Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spent a week and a half in the Florida Garden....back now

The issue here is that of spades. I plant these plants and walk away for 3-5 months. We aren't talking about moist tropical weather. When this area was developed, the natural community that was destroyed was "Florida Scrub". It's a tough life for plants and animals.

The top picture is a corner of the carport that's working well. The upright plant is Leucophyllum frutescens, the groundcover is Dyschoriste oblongifolia a true scrub endeminc, and poking out unobtrusively is Nolina macrocarpa.

We're learning what will survive and what won't but there are some gray areas; I suspect that some plants that we've lost could survive in the garden if they were established before things got too tough. In nature that would mean that they'd germinate during a wet period and maybe not be too stressed their first year or two. Actually, seedlings are more able to handle distress than nursery grown plants that are living in organic soil and getting watered regularly. That progression from lucky seedling to mature established plant happens infrequently but often enough. To get that spoiled nursery grown specimen to a point where it can hold it's own against the worst adversity nature can throw at it is....well tough. If I were there full time I could "wean" them, slowly reducing watering until they were hardened off. Unfortunately I'm not there full time and I throw them into the elements and wish them luck.

I'm thinking I've been very lucky! In the second picture the green plant is Conradina grandiflora and the succulent tucked between the limestone boulders is an Echeveria. Actually it's one of my favorite Echeverias and one with which I've had a long personal relationship. I saved a piece in Maryland but stuck the main plant down there in December. It survived months or drought and 18F. If it can survive this long, it should be good forever....but will it flower.

The third picture is a newly planted Eucalyptus with another Conradina in the background with Rosemary and a species of Morea. I expect to pollard the Eucalyptus regularly, that is, if it survives! I don't want a huge tree there but do want to screen the view of the house next door.

The fourth picture is the side of the workshop. I've relented and the native Sambucus can stay. The small shrub with bluish flowers is Duranta. We inherited it and while it's not thrilling it works. Frost killed it two years in a row but it works better for me this size than the 8' x 8' it was five years ago! The giant sprawing plant in back is Lonicera sempervirens. This is another native and one of my favorite plants. I intended to cut it back severely this time but decided to let it grow unrestrained a few more months!

The last picture is the front of the screen porch that faces nw. I moved the first Aloe saponaria 5 years ago and love the colony. The flowers are hummingbird magnets but the lack of rain meant we didn't have any this trip. There are various dormant bulbs in the mid-ground. Karen bough 8 marigolds for a dollar apiece and stuck them in for color. At the far end of the bed is a variegated Pittosporum tobira that just chugs along, growing when it can and surviving during bad spells. It's big enough now to shade a Psychotria nervosa which helps the Psychotria. The planting is supposed to stay low enough to allow a view out of the screen room and, excepting the Pittosporum, ought to work out.

On balance I'm pretty happy with how things are coming along. When there'll be someone living there year roung, it'll be possible to fill the framework in with a lot more variety including plants that may need a bit of supplemental water.

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