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Greetings from South Florida

Started by Loki, September 11, 2010, 12:04:10 pm

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Greetings everyone. I'm glad to have found such a wonderful forum and I'm looking forward to being a small part of this community.

A little about my background. I am the lead gardener at the Morikami Japanese Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach. I have been there for two years. Gardening is my passion and profession. I have been involved in Florida landscape since I was a teenager. I also have a small business that specializes in pruning and gardening as well as turf management in South Florida.

Working at the Morikami has been a very humbling experience. I am always amazed at how much more there is to learn. I have had the great pleasure of working with Hoichi Kurisu, who designed the Morikami and his crew over the years. I have done my best to "steal" as much of his knowledge as possible and I'm looking forward to learning more from all of you and this valuable resource.

Thanks for you time.

Hard work shows the character of a person. Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.


Welcome Chris,

Among other things, I am sure you can help with insights into warm-weather gardening questions which arise from time to time.  What are your areas of interest?



Welcome Chris!  Glad to have you here and look forward to sharing stolen knowledge... ;)


Thank you for the greetings.

Working in a Japanese Garden in South Florida does have its challenges. Obviously the first difference is simple geography. We can not grow the traditional plants seen in most Japanese Gardens. Our solution is to choose plants that have similar growth structure, leaf patterns and general appearance. We get close. For instance, we can't grow black pines very well if at all. However we do have a native pine called the slash pine. They can't be pruned much, but they naturally grow into shapes desired in Japanese Gardens. Also living at three feet above sea level we have no hills or mountains. We have grown ficus trees and prune them to resemble a mountain back ground. It is very effective. We "borrow" the existing landscape (tree lines in the back ground) to give the illusion of a mountainous back drop. The most obvious difference is our growing season. We never stop pruning. Ever. The semi-tropical growing zone is a bio mass making machine. We slow down in Jan, Feb and March, but we still have to prune non stop.

The Morikami Japanese Garden is 16.5 acres. Its BIG! We currently have a six man crew due to budget restrains. Taking care of such a large space changes the way you approach an intimate garden setting like many Japanese style gardens. It is a challenge.

My main interests are building and raking karesansui gardens. I have had the pleasure of installing a small 15x10 karesansui garden as an addition an existing pocket garden within the Morikami and I really love raking the seven karesansui gardens we have on site. I even built a small one at my house.

Obviously pruning is a great joy for me. The unforeseen joy has come from learning the plants life cycles. Watching when the bloom, when they have growth spurts, when they drop leaves and learning when to stop pruning to ensure the best blooms. An example: We are fortunate to be able to grow azaleas in south Florida. Not an easy task due to our hot temperatures and non acidic soil. Over the years we have learned to do our last pruning on them in early October. This allows us to get the final shape in them, but also allows them to bloom in the most brilliant fashion. Azaleas bloom on old wood, so the final prune must be just right. We don't touch them until after they bloom in Feb and March. So many plants speak to us this way. We just have to stop and learn from what they tell us.
Hard work shows the character of a person. Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.

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