Gardener's Log: Late March

Sun caught in the leaves of  Vriecantarea "Inferno", which is only now finishing its bloom cycle.  

The garden is looking great and just about everything is coming back to life!  Above is my big Vriecantarea "Inferno", which is supposedly hardy but got some protection anyway.  I bought it in mid-October with a full flower spike and its been blooming ever since.  Its a bigeneric hybrid between vriesea and alcantarea, the alcantarea parent accounting for the large size and huge branched flower spike.

My Coral Reef Succulent Container so far...
I have no idea what this cactus is, but I got it for my coral reef themed container garden because it looks like a sea urchin test. 

I found a cool cactus for a song earlier in the month and planted it in the coral reef themed garden.  I've never seen a purple cactus before, and the patterning looks like batik.  If you look at the flowerbuds, they even look like fish scales, further contributing to the unlikely theme.
My other plans for this container garden include using a "Sticks on Fire" plant, also known as pencil cactus or just Euphorbia Tirucalli for a coral like backdrop.  Accompanying it will be a cultivar of a snake plant I've seen that has wider leaves and purple margins, looking much like seaweed.  There are many other succulents that have the look of coral, like crassulas (flapjack plant) with orange margined leaves, bright orange jellybean plants, some wicked looking grafted cacti with wavy crenulated forms and of course, there are lots of great dyckia to look out for.  
Do you guys know of any neat plants for this look?

Spring has arrived!
The azalea hedge under the front window is starting to wake up!

I used to turn my nose up at azaleas as a boring old south "granny" plant that gets used too often, but it wasn't until I started taking walks in old neighborhoods that I could really appreciate these evergreen bushes.  They look good all winter, signal spring with bright pink and purple flowers and then tolerate the summer's heat.  They don't even mind being clipped into hedges!  Of course the most beautiful azaleas I've seen are Florida's native azaleas, glowing like beacons in the shady woods in spring with exotic clusters of flowers.  The picture on the left was taken last year in the Black Creek ravines near Middleburg.

Carpets of Moss!
The remains of tropical birds nest ferns from last winter are perfect hosts for moss!

If I had it my way, the lawn would be made of moss instead of grass!  Its luxuriantly soft, makes ordinary branches and rocks glow like gemstones, and is a great way to have that "rainforest" look I'm always talking about.  I want to let it grow up the trunks of my bottlebrushes and tabebuias, but I'm not sure if they can take the moisture like my hollies and bald cypress can.  Any ideas? 

Mosses and lichen on my dahoon holly

Everything's returning!

Canna Edulis returning from the roots.  This is not a hybrid but the original species which is grown as a starch crop.  I started mine from seed Last spring and they flowered that summer!

This winter seemed so devastating that I seriously wondered if my plants would recover at all!  So far I have no signs of life on the firebush and firespike, but I've heard that those are some of the last to rebound.  My plumeria was found to be rotting at the base so I had to chop it down and lay it in the ground since the majority of the trunk was firm.  I might get another one before i wait to see if that one recovered. 
The good news is that my white jacobinia (plume flower) is already returning, as well as the princess flower (tibouchina) and tropical butterfly weed!  As I've mentioned in previous posts, the tabebuia is putting out new growth with a vengeance and the chamaedorea cataractum is even suckering from the base.  The most exciting thing is seeing the gingers and elephant ears coming back from the ground, since they make up the bulk of my color in warmer months. 

This christmas cactus discovered under a light cover of pine needles survived the cold.

Plans for the Wannabe Balinese Courtyard

I'm planting some edibles like basil and peppers in the front of the garden, but making sure to execute it in an ornamental way.  I've already planted a loquat to the right side of the front garden and will plant an alocasia, pineapple guava and lady palm behind it to form a dense screen that still allows for fruit collection, since the alocasia will be less overgrown when the loquats ripen in early spring..  In front of the loquat I'm making a stark contrast with more white rock that will give the eye a place to rest and sets off the surrounding colors. 
I'm still going to make those balinese style birdhouses and lanterns, but am still studying the architecture a bit more first.

Well, that was my boring rundown of the goings on at the beginning of spring.  I'll show you pictures of my projects!


  1. Suggestion for your coral reef garden...many different types of Stapeliads or Huernias which would have a coral-like look, and would have awesome starfish otherworldly shaped blooms!!!

    Beautiful spring flowers!!!

  2. That’s a cool looking cactus, I am thinking of starting a new succulent garden, but they are expensive plants. I like your Idea of a coral reef container

  3. Congrautulations for a come-back garden! Your plan sounds quite interesting. Looking foward to your project pictures.

    BTW, how is your double-delight rose? I remember you said you just bought one early this year. Wondering how it does for you... I just had a new post about something different happened to my double delight rose. You can check out if you are interested...

  4. Your coral reef garden sounds like it is filling out nicely. I look forward to seeing it in its entirety.

    I'm glad your garden is coming back so well. Nothing makes me happier than when I see something else making it back from the cold damage. Stay patient with that firebush and firespike.

  5. Your garden is coming to life! I love the moss...such green color! Also, I like the idea of edibles in the Balinese'll really want to hang out there!! :)

  6. It is all looking good, gosh I miss those massed azaleas! I like the idea of your edibles mixed in with other plantings, and rather clever that you have thought of when other plantings dying back will allow more space to harvest.

  7. Glad to hear that your plants are regenerating. The moss looks neat.I used to see it a lot in N Fla usually in the woods in the deep shade areas that stay moist.I always heard it called " Deer Moss".

  8. The coral reef theme is very interesting idea.
    It may sound challenging and may got lot of work & need some research but overall it would be very beautiful...
    Thinking of a seaplants above the ground level.

    My suggestion - have lots of colourful plants with various shapes and sizes. Avoid flowering plants and green coloured plants.

    I wonder how you are going to mimic the sea waving plants and those idealistic fish that runs and hide in between the reefs when disturbed... Hmmmm...

  9. That canna is wonderful! I am happy to see the little shoot also. I wish that many other plants will re-grow in your garden :-D

  10. Julie: I loved your spring flowers post! I actually have a stapelia in there too and for the very same reasons! Great minds think alike!

    mraloha1: They are expensive, but if you get them when they're small you save $!

    Ami: My rose hasn't flowered yet, but I got it as a bareroot so I'll give it time and fertilizer.

    Nanak: I loved your informative post on bog plants since thats the same situation I have! We'll have to keep each other posted

    Kimberly and africanaussie: When I'm a homeowner someday I'll have more space for edibles, especially unusual ornamental ones! I'll make a raised bed too... if only.

    sanddune: I like to go on hikes in the woods and the drier areas have these terrestrial lichens called deer moss that soak up the dew in the morning. absolutely beautiful.

    James: Ideally I would be able to incorporate a water garden with fish, but I'll probably use glass marbles, shells, sea glass and sculpture first. I might experiment with mirrors at the bottom of shallow dishes of water to reflect shimmering light, and suspend cloissone fish on flexible wire to sway in the breeze like a mobile.

    Stephanie: I'm glad someone appreciates that canna! To me that tiny rolled up leaf is an ambassador of warmer temperatures to come!

  11. Things are looking good in your garden! Happy Spring! I love that cactus! I'm afraid I would have to have a very large "coral reef" container, maybe the size of a kiddie pool, as that theme seems to have unlimited potential for some really cool plant collecting.

  12. Glad to see your garden is on the mend. I once saw a garden show where a woman's lawn was made up of only moss. It was gorgeous!

  13. Looking good! I saw on Martha Stewart that you can blend moss and yogurt to make a nasty paste. But then you rub that paste all over rocks and trees and any garden item to get a beautiful moss covering. Something in the yogurt helps grow moss.


Please feel free to share your questions, ideas and suggestions!