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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 14, 2009

Tropical Come Back: Pagoda Flower

Some plants were hit harder than others this winter. We endured through a couple of below freezing, frosty nights in January and several of the tropicals were taken down to the ground.

On the walk around to the veggie garden from the front we pass by one of my favorite tropical delights. It is a Pagoda flower; Clerodendrum paniculatum which towers high above all other plants and shrubs in this setting.

My sweet neighbor started me on this interesting plant a few years ago. She gave me a leafless stem she didn't know the name of and her plant wasn't blooming at the time. Needless to say, since I had no idea what it was... I had no idea where to site it or what to expect from it. Taking my chances, I (literally) stuck it in the ground next to this oak tree and kept it hydrated. It worked and it was a happy place for it. Whew!

Not one of those ginormous heart-shaped leaves was alive after this winter's freezes. In my heart I knew the plant would come back. But with my eyes, looking at it in February, it seemed impossible. It was completely lifeless and not a leaf in sight.

It stands about 8 feet tall in all its July summer splendor. Looking at the photos of it from last year, I think it is actually taller and fuller now. I know for certain the flowers are taller and more Pagoda shaped.

Looking back to the Pagoda Flower from the entry to the veggie garden.

The foliage in the beds at the feet of the Pagoda flower.

Actually, I can remember the Pagoda flower inspiring me to finally develop these beds. They had been fairly neglected prior to the lush growth of the Pagoda. Oh, I had stuck a few things here and there but never really concentrated on giving them some permanent appeal before the centerpiece of the pretty orange blooms and lush foliage was there.

Street view...
Driving by you don't see any of the foliage underplantings (pictured in the previous photos above) or the veggie garden just beyond. But you can see the Pagoda Flower. The oak trees and the palmettos do a pretty good job of concealing a very different looking back side of these planting beds that lead to the veggie garden.

Speaking of the veggie garden...
It seems a shamble these days. The sunflowers say it all.
It is time to dismantle all the stakes, the railings, the dead vegetation, and turn the soil once again. I'll be planting some tomato seeds within the next week in small pots. They'll be transferred to the ground around the first of September for a hopeful fall harvest of yummy goodness. I'm slated to get around to all that work when I finish the front lawn project.

[Side note~~ update on the front lawn project: I am 9/10ths of the way finished with that project...almost have all the plants in the ground. It has been a very fun adventure. I will update when it is completed.]
About the only thing still growing is the green peppers. They have been amazingly prolific this year. I've been leaving them on the bush and they are turning red. Exciting stuff. There is still okra in the back garden. It's not getting enough sun but what it's producing is wonderful. I'll rectify that next year and plant them in the main veggie garden.
There is no lack of critter activity in July. I'm so grateful the zinnias are oblivious to the fact that the rest of the veggie garden is spent.
And the butterflies are just so beautiful to observe on a walk-by to the back garden. It might be my imagination but it seems to me the Gulf Fritillaries are more abundant in numbers this year. But, then again, it could be my imagination.

Mr. Black Racer is getting some sun on the old chair in the veggie garden. My resident 'garden snake' startled me a bit while checking on the Swallowtail cats. I came almost nose to nose with him before I saw him. I'm pretty sure this is the same one I've been seeing all summer in this area. He's a nice sized one. I've seen some babies too.
So maybe it's Mrs.Racer after all. I sure don't mind if it's keeping down the slug and mice population, although they are known to eat birds and worms, too. It's all part of the natural ecosystem so I figure they are important. And I don't try to dictate how it works. There was a time when I couldn't live peaceably with any reptile. But now I know better. I still keep my distance but I've learned to appreciate a good snake.


  1. I told you, I am coming during the night to get that clerodendrum. Now your are just teasing me with those photos! I remember that you said your neighbor had given it to you. It is the very best species in the family, I think. We had a nice large black racer in our garage and he lunged at my husband out of fear as Hub chased him out with a broom. We have had a baby anole wonder he is around. I admire him, but look twice where he hangs out behind my gardenia shrubbery. I remember Meems, when we first bought this house. I asked you if you had any problems with snakes in your pool. You gave me a reassuring answer.


  2. It is amazing how resilient tropical plants are following a freeze. Your pagoda looks lovely. My angel trumpet has not returned to its previous glory but is definitely a more manageable size. I guess your racer is loving his spot. Usually they take off pretty quickly. Can't say that I blame him. I would linger in your garden, too!

  3. My cuttings are doing just fabulous,thank you sooo much.They have a destined place,in the scheme of things....
    We have had a bumper crop of peppers(all types) this year.It's funny how some types do better in certain years.
    You ever seen Black Racers matings?It's a sight,I tell ya.Scared the be-jeebus out of me one year.Now, I'm used to it.The mosquitoes this year are another story.
    I,actually,called the County today to complain.Got no where,btw.We all had best buy more Off.

  4. That pagoda flower is just gorgeous. You can see it from afar. You have a secret garden. Secret from the street anyway. I just love seeing all the angles of your garden. So lush and I can see all the work you do. Such nice clean edges and working in your heat. Well, I am impressed. I like all of your critters too. I wouldn't want to come nose to nose with a snake though. Yikes!

  5. Hi Meems, The green peppers still look good---but what caught my attention today was those Pagoda flowers. VERY gorgeous!!!!!

    Hope you are having a great week.

  6. Only weeds grow here as fast as the pagoda flower has grown in your garden....what a recovery it's made. It's really a beautiful flowering plant. The perfect hot color for your garden. What keeps coming into my memory are passages in books where folks talk about having to keep on top of the lush and heavy growth in tropical settings or the jungle will take over;-) Speaking of keeping on top of things...goodness, meems, you are a hard worker. The front is almost completed! That is impressive. gail

    You are still the critter whisperer!


  7. What a beautiful splash of colour your pagoda flower adds to your garden. Wonderful! I'm glad the cold didn't kill it.

  8. Meems~~ I suppose being a resident of Florida, you pretty much have to deal with reptiles.

    Love the Pagoda Flower. One of the most delightful feelings is seeing a plant make a triumphant return.

  9. Hi Meems, Haven't stopped by for awhile - I LOVE you butterfly pics...but could do without the snake. I know they are good for the garden but.... I actually had one in my little garden. So fall gardens start in September?

  10. Hi Meems, that's fantastic your pagoda flower recovered from the freeze. It looks none the worse for it. Amazing such a large, beautiful plant could grow from a little cutting.

  11. A tropical paradise, Meems! You must be delighted as I am with each visit. But I must admit, the snake would shake me up! I know they must be around but have yet to see one in my 34 year old garden and tred carefully on my walks here in the woods at the lake! (I'm a wimp)

  12. It sounds like you are having great times in your gardens. I'm glad I made it here to read what you said about your snake. We come across garter snakes from time to time. I know they like my compost pile. I get startled by them, but they are just as startled. I've never had one come toward me. They either freeze or go the other way. Your snake looks larger than our garters.

    I think we would be overrun by all manner of critter if we didn't have snakes to keep them under control.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway