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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, February 7, 2011

Wintry Garden Blooms

Last spring a concentrated effort was made to increase the middle story volume in the garden. The level between low-lying shrubs and the very tall canopy of oak trees. By adding several specimen trees with a mature growth habit of 10- 20 feet in height the middle story will eventually fill out and complete a much needed design element.

Two young 7' Raphiolepis indica Indian Hawthorn 'Majestic Beauty' standard trees are putting on their pretty pink blooms for winter. Majestic Beauty is cold hardy through frost and drought resistant in summer and attractive to all sorts of wildlife. Slow growing but worth the wait.

One of my most loved salvias is the Mystic Spires. The elongated spikes of blue-purple are also a bumble favorite. This one does better for me in cooler months. I usually re-purchase a few each year. This one is planted in the center pot of the circle garden.

Tropic Snow Peach Tree

Another addition to the middle story last year was the Tropic Snow Peach tree. This variety provides a sweet white flesh and only needs 200 chill hours which makes it good for zone 9. Last year I was amazed at the sight of real peaches.

Several doses of organic compost, aged horse manure, and seabird guano have been its food of choice over the course of the past year. Fingers and toes are crossed for a peach harvest in May.

Often I look up from the family room couch to see this view in the distance. It is even more visible from the back patio looking directly southward beyond the length of two neighbor's yards. It is an inspiring view with the morning sunshine illuminating the background of cypress trees edging the conservation area while the foreground remains shadowed by dense shade. (Photo from December 2010)

This weekend it was a dreary view. Rain fell lightly for most of Saturday. Sunday remained cloudy although no precipitation as predicted which made for a nice afternoon to get lots of gardening accomplished.

Small but Powerful

Do you know that feeling when you walk through the garden and a wonderful fragrance wafts through the air to surprise your senses? That's the way it happens with the Osmanthus fragransTea Olive blooms. They always catch me off-guard.

They aren't especially attractive shrubs. I'd even go so far to say they are rather non-descript. For that reason three of them were sited on the back side of the berm last spring. Evergreen and cold hardy (as well as fragrant)they withstand frost and freezing temps which carries all kinds of weight in my garden. They've grown about a foot in one year.

The bloom clusters are very tiny. But the light, lemony fragrance is fresh and extremely potent. So much so that when it wafts past me from several feet away I have to try to remember what it is that smells so divine. What a treasure they are for the winter-weary garden!

Cold Hardy Files

A single white-flowering yarrow was given to me a couple of years ago when I attended a library talk on day lilies. At first sight I loved the foliage on this plant.

Two springs and summers have passed and it has not once bloomed for me. I suspect lack of enough sun is the reason. With that in mind I rooted several small pots of it last summer and moved it to the sunniest place possible.

It has spread nicely in the front lawn renovation next to the street. I'm happy with the airy, feathery, limey-green foliage that stays bright in summer and winter. But I have to admit white blooms would be a thrill, too. Hopefully we'll get some this summer with the increased sunshine-dosages provided.

More on the Louise Philippe roses to come. But wow! What a show off he is being right here in the middle of winter.

Here's to the winter garden adding joy to your day. Thank you for dropping by, Meems


  1. I have to find some Tea Olives for my own yard. That is a great idea to put them in the back. I have lots of camellias that they could blend in with and only be noticed when they bloom. The yarrow is a long day plant so it will normally bloom in May. They are hard for me to keep watered in pots in May and June when they bloom.

  2. That beautiful screen of trees is magical. I love the deep blue of the salvia, I guess the bees do too. Before reading your blog, I never realized how much color could be acquired from a shaded area. Simply amazing...

  3. what a magnificent scene with the trees and sunlight...of course all the flowers and flowering tres are gorgeous too

  4. This flower display makes me quite happy this morning since I woke to find another blanket of snow thrown over my garden.

  5. Just the other day I thought about your peach tree and wondered if it was blooming. Good to see those pretty blossoms. I really like those hawthorne blooms too. I just put in some little bushes with the white blooms. Didn't know there were other types. Hmmmm.....

    The yarrow I got from you seems like it is settling in, but nowhere as big or thick as yours. Sounds like I might have to wait until next year for blooms. It would be great to have blooms in May though:)

  6. I think our Osmanthus fragrans is days away from breaking the silence. Love your pics here, as usual. Beautiful.

  7. Wonderful photos, Meems. I posted a comment/question on the Picasa page.


  8. Rick,
    Most people say to plant tea olives close to a seating area or walkway so the fragrance can be enjoyed. It is not necessary with tea olive. Those little blooms are amazingly potent and can be detected from yards away. The back of the berm was perfect for them as they are purposed for screening the north side along with pineapple guava, chinese fan palm, fakahatchee grasses, giant liriope... all plants that can take the cold. The yarrow was transplanted to a longer-sunny-day position (in the ground) last August. Maybe this May I'll get some blooms??? The foliage on this one is different than the yarrow I see for sale in the stores. Haven't seen this one for sale.

    All of the blooms shown here are grown in part sun/dappled shade. Trees around here create "shifting" shade also. The salvia gets a good 4 hours of afternoon sun which it likes. I can get lost in that view to the south of the cypress trees.

    I'm often photographing that scene standing at the edge of the pool patio with the screen door open using my zoom setting. There is all kinds of bird activity going on down there... roseate spoon bills, wood storks, ibis, sandhill cranes, ducks, little blue heron, great blue heron... it's a treaure! Thanks for your comment and your visit. :-)

  9. Lisa,
    Florida is staying clear of the remarkably cold weather that is affecting the rest of the country these past couple of weeks. It reminds me of old times when it almost always past us by. I hope spring starts for you soon.

    The peach tree started dropping its leaves a month ago and I was so hoping those adorable buds would follow by popping out of the woody stem. It is so fun to see. Fruit will be even more fun won't it! You should notice some increased growth in your yarrow in the next few weeks with this warmer weather. I've left patches of it in the back garden as well but I have to settle for just the greenery as it does not get enough hours of sunlight to bloom. At least I can keep getting rooted pieces from there to give away. Always an up side right!

    Compost in my Shoes,
    Oh, you will know when the bloom breaks forth. Like me, you might be standing somewhere nearby and with your next breath have to ask yourself where could that amazing fragrance be coming from! Eyes wide open and excitement follows when you remind yourself to look at the tea olives. They are covered with blooms right now and are first breathed-in before being noticed.

    Thank you. I'll go over there to check it out and try to answer. :-)

  10. I almost can smell the nice scent of that Osmanthus fragransTea Olive tree! I tried to find some in my area, but no luck. Seems it is only for up to zone 9. There are lots of this tree in my hometown in China. They usually blooms in Fall there. We collect the flower and dry them, and then use them in making the desert. Wonderful wonderful fragrance!

    Looking forward to more on that LP rose! Good luck with your peach harvest, but the flower itself is nice enough to grow this tree!

  11. Meems as I live in Arcadia there aren't any nurserys that carry Tea Olives. May I ask where you purchase the one you have?

  12. Ami,
    I wouldn't doubt if you could get a whiff of its heady fragrance all the way down south. :-)What an interesting note about how they are used in China. I, too, and crossing my fingers for fruit from the peach tree. But I have to admit the bare branches with buds and flowers is artistic enough even if I don't.

    It is kind of desolate in Arcadia but I saw some at my Lowe's just last week. I purchased mine last winter at a local nursery (Duncheon's)that carries them in a couple of sizes. Maybe you can call the closest Lowe's to you to see if they carry them????

    Thank you... glad you stopped by to enjoy them.

  13. Hi Meems...I was surprised to smell tea olive blossoms in my garden this past weekend, too. Those little flowers have a way of sneaking up on you. They are heavenly! Hopefully, your yarrow will bloom for you this year. It is such a great looking plant..very fernlike. I have some in both sun and shade...and have only had blooms in the sunnier location.

  14. Love your swampy view. Nothin' says "Florida" to me more than bald cypress trees! Saturday was so rainy in your part of the world. Daughter and I and a friend spent the day in Tampa. The rain really never quit all day! Down here, it was dry, though it did rain all night. I had a huge old osmanthus specimen in my z7 garden, and yes, nondescript is a great way to describe them.

  15. Hi Meems,
    We planted a Majestic Beauty hawthorne tree in our front yard last year as part of our landscape makeover and it has been quite a conversation piece on our block (most common question "What is that cool tree?") AND it hasn't even bloomed yet! I can't wait to see the pink flower clusters.

    We also planted a tea olive in the back yard (yep, near our bench) and it literally sat there without doing a thing for six months. This winter we have seen a spurt of new growth (interesting that it is growing while everything else is static or dormant) and even a few blossoms, which do indeed smell heavenly.

  16. I was given the yarrow about 20 years ago when we moved to Lake Helen. At the time I was told that it was "Common" yarrow. I have given a lot of it away, moved a lot, and have found it to bloom the very best if I thin them. I love this plant even when it is not in bloom. I have enjoyed your blog for several years now, and so admire your beautiful Florida garden. Thank you for sharing with us.

  17. The view of the "drippy" cypress trees is beautiful! Your peach blossoms too are lovely - even if you dont get the fruit, although that would be a lovely bonus. I love to wander through your garden and see what you have in store.

  18. Meems, the tea olive is on my 'must have' list...I think this is the first time I've noticed it in a post. Awesome! And your view...seriously?!?!?! WOW! I would love to paint this picture! When I perfect my craft, I will need to plant myself in your yard for a bit. I'll be very quiet and won't disturb you, I promise!!! :)

  19. Susan,
    My yarrow started out in the back yard in a partially shaded area where it has never bloomed. I'm hoping what I moved to the front looks like yours did this past year with all those pretty white blooms.

    Here in the north part of the county we got rain from about noon on. It is much needed so we didn't mind.

    The pollinators love those pink flowers on the majestic beauty. I'm anxious to see these slow growing trees get larger. The tea olive did seem to wait until everything else was dormant to show signs of growth and blooming. It is a unique shrub with a powerful fragrance.

    How nice of you to let me know you are a faithful reader and to leave a kind comment. So nice to "meet you". I will keep 'thinning' my yarrow (at your advice)as I am always digging it up to move it around and pot it up for passing along, too.

  20. Africanaussie,
    I agree. The peach tree is a favorite just for the way it changes and evolves with every season. Wander with me in my garden any time... always nice to have you here.

    Anytime you want to come 'park' for plein air painting you make yourself at home. And when you come I know where you can pick up your tea olive. :-)


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway