jupiter Island Club, Innocenti & Webel. We committed to “quality design rooted in a clear understanding the constraints and opportunities of an existing site. Existing vegetation, soils, hydrology, habitat, heritage, and regulations must all be taken into account. Further, these must all be integrated with the client’s design preferences, sensibilities, and budget.” 

If we are wrong in our choices, we don’t blame our poor decision on the architect, but instead work to fix design errors at our expense. Because we maintain what you design, we offer design suggestions in advance to “create thoughtful landscapes of lasting beauty while enjoying the process and the people with whom we work.”

Learn more about us, our history, and work at jenkinslandscape.com

Team Hyjenx

Team Hyjenx in the Bahama Islands

Hurricane Dorian was the most powerful tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas, and certainly the worst natural disaster in Bahamian history. Those of us on Florida’s Atlantic Coast prepared for the worst, yet were spared. This is the story of Team Hyjenx and the roles that Jenkins Landscape and friends played to bring hope and relief to small cays of the Bahama Islands.

On Sunday, September 8, at 11:00 p.m. the National Hurricane Center issued the final advisory on Hurricane Dorian. But what it left behind is a terrifying story of perseverance, survival and hope.

After Dorian squatted over the Bahamas for days, getting aid to survivors was a logistical nightmare. Roads, airports, communications grids, and electrical services were all down. In spite of these challenges, the outpouring of support from the citizens all along the coast of South Florida was truly inspiring. Jenkins Landscape, under the direction of Landscape and Irrigation Manager Steven Jenkins and friends formed Team Hyjenx. Together, they made multiple crossings on Jenkins’ boat Hyjenx to deliver over almost 10,000 pounds of supplies to Grand Cay, Turtle Cay, Abaco and other smaller islands unable to get immediate airlift support.

Grand Cay, 14 September 2019

Video credit: Hyjenx Team member Daniel Massey.

We cannot thank enough the employees, friends, and residents of our area that so generously donated supplies, and the bravery of the Team Hyjenx crew that faced uncertainty on the water crossing and at the docks.

Abaco Cay, 27 September 2019

Video credit: Hyjenx Team member Daniel Massey.

Over sixty boats from South Florida made the crossing, none for the accolades. Similar to Team Hyjenx, they were simply determined to support those who took the hit from the storm that may well have been ours. 

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.

Charles Dickens