Check Out These Pages, Too!

"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, December 14, 2008

And the Winner is ... For Best Performance in 2008

When this container combination was put together along with its twin, on the other side of the cement garden bench, back in June, I had no idea how well it would do in this location. Tired of watering the vibrant red new guinea impatiens daily which were here previously, I was looking to create a combination of plants that could stand on their own for at least a few days in between waterings. I dug up some Holly Fern from a nearby planting bed and tucked a piece into each container. Then I put in a Lemon Lime Dracaena (purchased locally) and the unique Peter Wonder Coleus (purchased in Tallahassee) into each one.
A nameless pass along for its pale green and white contrast was tucked into each pot for its trailing habits. Lastly, but not at all least, I popped in some Miss Muffet Caladium bulbs for summer sparkle. The caladiums, of course, have since faded away but the rest of those stalwart plants continue to flourish today.

The Peter Wonder coleus Solenostemon scutellarioides has proven to be a remarkably useful plant. It has grown tall, bushy, and even trailing over the sides of these containers for all these months. I'm giving each plant in these containers the Hoe & Shovel Best Performance Award for 2008. They certainly deserve some public recognition and praise for working so hard day in and day out.
All these months later, surviving beautifully through our intimidating summer, the Lemon LimeDracaena is 3 x's larger than its beginning and the Peter Wonder Coleus have been trimmed back numerous times. Each time I've saved the cuttings and made dozens more plants for planting all over my garden. The ordinary-to-me holly fern has probably been completely taken for granted since it meets my expectations for its always steady and easy performance.

A Close Second

Coming in at runner up for Best Performance 2008 at Hoe & Shovel is the Angel Wing (or some call it Dragon Wing) Begonia. Planted in a container and incorporated into one of the front planting beds its tall, strong stalks keep steadily producing the dangling pink blossoms that just keep on giving.

Photos of begonias in containers were taken this December week.

This large container, overflowing with begonia, located in one of my favorite seating areas on the back porch has been featured in this blog a few times. It is well deserving of its runner-up position for the Best Performance in 2008 Award. After all the cold weather we've had this unusual autumn, it has more than secured its status with this gardener. Even though it should be noted the blooms are not as prolific as during the warmer months there's no question it continues to faithfully produce its luscious green foliage and pretty blossoms.
Every garden has its high achievers. It was a tough decision for Hoe & Shovel as I looked back over my gardening journals and photos of 2008. But when any ornamental plant makes it through our long, hot summer and nicely transitions into the much cooler temps of 30's and 40's at night and without a hitch keeps right on growing, it deserves some extra accolades.
What was your best performers this year? It's important to give praise where praise is due, don't you agree! :-)
Update: Cameron at Defining Your Home Garden has given me an idea this morning. You are welcome to include praise for your best performers in 2008 or write your own post proclaiming the wonders of your favorites. If you create a post leave a comment letting me know and I'll add a link to your post here.
Have fun looking through your 2008 journals.
Be sure to come back after leaving your comment and click over to visit the following blogs to view their awards for Best Performers in 2008!
Cameron, at Defining Your Home Garden, in her zone 7, North Carolina garden, has gone all out with awards in several categories. You won't want to miss her lavender and dianthus.
Racquel's Perennial Garden Lover blog has featured must-see Angelonia from her summer garden.


  1. Good morning meems,

    Yes it is important to praise those hardworking plants! Do you suppose they hear us;) There are theories abounding among gardenbloggers that as soon as we decide to remove a plant from the garden it begins to behave itself;) There may even be a name for the phenomena.

    I do love your containers; in fact they have inspired me to add them to my garden.

    Your fantastic Angel Wing begonia is one of my favorites and very praiseworthy. I have especially liked her by the garden chairs. I do like her sweet pink flower...I added a hardy begonia to my mix...let's see how it grows here!

    Praiseworthy at C&L...the ever wonderful Phlox pilosa, for fragrance, long bloom and sweet pink flowers. The Susans for commanding attention and
    the Cyclyamen hederofolium for late bloom. Container flowering plants would be the Lantanas!

    Thank you for asking and not minding that I ran on and on and on! The word verification is loonett! How funny, I feel sort of's party day at my house!


  2. Me...Well, I have successfully killed every plant I began the year out owning! I must try something that can go weeks without water! :)

  3. Meems -- wonderful topic!

    Your containers are award-winning! :-) You put together great complimentary companions. Amazing how long they've looked so grand.

    Great topic. I need to think about this one and follow along with a story tomorrow. I'll give you some link love for the idea.


  4. The Peter Wonder Coleus is just lovely. I also like the overflowing begonia container. Isn’t gardening in our clime so much fun-I do the same thing to create containers-walk around the garden and pull up starts of desired plants lol.

  5. Gail, good morning. Your Phlox are certainly worthy of outstanding performance praise! They greeted my need for pink senses on many a blog visit this year and I look forward to their return next year. Of course the susan's are a favorite, too. So bright and cheery. Not to mention so cooperative in your clay & limestone setting. You have permission to use up as much time and energy as you please here anytime you wish... always a pleasure! Happy party day!

    mjm, Indoor gardening is WAAAAAY different than outdoor gardening. So please give yourself a little break and don't be so hard on yourself. Going for weeks without water is a bit of a stretch. The typical death notice for indoor plants is a blowing a/c vent or not enough light or too much light... then there are those pesky white flies and aphids that find their way to the plants somehow. Don't give up... it's the way I began my love for gardening when I lived in an apartment before I was married.

    Cameron, I absolutely LOVE creating container gardens. I'm just glad most of mine cooperate for long seasons.

    You've given me a great idea and I've updated my post to include an invitation for others to comment or write their own post to praise their best performers. Thank you.

  6. Nicole, It is probably a step up in excitement for you since you have no chance of frost of freeze. Now THAT must be extra fun!
    But, yes, I look at the container and treat it like I do a flower arrangement. When I need something tall or vining or shrubby, I typically walk around the garden digging up portions of what I already grow.

  7. Hi Meems~

    I love the Angel wing begonias, they look so happy and vibrant.
    The combination of plants that you created for your containers really look nice, I've always been a big fan of anything variegated.
    This post has given me something to ponder about the best performing plants in my garden.

  8. Hi Meems,
    What an informative post:) Your beautiful selection of perennials are some I'd like to consider for my own garden. I am not sure if they would all survive our colder northern VA winters. Some of them would, the others I would have to learn more about. I am envious of the gardens further south.

    My own yard seems to be a haven for phlox. Other sun-loving plants that do very well here are salvia--nothing seems to bother them:) They are always dependable and bright with long-lasting purple color. I also have a lot of shade, so astilbe, hosta and fern thrive in those areas. Of course there are many varieties of each, but I can't name any of them. I need to start to save my tags after I buy a plant, and to begin looking up the names of others that I have simply forgotten and just take forgranted. You have a gorgeous garden and your entire blog is amazing! There is much to learn from you! Jan

  9. I will have to think about this and leave you a link! Great idea for a post today Meems. You picked some real winners for Best Performance in your garden for 2008! I love foliage plants & you always have beautiful examples of color & variegation.

  10. My post is up Meems! This was a clever idea for the end of the year.

  11. This year, it was all about the butterfly ginger. It totally took off this year, and is still blooming after several frosts! I think the Lemon Lime Dracaena needs to be a top performer in my garden next year.

  12. Hi Meems,
    Oh, looking at your lovely pictures was like sitting with the sun on my hair. Happy sighs and deep breaths! We'll be down to 0 degrees tomorrow, I think. The black dragon wisterias that I splurged on last summer might not make it through. I should know better than to buy zone 6 plants anyway. My best performer from last year became a thug: snowdrop anemones. Love the delicate white flowers, and the leaves are fabulous to encircle a small bouquet. But the roots sucked all the moisture out of the soil and bothered the trees and shrubs around which they were planted. So in October I spent a couple hours pulling many of them out. They'll live in pots now and I'll just have to catch the dandelion-esque seed puffs before they plant themselves elsewhere! - VW

  13. Hi Meems, your awards are certainly going to the deserving. I am so glad that you have included a runner up, so she can have something to stive for next year, being number one! :-)

    In my garden, the muhly grass made the extra effort this year, looking much more fantastic than ever before. Even bleached of color by the cold, the form is still firm and gives that winter interest the grasses are famous for. Great idea here!

  14. Congrats to your high achievers!You do know how to combine your plants and apparently they decide they like each rather well too. Great topic and wonderful photos.

  15. Karrita, The angel wing begonia has been a treat from the start. I think my garden must have just the right amount of sun and shade for its happy and vibrant blooms.

    Jan, it does seem salvia are one of those universal plants that do well in every climate. I can't grow some of the same ones you can but I am completely dependent on the ones that do love our humid weather.

    Racquel, Wow, you are a fast poster. Thanks for linking back here. I just saw your second comment.

    I'm thankful for foliage plants getting me through all the seasons with variations in color. In my shady garden its important to contrast the foliage for interest and deliniation. The plants in this post are some of my favorites for those reasons as well as their performance.

    WG, Can you believe I don't have any butterfly ginger? If it does well for you I wonder if that means it will do well here? I must find out. AND I hope you do acquire the lemon lime... it needs filtered sunlight.

    VW, Sometimes we just like to take a risk with some of our favorites don't we? I do hope your wisteria doesn't freeze in your frigid temps. BRRRRR...

    Frances, The muhly grass was definitely splendid in your garden with its amazing puffs of lavender in mass! It made me want to make a place for it here. I see it at the beaches and I long for it then too.

    Darla, Thank you. They do seem to get along well which is essential in their close quarters!

  16. Meems, I caught the write-up on your garden and your blog in the local newspaper. Congrats! Your hard work is certainly deserving of some recognition!!

  17. Meems, I do like your containers. You are bolder than I about mixing perennials and annuals-and it works great for you. I am in awe of the Peter Wonder Coleus. I have not seen that one here but will be on the look out for it next spring.

    Of course your Angel Wing Begonias have been a favorite of mine since you first started showing them. I may try planting mine next year inthe ground rather than a container. Yours are huge compared to what mine did.

    I would have to say the 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory was my show stopper this year. I can take very little credit for it though. It was certainly praiseworthy by any standards.

    Interesting post that has given us something garden connected to talk about during the winter. Thanks!

  18. Meems, great post!
    How on earth do you get your Angel Wing to stand up straight and not slouch? I think mine has vertigo! Or maybe it's a fallen angel ;)

  19. I have never in my life seen an angel wing get that big! Love your containers and I want to join in with the meems great plant of 2008.

  20. a.m., I'm glad you liked the write up. It was great fun walking through my garden with someone who loves plants as much as I do.

    beckie, the thing about Florida and my zone is that oftentimes annuals act like perennials here so they mix quite well. We don't always know which ones will be outstanding performers - like the Peter Wonder I took the risk with -- which was one other reason I felt it deserved the award for 2008. It's hardy behavior was way more than I expected.

    Your heavenly blue would get my vote for 2008 as well. It is kind of like the Angel Wing in that it should get all the praise for its independent character!

    Sunita, some of the stalks are so thick at 1" or even 1 1/2" they hold themselves straight up into their 5 foot height and must be topped out to keep from poking through the screened cage. A few of the smaller stalks are staked with bamboo. Your "fallen angels" probably just need a little help from a stake until they mature. Then they should behave quite nicely.

    Anna, To be honest with you, I haven't seen any that big either. My sweet neighbor started me on this plant with one bare stalk that I put in the ground at the base of an oak tree. A couple of years ago I poked a couple of cuttings from that into the containers featured here and they have now almost taken over all the available soil squeezing out the other plants that started out with them. I just let them because now I use these begonias to start so many other plants for use around my garden in containers and in the ground.

    Let me know if you put up a post.

  21. Meems -- I have your post linked at the top of my blog for the awards.

    I have PGL -- link at the end of the blog to encourage more linkers to their awards.


  22. wonderful choice. you have many things to choose from as your garden is so prolific. you are like the king midis of the garden everything you touch turns to green.
    we are in the rainy season here and are getting it daily. it warmed up enough so it won't be snow but still kinda dreary. it's a good day to stay in and thankfully i can.

  23. You know, I'm drawing a complete blank as to what were my best performers this year... I'm going to have to look over photos from the season to job my memory! great idea, though.
    ~ Monica

  24. I like the holly fern. It may be common in your area but it has such a graceful shape. There is just something about plants with that arching habit that really appeal to me.

  25. Cameron, you did an outstanding job with your awards ceremony. I could have fit so much more praiseworthy plants into my post had I been so clever.

    I've got you linked now at the bottom of my post... another good idea from you ... thanks.

    Welcome, Garden Faerie (Monica). I think you will enjoy having a look back at your garden especially if there isn't much blooming right now. It's fun to recall which plants worked their hardest and are best deserving of applause even if, like so many northern gardeners, their work has ended for the season.

    Hi Marnie, The holly fern is a hard worker in my garden. I should not have dealt so flippantly with it as it has attributes well deserving of a shout out. I have broken large ones into pieces and made so many more for tucking here and there in containers and in the ground. It is NOT a fast grower which is a good thing here. So many other ferns will take over once started. The holly fern's leaves are substantially thick and the color a wonderful deep green. And like you said the arching mannerism makes for a perfectly lovely addition. Thanks for reminding me.

  26. Marmee, Mr. Meems wishes I could put that "midas touch" to $$$$ and then he wouldn't have to support my gardening habit. :-)

    It seems like I remember seeing the weather in your area and that rain is bringing more cold that they determined won't reach us this time. :-( I'm thinking all that rain is good since you have been in drought for so long. Sometimes you have to get it when you can.

    We are dreary looking today which is highly rare as you know. To look outside one would think it is cold but it is 78 degrees - yuck.

  27. Great combos and great plants Meems. I had one of those Angel wing begonias this year that was a hit too.

  28. What a great idea - will start to poke through my photos tomorrow. That container is splendid - I'd never heard of that particular PW coleus before - will keep an eye out for it. And that Angel Wing - mine looked scrawny in comparison!

  29. those lemon lime dracaena looks wonderful. It is good to celebrate what went well.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway