Coming to the End of a Year in Flowers


2016 had several milestones for the world of trees, plants, and flowers.  Swedish botanists discovered seeds from the oldest flowering plants known to science: Cretaceous flower seeds dating back 110 million to 125 million years.  Another team of plant researchers discovered a fascinating way that blue leafed plants use their color to achieve photosynthesis in low light conditions.

A study by American health scientists proved that women who have the most vegetation around their homes have on average a 12 percent lower death rate than those that have little vegetation. The most striking differences were seen with 41 percent lower death rate from kidney disease, a 34 percent lower death rate from respiratory disease, and a 13 percent lower death rate from cancer.

Serene Settings completed its series of Flowers of the Month for each of the twelve months this year.  We invite you to revisit these beautiful North Florida landscaping plants, many unique to our special region of Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, Daytona, and St. Augustine.  As the new year of 2017 dawns soon, we will get to enjoy each of these upcoming highlights again:

January: Camellia

February: Bogainvillea

March: Azalea

April: Soap Aloe

May: Gardenia

June: Passionflower

July: Crepe Myrtle

August: Firebush

September: Blanketflower

October: Hibiscus

November: Chrysanthemum

December: Christmas Cactus

Do you love flowers as much as we do?  Let Serene Settings design, install, and manage your landscape design in Flagler, St. Johns, and Volusia Counties, Florida.  We specialize in irrigation, lawn care, and improving curb appeal with landscaping for homes and commercial properties.


Now is a Great Time to Maintain Your Irrigation System


The fastest growing season, comprised of the summer months, has passed but irrigation needs do not end.  Florida's lawns and landscape designs require proper irrigation all year long.  Your professional landscaper should modify the settings somewhat for this time of year because there are many components of an ideal irrigation system that should be checked and updated seasonally.  If your sprinkler system is in need of a licensed and experienced irrigation pro, contact us.

When you hire Serene Settings to maintain your sprinklers, the first thing we will do is turn on all irrigation zones and confirm they are performing correctly.  We will check for leaks and that all irrigation heads are working.  This procedure will show the irrigation specialist if there are broken or misdirected sprinklers, water application that is obstructed or uneven, or sprinklers that may not be properly spaced to ensure the right coverage.

As we have mentioned in the Florida Landscape Design, Installation, and Care Blog before, irrigation of lawn and landscaping in Florida is a science.  Different types of sprinklers in the same zone, not enough coverage, incorrectly scheduled irrigation timers, and malfunctioning rainwater sensors can lead to a host of problems.  Overwatering can damage plants, drain off fertilizers, and waste valuable water.  Underwatering can also damage plants to the point that you may need to replace them! Ornamental plants may only need specialized low level irrigation that reduces runoff and evaporation.  
Serene Settings can also advise you to the availability and legality of reclaimed water, cistern collected rainwater, or other non-potable sources for irrigation water in your particular area or community.  If you desire to use less water overall, let us begin the process of redoing your landscape design using Florida-friendly, waterwise, and xeriscaping principles.  There are so many options available and we are happy to be your source for information, education, design, installation, and maintenance of your property.  Contact Serene Settings of North Florida today.

   

Flower of September: Blanketflower Covers the Dunes with Wheels of Fire


We have selected the blanketflower, Gaillardia, as our Flower of September. You will see it blooming everywhere in North Florida, especially the colorful dunes of our beaches, well into the fall months. This native wildflower is also called firewheel, Indian blanket, Indian blanketflower, or sundance.

There is an abundance of subspecies of this flower but the one that grows the best in Flagler Beach, St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Daytona, and Ormond is Gaillardia pulchella.   This flower grows either as a short-lived perennial, annual flowering plant, or sometimes year round.  Blanketflower is a relative of the sunflower family.

As a professional, experienced North Florida landscaper, we may utilize blanketflower in the following landscape designs:

Florida-friendly landscape design with xeriscape principles and waterwise considerations

Beach landscaping design, installation, and maintenance emphasizing salt tolerant plants

Commercial landscaping plans that include seasonal planting for continuous blooming

Gaillardia pulchella is a hardy plant that will grow in almost any soil but it tends to appreciate soil that is sandy and well-drained. It thrives in our region in summer and fall because of its high drought tolerance and predilection for a dry, hot climate and full sun. It spreads beautifully (like a blanket) and you will see expansive patches of its bright fiery colors.

Blanketflower is loved by honeybees, butterflies, and caterpillars - in fact some species of caterpillar will eat only Gaillardia.  Blanketflower produces plentiful seeds for replanting and self-seeding, and the seed heads are very popular with wild birds.  If deer are damaging your landscaping, you will be pleased to note that blanketflower is deer-resistant!

Contact Serene Settings of North Florida for landscape design, irrigation, outdoor lighting, water features, lawn maintenance, and hardscaping including pavers.  Our service area covers St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia Counties.


Flower of August: The Attraction of Firebush



This native plant blooms for months, attracting both birds and butterflies, and is practically bullet-proof once established. - University of Florida

The most common discussion in North Florida in August is typically regarding how HOT it is.  Our temperatures climb to the maximum and the sun demonstrates its power at midday.  Fragile flowers such as gardenia will not tolerate the extreme heat and vegetable gardens are taking a break until fall.  The agave (century plants) are blooming with their towering stalks of flowers, but one of our favorite summer plants is busy attracting birds and butterflies: the fiery firebush (also known as scarlet bush or hummingbird bush).

Firebush, Hamelia patens, is our ideal choice for August's Flower of the Month with its drought and heat tolerance, Florida friendly character, and ability to integrate beautifully into almost any landscape design for North Florida.  The flower shown in the photo is the dwarf variety of firebush, which is not native and is slightly lighter in color than the regular variety.  Native firebush grows very large in full sun and has shown tolerance to salt spray in beach landscaping designs.

The time to plant firebush is NOW so contact your North Florida landscaper to incorporate it into your landscape design.  It thrives in almost any type of soil and is mostly disease and pest resistant.  It will begin its red orange blooms in spring then continue all the way until the first cold freeze.  Firebush is considered a perennial or semi-woody shrub and the best thing about it is the wildlife it attracts: hummingbirds and butterflies such as the gulf fritillary and the magical zebra longwing. Its berries will attract other birds as well.

Contact Serene Settings of North Florida to create lush landscaping that flowers all year long, enhancing your property value and personal enjoyment.  We design, install, and maintain commercial and residential landscape designs in St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, and Daytona.


Irrigation is the science of landscape design


Water is life: regular watering from rainfall or irrigation systems is necessary for most of the beautiful plants in your landscape design.  Unfortunately, many Florida homeowners have unknowingly spent as much as half of their utility bill on watering lawns and landscaping, when watering wisely can be so much easier than you may realize. We are professional irrigation specialists - licensed by the State of Florida #FC9527: we can set up, repair, and calibrate your watering system.  

All plants need to be watered during the first weeks after planting or transplanting, and during development.  Then they fall into different categories according to water needs, from the very thirsty to the drought tolerant.  In irrigation terms, efficiency refers to how much of the water applied to the plants is finally used by them and uniformity refers to how evenly the water is applied to the plants.  This is the science we employ to keep your landscaping looking its best.

A knowledgeable landscape designer will divide your plantings and irrigation segments into watering zones (hydro-zones): oasis, transitional, and xeric. The oasis zone is for the thirstiest plants and will be placed closest to a water source. The xeric zone is for plants that need no supplemental water after being established. The transitional zone will contain plants that need occasional watering, or regular watering during a drought.

It is concepts such as the three watering zones that explain why an expertly designed, installed, and maintained lawn and landscape design will look better and thrive unequivocally through the dramatic seasons of Florida.  Your comprehensive site plan will include placement of water sources among the plantings, and you will be able to recognize the oasis, transitional, and xeric zones if you look closely.   Perhaps it is your preference to feature one of the three hydro-zones predominantly in your landscaping and we can do just that.  

A licensed landscaper, who is foremost an irrigation professional, knows the science behind a lush and waterwise landscape.  We make it our business to understand unique concepts such as field capacity, which refers to the maximum amount of water a soil may hold before draining to become runoff.  An irrigation controller is an automatic timing device that operates irrigation zones for a predetermined time and frequency.  Scheduling of irrigation is based on factors such as soil type, root zone depth, and weather conditions - it should be regularly calibrated and checked for proper functionality.

North Florida wavers between extreme drought conditions and record rainfalls.  Contact Serene Settings for a free estimate when you need assistance with your irrigation.  We are a full service landscape design, installation, and lawn care company for residential and commercial customers in St. Johns, Volusia, and Flagler Counties.




Arbor Day is the time to celebrate our trees


This year's National Arbor Day falls on Friday, April 29th.  Begun all the way back in 1872 as a designated day for everyone to plant a tree, Arbor Day is commemorated in special ways all over the United States.  The city of Palm Coast - where our full service North Florida landscape design and lawn maintenance company is headquartered - will have a day of celebration and activities at its Town Center on May 7th, including a tree giveaway and 5k race.

The Arbor Day Foundations suggests many different species of trees for our Agricultural Zone 9 climate including certain magnolias, crepe myrtles, dogwoods, cypress, maples, and oaks.  Some palm trees are also a favorite for our area, especially the Florida state tree, the native Sabal Palm. Serene Settings will advise you as to the best trees for your landscape design, and will provide professional and dependable maintenance of your lawn and plantings.

Without a doubt, perfectly beautiful and thriving trees make the supreme focal points for a landscape design.  Find out more about the benefits of trees in your landscaping and other information here:

Landscape Design: Planting Trees has a Host of Benefits

A Few More Important Facts About Trees in Landscape Design

Amazing Facts About the Live Oak Tree

The Official Flora of Florida

Hurricane Preparedness Includes Your Landscaping

Florida Holly is Not So Festive After All

Crape or Crepe? This Myrtle Tree is Florida Friendly

Serene Settings provides an array of services for your Palm Coast, Daytona, Ormond, and St. Augustine landscaping needs.  Find out more and contact us for a free estimate.

Florida Landscape Design in Agricultural Zone Nine


To say that Northeast Florida has a unique climate that creates landscaping challenges would be a bit of an understatement.  Our lovely little bit of USDA Zone 9 is quite possibly one of the most challenging and unusual climates in the world.  Just the fact that this area has wavered for decades back and forth between Zones 9a and 9b shows you that even the agricultural experts have a hard time keeping up with it.  But Serene Settings can design, install, and maintain your dream landscaping using our knowledge and experience.

You may think that dealing with the Florida heat is the challenge for landscaping in our area, but in actuality dealing with the occasional and erratic cold of our brief winter is the factor that can change an easygoing landscaping project into a complex plan of science, nature, and art.  A professional landscaper knows what you are dealing with, and even modifies your landscape design based on how close your property is to the ocean as well.  Learn more about beach landscaping considerations here.

In a nutshell the approach to landscaping in North Florida is a well thought out plantings that are tolerant to both the regular extreme heat of summer, but also the extreme cold as we experience freezes a few nights each year.  Delicate and tropical plants can be placed in protected spots and a comprehensive landscape design plan will be provided by Serene Settings before any work is done.  We live in a part of the country that is unlike any other, and part of it is our plants, trees, and flowers.

We are a company that works with our clients, whether they want a tropical paradise to complement their pool, a Florida-friendly low maintenance masterpiece, or a luxury garden with all the trimmings: outdoor lighting, water features, stone walls and paths, and so much more.  Do not be daunted by the customized needs of this area's climate, soil, and rainfall (which ranges from extreme droughts to overabundant floods) - contact Serene Settings: experts in Zone 9 landscape design, installation, and maintenance of lawns and landscaping.