Once we got rid of the vast majority of the St. Augustine lawn, my goal out back was to get paths laid out and beds set in with plants that looked good, provided benefit to pollinators, and/or produce for humans. I didn't have a huge budget. We did the work ourselves and focused on the sale tables, snagging native and well adapted easily propagated non-native plants. For the most part, this strategy was successful. Maybe a little bit too successful?
My inclination has always been to let plants that are doing well take the lead. If a plant begins to crowd its neighbors or the path either one I try to divide and transplant it to fill gaps in other spaces. Why buy new plants, I reasoned, when I had happy plants to easily propagate already on hand?
The problem with this approach is that as the years went by a few well-adapted non-natives got ahead of the game. Way ahead. I only have a few areas that get good sun and a handful of well adapted non-native plants are currently hogging those bright spaces while native plants I sought out specifically to support butterflies and bees are straggling in beds progressively shaded out by overgrowing trees.
I realized the solution is in my hands. I need to re-prioritize allocation of my sunny spaces and get back in charge of what goes where. It is time to stop complaining that I don't have any spots left for the plants I want and to create space for them in the sun. What specifically needs to go?
Most of it needs to go, hopefully transplanted to areas out front where it can have some running room in shady areas that won't support blooming local pollinator boosters.
Though their flowers are a favorite of mine, the large clumps of leaves provide safe harbor for snails. Daisies turn out to be bullies in the garden, crowding everything else out of their way.
The last plant on my hit list, a guilty pleasure for me - Jewels of Opar. I adore the tiny flowers and brightly multicolored berries that sway on long delicate stems high above the chartreuse flowers.
They don't seem to support any fauna other than grasshoppers, snails and deer. I think they are lovely, but not to the exclusion of all else. Onto the chopping block they go.
This coming Fall I plan to replace my line-up of non-native sun hogs with a variety of blooming native plants. Winter weather for 2014-15 is predicted to be a bit warmer and wetter than usual which would help new plantings get well established before next summer's heat arrives. And if I lack for ideas about which native plants to choose? There are wonderful local garden blogger posts to help me figure out what works where, what plantings are companionable, how things will look at various times of the year and how much maintenance to expect.
This is a much more ambitious plan than my usual "fill in the shady gaps" Fall planting program. I'm excited at the prospect of introducing more pollinator friendly native wildflowers to my garden spaces. As it turns out, I do indeed have some space in the sun - I just have to open it back up to the plants that properly belong here.