Being in the garden this week with Easter activities was especially nice. Taking a look back at last year's photos from April there is no question the garden is much further along THIS April. Probably due to our 'early' freezes in December and then a steady warm-up in February recovery was quicker and earlier.
Choosing the best plants for our own specific climate (or micro-climate)becomes even more crucial in these times of unpredictable weather patterns. In my garden I've found I'm leaning more and more towards designing with the endurable characteristics of each plant in mind.
Florida-Friendly Dietes iridioides 'Arican Iris' blooms repeatedly all spring (and sporadically throughout summer)with each rainy day being the encouragement it needs to open a new flush of pristine white flowers.
In my zone 9 garden it is also:
~divides easily for transplanting
~maintenance needs are limited (pruning dead/dried foliage)once established
~grows in sunny situations or shifting shade
A dapple here and a dapple there of sunshine that shifts and moves around during the course of the day proves to be a challenge for "just the right plants" in "just the right place". But don't be discouraged. In Florida I've found these conditions to be an advantage. Our full spring/summer sun can prove to be brutal on certain plants. High shifting shade from mature oaks offers a great opportunity for tropicals and Florida-Friendly plants that thrive in humid conditions.
Just a few ideas for plants I've found that cherish these conditions and don't require additional water or maintenance:
~Begonias (heracleifolia and rotundifolia)
~Impatiens (will wilt in the evening sun but perk up by next morning)
~'Variegated' Shell Ginger Alpinia zerumbet (often you'll see this one planted in too much exposure ~~I find they flourish best with shifting shade)
~Variegated Arboricola (Scefflera)(same scenario as shell ginger)
~Queen Emma Crinum
~Buddha Belly (jatropha podagrica)
~Blood Leaf (Iresine)(sited on the edges of shade to receive some late afternoon sun)
~Lemon lime dracaena
~Apostle's Iris Neomarica caerulea 'Regina'(also can take more sun)
~Bird's Nest Fern
~Fox tail fern (also performs well in lots of sun)
~Alocasia (Polly & Plumbea)
~Flax lily Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata'(also performs well in lots of sun)
~Variegated Aztec Grass
~Rojo congo philodendron
~Artillery Fern Pilea microphylla
~Holly Fern Cyrtomium Falcatum
Closely observing the specific hour(s) of the day and length of time the sun's rays peek through the branches of trees in each area is invaluable for correct placement. With each season the angle of the sun can also change.
Placing containers of favorite combinations on the outer edges of my tropical pathway adds focal points of brightness where 'pockets' of sunshine are adequate for growth. One of the beauties of contained plants is the flexibility they offer to move them around if needed.
~Macho fern (keep contained or it will be everywhere)
~Coleus 'rose kong'
~Lysimachia 'Golden Globe'
There are a few 'corners' of my garden that receive a full 4-5 hours of beaming sunlight. In these situations I've purposely chosen to group species of plants that prefer dry, hot sunshine. I view these rare places as an opportunity for plants that otherwise won't do well elsewhere in my shady garden.
The damsel fly above is resting on a thin blade of purple muhly grass. Muhly grass REQUIRES a goodly amount of sunshine to thrive. Next to it is white yarrow. Its bright green foliage resembles an airy fern. This yarrow (not sure its name) has a much different foliage than Achillea millefolium. After transplanting divisions of it to several partially sunny locations this site next to the street in the front garden seems to make it the happiest. It's blooming! That makes me happy.
One of the thrilling aspects of healthy gardening that allows predator bugs to eliminate harmful bugs is finding all kinds of new critters that haven't been seen before. I'm thinking this caterpillar is some sort of moth. Anyone know???
The new and exciting compared to the very familiar in an established garden. My garden wouldn't be the same without the dozen or so cardinals that freely flit to and fro from morning until night.
The archway on the perimeter of the circle garden is laden with profuse blooms of Confederate Jasmine.
They only last about 6 weeks so I'm savoring drifts from their sweet fragrance daily.
Below the blooming ligustrum and next to the archway is the grafted Miami Supreme Gardenia. A grafted specimen will have better chances to avoid the nematode problems our Florida soils are often rife with. Intensely fragrant flowers of gardenias are a classic symbol of springtime.
Creating an inviting environment in our garden contributes to the ease in which we make the most of our outdoor life around here. This week we colored eggs on the back lanai with the little ones.
And then while playing in the garden the youngest one discovered a newly emerged monarch. While drying its wings before flight it was willing to sit on our little guy's finger much to his utter delight.
Not the same monarch but another one resting in the dappled sunlight of an Oakleaf hydrangea leaf.
The blooms of the native Oakleaf hydrangea are large and brilliantly white this month. Another shifting-shade-loving plant that requires no additional attention once established.
I'm not sure if bromeliads are officially considered Florida-Friendly.
But my UN-official determination is they are SUPER Florida-Friendly in my garden. I've been using them as easy-to-care-for container plants since they require very little irrigation and they don't shed messy flower petals.
Satisfying the conditions a plant requires will always, in turn, satisfy the gardener. There are many areas of my garden that are nearly self-sufficient after getting fully established.
Sure there is weeding, some soft-pruning, and occasional fertilizing. In general, it's remarkable how much easier life in the garden becomes when we master "right plant, right place" in any given area.
For more ideas on Florida-Friendly plant choices check out Riverview Flower Farms' plant database and the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods' database.
And don't forget to have fun! A most essential ingredient to choosing the right plant for the right place!
Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.