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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.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Finding My Wildflower Side

There is a partially sunny bed that borders the south side of the back garden next to the property line of my neighbor's yard. Partially sunny because in the spring, prior to the crape myrtles' leaves returning, it gets a good dose of filtered morning sun. In every season it gets a good dose of afternoon sun and it is south facing.

The autumn blooming Goldenrod, Sempervirens is dutifully attracting hoards of buzzing, flying critters in that planting bed.

Behind (depending on where you're standing) the Goldenrod stands the pretty purple Mexican Bush Sage.

It's all a little tall for this planting bed. That aspect is kind of wild.

Even though trimming was done a couple of times this summer on the Goldenrod it is outrageously tall and over-arching.

The combination of purple and yellow is a nice reminder that autumn is here.

The back story to the progression of this planting starts in December of 2008. That's when it was decided that as one of the spring 2009 projects a wildflower garden would be added by making an existing bed larger and 'bumping' it out ... more into the sunny side of the yard.

I was determined to grow some Rudbekia in my garden. My friend, Gail, of the famed Clay and Limestone blog, convinced me by seeing her pretty Susans in the midst of summer that really, every garden should have some.

So perhaps we should back up and take a look at this area last December 2008. It is the middle bed with the straight edge (above) that was going to get renovated into a new wildflower bed. That straight edge just had to go, too... more inspiration.
Time surely does get away because this is the first I've shared of this project. So, let's back up a few months...

In January 2009 I started digging the grass out to not only create a curvier bed but to allow more planting in the sun. This side of the garden gets a few hours of afternoon sunshine since my neighbor cut down 2 more of his trees.

The next step was to dig out all those variegated liriope plants (the existing ones along that straight edge) and divide them. At the same time I was working on this bed, I was building a brand new bed on the opposite side of the yard. I've shown you the progression of that one, and you can go back to see what I'm referring to here if you'd like a refresher. I was using these same liriope plants to border that new bed as well as move the border out to its new perimeter on this one.

There was a bit of delay getting to completion after a couple of especially cruel frosty nights that leveled so much of the back garden in late January. My inspiration for the wildflower garden was thwarted by the barrenness I suspect. In the meantime the planting bed was edged out nonetheless with variegated liriope and waiting for plants by March.
That's when there was the delightful trip to a native nursery in Dunellon and several very small Florida natives were purchased for a song. Some were located here and some were located in the bed I was working on at the same time on the other side of the back garden.

Once considered a weed in my mind I have fallen in love with spiderwort. It is carefree and just sort of blends in with the environment wherever it is sited. It isn't especially significant but when it's blooming it is sweet and ... well, I've decided we are compatible.

Behind the outer border of liriope went a shadow double border of society garlic separated from existing plants, a few clumps of rain lilies, moved from another location and some daylilies which never really do well for me anywhere. Something I'm learning to accept. Sigh.
In the center I planted coneflowers, blazing star liatris, rosemary (transplant from the herb garden), there were mystic spires, diplademia, mexican bush sage, tickseed, pentas, rudbekia and the goldenrod that was already getting too tall where I placed it. This is a bed with lots of existing agapanthus and every one of them was separated that could be separated to create more of them for a really nice show by next year... let's hope. Oh ... and okra and radishes were seed planted in spots... just for fun.

A clump of caladium bulbs (Rosebud) went in the ground in late June between the pink pentas and coneflowers and the goldenrod was getting too tall. So I trimmed it back to half its size. This severeness made me wonder if it would bloom when fall rolled around.
I forgot about the cosmos and zinnia seeds planted in the (then) spaces between the goldenrod and the sage. They got so tall even though I kept pruning them back that I finally yanked them out after a couple flushes of blooms and lots of staking and tying.

This scene was a happy welcome but the wildflowers were not really working for me yet. The tickseed bloomed but didn't last. Not enough sun I think ... not really sure... it just sort of rotted out. So ground orchids have replaced them. They are doing great. Wouldn't you know!

By August my attempt at a wildflower garden was just not happening. Not at all the vision I saw in my mind's eye back in December. There was lots of greenery but only a few blooms. The Rudbekia finally had buds galore so it was a wait to see if they would actually open.
They were sold as Rudbekia Black-eyed Susans but I'm pretty sure they must be Rudbekia triloba. Sweet and small and short... not exactly what I had envisioned either. I DO like them at the feet of the goldenrod this month as they've flushed out ever so demurely.

The caladiums are fading and the goldenrod is falling over. The coneflowers rotted when we had several straight days of rain. The mexican bush sage is very tall but a little lanky for my liking.
I'm beginning to think wildflowers are just not suited for Hoe and Shovel. Or I still have lots to learn about what they need.
I'm okay with it. Let's just say I'm still looking for my wildflower side; Haven't quite gotten it together yet.
I HAVE thoroughly loved the goldenrod right along with all the bees and flying critters. At least they are speaking to that sense of autumn 'in the air' with their golden hues so bright and cheery. Not only that but they had the courtesy to bloom so nicely. For that I am grateful.


  1. Those wildlings are just the right thing for your garden Meems. I love the look. It looks like the caladiums are trying to keep those wildlings in check. Sweet.

  2. Hey Meems! Warm Congratulations on your Blotanical award - no surprise to me.

    I'm in process of finding my wildflower side too, especially this year. Unfortunately the squirrels and rabbits have long since found their wildflower sides and have chewed most of my natives to the ground in the past couple of weeks! Oh well. . . there's always next year!

    Your gardens are food for the soul, even in photos. Beautiful, really, really, so beautiful!

  3. I love this post, Meems. Of course, it's the landscaping side that I am missing.

  4. Dear meems, I've been so excited that you've gone on a wildflower journey! They are wonderful plants and the bees and butterflies love them. I remember when you, marmee and your mom went on a mountain trip together...the wildflowers really captured your heart then. Although, I love the look of the lanky salvia and goldenrod, it does take some getting used to~~ Goldenrod is happy no matter what we throw at it. I wonder if your Live Oak leaf molded soil is too rich! Many wildflowers prefer lean soils. It might be that native Southern Florida plants are wild enough and will be happier. Is the ground orchid a native? Thank you for the link love! Have a sweet weekend. gail

  5. Meems,

    I love what you've done with the natives and the colors are great. Purple and yellow together make such a perfect combination.

    Rich soil and good moisture will grow extra-large plants and I run into that in my amended soil. Everything that survives the full sun seems to get 2 feet higher and wider than what is supposed to happen!

    Congratulations on your Blotanical award!

    (Charm got sick on Sept 23rd and I missed the entire event while tending her.)


  6. I love Mexican sage and yours looks so wonderful with the goldenrod...I need some goldenrod to add to my sage!

  7. meems,

    i am just so glad you are exploring your "wildflower side."
    i'm still trying to get that part of my garden down too...i had some successes and some things that fell flat. it has so much to due with what the season throws your way...for you the frosts last yr and for us the cool, very wet summer. it is never boring...always changing.
    i think you will just have to keep experimenting with what you like and see what works in your black gold. wildflowers tend to want to be somewhat neglected...which might be hard for you.
    happy autumn.

  8. Meems! Big, big congratulations on your Blotanical award! You know I'm a huge fan of your gardens and you, of course. I know I don't comment much, and I don't read each entry, but your blog is one of my favorites. I'm so glad to have met you and hope to see you again sometime. Not sure if we'll be going to Florida this winter or not, but if we do, I'll sure let you know! Anyway, just wanted to say congratulations and well done! You and your gardens are amazing!

  9. I love your wildflower side... lovely free wispy gardens. Beautiful colors too and your story of the process is very enjoyable to read and see. Thank you for caring for the butterflies and bees. Carol

  10. It is amazing how fast plants can grow and fill in and area. It of course look great as most of your plantings.


  11. Delightfully wild and wonderful, Meems! You have several of my favorites ... I agree with Gail on the Susans, a must! I rip out spiderwart by the barrels but admit, do love them when they first bloom and fun to photograph. Autumn hugs!

  12. Lisa,
    Still trying to mix the wild things with the standards...thank you.

    Garden Girl,
    Thank you for the congrats. Sorry to hear about your hungry squirrels and rabbits. It's always something isn't it! Thank you for the kind words about the garden... that area just isn't quite right yet... like you said... always next year. Well, for me, there's always next season... we never stop around here. LOL.

    LOL... We should come to a happy balance then right?

    I forgot to mention I planted Gaillardia in the bed just beyond on the sunny edges. It did fine for a while too ... until the rains. I DO believe the soil could be too rich. Shame of shames... those wildflowers would rather have it lean. No, the ground orchid is not native but a Florida-friendly plant that takes little care... just some filtered light and it blooms many months out of the year. Can't beat that.

    I like the purple and yellow together, too. Still working on the natives... AND the wildflowers. I guess the rich soil is what made the goldenrod get so large. I never gave it extra water though. Was hoping it was staying dry enough over there in the sun.

    My zinnias are still going strong in the veggie garden where the sun shines more hours than anywhere. Thank you for the congrats... I was so sorry to hear about Charm.

    The goldenrod has been a really enjoyable addition this year. I just wish I could figure out how to keep it from arching over.

    Ahhh... you know me well... hard to neglect any of the growing things. But truthfully, I'm looking for candidates that want to be neglected. lol Like you, I will keep trying and experimenting and one of these seasons it will surprise me and all work together. It's fun trying anyway isn't it!

    Mutual fans! Thank you and congrats to you as well. Please come this year prior to any freezes. lol No problem on not commenting always... I know exactly how that is... I'm just happy you stop by when you can. Happy Sunday to you.

    Carefree and wispy is not my natural style... but I'm incorporating more of it in my gardens. I'm happy to have the wildlife it attracts and that's motivation enough. Thank you for stopping in.

    I have seen that to be true especially this year with taking photos of the progress. It is remarkable how fast things grow in our climate.

    The Susans haven't decided they are a must for me yet... I must keep trying to convince them. I might try them in the very back of the garden where the irrigation doesn't reach. I hope I don't end up having to yank the spiderwort... I guess I'll know that by next spring when they start multiplying. hugs to you, too.

  13. Looking at all your lush well planned gardens is a true feast for the eyes and heart of a gardener. We know the work and dreams that flourish and fade and we feel for ya. My coneflowers are sometimes short lived but I keep planting them anyway.

    It's ok that the wildflowers might not be in your plans cause you got so much more and for such a long time in color. Most of the time things that grow in your garden will not work in my soil or sun.

    You sure put a lot of work in this garden and so sorry for the losses--but the Goldenrod and Mexican sage are beautiful.

  14. Wild flowers are pretty. I've been noticing the yellow flowers on road ways & in fields. Is that the Rudbeckia you are talking about? Will it grow in the home garden?
    Congratulations on your awards.

  15. Meems, Congrats on your Blotanical blog awards. I can't think of a more appropriate blog than yours to win.

    That goldenrod is stunning. I tried planting some last year and once it stopped blooming it died and did not return this year. Where did you buy it?

  16. Gardeners always need a bigger bed :)

  17. I love your garden, Meems. Mixing the wildflowers with the others is perfect. Congrats on the award... It's very deserving. You do have one of the prettiest yards I've ever seen.

    Thanks for your nice comments about the death of my brother. That meant so much to me.

  18. Anna,
    I keep trying with the coneflowers, too. This year was better than last...maybe next year is the year. Gardening is all about dreams and plans and some come to fruition while others are a learning experience only... it's all worth it to learn more about life. Hugs to you, Anna.

    I've noticed the goldenrod roadside mostly in counties north of me more than in this immediate area. The tickseed along the roadside is substantial right now as well. Liatris and all kinds of grasses have been grabbing my attention, too. The tickseed didn't do well for me... I've seen Rudbekia in the home garden but I'm not having great luck with it.

    Thank you!
    That dying business doesn't sound promising. It will be interesting to see if the goldenrod comes back next year. I bought it at a native nursery in Dunellon... I'm sure it does really well up there. LOL

    And more of them...

    Dear Betsy,
    Thank you.
    You are always so sweet to say such kind things... pumping my head full of niceties. I was so sorry to learn of your brother's death. Warm hugs of comfort are sent your way today, friend.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

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Tropical Pathway