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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.


Hi, my name is "Meems".

My garden gate is open and I'm glad you're here for a visit.

I began journaling and photographing my garden experiences at in June 2007.

email me: hoeandshovelgarden at  gmail dot com

Quick Facts about Hoe and Shovel
Location: Tampa Bay Area, Florida
Hardiness Zone: 9ab -ish
AHS Heat Zone: 10
Growing Season: All Year Long
Size: Nearly 2/3 acre
Conditions: Sticky, hot summers; Beautiful winters

Summer 2014 Update:
In an unexpected turn of events we sold our home and garden of 30 years on July 13, 2014. We signed the contract on June 1 and in barely 6 weeks we moved *next door*. You can read the details of how and why we moved *next door* here and here.

On June 1, 2014 I immediately began physically moving plants, rooted cuttings, birdhouses, containers, seating, bird feeders, bird baths and even some of the flagstones used for pathways from my previous garden to my new garden.

I hired two neighborhood boys (brothers) to help me. I couldn't have done it so quickly without their help. They were digging out sod to make room for the plants I didn't want to leave behind and I was doing the design and planting.

The emotional process has gone from the grief of leaving my beloved original garden to excitement about the challenges of creating a new one. I hope you'll follow along as I make this new garden my own.

I'm still calling my garden and my blog Hoe and Shovel.


What you read from here down is all about my previous garden. It's the garden I created from scratch as I like to call it. Almost every single plant and tree was planted with my own two little hands. It was a labor of love that took many years. 

Circle Garden October 2011

As a native Floridian, I’m used to gardening year round. What I love most about being in the garden is the peaceful sense of oneness I feel with God, my Creator, who gave me this passion and gift in the first place.

What you see currently in the photos at Hoe and Shovel blog is the result of approximately 11 years of diligently cultivating my small piece of earth a little bit at a time.

I've outlined the gradual progression of building my garden which you can click here to read if you're curious.

Gardening is a passionate pursuit for me. I LOVE everything about the natural ways we connect with the earth. Mankind was created by God in a garden. It makes perfect sense for us to have innate instincts to tend the ground. Whether big or small the possibilities in our gardens are endless. Creating and achieving a peaceful place for family and wildlife to enjoy is incredibly fulfilling.

In a slow, season by season process, I've eliminated a good portion almost all of the St. Augustine lawn. Along the way, the transformation has evolved from extremely tidy planting areas to a more naturalistic gardening style with a blend of native plants and regionally adapted plants or Florida-Friendly plants.

Only organic fertilizers and amendments are used in my edible garden and my planting beds. I rarely have any problems with pests in the perennial gardens. Pollinators and predator bugs are allowed to freely roam about the property as a natural means of eliminating the pest bugs we might have. It is remarkable how nature takes care of itself with regard to balance when chemicals are eliminated and anxiety about a few bugs eating some leaves no longer matters in the overall scheme of things.

I hope you gain some inspiration and perhaps some helpful knowledge to encourage you and your gardening passion as you follow me in my endeavors to learn and experience more as well.

Happy gardening,


  1. Hi Meems, I'm also a Meems. :) I'm excited to find your those Christmas gift bags.

    Kim (meems)

  2. Extremely inspiring! We've recently moved into a house with a yard that is a clean slate. I'm so excited about creating 'Eden' for my family and friends to enjoy. I too feel closest to God in gardens and nature. How amazing it is that He created so many beautiful things to surround us with. I hope my garden is as inspiring to others as your's is to me; and I hope that it brings peace, love, joy, restoration and healing to to all who visit it.

    Thanks for following your passion!
    Nassau, Bahamas

  3. idk, where i saw it is in your blog, but you stated that you had a banana that was a siam ruby. the species you show is actually a Musa zebrina. Both the siam ruby and zebrina are red and green, however, the colors are very different, the siam is almost a straight blood red with some lime green, the zebrina, like yours is more of a maroon and hunter green, also it is much shorter than the siam.

  4. Thank you Anonymous for catching my mis-ID of the bananas. You are absolutely right. I had just ordered and planted some Siam Ruby and lumped the established one (Zebrina) in with the same ID as Siam.

  5. my tree is on my site

  6. Hello fellow Florida garden blogger! I am only a few months into blogging, but having a blast and getting some many great ideas from those who have gone before me. I reside in Tallahassee and love the summer rainy season, my plants are going crazy! Anyway, I will definitely be an avid follower of yours. Take care!

  7. Is it too late to plant zinnias in central Florida?

  8. Anonymous,
    You can definitely plant zinnia plants... I've seen them for sale this week. They will last you through fall.

  9. So happy to find your Blog. We moved here to Central Florida (Lake County) a year ago and have found very little in practical landscaping information, until I happened on to Hoe and Shovel. Love gardening, landscaping with Central Florida happy plants. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  10. Hello Meems, I just wanted to tell you how happy I am to have found your blog. Gardening has been my passion for over 20 years in Ohio. I thought I was like an expert until I moved to the Central part of Florida. I keep coming back to your blog to look up flowers I have bought as it poses new challenges for me as I can garden year round now! Thanks for sharing all your passion!

  11. I found your blog through a friend in Georgia...I had no idea you were in Florida, as am I...Jacksonville! I have had a nice yard in the past but it has gotten in really bad shape from several years of neglect, due to my husband's illness. I am now ready to start over and would love to make it dramatically beautiful somehow! I love your huge Louis rose and have lots of roses to plant...the ones I have had are mostly in decline. My stars are and have been Belinda's dream, which is beautiful and grows in spite of neglect! I have a very small yard but want to make it stand out!There are some things that need to be removed and some garden is always in a state of flux!new things each year but lots of reruns! I would rather have plants than food! I wonder if you know where I might find a tiny red rose called Alachua climber(I think). I once had some but they are no more...have not seen one in years! Thanks for your awesome blog and photos! I love photography, esp of my flowers!

  12. I'm so glad to have found your blog. I recently moved to Tampa and I'm eager to get a garden going. I'm fairly new to gardening but I'm very excited to learn and begin.

  13. Barbloom and both Anonymous commenters... happy to have you here. It's so much fun to share our love of gardening with each other! I'm always ready to learn something new from my fellow gardeners so jump in and share any time. Check out Hoe and Shovel on Facebook for daily gardening passion...

  14. awildrose60,
    Happy you can get back out in your garden and find some respite there. I am not familiar with the Alachua rose. There is another Florida blogger who specializes in roses. She may be able to help you find it. Sherry is in Ocala... a little closer to you also. Thank you for stopping by. Please come back often. Here's a link to Sherry's blog:

  15. We live in the Orlando area and have a large oak tree in our front yard. I was looking for something simple to plant around it and love the look of ferns. After looking into all of the varieties, I need HELP. I love the look of the "Macho Fern" but is there a variety that would be better suited?? Thank you!!!

  16. Hi Anonymous in Orlando... I love macho ferns. They will probably work in the situation you describe. I also love Japanese Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)and you won't have to worry about them spreading. They just keep getting larger and more bushy. I think they might work great for placement under your oak tree.

  17. Hi, just wanted to let you know ... the lovely begonia with the silvery markings and pointy edges on the leaves that trails around - looks like B. 'Aquamarine'.

  18. So glad I found your blog! Your garden is stunning. What is the purple flower that seems to be an orchid, and where did you get it? Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hello Blues Girl, I'm also glad you found my blog... please visit often. I think you must be asking about the current header photo. It is Queen's Wreath ... here is a link to give you more information.

  20. Hello Meems. I'm so thrilled to have found your site. Just taking a tour of your garden through your beautiful photography calms my soul and inspires me to get busy on my own yard. I too live in the Tampa bay area and have half an acre that is 90% thirsty turf. I will be seeking your guidance in the very near future. In the meantime, I'll be dreaming and planning with your blog.

  21. I love this web site! I don't know how I have missed it all these years! Thank you! We have a large property with numerous large oaks, large koi pond and many gardens. Very little turf grass. I am always looking for tips to handle certain problems. I will visit often!

  22. Hello Meems, Just to say hello and enjoying your blog and also have a Tampansie and it's been thriving for four seasons now and attached to a Coral rock which is an oolitic limestone. Lowes had this rock for sale at that time. If you could mention what camera and lens that you are using for these gorgeous pictures.
    Thank you for the inspiring blog.
    Lakeland,FL self taught horticulturist!

  23. I just found your blog and am completely blown away and incredibly inspired! Your gardens are breathtaking! We live on the east coast of central Florida and have just over an acre on the water in a very untamed and wooded neighborhood. My dream is to transform our yard into something of a naturalistic Florida cottage-style type garden and I feel like I'm starting from zero. Our biggest problem though, is we have hundreds and hundreds of lubber grasshoppers and the first plants they destroy are the leafy tropicals! Secondly are the armadillos! Any good solutions for either? We are entirely fenced in on all four sides, water in the back and woods on the other three sides, so it presents a big challenge!

  24. Very nice site! I will be coming back many times for inspiration and to enjoy reading the many topics, thank you for sharing!

  25. Hi, I'm thrilled to find you and hope that you are still actively writing & sharing your gardens with those of us out here who LOVE gardening! I must run now since I found you through Google, reading about Mexican Petunias and am transplanting some of my one with "babies" along an evergreen side of our coastal home in N. C. I enjoy trying for the look I picture in my minds eye, so this is just one example of anticipated success on our NE exposure where blue & yellow Iris kick off spring beautifully yet I long for purple to then rise and dominate the long mulched green leaves , "controlled "' By our brick home's exterior wall & the concrete sidewalk ( so there is a pretty wide, good space for color to take over through late Fall's


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway