Textural Ideas from Florida's Nature

 Hiking in the woods of Florida's parks is what inspired me to garden in the first place and whether you're religious or not, the most beautiful scenery in nature sure does look just as planned as any botanical garden.  That's why the most powerful garden designs are massed with textural plantings like a carpet and give your eye a place to rest, because that's the way it works in nature.

Ferns drape the floor of a cypress swamp in Highlands Hammock, thriving in the moist shade.

At Corkscrew Swamp, adjacent to the Everglades, abundant sun and water combine with seasonal burns to encourage this extensive field of coreopsis.

 At Guana River Preserve, a limited variety of clumping grasses like muhly grass glow like golden filaments in the strip between salt marsh and maritime hammock habitats.

 A lush field of grasses blankets the ground beneath cedars in dappled light.

 The coreopsis are even more profuse at the edge of the cypress swamp where they receive afternoon sun.

 Sabal palm's fire blackened trunks pierce into the glowing lush grasses.

 A roseate spoonbill punctuates the calming swath of spartina grass, sifting for breakfast.

Native muhly grass and South African bulbine create a naturalistic composition at the Jacksonville Zoo..

Though many of these scenes are hard to recreate exactly, the last picture illustrates that you can implement texture in the garden with more readily available plants.  If you really want to make your collection of camelias or hibiscus pop out, consider providing a calming groundcover that frames your plants and allows the eye to rest.  Even mundane plants like bordergrass, asiatic jasmine, lily of the nile and purple fountain grass can be stunning in numbers, especially when combined with contrasting architectural plants like cannas, agaves, gingers or ti plants!


  1. I too love hiking the state parks, and this is a good representation of the varied Florida landscapes. Highlands Hammock is down here in my neck of the woods, and it's one of my favorite places for escape. I love the giant old oaks and the catwalk through the swamp. Enjoyed this post!

  2. Nice photos of beautiful natural landscapes. I use to run a Turkey Trot 5K every Thanksgiving morning at Highlands Hammock. It was so quiet and peaceful in the early morning. I'll have to get back there again.

    Looking at all that coreopsis blooming and the Muhly grass with the Bulbine has me thinking...

  3. Beautiful post with great photos. Looking at nature we should not only be inspired but also get some great ideas for our own gardens. If only I could duplicate those coreopsis!!! I did plant muhly and bulbine together last year... but tickseed just isn't cooperating with me.

  4. By the way, what do you guys think of my blog redesign? I'm going for a misty, airy look. I might change a few things, but I think i like it so far. Does it look okay on everyone's screens?

  5. This one is surely beautiful.
    Most wildlife park in my place are not the "forest" type rather a thick jungle - difficult to penetrate.

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  7. What beautiful examples of nature's design. I often look to nature for inspiration when designing a landscape. Your photos are just great!

  8. Natural plantings are my favourites. I can not keep up with a manicured garden. A natural garden also attracts more butterflies and other creepy crawlies and many feathered friends as well. It is also environmentally much more acceptable. Less mowing, no spraying of poisons etc. Your pictures are an inspiration.

  9. Beautiful pictures. The first one reminds me of our Olympic Peninsula where I was raised by the rainforest. All of the ferns are so gorgeous!

  10. How lush and beautiful RG... nature is the best designer! I should love to leave my Western Massachusetts snowy landscape and step into one of your photos! Inspiring! Thank you! Carol


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