Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Plants that Thrive in the Winter Garden Part 1
There are some extremely cold hardy plants in my Florida garden right now that are grabbing my attention with greater interest than ever before.
Never a favorite color, or shrub in general for that matter, the Duc de Rohan azaleas have been blooming since early December. In this year's bleak winter-garden fondness is growing for these sturdy rhododendrons that cluster around the entry walk to the front door.
Remember the paperwhites ordered and planted in-ground in November? The frost and radiational cooling has not affected them in the least. I suspect they will come back next year with even fuller foliage. That is if they reappear with the same vigor my neighbor's do. Hers have been in the ground for a number of years successfully returning each winter.
I've actually had thoughts of "how to design every currently freeze-scorched area with camellias". It was fleeting but still ... a thought. What a fabulously versatile shrub! The shiny green jagged-edged leaves provide enough interest in summer time to suit me.
And the abundant bursting buds of winter, not at all fazed by freezing temperatures, have caused me to fall in love anew with this rugged southern ornamental beauty.
An inflorescence spiking up from a passalong Aechmea gamosepala has surprisingly not shown any signs of intimidation from the wintry cold. It is tucked among other evergreens and likely snuggling in their warmth.
Saw palmettos are one of my all-time favorite Florida natives. These beautifully green and palm-like (in appearance) shrubs can take severe drought as easily as severe cold. Wildlife of all kinds make use of the flowers and fruits they produce. When I see them (anywhere) they just say "Florida" to me.
In an ongoing and purposeful effort to increase the numbers of unswerving and hardy plants to my garden it is particularly fulfilling to make note of what has thrived through summer droughts as well as extra-harsh winters.
Zamia pumila Coontie palms are a reliable Florida native cycad. The glossy, narrow evergreen leaves sustain Florida's winters and frost in my garden without damage. I've gradually added many of these robust shrubs over the last few years to maintain a quality display of foundational plants through the toughest seasons.
For the third year in a row Florida has been bombarded with blasts of artic air cold enough to take our tropical plants to the ground and even some of our much loved perennials.
December 2010 is now officially the coldest December on record since record-keeping began with an avg. temp set at 53.2.
At the feet of coonties is Sisyrinchium angustifolium blue-eyed grass in clumps of linear evergreen loveliness. A Florida native that especially perks up with cooler weather and will bloom tiny but sweet blue flowers as winter transitions to spring. This is one that easily divides for spreading its joy throughout the garden.
Another year round performer with wonderfully enduring attributes is the dwarf variety of a Florida native Viburnum obovatum Walter's Viburnum 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight'. Tiny white flower clusters will cover the bush in mid to late winter making it a favorite to the pollinators. I'm using them throughout the garden as specimen plants in a variety of settings. This one placed at the perimeter of the circle garden among complementary variegated aztec grasses, african irises and confederate jasmine on an arbor in the background. Each of these remain shining stars in my post-freeze winter garden.
As I began gathering photos/plant files for this entry it quickly turned into a very lengthy list of plants that have been good survivors for my Florida garden. Many of them not showy in their own right but nevertheless each one meeting a new standard of 1) ability to sustain the garden in our hot and humid summers and 2) to keep performing through sudden and/or frequent dips to freezing.
I'll continue the list in the next post entry. In the meantime, I'd love to know if any of these plants are also on your list of favorites. Meems
Part 2 Preparing the Garden for Every Season
Part 3 Peaceful Hues of Green in Winter