My Garden in the Big Picture

This is my deeply personal post in which I say too much and ultimately apologize for not being more involved in the "blogosphere".  I'm sure every blogger does it after a while, so why not?
Lately I've been focusing on the big picture in my life, focusing on my portfolio and even deciding to finish my graphic design degree.  In order to do this I have had to take a position with more flexibility and less hours at my day job, which also translates to less money for plants and long drives to my parent's place where I garden.
I find it hard to focus on more than one thing, so its been difficult to balance a 45 hour job, freelance design, doing my laundry, and a blog on top of that.  As a kid I was the one who was too focused on the pretty butterfly landing on the soccer ball to even learn how to play the darn game, to give you an idea.
I love the show "Glee", but it seems like every episode Mr. Schuster comes up with another cheesy theme to tie the songs and plot together.  While I won't break out in song and dance, I find it appropriate to tie this post together with the theme "Big Picture".
I have been with the love of my life for over five years and we figured we might as well get married next year.  Eventually I'll get to share my excitement for life with the open mind and ears of our very own child.  Its definitely time for me to focus on the big picture and finish my degree so that I can have a fulfilling career and be able to support a family.  I'm not necessarily quitting or even taking a hiatus from blogging, I just consider you guys my friends by now and want you guys to know where I'm at these days, and why I've been laying kind of low lately.

Enough sappy crap, back to the garden stuff!  Although I love taking closeup shots, my favorite garden photos to look at are wide angled shots of the whole shebang... this way I can get inspiration for garden design, as well as see how other's gardens are doing.
Above is a panoramic shot of my garden right now, and that empty spot is where my variegated ginger got knocked back this winter.  I keep having to remind myself of how lush and full they'll be in time, but for the time being its just kind of an eyesore.  There's a good sized area where my groundcover of "evergreen giant" liriope was killed by my dog too, so I just have to look at it as a test of my patience.

Here's another more or less panoramic shot, and you can see the butterfly ginger reaching out over the creeping liriope in the back, doing much better than last year.  Finally, its getting too dense for the dog to destroy!

Up above I've got  a shot from the woods, with a mound of agapanthus in the foreground, my huge clump of alocasia "california" in the middle, and an assortment along the fence.  To the right is a rather harshly lit view along the fence thrown in for good measure.  I also want to note that the area around the birdbath is pretty empty for the time being, no thanks to the bananas that upped and died.  I'm considering an affordable bottlebrush behind the birdbath, which would also help protect the crown of the picabeen palm.  Besides, if I want to give the feeling of a rainforest, the more trees the better!
Now lets have a look at the courtyard garden...

Theres a lot to go over here!  The bottlebrush and pineapple guava have finally hit their stride, and will eventually help shade this sunny patio.  The lady palm and chamadoreas will take a while, but they'll also get taller someday, providing a little extra shade as well.  The bromeliads are all doing great, and producing pups to boot!

I really like the effect that the sunshine had on this photo.  The plant that stands out most is my bright orange neoregelia "tequila", but the most exciting ones to me at the moment are surrounding it.  To the right of the brom is a thriving clump of lemongrass, an essential component of a southeast Asian themed garden.  To the left and behind the bromeliad is a clump of edible ginger from the grocery store, and the stalks have a look more reminiscent of bamboo than other gingers.  This is of course, also really appropriate for an Asian garden.  Word to the wise; although edible ginger likes plenty of water, it suffers in the soggy soil that other gingers prefer.  Out of this photo and to the left is a huge alocasia macrorrhiza bulb, finally unfurling its first leaf... as well as sporting two suckers at the base!   Since this alocasia will be really architectural (huge), I've planted firecracker plants behind it so that their wispy foliage and tubular red flowers will form a nice contrast to the huge leaves.

Once again, Noel, African Aussie and Danger Garden... you won something so email me at "steve_asbell at"  (replace the "at" with @)


  1. RFG: Glad that you decided to finish your graph design degree! You have real talent on this, and sometimes it just needs a formalality to have a degree, so that you can show in the resume together with your experience :) Sounds like you have a very good plan for your life, marriage, a carrer, and even kids! Congratulations! Even it might be hard to juggling so many things at the same time, but I think it will worth it in the long run!

    I love your big picture of the garden. Your courtyard area is my favorite. My sister's garden in China also has two big clumps of lemon grasses planted. Looked very pretty, and I love the smell too when rubbing the grass between the fingers.

    Good luck with everything going on in your life and the garden!

  2. At some point in time we all must face 'the big picture' in our lives. Goodluck with all your plans and I hope you will find time to keep your rainforest garden as beautiful as it is (or even better) while you tackle your other important projects.

  3. It sounds like you have some exciting times ahead of you. Your 'big picture' plans in life and the garden seem very well thought out. I wish you the best in it all.

    That alocasia 'California' is so pretty. I can't believe it is so huge. The alocasias I have are just putting out their first little leaves after the winter. When I scrolled down to the courtyard picture I had to say "whoa", as it is gorgeously lush now.

    I understand the busyness of life for you now and will enjoy your blog entries whenever they come.

  4. Ami

    Thanks for your kind words! The degree is a formality and all, but even if I got a job without it, it would be hard to get the same pay and respect from my peers. Have you ever used the lemongrass in a tea or to cook with? It can't be beat!


    Thanks! At least I have lest time to change things up in the garden, so now I can let nature do its work.


    I appreciate the kind words! I'm a little surprised by my alocasia too. Its funny, because I got a smaller specimen that looked the same and it died all the way to the ground. When I was at Boynton beach, I couldn't help but notice that an established clump of alocasia california wasn't nearly as massive as mine, but I suppose mine also has really wet soil to help.

  5. Wow, you have a lot of changes and challenges coming your way! How exciting! I totally understand where you are coming from. I wish you the best in these coming changes and hope you have a bit of down time to work in the garden. If you are anything like me, it's that time in the garden that can relax you during hard times.


  6. Hey, Rainforest, just remember we have a whole lifetime to get things figured out. We do sometimes have to step out of that comfort zone and reinvent ourselves.

    Your garden is looking very tropical already, I think. The alocasias and bromeliads especially are contributing a rainforest flair. And the butterfly ginger is on its way to becoming a beautiful, exotic focal point. I love gingers! Just wish they were evergreen.

  7. All the garden areas are lovely! Hey...I REALLY love your orange sun bromeliad!~!! Has it put out any pups? There is an area planted a few miles from my house...out in full sun, at the opening to a development, and man, they are outstanding to see like that...just basking (and glowing) in the sun! An awesome Florida plant!!! The lime colored ones are really neat too!!!

  8. The garden looks lovely, fresh and green! Lemongrass is a great plant to have in the garden. It looks great as an ornamental and is tasty to cook with or make some refreshing lemongrass tea.
    It is also nice to have some shade tree in the courtyard and why not a Guava, shade and fruit and it is also a beautiful tree.
    I hope all goes well with your studies, marriage
    and all what else life brings. Gardening is great to get the cobwebs away and to relax even if it is "work". I wish you well and hope to see you around in your garden.

  9. Steve, your patio garden has really taken off! I'm in love with it! Your back space looks similar to mine in areas, although my bananas are making a slow comeback. I'm sorry you lost yours. If you want to try again, I have so many right now that I could give you some. I don't know how to ship plants and don't know if you get down this way? - Let me know if you'd like a few. I also have a plethora of gaillardia seeds as well as starts since the blanket flower is a prolific reseeder and cold hardy. I'm more than willing to share my abundance with a friend! Your ginger are coming back strong. The starts I purchased at the sale are doing well, but need some time. And my "unknown" heliconia are doing well in the front, although I have to thin out the oyster plants around them. Need any of those for ground cover?
    I applaud your focus on your personal life, and thank you so much for sharing. I, too, have been pulled away from blogging, but my family and our memories are much more important than talking about gardening...I guess. Just kidding! Of course they are more important!! :) I'm excited for you and your fiance, and I assume you're making an announcement regarding a child on the way?!?!?! I know these blogs are supposed to be about gardening, but it would be fun to see a shot or two of your developing family once in awhile. Congratulations and BRAVO!!! Also, good luck in completing your degree. You have a lot on your plate right now, but it's all good!!!

  10. Marina
    Thanks for checking out my blog by the way! The garden definitely is an escape for me, even when there are yellowflies and mosquitoes out there attacking me. Worth it!

    Yeah, I would have to recommend those broms and alocasias for anyone looking for a tropical element. As for the gingers, I think the butterfly gingers will really pop from the corner when in bloom, and if you want a more or less evergreen ginger in this area, my false cardamom was burned but still evergreen and there are clumps of shell ginger all over Jacksonville that overwinter. There's even a 10ft tall clump at the University of North Florida!

    They really do glow! As common as the "tequila" cultivar seems to be down south, they are pretty unique up here so it always gets comments from visitors.

    Isn't lemongrass great? My pineapple guava has definitely been a good choice, but I'm going to keep my eye out for a cattley guava too! There are so many "tropical" fruit trees that can take a freeze.

    You're so nice! We'll be heading down in that direction in September so maybe we can work out a trade! Hopefully my ice cream banana will do better than my former specimens, and my pink velvet banana seeds have already sprouted too! BTW... a kid isn't on the way or anything, but its just something to plan for some day, ya know? I liked your post with the oak hammock by the way!


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