En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 05, 2014

From: Tequesta, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Soils, Shade Tolerant, Trees
Title: Disagreement with HOA on raised beds placed beneath mature oak from Tequesta FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have mature 30 year old oak trees on my property and I put a raised bed under each with very good soil and I used pavers for retaining the soil about about 1.5 ft high. I planted a perennial begonia Adorata plants in the beds. Will this harm the tree? I have irrigation for the plantings and I am on sandy soil in Florida. Thank you,

ANSWER:

From another communication from you, we understand you are in a hurry to get this question resolved because you are receiving some pressure from the "Board." We are assuming this has to do with your HOA objecting in some form to your recent garden changes. Since we do not know what the disagreement involves, let us give you what we know about the changes you have made.

1. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown; in your case, Palm Beach County, FL on the lower southeastern portion of the state. Begonias natively occur in subtropical and tropical moist climates, in South and Central America, Africa, and southern Asia. This means they are out of our area of expertise, and the genus Begonia does not appear in our Native Plant Database. Our further search online did not produce a Begonia 'Adorata" but there is a cultivar called 'Odorata,' we trust that is the plant in question. 

2. Since our research did not unearth any toxicity in the genus begonia, we are therefore assuming that the HOA has an objection to the treatment of the mature oak. We are not entirely clear on the arrangement of the new flower beds, but if they constitute 1-1/2 ft. of soil over a considerable portion of the oak roots, or cutting the oak roots to make room for the beds we agree there is a problem. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on the consequences to interfering with oak roots, including the fact that your plants may not survive the oak allelopathy anyway. Please follow the links in that answer, too, as they deal with other dangers to oak roots.

Home-owner association agreements have been held by the courts to be very tightly-binding contracts and are considered by some to be more difficult to circumvent or change than city laws and ordinances.  Oak are very valuable trees in the landscape, and protecting them should be important to the HOA. Mr. Smarty Plants is not considered an authority on interaction with HOA's, and probably our opinion has very little clout, but we do care about the plants and hope you can resolve your disagreement without the trees being damaged.

 

More Trees Questions

Alder native to Central Indiana
May 30, 2006 - I am trying to find out whether there exists a plant named Alnus rugosa. I bought a plant recently that said Speckled Alder, Alnus serrulata (rugosa), but have been unable to determine if this is a c...
view the full question and answer

Spring blooming Acacia farnsiana in Austin
April 04, 2007 - I've been seeing a large shrub, possibly tree, around Austin this spring - and it is covered is small ball-like orangish-yellow blooms - very tightly covered in these blooms. From the car, it looks ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

Cypress poisonous to livestock from Arlington, TN
December 06, 2012 - Are green giant cypress poisonous to livestock?
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center