In Florida, there are many homes that are built around small courtyards having a view of the courtyard from all rooms in the house. Small areas, which can be a challenge to landscape, can be the true focal point of your home if done right. Keeping plants neat and organized and watching their size will ensure the area will not be overwhelming. Creating your own tropical paradise can be fun and rewarding even if you live in a condo with a small lanai.
Plants and Trees
Planting a small tree in your courtyard can really bring the outdoors in. Depending on your preference, it can give you shade, color with flowers and even fragrance. Watch the height of your tree because many courtyards have a screened roof.
Planted in a pot or designated flower beds, a small tree is certainly worth thetime and effort. Filling the area underneath your tree with many different sizes, shapes, textures and colors of flowers and plants will round out your little piece of paradise. Remember not to over plant; this will keep the area open and an airy.
Fountains, whether permanent or portable, provide running water which can bring a soothing and relaxing sound to your courtyard garden. Fountains come in thousands of shapes, colors and sizes. Be sure to choose one that is suitable in size to fit your special area and not to place it where it becomes overwhelming and creates an annoyance. You can create your own Niagara Falls by making the water flow too heavy creating a loud and annoying sound or too slow creating a dripping effect like water torture. Depending on
Plants in Containers
Another way of introducing plants to your courtyard or lanai is by using pots and planters that are on the large size, which will make the area seem bigger than it is. Try to use pots with the same or similar color to create a serene atmosphere rather than a lot of different colors which might seem confusing and circus like.
For instance, when using Mexican Talavera pottery, which uses many colors on each piece, planting different colored flowers would make a very confusing effect. Pick out a primary color and go with it. When you are selecting flowers for your pots use colors that blend with the pots, your outdoor furniture and any garden art that you may have. As always, planting en mass isthe way to go. This will create an organized and calming retreat.
Some of my favorite plants for small areas or courtyards are Crotons, Bromeliads, Alocasias and Calocasias. Vines grown on a trellis can be kept in check with a little selective clipping. Bamboo in containers also makes great accent plants. White candles (Whitfielda elongata) and giant white Begonias (Odarata) grow extremely well in containers in the shade. Large leaf Philodendrons and Anthuriums, especially the giant leaf Anthuriums, are another good choice and give a very tropical look. All these plants will grow well in shade or partial shade.
In sunnier locations, cactus, succulents and euphorbia will thrive with very little care. Remember that if your planting area is under screening, that will cut out about 30 percent of the sun’s rays, which thencreates shade.
Enjoy your courtyard garden, and keep butterflying!
Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, www.naplesbutterfly.com. He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.