The Landscape Guide

Florida Garden Design

Like California, Florida was at first a Spanish colony. In 1565 Menendez built a fort and established St. Augustine, the oldest city built by white men on the western continent. Yet the Spanish settlements in Florida never flourished, their fragile military posts soon decayed, and the permanent occupation of this subtropical peninsula was accomplished by English colonists of the same general stock as those who settled in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Florida presents physically somewhat the same picture as California, yet with important differences, It lies well southward, and it is warmed by tropical ocean currents. Palms and other subtropical plants flourish and give their character to the landscape.

Yet the two floras are not the same. The divergence between the two sides of the continent already described, though less noticeable than in the temperate zone, extends into the subtropics. European and Mediterranean plants generally prove more at home in California. The many species of eucalyptus, so freely acclimatised in California, are less often seen in Florida And while California is characteristically rugged and mountainous, Florida is characteristically flat and swampy. In terms of modern horticulture, however, the two states are similar. Citrus fruits are grown in large commercial plantations, and early fruits and vegetables for northern markets are produced in large quantities. Amongst ornamental plants the same favourites are noticeable—abelias, Cape jasmine, coprosmas, escallonias, hibiscus, myrties, and bougainvilleas.

Southern California and Florida have other striking similarities of a more superficial origin. Both are popular winter resorts and are much patronised by tourists. Both have been “ developed “ by real estate “ booms.” In both there have been enormous areas of land sold in small lots under more or less artistic subdivision. This has led to the construction of vast, and usually rather flimsy, residence colonies of persons having their homes and businesses elsewhere. But the subdivision of land, the erection of multitudinous new houses with considerable effort at garden embellishment, and the provision of public works, buildings, parks, etc., for the new colonies, have offered extraordinary opportuniijes to architects, engineers and landscape architects. There has been a great deal of experimenting, and some of the results are highly pleasing. At the time this record is made, however (1927), no Floridan style of gardening has emerged, and it can only be surmised that the future has much to reveal in this fascinating land.

Louisiana Garden Design

One side of Florida fronts upon the Atlantic Ocean, the other on the Gulf of Mexico. The shore-line of this Mexican gulf is thousands of miles in extent and marks a region interesting throughout its whole length. In the American vernacular “the Gulf states” include Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, it being customary to disregard Florida in this grouping. This Gulf region then centres upon New Orleans, an old city with a foreign history and a foreign atmosphere tenaciously held. This region of New Orleans and the Gulf coast has much of the character of Florida. There is much low, marshy land, wide, slow rivers, heavy native jungle-like growth, and a subtropical flora.

The old gardens of New Orleans have been much admired, mainly for their magnolias, their gardenias and similar plants, and not for their strength of design or sumptuous furnishings. Audubon Park, a large public playground, has been famous especially for its fine live oaks hung with grey curtains of the epiphytic Spanish moss. This whole region, though less exploited than other southern countries, has great charm and contains much of interest.