I find my interests and my specifications for plants changing as time goes by as well. For example the past few seasons an emphasis on native plants and Florida-friendly combinations has been foremost. The attraction to them seems obvious. They adjust well to the natural environment when placed correctly. They require less fuss and attention once established. They attract and feed local wildlife. They continue to give year after year.
Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
Recently I gave into my lust for showy foliage and purchased a couple of false banana plants. I've never been a big fan of the gigantic green variety we see (overgrown) everywhere in this region. But the Red Banana has a unique magenta veining and edging on their enormous paddle-shaped leaves that I find irresistible.
They do well here, pinched back and kept bushy, adding to the lush understory of the oaks mixed with Cyrtomium falcatum holly ferns, Philodendron 'Xanadu' , gingers, Plumbago auriculata, caladiums, coleus... they are just great foundational plants that require almost no attention and yet give us great color and texture. One of my favorites when sited correctly.
My taste in design has evolved as well. I'm doing my best to learn the delicate blend of tropicalesque with Florida-friendly and native plants. I'm also experimenting with a more natural or untamed look in specified areas of the garden. Planning for and allowing plants to flow with their natural growth patterns. Within reason of course. At Hoe and Shovel it just wouldn't ever work to be completely untamed. My goal is to keep plants within their boundaries enough that they don't tangle with their neighbors.
Gardening develops the gardener as much as the garden don't you think!
While Florida doesn't necessarily have some of the vibrant foliages I've seen in more northerly gardens, we are learning to work with what we can grow here. Mixing them up and blending them for the best visual appeal that stays perky all year long is the constant goal.
Foliage that flourishes year round is the preference in most cases. Although we rely heavily on varieties of coleus and caladiums for many months out of the year. Even these are intensively planted in between the standards that don't fade away with changing seasons.
Another variety of Cordyline passed along to me by my neighbor. Again, we started with one and now have numerous fast growing clumps of variegated color by cultivating and planting more as we've grown.
It dawned on me this spring to divide and transfer a few of these begonia from the front walkway. A gift from a neighbor over ten years ago they are thriving in more than one place now adding a tropicalesque flair to a vignette in the front garden.
Begonia heracleifolia, Star Begonia was recently added to a nook in a curvy path in the back gardens.
Placing ordinary houseplants right into the ground has become a habit just to see how well they grow. For the most part they seem happier where their roots can spread and their heads enjoy the natural light.
Layers of color where virtually no flowers are present have become common place.
Adding large mosaic-leaved plants of Monstera deliciosa Liebm. (sometimes sold as Philodendron pertusum) with grand stature in the midst of simple greenery works well, too.
Crotons are not my favorites. In Florida they are super-over-used. There are a few mixed in here and when the light shines through their leaves it is hard not to like the stained-glass affect and variations of color this one plant provides all on its own.
Dracaena fragrans 'Lemon Lime'
Certainly we have not forsaken floriculture all together as an attraction to the butterflies and wildlife. But it is becoming more clear that the great majority of this garden's basic structure is not dependent on blooms ... as much as we enjoy their glory and wonder.
Pseuderanthemum 'Black Varnish' offers a very deeply hued and lush leaf among the native Zamia floridana coontie.
Only a smattering of our favorite foliage plants have been highlighted here to give an idea of how they work tirelessly for us around here. By no means could we include all of our preferred flora.
Wow. You all are good listeners!
Tell me, how has your garden or gardening emphasis evolved?