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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, October 6, 2009

Risky Combinations

For those of you not familiar with bromeliads there are some varieties that mature to be quite huge specimens.

Some bromeliads prefer shade and some actually request to be placed more in the direct sun. There are over 100 shade and semi-shade loving bromeliads serving as filler and ground cover throughout Hoe and Shovel. I do love them all as they are virtually maintenance free.
I'm not all that hip on every variety but I know what I like when I see it. I've admired the larger varieties that grow to 4 feet tall every time I've seen them used in landscaping. But, without a place to locate them here, they haven't been so tempting that I couldn't resist buying them. Until now that is.

There's another plant, Verbena Bonairensis, I HAVE been looking for without any success. Last week I found it at the Tropiflora Fall Festival plant sale in Manatee county.
That's also where I found the Aechmea blanchetiana 'Orangeade' bromeliad I just had to have. The one above (taken at Tropiflora) shows the enormous bloom they produce. It stands erect another 2-3 feet above the plant when it blooms. The bloom lasts for 4-5 months and it is attractive to bees and butterflies.

Fortunately I was already in the process of digging up more sod in the newly front lawn renovation when I went to the plant sale.

Two things:
1)The front lawn is having a big problem transforming to all-organic treatment. It is rebelling I think. It needs its chemicals ... but we are in rehab right now. Later it will thank me. Until then I keep removing more of it as it quits on me.

2)There was a second Giant Spider Lily Crinum augustum 'Queen Emma' from my neighbor that needed a home and it occurred to me to put it right out in the front garden. Enormous. Oversized. Queen Emma Crinum not-to-be-missed in the front garden. Risky.

Last time I did all the digging myself. For this dig I made sure to have my best help in tow. Any freshly turned soil is a magnet to this little fellow with his junior-sized tools in hand. So dig we did.

With another 4 foot width of additional curvy bed to fill the Crinum found its new home toward the front of the bed when looking from my driveway. More towards the front of the bed than most people probably would have placed it. Risky.
Side Note: (That's my neighbor's house in the background ... this bed borders the far side of my front garden and his driveway.)

The newly acquired Aechmea blanchetiana (I love the sound of those words... pronounced just how they are spelled) was large with two almost equal sized pups attached. Separating them into three individual plants gave me more to work with and made the bargain found on sale even better.

Blending bromeliads with crinums doesn't seem so odd but blending bromeliads with muhly grass and purple top verbena and native pineland lantana, Lantana depressa, and pentas, and caladiums might seem a little risky to some. It was a combination of textures and form that fell together in a pleasing layout when all was said and done.
There were several pups on the second crinum. Two of them small compared to the momma plant but large enough to warrant planting in the newly dug space. That makes three of them in the sprawling bed.

View from the street.
It never is my habit to place any plant perfectly centered or predictably balanced. I'm pleased with the new bromeliads for so many reasons. The sheer brilliance of the chartreuse foliage which is expected to turn deeper orangeish-red on the tips from the sun would be enough for me even if they never bloomed. Their magnificent size and the fact that they will come out with that outlandish bloom eventually is just a bonus.

The butterflies didn't even wait for me to get the verbena in the ground before they discovered the nectar. That's exactly why I wanted them. Butterflies love them. They are in front of the caladiums and to the right of the crinum with the yellow pineland lantana at their feet for ground cover filler.

The entire border of Flax Lily was moved out to the new perimeter.

Initially I was hesitant to increase the size of that area after just completing it. Now that it is done, I am more than pleased with the additions and the new size of the bed.

Also added:

Siam Tulips, Curcuma alismatilfolia

Persian Shield, Strobilanthes dyerianus

Red Pentas, Penta lanceolata

Cigar Plant, Cuphea ignea

Forsythia Sage, Salvia Madrensis


  1. Absolutely gorgeous, Meems. Bromeliads aren't hardy here but Phormiums are, at least marginally hardy. Verbena bonariensis tends to seed everywhere so once you have it, you'll never be without it. Again, your borders are beautiful. And your header photo is also lovely.

  2. I just love bromeliads. I would just flip out going to a nursery that had so many to choose from. Your plant combinations are marvelous. You will never be without Verbena Bonariensis again. It will be fun to see all in bloom.

  3. Meems - what lovely and exotic gardens you create (and I mean that in the most complimentary way, too)! Bromeliads are so exotic to me, having only seen them growing in my visits to tropical rain forests in Caribbean countries or in glass conservatories up here.

    Your combination of textures is stunning!


    PS Now that you have verbena, you can collect the seeds to use it everywhere you like. It looks great with fluffy plants like your muhly or amsonia hubrichtii. You can deadhead verbena if you like, or just let it grow. I do both, depending upon the area of the garden (the goldfinches love to eat it).

  4. Meems, Great choices. I personally feel the bold large leaves of the crinum and the broms. add a very valuable element to the gardens. They automatically draw the eye dividing the vignette into sections allowing for a greater appreciation of the whole. Well done!

  5. Amazing photos. I like especially that one with butterfly. I'm not big fanatic of gardens but I like flowers. However most of them are inside our house. But this is right blog for my neighbor who loves being in the garden and doing something in it. I'm sure it will give him a lot of inspiration.

    Good luck,

  6. Beautiful Meems... Gardening is continuous work.. We had to move one of our potted roses to the new flowerbed in front since it had outgrown its pot. This is not a good time to replant them--but there was no choice. Isn't gardening fun?????? ha ha

    All of your hard work is paying off, Meems. Your yard is glorious.

  7. Meems....Those Bromeliads are just lovely. Lucky you to get to the Tropiflora fall festival. Great photos on garden web, wished I could have gone....sigh. Probably I would have gone broke :-)

  8. Hi Meems....I am not too familiar with bromeliads.....they are indoor plants here.....

    I grow verbena bonariensis each year from seed. They now seed around the garden, which is great.....they are also loved by bees and moths......such a good plant. The beauty they never block a view....perfect......

  9. Your garden looks so wonderful to me /gittan

  10. Meems, I love the placement of the Big Lily and the bromeliads! The crinum lily color echos the Live oaks beautifully. I love the architectural statement they all make in your front garden. Verbena bonariensis is a favorite of mine and I hope it spreads itself about here, too. gail

  11. meems...your vision keeps evolving and becoming better all the time. the addition of the bromeliads seem to add a depth that was missing and now feels more anchored. i think that they also bring out the plant(forgot the name) with the yellow pineapple looking blooms.
    that queen emma lily is so gorgeous...great placement.
    now you will have one up front and in the back to enjoy.
    i am so happy for you that you have found so many resources for all the different plants you are looking for.
    you just can't help yourself when it comes to digging can you?
    happy fall.

  12. WOW, Meems how do you do it ? Fabulous garden, fabulous and beautiful posts ! Thank you !

  13. Oh, how I miss my bromeliads! The butterflies and hummers are going to LOVE your new cupheas. I reckon it depends on which b'flies... I was watching some sulphurs this morning and they passed the pentas and the salvias to get to the cigars.

    I'm still working on an escape plan out of Flarctica. 8-}

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  14. Wow. Those Bromeliads are amazing. I can't stop staring at them. We can't have them outside here -- too stinking hot. I set an indoor one outside once for some fresh air and a day later it was dying. I'll just have to enjoy yours and stick to other less fussy tropicals.

  15. The new beds look great, Meems! I love the combos you've put together. Being inventive with plants makes you a trend-setter or visionary, right?

  16. Big and beautiful offerings for your garden, Meems. Love viewing plants in your garden, like the bromeliads, that we enjoy outside but must bring in before the frost. Yes, your dear sister knows you well ... a great visionary!

  17. Very nice. That new front bed has filled out wonderfully. Less grass to mow.

  18. Grace,
    I'm kind of surprised broms aren't hardy there... not enough humidity I suppose??? Verbena bonariensis is not a well used plant here and it has me wondering if it will do well or not. I sure hope it seeds itself. The header is a section of the back (shady) garden... thanks.

    Can you believe how many bromeliads just in that one house? There were at least two more of those filled with just broms. It was breathtaking.

    Do you know one of your kind readers sent me Verbena seeds last year when she heard my moaning over not having grown them before. The seeds didn't do well for me so I hope the plants do better. There might be a reason why I couldn't find them for sale here~~ I hope it isn't because they don't do well here. Thank you for your kind compliments... always good for my confidence.

    I agree whole heartedly... I'm having lots of fun with the boldness factor.

    Thank you for stopping by and letting me know you like the butterfly photo.

    It never ends does it? But that's how living things are... constantly needing attention. Your roses are worth all the effort... they are beautiful.

    It was a real treat. A first for me although they are a great online resource, too. I set a budget and stuck with it... yay me.

    I'm very excited about the addition of the Verbena and I do hope it seeds itself elsewhere. That would be a nice attribute... they are easy to love.

    Thank you~~ you are kind to say so.

    The big crinum has added a nice architectural element and like you, I do think they go well with the wonderful oaks. I hope your verbena re-seed in your lovely garden, too.

    I'll be happy to quit digging for a while... really. Only I keep getting inspired and then well, you know how obsessed I can get until I get a job done. I do like the echo of the cassia and the broms... and like you, I'm thinking these additions have finished off the planting bed in a bold way ...I'm more pleased than I would have first thought. Glad now even though I dreaded digging more sod out and moving that border... the rest was fun.

    Thanks so much for stopping by... gardening is invigorating don't you think!

    I got the cuphea in Crawfordville... the nursery just before fruits and exotics on 98... I saw all the butterflies flocking to it and that's what made me buy it. I've already rooted cuttings from it... very easy.

    Isn't it odd it would be too hot there and not here! I'm thinking they like our humidity and maybe you are dryer than we are???

    I'm glad you like the combination... I'm really happy with it, too. Visionary, yes... trendsetter?? I highly doubt it.

    Always good to see you. Be sure to keep your broms warm for the winter. I'd hate to think of you having to replace them every year.

    I'm so surprised how fast the bed has filled in. I keep trying to imagine it next year when the firebush gets bigger and the muhly is full sized. Definitely working on less grass to mow. LOL

  19. You sure know how to remain busy, don't you? Guess pays off. You have a lot of diversity and unique looking plants.



Have a blessed day,

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