My husband and I are set to close on our first home in the Pensecola Florida area. Our house sits on a third of an acre, and for the first time ever we will have a back yard! We plan to build three large planter boxes and begin growing our own vegetables. We would like to purchase many plants to adorn the remainder of our backyard in an “English country” style. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for perennials that you feel would be suitable to our area. I cannot tell you how excited we are to get started! Having our own yard and garden has been a dream of ours for years! Thank you so much for your help! Lauren D
Answer: Lauren, congratulations on your new home! Your area is either Hardiness Zone 8b or 9a. Your planting timing for vegetables is going to be much earlier than many parts of the country. Your season almost ends for most cool-season vegetables about the time it begins in climates farther north. Your local extension office should be able to provide you with a planting guide for what to plant, and when.
Since our plants are grown in the Midwest, we have to maintain a shipping schedule that’s consistent with their growth and readiness to be transported to their new homes. Also, we ship all over the U.S., so we shoot for averages when we determine best shipping dates. We work hard to ensure the healthiest plants available anywhere, and we hope the extra wait won’t deter you from entrusting us to furnish your young plants as you begin your landscape and garden projects.
As for the English country-style landscaping, there are several things to think about. While cottage gardens may look random, they are far from it. First is the hardscape to think about, such as rocks, walls, buildings, pergolas, etc. Then you need to look at large plants as anchors, like your trees and any large shrubs. From there you can add in the filler plants, the perennials, vines, smaller blooming shrubs and annuals. The blooming periods are carefully staged so there is always something in bloom. You can add in your local palms, azaleas, and ferns as filler.
We have a large selection of perennials and shrubs on our website; however, many of the plants that are typical in the cottage gardens are not fond of the heat and long growing season of your area without a lot of protection. Northern full-sun conditions would be more like your partial shade. Some plants will not be happy with the soil structure of the Pensacola area. There are many plants that are considered annuals in cooler regions that would make great perennials for your location and would help you emulate the look and feel of a cottage garden–so be sure to take a look at our Annuals offerings. Plants like Bougainvillea, Colocasia, Mandevilla, and Coleus all would do great in your area and potentially grow as perennials.
As you peruse the large selection of plants we have available, make sure to check their Zone ranges and soil requirements, all listed under the details of each plant. And if a plant has a different soil requirement than your native soil, try growing it in a pot. Big colorful pots filled with small shrubs are a perfect accent in this type of a garden. A cottage garden is about flows of color and texture that make you want to move from garden space to garden space.
Check out our Perennials, Shrubs, Annuals, and even herbs, like lavender and rosemary. In your area, they make marvelous borders. If you have questions about a specific plant suited to your area, please let us know. It's helpful to also know your light situation, full sun or shade, what direction the location is facing and the relationship to the house. Feel free to send photos. These are important in helping to determine if a plant is right for that location.
Happy planning and creating your new dream gardens, Karen