Landscaper is fan of palms

Thursday, September 13, 2007
By Sue Sharpe

"If I'm working out front, I literally hear brakes screeching," says Joe Gorda of Tucked Away Farms in Washington Township. Drivers, it seems, do a double-take at the palm trees adorning the entrance to his 11-acre property.

For 15 years, Mr. Gorda has designed and installed tropical landscapes for area homeowners looking to add a unique touch to their homes. High fuel prices and travel hassles have prompted some folks to create the feeling of Jamaica in their back yards instead of taking a trip there, he says.

Cold weather-friendly trees, like Windmill palms that originated in the Swish Alps, do well in the state and stay green all year long. As part of his service, Mr. Gorda wraps and cages the palms for their first two winters as they establish roots. After that, he says, they need little care and are "as hardy as can be." They're deer-proof, too.

Windmills range in price from $150 for a 3-foot tree to $1,300 for a 9-foot specimen. In spring, he returns to remove the winter coverings from the hardy trees and replace any annual trees and plants that were installed the previous year. Although annuals involve additional cost because they have to be purchased new each year, many homeowners like having the opportunity to change up the look.

According to Mr. Gorda, the specimens he buys aren't available anywhere else in the area. Banana trees starting at $20, hibiscus, bamboo and yucca are becoming increasingly popular, he says. He also supplies individual trees and plants to several area retailers, including Hoffman Supply in Long Valley.

Mr. Gorda, who moved here with his wife Lisa three years ago from Marlboro Township, first brought palm trees up from Florida in the 1980s while driving back from their Key West vacation home. He gave the trees to a friend planning a luau party and began getting requests for tropicals from other friends, including a Jersey Shore bar owner.

"The next year he got 10 instead of two, and now it's grown," he says of his business, crediting continued word-of-mouth advertising. His clients range from homeowners who want a few plants around the deck to celebrities seeking expansive poolscapes. He also specializes in creating rock gardens and waterfalls.

"Who doesn't love a palm tree?" he says. "It's the perfect way to create a little summer all year long."

For more information call (732) 887-1035. All plants are 25% off until November.

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© 2007 Hunterdon County Democrat. Used with permission.
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