Kenni Lou Walker is a retired registered nurse now living in Florida.

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Little But Mighty
by Kenni Lou Walker       #Garden Profile   #Misc

The bed displays a variety of flowers and interesting elements.

Opportunities abound for beautiful gardens in manufactured housing and condo communities. Zellwood Station, historically a railway station, is a resident-owned 55+ adult community with manufactured homes and many amenities, including a challenging PGA-level golf course. The rolling hills cradle numerous lakes and ponds as well as wooded areas. Each of the 1,040 homes includes a small plot of land, as well as homeowner association guidelines that limit architectural and landscaping options. Examples of what can be accomplished under these circumstances abound within Zellwood Station, including Jeanne Bakkuum’s small space. Jeanne is one of those homeowners who have maximized her small space, transforming it into a beautifully manicured area that provides year-round beauty. She used color, texture, height, and variety to create a head-turning landscape nestled a compact space.

Jeanne hails from Nashville, where her love for gardening was inspired by the fact that where she lived was once a dairy farm, giving her “unbelievably” fertile soil.

A hanging basket of orchids that dangle under the Lagrostrum tree.

Living in Florida, Jeanne was fascinated by the variety of plants that bloomed year round and thus began her decades of experimentation. She persisted through a myriad of successes mixed with a few “learning opportunities.” Though her gardens are now well established, Jeanne continues to try new looks and new plants.

The largest garden began as lawn that was a challenge due to persistent chinch bugs. Jeanne replaced her St Augustine grass with zoysia grass, which is relatively free from pest and disease problems, but not without its challenges. The most common of which is thatch buildup that requires periodic removal. But after several years, the lawn developed into a thick, perfectly plush carpet.

The back side of the garden displays a memorial container, rocks and driftwood.

Jeanne carved out a well-defined garden in a raised bed filled with fertilized soil in full sun surrounded by a dry moat. She used golden trumpet plants (Allamanda cathartica) and Knock Out roses (Rosa cvs.) to anchor the space. She likes the Knock Out roses for their bright color and minimal maintenance – requiring just a bit of rose food and only early spring and late fall pruning. Deadheading prolongs the blooming season for several months. This season, the space also displays red geraniums (Pelargonium spp. and cvs.), purple mophead hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), purple and white Petunia, green and pink polka dot plants (Hypoestes phyllostachya), and Mexican petunias (Ruellia spp.).

The garden is enhanced by two family mementos. “Mary Frances” is a statue of a young girl with a bird perched on her outstretched hand. She was a Mother’s Day gift from her son Gary. A planter from Jeanne’s late husband’s memorial lies on its side, spilling out lavender blue periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Look closely and you can see a variety of river rocks, porous airy pumice, and lava rocks that embellish the space.

Surprises are found at every turn, such as this beautiful Plumeria.

Surprises are found everywhere you turn in this garden. Different varieties of yellow, white, pink, and mixed orchids hang gracefully from a tree-form Ligustrum. Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) covers the ground at the base of a tree. More orchids hang from the carport and a collection of succulents – including blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens), Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), and ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) – is displayed in interesting containers on pedestals of varying heights.

At the end of our visit, Jeanne shared some of her gardening tips:
•  Group plants with similar sun requirements.
•  Don’t be afraid of color.
•  And above all: Be brave!


A version of this article appeared in Florida Gardening Volume 23 Number 1.
Photography courtesy of Kenni Lou Walker.


Posted: 01/31/18   RSS | Print


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