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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.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing the Garden for Every Season Part 2

Part 2 of Plants that Thrive in the Winter Garden
North side property line in back garden ~~~ Gama grass, Tripsacum dactyloides (45 border the top backside of the berm), Ligustrum sinensis 'Variegata' (middle of photo~ 7 plants), Feijoa sellowiana, Pineapple Guava (3 behind Gama) and Trachelospermum jasminoides, confederate jasmine covering the entire fence in the background. Each one cold and winter hardy showing no signs of stress in winter or summer.
Not only has it been my goal to choose plants that uphold good characteristics in summer as well as in winter but there's another thread that runs through each of my designs and ideas for this garden.
North side property line in back garden also. Variegated aztec grass and African Iris are visible here. Many varieties of cold hardy plants in this planting bed make good neighbors.
Cyrtomium Falcatum, Holly Fern has long been a favorite for a slow growing textural plant that does beautifully in filtered or dappled sunlight and isn't bothered by summer heat or winter frost. Not a native but highly considered Florida-Friendly.
In the last few years the trend has been a purposeful evolution. One that moves my garden toward a more naturalistic appearance. It might be described as tidy edges with delineated spaces but with sort of an arranged wilder-side. All the while catering to the environment; recognizing my role as a steward of my little eco-system. This approach is bringing me closer to achieving a look and feel that defines and distinguishes my Florida garden as not only sustainable through all seasons but I find that it increasingly blends with and represents better my distinct gardening personality.

In stubborn determination I'm resisting the urge to panic when the forecast calls for freezing temperatures. I'm growing dull to the dreaded announcements. I'll never get used to it or like it but I decline the inclination to spend countless hours building structures (like I've done so many times in past years) to cover every tender-to-cold plant with make-shift tents of freeze cloth. In so many instances these efforts are worthless and don't do that much good against the type of frosty cooling we've had the last few years.
The old-fashioned Aspidistra elatior, cast iron plants are just that. Like cast iron their upright leathery leaves in mostly tree-filtered light are a fabulous summer and winter evergreen plant.
****That's not to say covering doesn't work in every instance. It's just that my personal decision to only cover a few tender vegetables and container pots I cannot move leaves me in a much more peaceful state of mind. That might just be me. There are no hard and fast rules here. ****

Meanwhile making close observation of the steadfast and hardy plants suited for this climate through all seasons is duly noted.
Livistona chinensis, Chinese fan palm is a fabulous shade of green which contrasts with the darker shades of green. Planted in the midst of the berm on the north side of the back garden. It is cold hardy to 20 degrees and a very slow grower. (The brown lifeless pentas in the background die back with hard frost. If they don't return after pruning they will be replaced. A good example of one plant I will always spend dollars to have in my garden and expect them to freeze back. They do not get covered for there are too many plantings of them throughout the garden.)

Each planting area is being observed with renewed vision. By division, additional purchases, root cuttings or pass-alongs the criteria for the vast majority of plants acquired in this garden is based on durability, low maintenance, wildlife appeal, drought resistance, and cold hardiness.

They are and will be the foundational cornerstone of each setting. The goal is that Old Man Winter will no longer "take out" my garden completely when he decides to visit either on a fluke in early December or stays for a long duration like last winter 2010.
There is more. Another post entry is forth coming to highlight more cold hardy/summer hardy varieties at Hoe and Shovel.


  1. Very helpful to see these growing in the garden. I definitely need more holly fern. I'm wondering if I have enough sunlight for the fan palms....

  2. I like your move towards naturalism with your plantings - It's nice if a garden looks like it just happened magically

  3. a typical 'tropicalesque' Florida garden vs. a freeze damaged Florida winter garden are notably quite different. unlike our northern neighbors, we do not lose all, buried in snow or ice, but the resulting 'burnt' look is not at all attractive! these last two posts are most helpful (especially the pics)- they inform us how to make the best of our weather fluctuations with plantings that at best preserve some semblance of an attractive garden year round. very good info, thanks!

  4. Aren't you the clever one? I agree. Why try to beat Mr. Freeze every season? It's not going to get any better over time. Love your peaceful transition. It suits you.

  5. Kay,
    I've seen the chinese fan growing in very shady spots. It keeps them kind of nice and low-growing more like a shinier palmetto. I've also seen them growing in full sun... right next to the Interstate. Mine is in filtered light. I'm going to add more in troubled spots in the spring.

    I agree. But this garden isn't quite that "wild" as it is far from looking like it happened magically. :-)

    Floridians do not ever get used to seeing our plants burned to the ground. It is just not something we grew up with except on occasion. These days it is happening way too frequently.

    I'm going with peace. Which is decidedly different for each individual. For me, it is not fighting with the elements but going with them as much as I am able.Thanks.

  6. I was wondering, Meems, if you ever get Pineapple guava from your bushes. I've got one planted and my climate isn't really conducive but I wonder if yours is. Great post!

  7. Poignant and beautifully presented, recognizing your role as a steward of your little eco-system, so touched me, dear Meems. Each of us, as gardeners, should take this to heart knowing everything thrives in a happy (unique) environment. And this is a strong note for family/friends as well ... another gift you also focus on so well. All goes hand-in-hand :)

  8. So encouraging and enjoyable to read your blog Meems! Today I took some notes-you are a true teacher and I learn from you all the time! Thank you for sharing your gardening insight, discipline, creative mind and so much more.


  9. Another thought.... My "Swallow Tail" plant looks dead. In your experience, do you think it might recover? It is planted in the ground on the East side, received sufficient water, but has slowly declined even before the cold.

  10. I am so dismayed by tomorrow night's forecast, that I could just cry. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, the mind is distracted by other life events right now. The only thing is, portions of the St. Augustine lawn that had been browned have actually been greening up this past week, only to have another freeze coming. Ugh.

  11. Thank goodness we have so many hardy staples to choose from. Holly fern is one of my favorites...i love that it clumps instead of spreading wildly...nice dark green color, too. I just wish we had some colorful cold-hardy foliage plants. You're smart to establish a solid foundation of cold-hardy plants.

  12. Grace,
    I planted three pineapple guava last spring. I was happy to get blooms but never noticed any fruit. I'll pay closer attention this year as they are more mature.

    Definitely not a 'tree-hugger' sort but I adhere to the principles of each person doing our best to contributing to preserving our natural resources. I'm so enjoying the rewards of it here in my little corner of the earth.

    You are a dear for commenting. My three swallowtail plants began to fade mid-autumn. Since they were in containers I yanked them out and replaced them. If they had been in the ground I probably would have pruned them back just to see what happened. I wish I knew someone who had complete success with them and I surely hope I can find them again next year. Because I would buy them again. So unique and pretty... even if they only last a short while. Not a foundational plant for certain. :-)

    Usually the lawn recovers just fine once spring rolls around and warmth is once again the norm. Tomorrow night's predictions will be a close call I think. I hope all is well with you and your garden.

    I agree. If only there were some colorful choices. The garden palette is varying shades of green right now ... mixed with lots of brown. :-)

  13. Hmm. 14degrees out there. Maybe it is time to move south.

  14. HMH,
    Florida is the only state today without snow. Maybe it is time. :-)


Have a blessed day,

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