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Passion Gives Elegance to Martiny Garden

Lynne and Larry Martiny sit on the top of the rock wall that divides this colorful bed (bougainvilea and stromanche) from the rest of the back garden.

Both Larry and Lynne Martiny of South Brandon are as enthusiastic about their garden as two kids about their toys. They work together on a yard that shows amazing elegance, even after the frost and take cuttings and starts of plants to their five acres of land in Lake Wales as well.

"Larry''s not as avid, but he likes the yard and plants and tolerates me with my various projects. Actually, he tends all the patio plants," says Lynne. "We have some that date back 20 or more years, if not the host, then from the host plant."

Larry changes out the low plants in the containers as needed, but the taller ones stay for years. He uses Miracle-Gro every so often and Jungle Growth potting mix from Lowe's and the plants thrive.

When they moved here from Apopka in '99, they had a large U Haul truck full of plants. First they hauled them to a good friend in Altamonte Springs who plant sat for the ten or so months it took to build their house in south Brandon.

"Actually, we had a landscaper do the front yard after it was in bad shape from sink hole repair to the house last year," says Lynne. But the back yard is equally well designed. She got a book on landscaping and followed instructions well. Again there are groups of plants of the same kind to give good visual impact, but they still manage to have many kinds of plants.

"The book really helped," she says. "No more planting willy nilly. I ripped out and started over."

Lynne has an eye for elegance. Most striking and original is the art Lynne made by selecting, painting, and arranging two pieces of palm detritus.

The oak canopy overhead is pruned high so that there is enough sun for the lawn to flourish and both shade and sun loving plants to grow in the right places. An automatic irrigation system keeps the plants happy even with watering only one day a week.

They moved many of the container plants up against the house wall in the enclosed pool area during the frost threat. That was no small chore since they have many plants in both small and large containers. In the front of the house they have an Alexander or king palm with three trunks all close to 12 feet tall. "I put a ladder up through the middle, then covered the fronds with tarps and put a heater up inside to keep the growing points warm," says Larry. The tree came through with no damage. It is only supposed to be hardy in Zones 10 and 11. It helps that it is on the south side of the house and it will grow more cold resistant as it matures.

"My hardy peperomia does well in pots and grows nicely in the ground, too. I can literally stick it in the dirt and it grows," Lynne says. At one place it is growing up the trunk of a tree. She also has two different variegated peperomias, one upright and one cascading from a hanging pot. This is one of the houseplants we cherished up north that is seldom used here. Other ground covers include ajuga and violets with both white and purple flowers, some that are descended from plants belonging to her mother and grandmother and starting to bloom now.

There is one large area of paths, ground covers, special plants, garden art and a bench under the trees in the back garden. Another much smaller area has herbs and vegetables, even some asparagus they started from seed and are harvesting now for the first time. "The spears are thin yet and we have to cut them quick of they go to leaf, but it is fun," says Lynne.

Lynne has a storage shed, potting area and intensive care unit in a hidden corner just behind the gate from the driveway where she roots cuttings, repots and divides plants. She even has good sized begonias she had rooted from leaves. Larry told her, "I don't care what you do as long as it doesn't show from the road." He doesn't have to worry. It seems they both do all gardening and landscaping things well.

The Alexander palm stands to the left of the entrance to the Martiny home.

This bench and bay of plants cut down much of the mowing of excellent turf in back.