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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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Right Plant Right Place::Florida-friendly Best Practices

There couldn't be a better time than right now for Florida gardeners to pay close attention to the selection of plants we have in our yards and gardens. After the record number of cold days (and nights) we've experienced this winter and the loss of some precious foliage and flowers it is an excellent opportunity to take a few steps back and make some fresh assessments. With spring in view perhaps we need to re-evaluate some of our previous choices.

More and more we hear the term Florida-friendly as we search around for viable options suitable for our hot and humid summer climate. These past few years we are acutely aware of the need for more cold hardy plants as well that will survive our occasional frosts and freezes. A Guide To Florida Friendly Landscaping was created by the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program which can serve as a helpful tool if you are just getting started on your landscaping or if you are looking to improve your existing conditions.

At Hoe and Shovel over the past few years we have been in the process of moving toward a more naturalistic landscape design at least in parts of the garden.

With the combination of more native plants and non-native but Florida-Friendly materials in use along with removal of more and more lawn area being replaced by planting beds or ground cover we are slowly achieving our goal.

Recognizing that we want to preserve and protect our natural resources to the best of our ability, attract wildlife, and manage responsibly our own little eco-system has made us more aware of the importance of every decision we make concerning our garden.

Learning how to best work with pre-existing natural conditions actually causes less work and maintenance in the long run while increasing the joys and rewards of gardening.

There are so many great resources offering assistance to the novice as well as the veteran gardener when deciding to stick with what works best in Florida's unique and beautiful environment. Rick Brown's website Florida Friendly Plants has some very handy and useful lists every gardener in Florida will want to bookmark and use repeatedly.

Along with a plant database available to search with criteria to match conditions in your landscaping some of his Top Lists for Florida Friendly Gardens include: Top 20 Perennials, Top 20 Drought Tolerant Plants, Top 10 Natives and there are many more available that I've referenced time and again.

Additionally, there are 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping every Florida gardener will want to learn and integrate into your gardening plans and designs. Florida Yards has also created a plant database and Florida-Friendly interactive yard you might find very helpful.

We still have much to learn and much to do around here. With each new season and each new design we get closer to our goals of developing a peaceful and Florida-friendly habitat that is environmentally responsible.

Incorporating edibles into the garden is considered the icing on the cake around here.

Check back for the soon-to-be-revealed newest planting bed. I've chosen three types of cold-hardy palms and many more cold-hardy (Florida-friendly) foundational plants for a northern exposure.


  1. What a great post Meems...thanks for the links, I for one will be checking them out!

  2. Great post, Meems. It was especially interesting for me because gardening in Florida seems to be a mirror-image of gardening in Mumbai (and most of coastal India). Our weather is almost identical and the plants in your garden are so much like what I have in mine.

  3. Meems, Thanks so much for the very kind words and links. You are so on target with all your gardening advice. Your before and after images are so inspiring. I continually recommend folks stay in touch with your blog to see how to have success gardening in Florida. The way you communicate with this media is so on target. Clear images with well thought out statements of form and function show why you are a master of gardening, education and communication. Your family is so lucky to have you and all your energy and a hobby that keeps them active and involved with the outdoors and natural food. I am joining the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Assoc. marketing committee as they embark on a consumer website to promote Right Plant Right Place and Florida Friendly Best Practices. The U of F Solutions for your Life sites are a great resource for all of us and that will evolve to a gardener friendly format for easier navigation to information about form and function too. Hopefully FNGLA and U of F can link the knowledge as a useful resource. I will continue to study how you teach and express yourself on Hoe and Shovel. I hope other Florida Garden bloggers and writers get as much inspiration from you as I do and follow your lead in garden design and proper use of plants to build a network of inspiration. Florida is a big state and we have plenty of design deficiencies and environmental issues to address together. Thanks for taking the lead.

  4. Thank you for such an informative post. I can't wait to check out all the links to such useful tools. I developed an interest in gardening only a few years ago, and I can tell you I have made the wrong plant-wrong place choices too many times. This year I have committed to being a more mindful gardener and you are a big help in doing just that. Your photography of your gardens always serves as inspiration.

  5. Thanks for the promoting our concepts and links! We love your blog and your pictures.

  6. What a terrifically informative post, Meems! You're spot on about taking the time to evaluate what might need to be culled out for hardiness purposes, although this may well have been a freak winter. I love that Florida has so many good gardening resources, too. We don't have anything anywhere near that useful here. Not yet, anyway. Wait til I convince the dept ofbAg that we need to do more for gardeners. ;-)

  7. Great post! I can't wait to see the palms you cose.
    If I can get the yardboy to build me a potting shed it will be a miracle! But i still have hope.....

  8. Meems: Thank you for this very informative posting. I need to go through all those links you provided later to know better. I saw you also included Rick Browns website for Florida Friendly Plants. I have been visiting that website from the beginning as reference to create my new garden. I did learn a lot from that website.

    Looking forward to seeing your new plant bed reveal!

  9. Hi Long Lost Friend!
    I need a Garden Coach....soon!!!
    How about it??

  10. Hi Meems,
    Thanks for the resources. There is a lot of good information on Florida gardening out there.I like adding Florida native plants to my garden. Great job!

  11. How true it is...a little research and knowledge goes a long way in gardening success. Great post with lots of great links.

  12. Well---if anyone can teach other Florida gardeners about what works and what doesn't, it is YOU... They need to listen to you. You are the BEST.

  13. What a great post! Thank you for all the wonderful links.


  14. What a wonderful post! Your gardens are amazingly beautiful, and your narrative is so well written! Your links are the icing on the much information here!! Thank you!

  15. meems, I was so taken with your photos when I stopped by last night I forgot to comment! I miss the bees and there they are in that lovely shot ~~Right plant~right place has been the guiding principle the last dozen or so yrs here at C&L. It's been tough to say no when others suggest plants~I love xeric plants but they need drainage and wouldn't an English cottage garden be spectacular! I hope your day and weekend are filled with goodness~gail

  16. All of your helpful suggestions almost make me wish I was gardening in Florida . . . but wait, I always wish I was gardening in Florida at this time of year!

  17. Meems - Great topic and your photo examples and explanations are excellent! I will be back later to read this post in even more detail and follow the links and such.


  18. Everyone:

    Thank you so much for all the kind comments. All my spare time (and more) is being spent in the garden these days. It is extremely busy right now getting the veggie garden back in order (from the well drilling upheaval) and seeds in the ground on time. I REALLY, REALLY appreciate EVERY one of you coming here and your comments are much appreciated.

    Florida gardeners have so many resources available (I only listed a few) to help us make good choices and learn better how to garden in our own very unique and wondrous environment! I wish I would have found them sooner (ahh, the Internet)... maybe I would have avoided the many mistakes and trials I've made over the years.

    Enjoy your weekend and I wish each of you many joys and peace as you do! I'll get around to visiting again soon... no extra time lately... spring is just around the corner!!! No matter where you live. Yay!

  19. Thank you Meems for a delightful post. I'm in the trial mode but intend to go as much native as I can.
    But, being from Tn. I tend to want some plants that remind me of home.
    It being {almost} Spring I saw the cutest thing tonight. This little honey bee was walking across my kitchen floor like it was half asleep. I let it walk into a spoon so I could gently take it outside. My son had left the kitchen & garage door open & I guess it wanted to come in & get warm. At least I now know I have bees to pollinate my plants {which I don't have}.
    It's amazing how much difference there is between you & me but I've lost just about all. Plants I've had for yrs didn't make this horrid cold winter. Always tomorrow.
    Anxious to see your new bed.

  20. "Your family is so lucky to have you and all your energy and a hobby that keeps them active and involved with the outdoors and natural food." - quoted from Rick Brown comment.

    i just wanted to state, as a family member, that we do feel blessed to have you and your creative genius to inspire us. not too many of us, however, are as "active & involved with the outdoors" as you are, my sweet. we do appreciate the beauty and sanctuary you provide for our family get togethers, and the dedication/hardwork that goes into creating the peaceful environment a visit to your home/garden always provides. and via your blog, we are able to take our peek-a-boos along with your many vicarious visitors. you photos are prize-winning, and your dialogue draws all of us into your garden wonderland! i am so truly proud of you!
    p.s. - love that new header photo!

  21. Hi Meems~~ Your comment on my garden was very sweet but I don't think my garden holds a candle to yours. I'm always in awe and I look forward to the big reveal.

  22. Meems - everytime I visit Hoe & Shovel I find a new treasure. This might be a slightly older post, but I get lost in the photos of your gardens. THIS is a look I aspire to. (Whew! Lots more work!)


Have a blessed day,

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Tropical Pathway