The shared landscaping of Erehwon Retreat’s bungalow and cottage features Florida native plants and emphasizes environmentally responsible landscaping and maintenance. Read more about the native species of Florida, the wildlife visitors to Erehwon and our rain garden.
Erehwon Retreat Garden Plan
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Trees “inhale” carbon dioxide and “exhale” oxygen. They help reduce heat by creating shade and soak up excess water. This was clearly in the thinking of the our forebearers who developed the area from cattle grazing and orange groves.
At Erehwon, we place special emphasis on preserving and promoting native Florida species in the gardens. Better suited to the weather and seasons of this region, native plants require less maintenance, are less expensive, and save fossil fuel by allowing us to get rid of the lawn mower. In addition, native plants require little to no extra water or fertilizer.
Native plants serve as an attraction for our native wildlife. Native plants provide the food and shelter for our birds and butterflies, and they leaf-out, bloom, and fruit when our native species need them most.
Although the balance of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time, individual water molecules can come and go in a hurry in Florida. The water in the apple you ate yesterday may have fallen as rain half-way around the world last year or was part of Hurricane Andrew back in 1991.
Our activities and development on land alters how water naturally travels through the landscape or watershed. As we develop the land, we add roads, houses, parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways. These hard surfaces are called impervious surfaces because water can not pass through them as it does through soil, and the water is forced to evaporate or run off.
When it rains in a natural, undisturbed environment about 50% of the rainwater infiltrates into the ground, 40% evaporates or is taken up by plants, and only about 10% runs off the surface. But in our cities, covered almost entirely in impervious surfaces, the majority of rainfall becomes runoff, and infiltration is less than 1/3 of what it was prior to development.
At Erehwon, we are building a rain garden in our yard and driveway. It is the easiest and most cost efficient thing we can do to reduce stormwater pollution dumping into the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay. By capturing rainwater from our roof, driveway, and sidewalks and diverting it into a rain garden which lies under our old camphor tree, the rainwater can slowly soak into the ground, filter contaminants, and keep quantities of clean water from going down the sewer system. We hope to have a great looking garden that puts water plants into our native plant collections.
We have also reduced the impermeable surfaces, such as pavement, by installing bricks, stone, pinestaw mulch, and bark chips. These porous surfaces encourage infiltration of runoff. It’s small, but we are bringing a natural absorption and pollutant removal abilities of a forest, adding as much as 30% more absorption than provided by the previous lawn.