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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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Expectation or Surprise?

In every garden there are those specific, faithful plants in which the gardener anticipates the arrival of an annual bloom time. We know it is inevitable. It's like waiting for the seasons to change. You know the expected time it will transition you just don't know the exact day the change will appear.

Often these are the very plants that faithfully supply hardy foliage and steadfast characteristics throughout the year. We love them for that. We depend on their stalwart performance as we pay little attention to them due to many other endeavors going on right around them. But they are easy and carefree and don't insist on being the center of attention. Their supporting role is to be noticed occasionally as the backdrop or a specimen in an otherwise multi-layered setting.

In the case of Variegated Shell Ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) it is the elongated yellow and green striped leaves that make my heart go pitter-patter. In my filtered, high-shifting shady areas they stand out brightly against varied textures and layers of greenery.
Then one spring day, seemingly out of nowhere, a bud is staring me in the face. It's as if all of a sudden, in an instant ~ a blink even ~ this beautiful burst of wrapped up energy has emerged. Was I too busy caring for all your neighbors to notice or did you really sprout overnight? Elation fills my emotions as if this were the first I'd ever seen this favorite of the perennials bloom.

But of course I have seen them bloom before. Every year when these exotic blooms appear they catch me by surprise. As if I didn't really expect them when I most certainly do. I anticipate them to fill the air with their lightly fragrant flush of musky ginger each May.

So tropical yet so resilient to the elements. The towering oak trees overhead protect from brutal afternoon rays as well as occasional frost and freeze making these Florida-Friendly gingers a perfect fit in my garden.

Is your anticipation mounting for a favorite perennial to bloom?

Quick Tips For Growing Variegated Shell Ginger:
**Be prepared to wait as it takes a few years of maturity for them to initially send out their exquisite flowers.
**Plant them as a background or middle layer that fits in with a 5-6 foot setting.
**Add plenty of organic materials to sandy soil to make this plant happiest
**Can be grown in the ground or in a container
**Rhizomes can be divided to transplant


  1. Ms. Doris gave me a few rhizomes of this ginger, I haven't seen a sprouts yet..wonder if they are being over watered? Great post!

  2. I love my variegated shell ginger! I bought it almost 3 years ago and have never had a problem with it. Last year I dug up some and transplanted to the other side of the house. It is a very trouble free plant and really adds to the "tropical" look.
    I need to take a close look this morning to see if mine is starting to bloom. I was too busy yesterday to take a close look at anything (weed pulling and enlarging a flower bed.).

    Enjoy the day!

  3. I have ginger as a border along my front porch. Since it was just planted last year, I assume it won't flower this, its second year -- maybe next year?

    The plant I am most anxious to see bloom again is my muhly grass. It was such a delight last fall -- can't wait till this fall because the plants are even bigger and fuller this year.

  4. Hey Meems...It just goes to show that the garden is always working on its next glorious production...right out in the open...and right under our noses. Very pretty cluster of blooms!

  5. The one's I bought at Lowe's on the 1/2 price rack are coming along nicely.I can't wait 'til they're as big as your's.

  6. Gorgeous foliage and flowers! Stunning.

  7. Mine are white and green - I love the yellow - it looks golden in the sunshine.

  8. I anticipate the Alocasia's return every year. A. 'Portadora' is way too slow for me. Says something about our hateful winter cold.

  9. Meems,

    Looks like I can post to your blog again! Yay! I just live for your updates and pore over every picture. I am one of your biggest fans. I love the video updates. I have a thousand questions and wish I lived closer so that I could share cuttings and offsets and trade gardening secrets. (Ok, ask for your gardening secrets.) Doing my best to imitate you here in Jacksonville (smile!).

    You are truly doing something special - something very rare in the gardening world. I really believe that. There are hundreds and hundreds of blogs with photos of individual plants, but very few with wide shots of the entire garden or yard. Closeups of individual plants are a dime-a-dozen and can be seen all over the web. But viewing photos of in incredible yard or garden is rare. You have an amazing eye and talent for pulling it all together in a spectacular way. It is absolutely breathtaking and I live for those wide shots! Again, what you are doing is really something special.

    Happy gardening!
    Jacksonville, FL

  10. Darla,
    You are going to love this one when it does come up for you. It may not overwinter up there though but should come back.

    Siesta Sister,
    Same reasons I didn't notice mine were budding... I hope you discovered you have some. You are right they lend to the tropical feel yet don't go dormant in winter.

    It is one of my favorites. So bright and colorful in the shade.

    I think it took mine about 5 years to start blooming. After that you will find yourself having to prune it back each year if you have it in front of a porch. I'm with you, I DO look forward to the muhly blooming. I put in more plants of it this year when I took out more grass.

    It is one of the things I love about gardening. Those work horse plants just go right on doing what they are supposed to do and I get all the rewards!

    So good to hear from you. I didn't realize you weren't able to comment. But I discovered I had disabled anonymous comments somewhere along the way so I think that problem is solved. Thank you for your generous words of encouragement. It is my goal to help other gardeners as much as I can. There are no gardening secrets... happy to share whatever you want to know.

    I DO think sharing the wide angle shots are helpful although they never quite convey the true picture. Those macro shots are kind of hard to pass up as they portray so much detail, color, and beauty. But I think both are necessary for helping others. Thank you again for the very kind words. I'm glad you can come here and enjoy your visit.

  11. Meems,

    I agree - both are good for helping and educating. But in my opinion, it is your macro shots - and EVERYTHING that goes into making those possible - that sets you head and shoulders apart from the rest. :)


  12. Carol,
    You're a good fan. :-) Thanks again... I'll try to keep wide angles coming your way if it helps you. It's been a really great gardening year so far. This little dry spell we've been gifted today and into next week is a welcome blessing.

  13. As you no doubt noticed, I got my photography terminology mixed up. I meant your landscape shots, not macros, that really set your blog apart from the others. I am a so-so gardener and no-no photographer.


  14. Carol,
    I knew what you meant. Photography terminology confuses me, too. :-)It's all backwards.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

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Tropical Pathway