Tropical Parking Lot Landscape

The other day I drove to my favorite Publix Supermarket here in central Florida. I noticed how nice the parking lot looked with great tropical foliage. Public landscaped areas are a great way to find easy to grow plants for your area. Owners of strip malls want to provide a pleasant environment for the customers, but they don’t want to spend big money on maintaining plants. Each row of parking spaces has a nice flower bed at the end with variegated leaf bushes, colorful crotons, and a plant with small blue flowers. The two types of bushes are tropical and easy to grow in our climate. Add a tree and a large light post and it’s perfect for the public location. (Government buildings and community buildings are also good places to note landscape plants. In more northern environments there is often a few evergreen bushes that provide a frame year round.)

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Early October Garden

A hibiscus flower usually has five petals (a single hibiscus). Thanks to modern cultivation techniques, some varieties can produce flowers with more than five petals – called “double hibiscus” – in a dazzling array of colors, sizes, and shapes

This last week hasn’t been one with drives or walks to enjoy nature. These photos are from the archives of my garden in a past October. In the present, there is still debris in the yard and several plants are looking tired from all the flapping in the wind from Hurricane Ian. Within a few weeks, it will be back to normal and I’ll share newer photos. Let’s take a look at the tropical double red hibiscus with its multi-layered ruffles.

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Colorful Crotons in The Fall

Croton is a tropical plant known for its variegated foliage covered in green, scarlet, orange, and yellow splotches. Crotons are native to the tropical forests of southeast Asia and Oceania. In the wild, they grow as large shrubs, reaching up to 10 feet tall. It is not hardy and frost will kill it. It was introduced in Europe and the USA as a colorful houseplant loved for its bright, colorful foliage.  It can be grown outside in tropical climates like Florida.

Years ago I moved from Tennessee to greater Miami. It was like a dream with the ocean and warm climate. One of the first things I discovered were neighborhoods filled with crotons. I didn’t know what they were, but I loved them.

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Periwinkle in the Fall

Vinca is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. The English name periwinkle is shared with the related genus Catharanthus.

September in central Florida is still bright, sunny, and hot. The high temperatures are a little lower than August, but it still gets in the 90’s. We continue to have almost daily showers in the evening as fronts filled with moisture come ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.

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Fire Bush Taking Over

Firebush is a perennial or semi-woody shrub that is known scientifically as Hamelia patens. Gardeners love firebush because it produces flowers from late spring until the first frost, and the bright red flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, including the zebra longwing and gulf fritillary butterflies. Song birds also like to feed on the berries.

Back when I first started planning my garden and adding native Florida plants, I bought a small fire bush plant. It loves the sun, thrives in the central Florida’s rainy season, and survives dry periods. That little bush became huge and took lots of time trying to cut it back and to control it. In the last few years, I am not physically able to do many things I used to do. I had a good yard guy who helped me maintain the yard. I lost him two years ago and have struggled trying to find help I can afford. I found a new guy to mow the lawn. Lots of people do that, but his full-time job is maintaining the local elementary school. He doesn’t have time to do many other projects. I have a plan to cut back the gardens to a smaller areas. As I mentioned the other week, I have found a gentleman to do landscaping projects.

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Why Gardening Is Good For Me

Many decades ago I was a small child in east Tennessee. I fell in love with flowers and trees. I tried to assist my mother with little things in the flower beds until one day I asked for a spot of my own. My mother had received a pile of stones from the dairy that delivered our milk. (Yes, it was decades ago and they brought it to the door.) We visited the dairy, had a tour, and picked up a few stones. They were placed in a pile on the grass until they were placed lining the flowers beds. Since it took a while to move them, there was a spot with little grass. I asked for my own garden there. My mother agreed and I placed small stones around the small circle and pulled what grass remained. I love purple iris, Tennessee’s state flower. My mother gave me several with a few annuals. I was so proud of that little circle and flowers. I felt happy making it and looking at it. Gardening is much more than simply keeping the lawn pristine and planting pretty flowers. It is a whole set of actions that can really affect you. I had something that was alive!

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The Many Colors of Tropical Hibiscus

Living in semi-tropical central Florida with the hot, humid summer requires tropical plants in the garden. Tropical hibiscus are favorites in my area. I see them planted nearly everywhere. They are planted by the pharmacy drive-through, by the windows at fast food restaurants, by libraries and city hall. Today I’m sharing hibiscus photos from past posts.

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