I feel that I have been continually pulling weeds since I got back from Europe…it’s that time of year I suppose. I have to try not to get despondent about my garden during the long hot and humid summer here in Central Florida. I tend to plant very much in the English style…with overflowing borders and layers of plants which grow and tumble together. The trouble is that this works very well in England when you can cut it all back and put the garden to bed for the winter. Here I am constantly editing the plant material and fighting its efforts to resemble a jungle rather than a carefully tended garden! I think I might need to swap out my clippers for a machete!
Certain plants however big they get are real star performers at the moment and are very showy despite the luxuriant growth.
This yellow shrub is Thryallis and, I have to admit, I use it everywhere. I cut it back hard in late winter and it responds by filling out nicely to about 4ft, covering itself with yellow flowers. It mixes well with everything and is so easy. I have it in this border with Heliconia, my orange terrestrial orchids and there are a few splashes of red from some Ixora. I also had daylillies flowering here earlier in the year. Some of these plants are definitely tender which I used to obsess over anytime a freeze was mentioned. To be quite honest, I don’t worry so much about it now, if plants such as the Ixora get knocked back, I see it as a good opportunity to do some pruning and everything responds back within a few weeks. This definitely helps to keep things under control!
Other notables right now are the huge swathes of Angelonia which are growing in my courtyard. I planted them along with the Blue Daze last October. Often perennials get leggy once they have been flowering for so long but these have been wonderful and I truly haven’t touched them at all!
The recent rains have caused the few roses I have to put on lots of growth, in fact a rather scary amount of growth! I’m experimenting with different roses this year and I am trying some of the tougher “found” roses. I had a whole rose bed of David Austin’s English Roses at one point which were lovely and, of course, coming from England, I just had to! In order to survive however they needed so much spraying which is a garden chore I hate….I don’t like chemicals and, in any case, spraying is really boring! Needless to say they got yanked out and I am now trying tougher and more suitable varieties. Hopefully this fall I will see some good blooms. Two notables right now are Edith Schurr and Bermuda’s Anna Olivier. Edith Schurr is supposed to be susceptible to blackspot, but so far there has been very little. These two roses continue to amaze me by how much they flower.
Bermuda’s Anna Olivier
This brings me to another star performer which, if truth be known, I never used to like particularly….Bromeliads. If I’m honest I just didn’t really “get” Bromeliads when I first started gardening here and totally overlooked how useful and diverse they can be. A friend introduced them to me as a potential plant for a difficult area under a water oak tree. I reluctantly agreed to try some and they have been such an amazing choice. The only caveat being they need protection from a freeze. I don’t mind really as they are grouped together, so it is no real chore to give them a “duvet” if temperatures threaten to plummet.
Striking aren’t they?
This brings me to the path we created which leads from the front garden to an iron gate in the wall. Most of our garden was lawn when we moved here. I think we have probably reduced it by about 50%. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against lawns because I think your eyes need a rest sometimes from an abundance of plantings, however, I think we just don’t need so much grass and there is just no point trying to grow a lawn under a heavy tree canopy.
This path solved the problem of trying to grow grass over tree roots. It also allows water to drain naturally from the back to the front and I like the fact that it leads your eye to the iron gate and beyond…you just want to go down there and explore…I actually have seen people down there exploring, but that is another story and, in any case, I’m happy they were intrigued enough to investigate!
It’s a shady retreat on a hot day
Because this area is open to the front I am a bit challenged in terms of the plants I can grow here because the deer are able to browse. Variegated gardenia, Birds Nest Fern, Australian Tree Fern and Caladiums all work well. I would love to grow Hydrangeas and Camellias but that would be like offering me Cadbury’s chocolate and then telling me I can’t eat it! Deer love those. The plant in the terra-cotta pot is a new addition called Medinilla or Rose Grape. It is a tropical so I can just bring it in under cover if needed but I love its pendulous flowers.
Grey Tabby is often down here hunting for lizards!
I added a few outdoor lanterns this week and it looks lovely in the evening when they are glowing.
It would be nice if the afternoon rains could let up just a bit so I can catch up out here….here’s hoping!