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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

move over, flowers

blood leaf, caladium, variegated schefflera,
jewels of opar and persian shield

in this area the color foliage is croton, persian shield,
variegated schefflera, cordyline, purple queen
and bright green potato vine.

when flowers are at their peak they are colorful and beautiful. not news to anyone. but in the extreme heat and drought of coastal florida, keeping up with watering, pests and dead-heading can be cumbersome. i know it is hot in other parts of the country but what is more stressful to our landscape is that there is not much relief from the heat even at night. while the sun is not beating on our annuals and perrenials in the moonlight the temperature drops typically only 10 or so degrees. consequently our plants and our humans don't get much respite for several months in the year. we are fastly approaching our hottest season if we aren't already there.

a fews years back, i began finding ways to create colorful layers without using trays and trays of annuals and perennials. every one who has ever had a single plant anywhere whether in a pot or the ground knows how much maintenance and attention flowers require for them to flourish. it became my 'fun' to discover brightly colored foliage that made my garden areas 'pop' without all the maintenance. i have already posted about my love for caladiums. my joy and enthusiasm at experiencing caladium varieties making my yard pretty for the summer months was inspiration to experiment with even more types of foliage. caladiums only bloom during the spring and summer. my goal was to find some colorful foliage and mix and layer in a way that looked like someplace i'd want to sit and read a book (only i don't have time to read a book because i am too busy gardening... and posting). could i create areas where there was enough depth the eye wouldn't pick out the flaws of my garden? while i am still discovering, i have found some foliage that works wonderfully in my shady front yard and shady areas in the back yard. there are also some brightly colored plants that work together wonderfully in the sunny areas. i encourage readers to experiment with some new plants and mix them with your shrubs for easier maintenance and beautiful eye catching colors. i still plant flowers because there isn't anything that replaces their variety and beauty but lately i don't plant as many.

pink ladies and coleus

ginger, pink ladies and variegated schefflera

pink ladies in foreground,
azaleas in background (of course they are
flowers- but not annuals)


  1. What an interesting post! I read it with much enthusiasm, only to discover that it was like I was back in college trying to read Spanish. Or French. Or..., you get the idea. While I don't totally understand what you're saying (nor do I really, really want to because it would mean a lot of work for a novice like me), I can TOTALLY appreciate the gorgeousness of your garden!

    And there are a few plant names that I really like the sound of: "cordyline, jewels of opar, purple queen" are some of my faves. But my ultimate favorite is one that reminds me of the girl who recently married my younger brother: Pink Ladies. Sounds like something she would grow, or a club over which she should preside.

  2. The garden looks better than ever. As we cultivate and grow our own garden and learn what it takes to design, plant and maintain it I have a much greater appreciation for what you have done in your yard.

    Our goal is to start trying to incorporate some of the plants that "pop" with color to maintain a great look all year long.

    You have given us some great ideas.

  3. okay, now i have to add "florida sweethearts" to my list of faves. what a delightful name!

  4. mlm,
    i am with you on the names-- they are attractions in themselves. each one really does fit the visual of the plant, even though they aren't the true botanical names. for instance the scientific term for 'jewels of opar' is Talinum Paniculatum Variegata. the only reason i even know that is because i try to remember to keep one identification tag, for reference, off of any purchase i make. it typically lists both names along with other facts about the plant.

    i've always wondered who came up with the "nick names". maybe someone who has studied botany (unlike me) knows and could clue us in.

    thanks for noticing.

  5. nt: thank you.

    a little at a time. your house and yard are looking fabulous too. i know you will keep expanding into more areas and the wonderful thing about where you live is you have different choices. there are some colorful plants you can experiment with that we can't grow here.and i am a little jealous of that wonderful garden shop you have, Espositos... not sure i spelled that correctly... but you know the place.

    i'm enjoying sharing the love for this with you and E.

  6. i have a generic comment: i was a bit surprised to see at the bottom of your blog the picture of a geranium as your favorite flower.

    with all the cool names and exotic designs of other flowers, i found it interesting that such a simple flower is your favorite. why is that? just curious.

  7. ml:
    great question.
    happy to quantify my thoughts on geraniums for you.

    i hear the thinking behind your observation -- with all the cool names and exotic designs of other flowers--why geraniums?

    unfortunately i live in a zone that doesn't grow most of those exotic plant life-- at least not prolifically. we are located right in the middle of the state on the gulf coast, so we can't grow the tropical (without the threat of freeze) beauties like south florida.

    i have to admit, i don't like it when anything i plant dies or doesn't produce like i thought it would. once that happens to me i place it on the black list of "we won't try that again". i have --by lots of trial and error-- learned what works in my little corner of the world.

    back to geraniums... truth be told they are the closest thing in looks and splash of color to hydrangea - which is probably my real favorite flower. but, you guessed it--- it is too hot here for hydrangea.

    in my garden there are different reasons to like different varieties of flowers, plants, & ground covers. there are not too many that can stand alone and look good. a simple geranium plant can be stunning when full of their many petaled pom-pom blooms. and along with their foliage and the way they spill over a pot they can make a glorious show of color. AND i had a great photo to share...
    :-) AND red really is my favorite color... heard you are kind of fond of red too.


Have a blessed day,

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