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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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Progression of a New Planting Bed

It is July (you knew that) and for some reason I have never gotten around to sharing the changes that took place in the back garden this spring. While I'm working on the front lawn project let's back up a few months and have a look at another planting bed I created this season.

As far back as last fall it was decided there was a need (don't laugh, family & friends- I did need it) for an additional planting bed in the back garden. The need came in the form of balance. The north side of the back garden was lacking its very own planting bed which would aid in carrying the eye all the way across the garden from south to north. I'm definitely guilty of overplanting the views I see most from the kitchen window and the back porch.

Thinking ahead and in anticipation of the time involved in expanding the veggie garden we got started on the new project in January. First things first... the grass around the oak tree must be removed. Arrrrggghhhh ... sod removal.

It is as simple as 1) mark off the shape desired and 2) start digging.

With get-her-done resolve initially, the digging began... at the same time the veggie garden was tripling in size and I was expanding a bed on the south side. Then we had two freezes that month that not only took the wind out of my sails but they caused me to do some re-thinking in terms of what I would plant here.

The plants originally determined for use here with cuttings and divisions I had cultivated in the fall were not going to work for this northern exposure if it was important to factor in future occasional freezes. And after this year... it IS important.

Variegated liriope was divided and planted (112 of them to be exact) as a perimeter border. I don't usually do the border first but I was removing these plants from that other bed I was expanding and they needed a new home.
The next thing that went in came from the front garden. Well, initially they came from my dad's garden. I've been dividing them and moving them to the back in order to multiply as many as I can. A very hardy bromeliad with a favorite purple berry-like bloom that lasts for months and months.

I especially like the red foliage and when the sun shines through it - it is especially showy. By February I was deeply entrenched in the vegetable garden and the second bed I was expanding to make room for wildflowers and natives.

At this point there was not much being done to finish this project.

The native plants purchased as quite small specimens for very reasonable prices in March were planted out in stages as time allowed.

That native plant list included:
5 Saw Palmetto, Serenoa Repens
4 Coontie, Zamia floridana
9 Blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium angustifolia
9 Spider Wort, Tradescontia Ohiensis
3 Coral Bean, Erythrina Herbacea
2 Stokes Aster
1 Oakleaf Hydrangea

Coontie plants will not freeze, they are drought tolerant and they are slow growers. You can't beat that in Florida!

The morning sun filters through the trees giving the plants partial sun status. Then again in the afternoon the setting sun gives it another couple of hours of dappled sunlight.

By April the veggie garden was well underway and more time was allowed for this project. The bed was filling in with plants. I had done my best to allow for growth when placement decisions were being made. But it needed more of something.

I am happy with the way it shows up in photos at a distance now. And you know that is an essential element in the design of a garden. :-) Can you see it in the distant background to the left? No need to mention to Mr. Meems the nonsense I just said about photos and what shows up in the background and such... he's better off not knowing some of the thinking behind my digging and planting.

Turns out... in May when that cold air that killed so many things back in January was a distant memory I went right back to my old ways. I picked up some flowers and plants that will freeze and poked them in the spare spaces left for maturing natives.

Pentas are considered perennials here. They will come back after a freeze. That makes it more logical now doesn't it? Did you know butterflies are especially attracted to red pentas?

And no planting bed at Hoe and Shovel would be complete without some caladiums to brighten the view during the long summer months.

A ribbon of them winding through the longest side was planted with Scarlet Pimpernel and Red Flash accented as a sort of bow in the center of them.

The run down of plants in this bed excluding the natives already listed:

112 Variegated liriope ~~divisions from my garden
3 Variegated Shell Ginger~~divisions from my garden
7 Bromeliad ~~ divisions from my garden
1 Persian Shield - Rooted from my garden
8 Red Penta
2 Pink Firespike~~ rooted from my garden
1 Wild Violet (my neighbor just gave it to me- woo-hoo)
42 Society Garlic ~~ all divisions from my garden
11 African Iris ~~ all divisions from my garden
3 Holly Fern ~~ divisions from my garden
5 Variegated Schefflera ~~rooted from my garden
6 Pseuderanthemum, 'Black Varnish'
50 Scarlet Pimpernel Caladiums
8 Red Flash Caladiums
7 Gaillardia ~~ from seed
29 Giant Liriope ~~ divisions from my garden

All this detailed information is more for my records. I don't mind if you just look at the photos and let me know what you think.

By this time next year I may have to take a few things out to make room when everything fills in and matures.

It turned out to have mostly reds and purples for its color scheme. Which I admit wasn't a scheme at all ~~~When I look around my garden it is fairly obvious I am very drawn to those colors in the garden whether it be foliage or flowers.


  1. I love it! When the Liriope fills out it will provide a nice border to the rest of the plants.

    It always amuses me, because so many temperate gardeners are drawn to bold, brash colourful plants that are more difficult to grow in those regions. Then it's the opposite for gardeners in subtropical/tropical climates. I often think it's something to do with heating up a look in a cooler climate, and cooling things down in a hot climate.

    Now there's something to ponder... :-)

    PS- keep the progress pictures coming!

  2. I enjoyed your progress photos. Seeing all that bare dirt really got me excited. I think you need to use some plants you like, even if it means covering them if it freezes. It looks good close up, and in the background. LOL I had to laugh when I read that was one of your reasons for needing the area.

  3. Wow Meems I remember that back area under the oak tree now I can't believe what you have done! They have grown beautifully. Love the red pentas they do add a bit of excitement and your caladiums are to die for. I really need to make another visit LOL. You have saved yourself lots of money with all those divisions from your garden. I just love when I don't have to go out and buy when I have to use large numbers. That can run into the hundreds to thousands of dollars. Your back yard overwhelms me with its beauty. You do have a good sense of design and a knack of putting plants and colours in the right places. I salute you!!

  4. Love it, Meems. You have done a marvelous job. Isn't it interesting how we all tend to go toward certain colors??? My hubby loves the PINK roses ---and I love the red ones and the yellow ones the best.

    Thanks for sharing your new beds with us. I would love to see your yard in person.


  5. Oh Meems, it is a beautiful new bed. I am a little surprise that you had the space for another bed. I envision your gardens covering every square foot of your property.

    All of your divisions look great in the new bed, and I love your Dad's bromelaid. When visiting Florida, I love seeing them growing in the wild.

    You inspired me to plant several caladiums in containers this year. I found some unusual ones(to me, anyway) and mixed them in with bloomers that echoed their coloring. I have been so happy with those containers.

    Thanks for sharing the progression of your delightful new bed.

  6. Meems,
    I don't know if you knew but Coontie is the host plant to the rare Atala butterfly, the cats look like gummy bears. Unless you are near hammocks I doubt you'll find it in your garden.

  7. It is so beautiful and I loved every detail that you shared...I really can't believe you are working so hard at this time of year! You are amazing!!!

  8. Meems,

    It's like magic! :-) I know it was a lot of work, but you make it look so easy and so beautiful!


  9. Rob,
    Thank you. Don't we always want something we don't have... human nature I suppose. The liriope is a nice contrast in the shady garden. In Florida we have so much green!

    Oh, you can't imagine how much stuff I covered last year when it was going to freeze. It made me a little determined to stick with the majority of plants that will not. Like you said, I'll always have those that I like so much I'll take my chances.

    Things have changed quite a lot since you were here. So, yes, come back now. :-)You are SO right about the $$$ saved with all the divisions and cuttings rooted. (That what I tell Mr. Meems, too. LOL)Actually it is so much more fun to plan ahead, pot up cuttings and nurture them while they root --- and then place them where they will flourish. So satisfying!

    You like red, too. You know I've told you... you are welcome anytime.

    Your roses are stunning and I can see how it would be hard to choose which color I like best.

    Oh, my. I have room for even more beds. If it weren't for leaving enough room for the grand-kiddos to play a good game of baseball and hit their golf clubs I'd probably take up the entire back lawn. But I won't. It's hard to believe that back yard used to serve as dirt bike track at times when my own boys were growing up.

    I love that bromeliad, too. Wish I knew its name. I am so pleased you have planted caladiums and they are doing well for you! Don't forget to lift them out of those pots and they can replanted next year.

    I did know it. But they won't be found in central Florida. It is a host plant to them in south Florida. sigh.

    I can sure ramble on can't I? So glad you followed along. Working in July hasn't been awful. I absolutely LOVE being outside and this is a good/healthy way to do it.

    hmmmm... I didn't realize I made it look easy. Truthfully I was a little discouraged right after I started this project when those freezes came. I think that's part of what took me a while to get back to it. With the weather these days it's hard to conjure up memories of cold and wilted plants.

  10. WOW, this bed has turned out great. You deserves such a beautiful bed especially with all that sod removal. UGH...

    The caladiums sure bring your eye right over to that bed. I love the bromeliads. I think it is amazing that they grow so well in the ground. I know they are supposed to for you but here of courese they are pampered house guests.

  11. It looks great! I think other gardeners know that we do actually need other beds :) What an interesting plant list!

  12. Hi Meems.....I have to say you have such artistic talent......I always feel as if I am opening a posh gardening magazine when I visit your blog.

    I do love the sunlight filtering across the new bed....if looks beautiful....and your colour co-ordination is perfect......

    Great interesting

  13. That looks great and you can't tell it is a new bed. I love seeing the Saw Palmettos. Have you thought about planting a Sabal Palmetto, it is a native and the state tree.


  14. My dear you may be the hardest working gardener i know...please forgive me for repeating myself, it's just that you are inspiring. The bed looks splendid and the shot with the morning sun was so lovely. I love to see the sun shining through the canopy, it's like a spot light from heaven. Have a sweet rest of the week! gail

  15. Now I see!!!
    Thank you for allowing me a first hand mosey!

  16. I just love your new bed! The colours and the shape, it looks great!

  17. Meems,
    When it is all said and done. They are going to say you wrote the book on gardening in Central Florida. What a great story.

  18. I love the curved lines of your garden beds.I love the idea of not knowing what you're going to find around the next curve.Excellent!

  19. BTW-did I mention that I saw a Momma deer and her fawn on Crystal Lake Rd. this past weekend?Ran right in front of the truck.Scared the bee-jeebus outta me,then it was like,"Huh?"

  20. meems,

    you just haven't quit this summer at all...that bed looks like it has been there for years. perfect.
    although i think 30 liripoe would have been the best
    some of my beds are just filling in and i am loving them. the containers got a good dose of rain yesterday and they look perky. rain is just the ticket to make everything look like it should. i am looking forward to seeing the front yard too...i know it will be amazing.

  21. Lisa,
    I fall for those bromeliads more and more all the time. They make such great ground cover and fill in bare ground so easily in a tropicalesque garden. Admittedly I am not familiar with all the multitude of varied types available nor the ones in my garden. The ones my dad gave me have uniquely tall foliage and bloom.

    My plant list is likely nothing like any you'd like or need but still 'need' is key... only gardeners understand that!

    Thank you for your kind words. Posh is not a word I think of to describe my garden but that sounds great anyway. Designing the beds is definitely a big part of my passion for gardening.

    Thank you. I'm pretty sure I won't be planting our state tree here but I DO love to see it in other locations. My oak trees keep me busy enough.

    It has definitely been a busy gardening year. I try to tell myself "enough" and my brain just keeps coming with more ideas. After the front lawn project (which I finished this week by the way- yay) I am done with new projects until fall.

    Most of my beds get that kind of filtered sunlight. Isn't it interesting the morning sun was streaming through like that for a perfect visual.

    You are welcome... it's good I could clear up some things for you. :-)

    Thank you. Now I have to try to keep myself from digging all the way down that side of the yard to extend it further... I can see it in my mind. Must not dig anymore for a while!

    Coming from you-- that is a huge compliment. Now, if I could just get paid for that book...

    Thank you. You are sweet to say so... The curves soften everything in the garden don't you think. That is amazing a deer was there. I saw one very recently (in midday) on Van Dyke but it was in the woods not on the road.

    Finished up the front bed yesterday morning. I have to say it was lots more fun than I originally anticipated. I got used to the heat and plowed through it most days and didn't want to quit. Glad you got some rain and you've had some really nice cool weather I've noticed. How wonderful. I think I'll go stick one more liriope in that bed in honor of you. Hugs to you. :-)

  22. Love that photo of the sun filtering through the trees! Your gardens always look like a little bit of paradise. How do you do keep everything watered? We are having a hot spell and it seems it's all I do anymore, ha.

  23. I think it is pretty darned amazing. Your design skills are something I could sure use in my garden. I like the white liriope as a border and it sure does balance that garden:) though it was most beautiful to begin with.

  24. Gosh I really do love this blog of yours...this one in particular is really encouraging! I'm ashamed to say I haven't been out in my yard for over a month now. It's just so hot! If I could bring myself to rise really early I'm sure I could escape the heat some, but I still haven't. I'm just mowing and pulling new weed growth and praying the weed & feed will help. If I $$; I could be more affective...allowing the grass is all I can do right now...and weed. Thanks for giving me some hope. The picture play by play reminded me that I can do that! Lovely!

  25. What a beautiful bed, Meems, and how fun for us to watch it grow along with you. Love everything you've put in it -- many of them things I have in my gardens as well, but I have garden envy about that bromeliad. I have some inside, but they can't take it outside here. They add a wonderful, exotic look to the bed, and how great that you have your own little farm there in your gardens! Big project very well done! Congrats.


Have a blessed day,

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