Bloomin’ Update 51: Gettin’ Schooled In A Nursery


I'm not sure of the name of this plant, but I was charmed by the play of sunlight igniting the leaf's underside.

I’m not sure of the name of this plant, but I was charmed by the play of sunlight igniting the leaf’s underside.

Much of my garden time in South Florida is not actually spending time in the garden at all. So far, it’s been about meeting other gardeners, visiting nurseries, reading books, taking notes, and asking questions. I’m a stranger in a strange land here, a zone six-ish gardener in a zone 10 world.

When I learned the local garden club had organized a Saturday field trip to a local nursery, I jumped at the chance to do all of the above — although, I do have to figure out a way to take notes while balancing a camera.

The flower spike of one of the multitude of bromeliads.

The flower spike of one of the multitude of bromeliads.

Jesse Durko’s Nursery opened in 1990 on 10 acres.  What makes this nursery extra special is that the founder also lives on the property, which means visitors can stroll through his gardens, see how and where plants are used and grouped, and then enter the retail portion, where many of the plants that are on display are propagated and sold.

The garden club group was even able to have a nurseryman guide them through the plants.  What follows are more than a few photos — and the notes I was able to decipher from my phone and memory — of a day spent in nursery school.

Our guide asked us to look up at the hanging flowers of the Handkerchief Tree.

Our guide asked us to look up at the hanging flowers of the Handkerchief Tree.

Orchids are everywhere: up, down, and all around.

Orchids are everywhere: up, down, and all around.

I'll pass on the Zombie Palm.  I'm not a fan of plants that bring me pain.

I’ll pass on the Zombie Palm. I’m not a fan of plants that bring me pain.

A large birdhouse kept an eye on us from above.

A large birdhouse kept an eye on us from above.

One of the vistas at the nursery.

One of the vistas at the nursery.

A close up of the feathery foliage of papyrus.

A close up of the feathery foliage of papyrus.

Even the small pond is fair game for flowers.

Even the small pond is fair game for flowers.

I'm not sure of the name of this flower, but the orange blossom offered a bright spot.

I’m not sure of the name of this flower, but the orange blossom offered a bright spot.

"Tucked" into one of the front beds is a very large palm.  Lit from behind, the frond looked more Art Deco than leaf.

“Tucked” into one of the front beds is a very large palm. Lit from behind, the frond looks more Art Deco than leaf.

Desert Rose.

Desert Rose.

Our guide informed us that the black-stemmed Lobster Claw seems to do better in Florida.

Our guide informed us that the black-stemmed Lobster Claw seems to do better in Florida.

Even palm trees that are no longer alive are full of life.  On high, there are woodpeckers.

Even palm trees that are no longer alive are full of life. On high, there are woodpeckers.

On the lower trunk, a fungus thrives.

On the lower trunk, a fungus thrives.

I'm not sure of this flower, but they reminded me of small flames peeking through the foliage.

I’m not sure of this flower, but they reminded me of small flames peeking through the foliage.

On the way to the retail portion of the nursery, I spotted this Ginger.

On the way to the retail portion of the nursery, I spotted this Ginger.

Near the tables of potted plants for sale was the propagation area.  This area felt like home.

Near the tables of potted plants for sale was the propagation area. This area felt like home.

Just beyond the tables of potted plants, there is an opening that leads to acres of larger palms and shrubs.   The air was alive with dragonflies -- and one stopped long enough for a selfie.

Just beyond the tables of potted plants, there is an opening that leads to acres of larger palms and shrubs.
The air was alive with dragonflies — and one stopped long enough for a selfie.

At the end of the day, I left my nursery school with homework.  I’ve got drawings to make and re-make, more questions to ask, a wish list to whittle down, and –because of this field trip — a whole bunch of photos to hang on the refrigerator that is this blog.

I wonder what sort of extra credit assignment there might be.  Hmmmmmm.

35 thoughts on “Bloomin’ Update 51: Gettin’ Schooled In A Nursery

    • Hi Alesia. My heart is feeling better, but the back is still aching. Ain’t age grand? Like you, I love the bold, vibrant colors — and I can’t wait to paint my garden with them. I’ll keep you posted on that project. Hope all is well with you and yours.

    • Hi Bittster. Glad you enjoyed the pictures. The nurseries and gardens here are opening up a whole new world of flowers and plants. It’s great to learn something knew. Be well!

    • Hi Kathy. It’s true about the houseplants — but I can never get used to is seeing philodendron — gigantic! Everything seems to look like “Little Shop of Horrors.” 🙂

    • Hi Dorris. The nicest thing about the nursery is that the owner lives and gardens on the property, so visitors can actually see the plants in the landscape. That’s a huge difference from buying a potted plant in a typical nursery and never being completely sure about how it will look in two years time.

      • So true. There is a small nursery near to me where the owners have planted out gardens to walk around. I think it encourages people to try new plants and to buy more than just one as you can picture their habit more clearly than on a ticket/ label. Sounds like your new home area is coming together for you. D.

  1. Everything is so different down there! Your handkerchief tree looks different than ours (Davidia involucrata). I wonder what the genus species is for it. Thanks for the beautiful tour!
    Elaine

    • Hi Elaine. The tree was completely new to me — and I wish I could answer your question. In fact, there are many, many trees that are now new to me. Each day, there’s something else to wonder about.

  2. Several years back I lived in Coconut Grove after leaving my zone 6 garden. It’s a heck of a learning curve! I volunteered at a Botanical Garden to get back up to speed. It was such an amazing learning experience! Hope you’re having fun!

    • Hi Caroline. I’m asking questions, observing, and absorbing as much as I can before I place my shovel into my own garden dirt. I like the idea of volunteering at a botanical garden. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Hey Kevin! Aren’t tropicals fun? The Handkerchief Tree looked interesting. Thanks for taking us along to the nursery. I enjoyed the tour and your lovely photos. Did you go home with any purchases (maybe an orchid)? All the best! 🙂

    • BETH!!! Sadly, I left with nothing — just plans and a wish list. I’m still learning about my yard here — and the soil. I’m also trying to fine tune my wants and desires so I do not end up purchasing one of everything. I enjoy the subtropics, but I don’t think I’m ready for a jungle. Hope you are well!

  4. Kev, I believe the birdhouse if high enough off the ground will be the home of the Purple Martin. They like to nest in groups and the color of the house is most appropiate.

    • I didn’t see any birds flying in or out — but very close to the birdhouse is the former in-ground pool, which is now a fish pond with water plants. A true ceeee-ment pond — only it’ criss-crossed with wires to prevent birds from catching the fish.

    • Hey Indie. You said it. A fun thing to be able to do is drive from north to south and see the season — especially spring — emerging withe ach mile. South Florida is a sub-tropical world all to itself.

  5. Florida gardening is so fun! It was a great revelation when I realized that I could have a vegetable garden all year long. I’m interested to see what you decide to grow. You are wise to do a bit of recon before buying anything. I am now following your blog-I’m excited to see your progress!
    Extra credit idea? Find 10 plants that are thriving in your neighborhood and identify them. I have found many favorites by looking at their yards as I take walks. Happy gardening! 🙂

    • Hi Sarah. I’m so glad you stopped by and introduced yourself. I find myself often looking at people’s yards, as well as local businesses that have been landscaped professionally. So many plants to choose!

  6. What a treat to see what is growing in your local nursery. I love the assortment of tropicals. And I am always captivated by the variety of palms. That Zombie Palm is fascinating to me. I’ve never even heard of it. I hope you’ll continue to share as you make you complete your wish list and continue to make your plans. It is going to be fun to see what you decide for your own gardening pleasures! Have fun with that. 🙂

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