AVON PARK — Jim and Sandy Friend received the Yard of the Month Award presented by the Avon Park Founders Garden Club.

The yard of Jim and Sandy Friend, 1902 N. Berkley Rd., was nominated for the Yard of the Month by a neighbor. This is not your typical yard, as it encompasses five lots in Avon Park Lakes. Because of its size, there are a great many plants to be seen.

Going up to the front door you see a courtyard enclosed by a low wall. Sandy planted a single plant of a type of salvia behind a statue, and the plant took over the area with its red flowers in season. Also in the courtyard are colorful Ti plants, curly leafed croton, Mexican petunia, liriope and a rose bush. In front of the wall are dramatic large leafed black caladiums. The Friends didn’t want a satellite dish on the house roof, so they had it installed on the ground and surrounded it with Snow Queen variegated hibiscus, alamanda and jasmine. Also in this area are large leafed blooming ixora.

When they bought the property, the Friends removed a hedge that was growing in front of the house and replaced it with a row of hibiscus. Growing along one side of the house are crossandra, knockout roses and azaleas. Going around to the back are more hibiscus, New Guinea impatiens, coleus, rosemary and pentas. Sandy gets many of her plants from the discount racks at garden centers which she brings home and gives TLC. A very healthy hydrangea is one of those plants. She also buys plants at the Avon Park Correctional Institute nursery plant sale.

In the back yard, plants include cardboard plant, pine cone ginger, split leaf philodendron, crepe myrtle, papaya, peace lily, coffee plant, Bird of Paradise and rubber tree. A bougainvillea reaches high up into an oak tree. Barbados cherry, bottle brush, mango, pineapple and arboricola trinette grow along a fence at the back of the property. In a protected area, Sandy has planted a very unusual elephant foot yam with a trunk that has a fine bumpy texture that feels like plastic.

Along the front of the property you see a citrus tree, two types of mango trees, a star fruit tree bearing a copious amount of fruit and two small “Miracle Fruit” trees. The fruit on these trees is very small- about the size of a bean inside a green bean pod. The seed of the fruit is almost as big as the entire fruit. It is said that after eating this fruit, everything you eat has a sweet taste, which is helpful to those who are diabetic and enjoy a sweet taste.

When the Friends moved to Florida, Sandy thought, as many transplants do, that she could continue to grow some of the plants that she grew up North. She soon found out that she couldn’t. She took the course and became a Master Gardener. She also attended seminars at Robbins Nursery to learn more about landscape design in Florida, She makes her own compost in two bins that she puts vegetable and plant waste into. Sandy does the planning of the landscape and Jim said he does the toting and manual labor. They have only lived at this address for four years, yet have accomplished much to attain this beautiful yard.

To nominate a year for the Yard of the Month Award presented by the Avon Park Founders Garden Club, phone 863-452-1927.