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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems






Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hidden Treasures

When we moved to this new garden I inherited a few jewels hidden here and there in the garden. Gardens that have been around for a while are like that. I didn't pay too much attention to any of them until we made the decision to make this our permanent home. Each treasure has become more highly appreciated as time and perspective reveal its worth. Sometimes the scales of indifference, or maybe resistance is a better word in this case, have to fall off in order to clearly see the true gifts right in front of you. Clear sight is a true gift in itself ... right!
You can see the staghorn in the center of the photo (taken June 1, 2014) prior to me starting to cultivate
this area with my own design.
The ancient (and ginormous) stag horn fern hanging heavy and low on a 40' red maple tree is one of the treasures left here by my former neighbor.  I don't recall the exact history surrounding it, but I think it belonged to her parents or grandparents. I do vividly recall my neighbors painstakingly wrapping it with several quilts close-pinned together at the threat of every frost each winter season.  Although I think this particular variety is probably hardy to around 25°F. This enormously wide specimen has begun to wrap itself around the trunk with its thick basal fronds clinging to the maple tree.

Surprisingly, this staghorn fern receives a good deal more sunshine than is generally recommended for shade-loving staghorns. A side-note tidbit about this new garden: the backyard used to be filled with pine trees, sweet gum trees and citrus trees. The former owner/neighbor had to remove most of them one by one as they got too old or in the case of pine trees were hit by lightning. It appears the fern has adapted to the changing sunlight conditions as those conditions have evolved over time.

Once I started putting my own plants in this garden I designed around the fern (it would take a crane to move it.)  The staghorn became the centerpiece to the main pathway that leads to the back garden. It also serves as a lush tropical, welcoming marker on the left side of one of the entrances to the open fire pit seating area. I moved some holly ferns from my old garden and a cobalt blue container planting to mark the right side of the entrance. 
Upright portion of the basal frond.
Staghorn ferns are among the group of plants called epiphytes. Meaning they thrive on nutrients from the air and rain. Surrounding plant debris and fallen leaves collect in the upright part of the basal fronds. As the collection breaks down it provides additional nourishment. In other words they are mostly self sufficient when placed in the correct environment.

The underside of the big fern at the base of the tree.
You can see the sterile basal fronds overlapping as they attach to the tree and to each other. A beautiful and unique structure creates a bowl shape underneath.


Foliar fronds are the lobed pieces coming out of the base to create the beautiful shape and texture of these amazing wonders.

I brought two other staghorn ferns from my old garden. They are large, but not close in size to this mammoth treasure that wasn't so hidden after all.

Do you grow staghorn ferns in your garden?


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

10 More Blooming Plants for Fall Color

You may recall my post a few years ago, 10 Great Plants for Fall Color. It listed mostly foliage plants with a few flowering perennials included. I've grown to love my fall garden more and more each year. That love is from a combination of the cooling weather and the fact that so many of Florida's best plants bloom in the fall. That's my observation. Here's a look at some of the flowers that are brightening up my fall garden. I'm not going to include the sunny Swamp Sunflower again. I think I have lauded those yellow flowers sufficiently already.
Queen Emma Crinum Lily ~ I transplanted 2 of these beauties from my old garden. I left 4 of them there.
You might remember that almost every single plant I've planted in my new garden was either moved as a transplant from my old garden or it was a division or root cutting from my old garden along with a few root cuttings from some friends. I wrote here about the challenge I gave myself to start all my new beds without spending any cash. Now that I've been gardening here since June, I am beginning to see some results. The rooted cuttings are growing and many of them are actually blooming.
Celosia spicata grown from seed. Sunny garden.
Fall is an exciting time in most Florida gardens. We've just passed our rainy season which causes the whole garden to explode. Celosia spicata started blooming in summer, I admit. Here we are well into fall and still it is full of magenta spikes. It is 10' tall and bushy so you need a bit of space when planted in full sun.
Cat's Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) was given to me as a small cutting. I moved it as a small bush from my old garden to the new sunny garden.


Cat's Whiskers has been blooming its spiky white flowers for three months. It likes a good deal of sun, but not full sun. I've put it where it gets some shade from the small bottlebrush tree nearby in the sunny garden.

S. Mexicana I think this one is 'La Placita'
I started cuttings of Salvia Mexicana from plants I had in my old garden. These bloom somewhat all spring and summer. When fall rolls around they come into their prime covered in spikes of deep purple loveliness for bees and hummingbirds to visit.

Belinda's Dream 
I put this pretty rose in here because she deserves a mention. Belinda's Dream pretty much blooms all year. I moved her from my old garden. She recently was trimmed back to canes. It won't take her long to burst out in bloom again.
Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata)
You can't rush spotted beem balm. It definitely waits for fall to bloom. Slightly scented and unquestionably a pollinator magnet. Its pale pink flowers stack on top of each other 3 and 4 tall. If you have a sunny location you'll want to grow this Florida native.
Pentas ~ all from root cuttings.
If you've followed this blog you know I'm a huge fan of Pentas. Why? They are easy-to-grow flowers for Florida gardens that bloom all year long. I mostly plant and propagate (from cuttings) the large heirloom varieties. They are hardy in winter with the least amount of tree cover to protect from cold and extremely drought tolerant.
Marlberry
Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) is a Florida native shrub that blooms in the fall. Insignificant flowers? Maybe. Small pollinators love them. The flowers turn to berries later in the season just in time to feed the wildlife.

Hardy Hibiscus~ Swamp Mallow
This is not the tropical variety of hibiscus. Each large pink flower of this hardy hibiscus only lasts a day and requires some moisture for best blooming. You can put these near the edge of a pond or in spot that stays moist. Mine was given to me as a cutting. I rooted it and then made more plants from that one and brought one with me from my old garden. It does not have wet feet in my garden but does get plenty of sunshine.

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is an all-time favorite. All the ones I planted in my new garden are short and producing a few blooms as you can see above.  There are so many reasons I love this plant. You can read more about firespike here and see more photos!  It's RED!!! Okay. That's number 1. All the other reasons have to do with hummingbirds. They love them and since they flourish past fall (as long as we don't have a hard freeze~or several) the hummers will have nectar all winter.

What are your favorite fall blooming plants? There are so many to choose from in Florida.

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All material © 2007-2014 by Meems for Hoe and Shovel Gardening Blog. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway