A Saunter Through a Sunroom

My favorite local nursery has a huge selection of unusual houseplants, but unfortunately 'local' is all relative, and Seven Trees Nursery requires an hour long drive through the saltwater marshes north of Jacksonville. But it's totally worth it. I always leave with a car filled with plants and enough creative ideas to keep me plenty occupied on the way home. Besides, I had the new Fiona Apple CD to listen to.

Seven Trees sits squarely in the middle of scenic salt marshes, oak hammocks and nowhere. By the time I got there Mr. Zevenboom was out making deliveries, so his wife Ina let me run excitedly around the greenhouses for about an hour before giving me the grand tour of her glorious wraparound sunroom.

And what a sunroom. More of a study in landscape architecture than interior design, the porch had a light, airy and unified look thanks to the repetition of white 'Starlight' weeping figs, baskets of variegated Portulacaria, rusty colored Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra' and a smattering of gasteria specimen plantings alternated with parsley leaved ming aralias. The color scheme of sage, white and burgundy would have been pleasing enough, but where she's included a few bright lime green plants they really seem to glow against the other muted hues.

If I had the means and motivation to build a wraparound sunroom myself, I would lack Ina's focus and patience to stick to a restrained plant palette, let alone a color palette. Maybe having greenhouses full of unusual plants would satisfy my horticultural ADD enough, but I would still probably end up with different color schemes or collections for different wings. Or segments of each wing. It would be an unkempt jungle, much like their equally inspiring greenhouses.

What I ended up buying: Haworthia, Senecio, Kleinia, Echeveria, Dyckia and Neoregelia

When I make my way through their jungly greenhouses I feel as if I've stumbled upon the last vestiges of a civilization whose people had a affinity for classic rock, machinery and rust.  Plastic sheets envelop each archaic 80's era speaker like a mummy's  bandages, protecting these sacred mouthpieces of the gods from Florida's sporadic downpours. Rain beats down on the tarps with loudly enthusiastic spats, but the vibrating bass of a Led Zeppelin song keeps the water dancing in place as if by magic.

I stood in the heavier rain beneath the lighter shade cloth and felt entirely at peace and full of joy, and it didn't even have anything to do with the baskets of succulents and houseplants that I was about to purchase. I missed my mother at that moment but knew that she was smiling down on me and sharing in my excitement over all the things happening in my life. I knew that I was living out her dream of artistic expression, not with paint, but with plants, words and colored pencil.

With a failed and dying body leaving her helpless and in agony, my mother would look up into my eyes with the most genuine smile before asking me with childlike wonder "How did I get so lucky?" Looking down at my muddy feet and then the time, I realized that the day had slipped away from me and I still had so much to do before going to bed. How did I get so lucky?


  1. yes Steve that is a beautiful garden, and they seem to be cared for very well. May I know what that last violet succulent is called. I love it. The shape of the leaves is like your Epiphyllum hookerii.

  2. It's Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa! I have one that never seems to attain that kind of color but instead stays a nice sage green in the shade. I have planted it from seed and the offspring are even deeper green and glossy!

  3. Steve.... it's all beautiful! Great nursery!!


  4. I am looking forward to see how you arrange those...

    1. Hi,
      I am trying to get ahold of Steve Asbell.
      Would you know how I can??
      Thanks Gloria gniges@yahoo.com

  5. I really enjoy looking at those last two pictures of this nursery.
    It is really beautiful.

  6. Hi
    Does anyone know how I can get ahold of Steve Asbell??
    I want to get a hold of him in regards to the Rainforest Drop.
    Send info to gniges@yahoo.com


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