Gardening in December

We’re getting close to the official first day of winter on December 21st. We’re all decorating, baking, and planning for the two big holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Then cold, dark January comes with low temperatures and for many locations, dreary gray skies. For many of us it means we’re going to end up spending most of our time snuggled up indoors cozy under a blanket. For those of you in more northern climates, you’ve already had snow and are in the winter season no matter what the calendar says. Now we’re in the huge Christmas rush. In another month, the holidays are over and the New Year is upon us.  Are you making resolutions for 2022? How about adding gardening to your list?

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Egret in the Garden

Sometimes we only have moments to try to capture special views of nature. First I’d like to share the instance of an egret in my friend’s garden. Egrets in Florida usually come in pairs or groups and forage the yard for food. At a slight movement by a human, away they fly. This time the bird just watched and didn’t leave. Time to attempt to capture a photo or two.

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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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Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

1000 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Photos by Lisa & Robert Murphy

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. In 1990, Fred & Lena Meijer were asked by Betsy Borre for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture & sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination in the Midwest, known internationally for the quality of the art and gardens.

During the weekend of October 14 to 16th my nephew, Robert, and his wife, Lisa, had a short holiday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They enjoyed several special events and spent a day at the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Thank you Robert and Lisa for sharing your photos from your visit to the Meijer Gardens. Let’s start with inside art.

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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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