For twenty years now, I’ve been making a list. One month before Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida, Joe and I purchased our retirement home – and ever since, I have worked on my list, editing it, adding to it, rethinking it.
The list has to do with landscaping our retirement yard, which is pretty much a blank slate. Over the years, we’ve planted palm trees – thereby giving us the basic garden structure. But how do I fill in all of the open areas? How do I adapt my very basic Long Island gardening knowledge to a subtropical zone?
My mind literally battles itself. On the one hand, I would like one of everything that I see. Then, I envision large swaths of tropical colors, courtesy of flowering perennials and foliage. (By the way, I’d like to acknowledge Ami of Southeast Florida Garden Evolvement. She is my South Florida gardening inspiration.)
But each time Joe and I travel to Fort Lauderdale, so too does the list. And with each trip I document what I would like to plant and what I most certainly want to avoid. Here then are a few selections from the list.
By chance, we stopped in a local nursery and spotted this variegated Elephant Ear (above). Each camouflaged leaf looked like it had been hand painted.
Crown of Thorns (above and below) flowers all year long, and pretty much thrives on neglect. Sounds like it could be the dream plant — but let’s take a closer look at the woody stems. I think I’ll pass on this one.
When I spotted these Delphinium (above), I thought it resembled a flutter of butterflies. This has possibilities.
I am a huge fan of Croton (above) — because of the variety in leaf patterns and shapes, as well as the variation in colors. I’ll just have to remember to keep them on the shorter side. From what I’ve observed, if left unchecked, they tend to become woody shrubs with leaves only near its top.
I think I’m going to have a hard time resisting Bromeliads (above). I can practically envision a forest of these tropical beauties.
One of the things I do enjoy about South Florida is that ordinary house plants, like this Umbrella Plant (above) become outdoor landscaping plants. I’m thinking of a bed of these variegated plants.
I know Bouganvilla (above) also has thorns and that I have a thorny issue, but . . . this is a difficult color to pass up.
On each trip to Fort Lauderdale, I always seem to be drawn to Mexican Petunia (above). I’m not sure if it’s because they always seem to be in flower or if it’s the dark green leaves against the dark purple stems or a combination of all of it put together.
In addition to learning new garden practices, I also have to become acquainted with local garden visitors. Anoles, like the one pictured above, are everywhere. And no matter how many times they scurry by me, I still jump — but maybe not as high as I did twenty years ago. In time, I guess, we can learn and adjust to anything.
But not thorns. Well, maybe not thorns.