Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Friday, August 6, 2010
A Stroll Down the Tropical Pathway
Stepping stones trail from the open patio into the grassy area of the back garden. Veering right takes you to the circle garden. Named as such simply because of its circular shape. Using ground cover of Trachelospermum asiaticum minima jasmine or asiatic jasmine as the floor covering the circle becomes pronounced.
The perimeter beyond the jasmine a 4 foot wide pine-needle ladened walk way. An extra large container garden centered directly in the middle as a focal point.
The circle garden serves as a central hub of-sorts connecting several other pathways. Curving natural pine needle and stone foot-paths wind you further through more garden areas growing in the southeast portion of the back garden.
Just around this planting the circle path leads to the tropical pathway. It was carved out last September (09) displacing a large grassy area. Diminishing lawn areas to replace with plantlife is a very gradual process. It's a good idea to store up lots of energy, time, and have a workable plan in mind before embarking on such projects.
Turning this corner one can choose to trail around through the butterfly garden and the (quasi)wildflower garden by steering more to the south ... OR for today let's stick to the route that strolls us through the tropical pathway more eastward.
It was designed to curve in and out of lush plantings that line its borders. A seating area for two with naturally-aged cedar chairs was included for a restful stop under the canopy of the shady oaks.
The pathway is also a favorite hang-out for wildlife. The birds especially making use of two birdbaths along the way and several bird feeders stationed close by.
No matter what the original plan for such a project looks like on paper or in one's mind (or however we individually approach these gardening ventures) you can be sure it will be adjusted along the way.
The choices are many and in a tropical understory there is almost always a way to make room for more plants. After all tightly planted lushness is what tropical is all about.
On the right side of the path is a large, curving raised bed made of man-made stones stacked 4 high. Many varieties of shade loving foliage have been planted in front.
The 'wall' of stones previously stood out more prominently when the green grass followed its edge all the way around. The softer look of the foliage provides a more soothing appeal in this cool, shaded setting.
Miss Muffet caladiums pop out year after year in springtime. Mixed with agapanthus and sitting at the feet of blue plumbago it now overlooks the newest foliage.
Pass-along Belamcanda Chinensis candy lilies are still blooming. Their lengthy stalks towering almost as tall high as the Crinum augustum 'Queen Emma' at the curve of the raised bed.
This spring several Alocasia x amazonica 'Polly' were added at the feet of taller, larger-leaved specimens for their favored size, shape, and uniquely veining foliage. Not to mention they are oh, so tropical and begged for a home in this area of the garden.
Filling in a previously grassy inlet holly ferns, bromeliads, birds nest fern, buddha-belly Jatropha podagrica, Hardy star begonia heracleifolia and volunteer impatiens all added as mixed levels of ground covers.
Over-sized leaves of different shapes and colors mixed together and repeated in nooks and crannies along the way are a must when designing to achieve a lush, tropical environment.
Two red (false) banana plants, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' were placed strategically to increase the volume and interest of the middle story. Siting extra large-leaved lotus begonias at the base makes a good combination. A large stag horn fern hangs from an oak limb further down.
It was fairly easy to transition the pathway in this area increasing the sense of tropical habitat in this part of the garden.
In the established backdrop tropical elements were already in place. Repeat plantings of numerous Florida-Friendly foliage shrubs mixed with Florida natives create impact and serve as the foundation to continue to expand on. The towering, shady live oak trees surprisingly keep everything mostly protected through the winter.
Another seating arrangement ~this time a cement bench ~ offers another place to stop along the way if so desired. A stone path begins on the other side of it that winds around through the furthest parts of the back garden.
Or making a turn to the right is the second red banana Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' and my personal favorites, the Black Taro Alocasia plumbea with lots of bromeliads and caladiums filling in the ground underneath. Lemon lime dracaenas make a wonderful chartruese contrast against any darker shades of green in the shade.
The entire length of the tropical pathway is approximately 35-40 feet and about 6' across at its widest point.
It was left that wide to be used as the main passageway to the compost piles with a fully loaded wheelbarrow.
As with any project that diminishes the lawn area consideration for easy access to all points in and around the new plantings is a must.
After almost a year of growth and many more plants added this spring I have to admit I don't miss the grass at all.
I hope you are all enjoying your summer, Meems
*********************************Side note: some of these photos were taken at sun down creating the yellowish cast of the setting sun. Many were taken in the morning as the sun dapples through the oak trees. All photos are copyrighted. None of the photos have been altered in any way... except for cropping in some cases.