Today is the second anniversary of the start of my garden. It began as a barren, weed-strewn half-acre back yard, but with a good bit of money, a lot of hard work, some mistakes, a few disappointments and adjustments, it has grown into a beautiful area to enjoy, with the promise that it will be even better with time.
This is just one section of my garden, but it is representative of the other areas in growth, if not theme. I've tried to develop three distinct areas in the back yard, one a lush and colorful area with native shrubs and flowers, the second with plenty of cacti and succulents, and the third, a tropical retreat.
Unfortunately, the prolonged hard freeze we suffered in January wreaked havoc on the tropical section, so I've decided not to repeat that mistake again, but I’ve yet to decide what I’ll do with it. Many plants in that area are still doing well, but with the loss of five good-sized Ficus Trees (Ficus microcarpa var. nitida) along with a Spicy Jatropha, (Jatropha integerrima) Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens) Ponytail Palm, (Beaucarnea recurvata) and eight Natal Plums, (Carissa macrocarpa) it looks somewhat barren.
One thing I know for sure I won't do is spend any more money on 24-inch box trees. The larger size is not worth it—especially considering the three 15-gallon trees I purchased have just about caught up in size with the boxed trees, and the boxed trees cost ten times more than the 15-gallon trees. Boxed trees are also more likely to be root bound in the box, and because of their size, it's hard to determine if root girdling has started. Boxed trees also need prolonged staking because the trunks can’t support the larger crowns. Prolonged staking delays trunk development. Trunk movement is required to develop the tapered trunks necessary to support a tree.
The struggles we've had with staking and re-staking, repeatedly adjusting the ties to prevent girdling the trunk, and all the other problems that have come with the boxed trees, if I had to do it over, I would buy one mature field-grown tree to use where shade is needed most, and fill in with 15-gallon trees.