|Cordyline terminalis or Ti plants, as they're commonly called, are winter bloomers ... mine are just starting to bloom.|
|Winter/spring blooming (frost-sensitive) Queen's Wreath Vine (Petrea Volubilis)|
has exploded its luscious lavender cascading flower on the metal arbor in the back garden.
|Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on Pentas in January!|
|White Peacock butterfly looks especially stunning while nectaring from Cosmos 'Bright Lights'.|
|Milkweed (Asclepias) flowers serve up nectar for Monarch butterflies while the leaves and stems host Monarch larvae.|
Crimson red Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)
Favored by almost every pollinator, including our year-long, resident hummingbirds the long-tubular flower clusters of crimson red Pentas are populated with winged critters throughout the day. Plentiful supply of this practical Florida-Friendly perennial is purposely planted throughout my garden. I prefer the shrub-like variety that grows 4-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
Mixing up cold-hardy plants (such as liriope, cast iron, agapanthus, walking irises) with shade-protected tropicals (such as bromeliads, xanadu, dwarf schefflera, shell ginger) and rhizomes (gingers) that go to sleep in winter ensures an evergreen pallet that carries my garden through every season. This winter 'Postman Joyner' Caladium bulbs planted in early November continue to produce their bright red foliage in January.
This view from the sunny bed with mixed flowers and edibles through to the circle garden isn't as bright and perky as it will be in summer. I'm not wishing for one, but with a frost or freeze it would look a lot more barren.
|A side view of a mixed border of parsley, bronze fennel, self-seeding milkweed, yellow-flowering bulbine, violas, nasturtium, and African blue basil juts out in front of the woody and herbaceous perennial bed (mixed with Florida natives) behind it.|
|A mixed group of Florida-Friendly plants crowds a rarely-seen back corner of my garden.|
Cordyline plants turn from their green-pinkish variations to their most vibrant and brilliant colors as the winter wears on.
|Paperwhites, nasturtium, sweet alyssum, bulbine and a few broccoli starts blend in this mixed planting bed that juts out in front of a perennial grouping.|
Paperwhite bulbs are inter-planted in the same soil with caladium bulbs. Two months ago this bed was filled with the bright, colorful foliage of 'Red Flash' and 'Peppermint' caladium. When my beloved caladiums retreat until spring, paperwhites spring out of the ground with fresh white winter flowers.
Nasuturtium seeds planted randomly, sprout during cool temps, to create low-lying color among paperwhites, alyssum and yellow-flowering bulbine.
|Queen Emma Crinum|
Tropical lushness portrayed by the giant purple leaves of Queen Emma lily (Crinum Augustum) is prized in the winter scenery.
We are counting our blessings as this Florida winter holds out with glorious days of splendor. We've decided to enjoy it while it lasts. Cold weather will surely cycle back around at some point and remind us of the unpredictability of life and weather, too. Happy gardening, Meems
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