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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, January 4, 2009

A Walk Back Through 2008 Garden, Part Two

We took a little break in between Part One and Part Two of our year in review. Once the grand youngins' went home this week, after a few days of rotation, first one and then two more, Mr. Meems surprised me with a spur of the moment overnight trip down south to the beach.

You can read about that adventure here if you like. And if you do click over you'll be checking out my new blog. Yeah, you are thinking the same thing I am. I don't have time for another blog. I can barely keep up with this one sometimes. But, here's the deal. Going back through my photos from 2008 I realized how many photos I never have published. So many of them having to do with nature, critters, and places I visit. Besides having two blogs will organize and delineate between gardening and well, let's just say all things out of the garden.
July 2008

We'll start in the north side garden. This is the view standing in the side yard facing back toward the street (the veggie garden would be behind you). Two large 'islands' come together here, divided only by a natural pathway, and using the foundation of oaks and palmettos I've planted borders and filled in with xanadu, pentas, bromeliads, azaleas, and impatiens have self-sown in every pocket they can wiggle their way into. And, well, there are too many plants to name in these two large plantings but it bears saying that this is where the blue ginger reaches high above this front border, behind it, all visible from an angle not seen here. The Pagoda flower; Clerodendrum paniculatum in the back center of this photo was a featured plant in July. It blooms practically all year long.

You may remember the White Queen caladiums came out very pink this year. The bulbs were plump and large but the red veins bled into the white which can't be known until they unfurl. Even so, they made for a nice blend of color anyway poking through the foundation perennial shrubs.

Paired with the white impatiens in the shady part of the back yard it was another year of enduring the intense humidity and heat of summer relatively well.

August 2009
... Definitely our most difficult month in terms of heat, humidity, and stress on the garden overall. No, I wasn't going to mention the gardener who should be braced for Florida summers by now. LOL
August is the month for maintaining. We pulled out all of the vegetables for lack of production and a wealth of pests.
It is the time when we garden VERY early in the morning and keep to the task at hand without starting any new projects.

Thank goodness for the deep drifts of blue the plumbago provide us during this strenuous month. Fortunately, they are happy as can be with the overwhelming humidity and high temps. We like to gander at them through windows while enjoying the air conditioned house.

Did I use the word humidity enough?

September 2009

Rounding the calendar into the transitional month of September, down here, it almost always seems just like summer. There are slight changes in the daylight hours and towards the end of the month the angle of the sun is noticeably different.

Even though the caladiums look lush in these September photos they are on their way out after delighting us through summer with their tropical appeal.

In the meantime I transplanted these tropicals from various places in the ground into a shallow bowl container for a focal point in the front garden. I've mentioned many times how I like to plop container gardens right into the midst of the landscape for a potted grouping among planted groupings. It raises the entire combination a level visually and helps to control the environment a little more than being in the ground. The deeply eggplant-hued underside of these elephant ears has me staring at them as I drive into the driveway. And even today, in January, this container is looking very lively with a new leaf unfurling from the elephant ears.

October 2008

I always breathe a sigh of relief when once we make it to October. Even though the garden in front and back is what I call 'badly bruised' from the stress of summer, we always know by this autumn month we are surely on the verge of some better temperatures. This October the plumbago looked just the same as it did in July, August and September. As a matter of fact only recently did it drop its sturdy blue blooms.

October is the time when it seems like spring all over again. Every shrub needs trimming (again) to tidy up from the excessive growth of the last few months. Gardening days are full with lists of chores to ready for the next growing season. With our mild winters these next few months continue to feel much like spring except for the much shorter days and much cooler nights.

Here you can see the purple queen bushing out with a height of almost four feet. I trimmed it back right after this photo and propogated several stems for more planting in the spring. The pink pentas are still blooming today... I've trimmed them back severely but they are blooming and attracting butterflies, bees, and other beneficials to the back garden.

Turns out this is one of my favorite photos in this posting. I think because it is the back side of the center island and one has to walk around to it in order to enjoy it. It is an angle I can't see from the back porch. It reminds me of how many different views there are in one garden.

November 2008
Oh, how I love the month of November here. Thing is, I'm going to be saying that about every month from now until June. All the coleus along this curvy planting bed were propogated from two Peter Wonder coleus planted in a couple of containers in the back forty.

This is the month when I'm busily dividing and transplanting and tending the fall veggie garden. It was the most glorious November I can ever recall. Crystal blue skies abounded. Several cold fronts came through that brought us just the right amount of crisp air to make gardening in Florida a dreamer's paradise.

With cooler temps than any normal November in years, the veggie garden slowed production considerably. It turned lush and green but delayed producing much harvest until December.
A wider view of the November back garden as seen from the back porch ... before I cut back most of the coleus.
December 2008
It's always a challenge to keep up with the demands of the holidays and the garden in the mild month of December. It is my goal each year to have all the clean up, and other time consuming tasks (mentioned in the November text) completed by Thanksgiving.

When I think of the feeling the December garden exudes it reminds me of a sense of rejuvenation actually. The softer sun, the gentle breezes, the shorter daylight hours, the crisp sunshine, and the tropical feel in general is reminiscent of simpler times. Not as many hours are demanding this gardener's time.

Outdoor meals and long, relaxing moments in the garden chairs are enjoyed reading, blogging, and talking in December and January.
December's winter, most years, is very kind to the garden. As long as we don't experience a frost or freeze we will keep happily growing.

And now we embark onto a new year. There are some dreams and plans in the works around Hoe & Shovel. January and February are very busy gardening months. We need to take advantage of the mild days and get our heavy digging completed. Any new beds will be carved out and new beds in the veggie garden are in the works.

Thanks for coming along with me on this reminiscing tour. It's remarkable how many things can be learned by the gardener while perusing the year's photos. I've made some notes to myself. But also, it's easy to forget the victories while toiling away from month to month. I was reminded of the challenges AND the victories.

Here's wishing each dear reader the very best 2009!


  1. Meems, your garden is absolutely stunning! Your hard work and dedication shows in each and every picture. I've really enjoyed these posts, thanks for the look back at 2008! :-)

  2. Meems, I actually sighed a very wistful, slightly envious sigh. Even though we obviously have very similar climate, my garden is not half as lush or gorgeous as yours. Just seeing the possibilities makes me feel like kicking myself ;)

  3. hello meems, your garden is delightful and so full of life. i love seeing the images of all the different months and what each brings. hope this new year will be full of wonderful gardening and learning new things that will be fullfilling.

  4. I love caladiums and yours are the most spectacular that I've ever seen.
    I enjoyed the "Walk Back" through your beautiful garden.

  5. I love the walk through your garden. It is so lovely. And seeing it month by month makes it more enjoyable.

  6. GreenJeans, Thank you for coming along. So glad to have you along. I've so enjoyed meeting you this year and reading your informative blog. I have another couple of cuttings I'm hoping you can help me identify. I'll get them posted later this week.

    Sunita, Don't be so hard on yourself. Gardening is always a work in progress. There were years that I just couldn't have a garden like I do now. Take a deep breath and remind yourself there is always time to improve our gardens and time means things are growing.

    Marmee, I learned so much this year. Much of it due to blogging and the inclination to do more research. It was really fun to take a look back through every month ... it is a surprising eye-opener. 2009 ought to be a little easier ... not as many projects planned. Mr. Meems is putting the squeeze on my budget for one thing.

    Robin, As you know, caladiums are my all-time fave. They just happen to love growing here... nothing special... except maybe the soil... which is what I attribute every success to actually. Thank you for coming along the "walk back through 2008".

    Lola, Thank you. I wouldn't have thought so when I first started this two-part post, but I agree... seeing it laid out by month is kind of different and fun.

  7. Meems, I cannot imagine the time and energy it must take to have gardens as beautiful as your. I am in awe everytime I visit you. But I do love seeing it all...a mini vacation for me.

    Have fun with your new blog. I am sure I will enjoy visiting there as well. :}

  8. Hi Meems, it was a joy to travel with you along the garden's calender, thanks for putting the effort into making it so enjoyable. I cannot imagine having time to do major gardening at the same time as all the holiday preparations, it must be exhausting! Long leisurely dinners outside surrounded by all that beauty, no wonder so many people flock to your state for the winter. :-)

  9. Your tropical setting is so lush and relaxing year round. I love the pentas! I grew those in 2007, but the drought kept them from reaching full potential. I wish I had enough shade to grow those caladiums! Wonderful foliage plants.

    Thanks for the sequel.


  10. Your garden is like a little paradise! As I look out on another 6 inches of snow that fell overnight, it is a stretch for me to imagine such lushness all year round. You have done a wonderful job with your plant choices and upkeep. Thanks for sharing! Now I'm off to check out your new blog. :-)

  11. Meems, what a lovely post! Love the new iris picture up top. Your beds are so incredibly lush and full, I guess that kind of look just takes some time, right? Last season my beds had plenty of mulch in view around the baby plants, hopefully this year will be better! I miss blue plumbago from my California garden, aggressive grower though it was. The flowers were great filler for arrangements, the stems even did well in Oasis foam. Happy new year - Vw

  12. Looking at all your gorgeous plants reminds me that I need to water my indoor plants. It will be some time before we will have anything outside to look at.

  13. Still beautiful, no matter what month it is! I was in FL for about 5 months when I went through basic training. (May-Oct) The fall was so nice, the temps were so comfortable.

  14. Dear Meems, Hello...I am wishing I was a bird and could fly over your garden to get a birds' eye view. I would have so much fun stopping first at one bed then another. It is a beautiful garden....and being able to sit in it and enjoy it during these nice months must be an absolute joy! Gail

  15. Beckie, Every garden has its good and bad... of course I only show you the good on a review. It does take some time and energy but I get lots of pleasure from it so it is worth it to me.

    Frances, I try not to do "major" gardening during the holidays but there are the ordinary demands of watering, mowing, the vegetable garden is a daily draw... it is a challenge but now that I'm not working it is much easier to manage. Thanks for coming along on the review tour.

    Cameron, Pentas are a staple plant here... they do well during drought and require little attention all year long other than getting too bushy and falling over from the weight. I try my best to keep mine trimmed up from the base to keep that from happening. There are several varieties of caladiums that do well in full sun... check here for the guide...

    Connie: It's funny... sometimes when I see all the blogs with snow covered trees and walkways... it looks so magical and I wonder what it would be like to have a break from gardening. I honestly don't think I'd like it for very long... but maybe a month? We just can't have everything can we? LOL

    VW: Thank you. Yes, I'd say this kind of look takes time. I've been working slowly at this one for 24 years. Geez, that sounds like a long time. I should clarify... I've been working at this one seriously for about 10 years.

    Lisa, I'm glad you have your indoor plants to keep you happy during your long winter.

    Racquel, Oh my. You were in Florida during our most dreadfully hot months as well. Too bad you couldn't have been here Oct- May... maybe you can come for a visit for fun...I'm happy you joined me for the 2008 review.

  16. Your gardens are Wonderful!!! Very very inspiring, to say the Least. :-) But, I get to take a rest (enforced, albeit) in order to prepare for Spring. See... there are good things about Winter! ;-)

  17. What a lovely stroll through your tropical paradise Meems. So beautiful in every season, it's inspiring food for the soul as the snow falls gently outside my window this morning.

  18. You know how they always say things are bigger in Texas? Well, they don't got nothin' on Florida! Wow...I'm familiar with so many of your plants, many grown as annuals here, but have never seen such tall and wide ones!

    Just beautiful!

  19. Shady, Taking a rest sounds good in some respects ... it would be nice not to have the demands of gardening sometimes...especially when holidays are going on BUT... I absolutely LOVE having plants and a garden all year long to enjoy... it's a catch 22 I think. I'm glad you like your winter.

    Linda, Snow falling gently outside the window sounds so romantic... as long as you are snuggly and warm that is...

    Kylee, Thank you. I guess it just takes the right elements for those annuals to get bigger and sometimes we have it and sometimes we don't... we just keep on growing and learning from our mistakes around here and believe me there have been plenty.

  20. I love seeing the garden in the long shots! Lush and inviting and so colorful at this time of year. I'm thinking 'Winter Fling Florida'!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway