Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Cold Calculating View

As I walk around the garden these days I do so with a view to assess what has worked well during this cold winter season.  I want to be sure to place more of these plants to help keep some structure going at all times of the year.

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, is still blooming and reseeding on the sunnier side of the garden.  It and the Pansies, Viola x wittrockiana,  make a great winter annual combination.  There are lots of little seedlings of something sprouting up in that area.  I sure hope they aren't really weeds.  Since there were blanket flowers and some other butterfly attracting flowers there this past spring, I'm waiting to see what they turn into before pulling them.

Two baby Cardboard Palms, Zamia furfuracea, live along the path and amazingly they both have come through the cold unscathed.  The oak canopy must offer them just the right amount of protection.  This is just another example of micro-climates within the same gardening zone.  Often, I see plants that seem cold-hardy or heat-tolerant in another garden only to find they don't react the same way in my garden.  In this case the opposite happened.  I saw freeze-dried Cardboard Palms in another garden and thought for sure mine would never make it as my garden tends to be in a cold pocket.  The tree coverage seems to be the key to helping these little cycads survive.  The Neoregelia 'Burgundy' are doing quite well placed in front of the Sweet Almond bush.  The poor Sweet Almond, Aloysia virgata, while not seemingly affected by the cold, has had it's leaves pierced and beaten by an overabundance of falling acorns.

The Birdsnest Fern, Asplenium nidus 'Osaka', and Holly Fern, Cyrtomium falcatum, have earned their spots with their ability to not show even a smidgen of winter stress.  Definitely, I am on the look-out for more of these.

The Abutilon is still blooming and producing new leaves.  There seem to be many cultivars of this plant, different colors, and different flower sizes.  I do like the light peach color with dark red veining of this one, but I'm going to be on the look-out for some other colors too.  After the last December freeze some of the larger leaves turned yellow and dropped off.  You would never know it now as it is full of new green growth and weathered the January freeze just fine.  Sometime in February, when the promise of spring is more sure, I plan to take cuttings and spread this cold survivor around in other places along the path.  As an added bonus, the hummingbird visited this plant quite often this past fall.

Lots of Florida gardeners are singing the praises of Camellias this year.  This, Camellia sasanqua 'Shishi Gashira', is blooming in the backyard garden.  Two more Sasanquas have been purchased to add to this area, another 'Shishi Gashira' and a 'Mine-No-Yuki.'  The second one has a ruffly white flower which I'm hoping will be showing up in future posts soon as it is presently covered in buds.

I am thoroughly enjoying the glorious Florida weather we have been experiencing this week.  It sure gets the gardening juices flowing. 


  1. So many dittoes here, NanaK. I'm definitely singing the praises of bird's nest and camellias right now. I've noticed huge swaths of undamaged cardboard palms around town as well. I don't know why I previously thought they were more cold-tender than coonties. Actually, I do think I remember my sister's cardboard palms getting damaged these past two winters. I think this winter was a bit milder here in our neck of the woods, even though it came earlier. But what am I saying? I've let my mind journey into spring, and we haven't even entered February yet!

  2. I would love to grow camelias, but haven't seen them down this far south. I'm not really in the market to be buying anything though, so I'll just enjoy the ones I see in your gardens and in other blogs too. The carboard palm is really something. Mine is pretty huge. I'll have to see if there are any babies out there. The birdsnest fern is really nice. I'd say you have some really nice, hardy plants in your gardens.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  3. Curious to see what your seedlings may turn in to. Beautiful photos. The weather is great today, rain tomorrow then a couple of overnights around 24...I can tell it's closer to spring though. I'm trying to root my Abutilon as I types...wish me luck! Mine is Fairy Coral Red.

  4. Hi NanaK...It's so true that some plants that freeze in one person's garden, do perfectly well in another. It just goes to show what a difference micro climates can make, and I am a true believer in the benefits that large trees play in protecting many otherwise sensitive plants. I just purchased the Mine-No-Yuki camellia today. The white flowers are so white and was a no-brainer when I saw it.

  5. I am with Flowerlady. I don't see camellia for sale down here, wonder if it is something not suitable for zone10? Yours are so beautiful! That Sweet Alyssum is so delicate looking to be cold-hardy. I need to include them for winter annual.

  6. I'm joining the chorus of ditto's.I bought 2 Camellias and want some more!

  7. Hope your blanket flowers resprout for you. I have been so impressed with the blanketflower growing here that I started more seeds last week.They are tough plants and just keep blooming dispite the conditions here heat or cold.

  8. Hi NanaK,

    I like all your pretty alyssum, pansies, camellias. I haven't planted any cardboard palm because I see them post-frost around town and half of them will be burnt. You've got me thinking I might give them a try for my tree-covered micro-climate. And the birds' nest... who knew? I would never have guessed mine would make it past all the cold.

    Winter is the season to walk through and see the courageous elements that have withstood through our last three winters.

    Your little plants are most likely gaillardia... they are prolific re-seeders. It won't be long and you'll know for sure~~ the now smooth-edged leaves will start to put on a jagged appearance.

    I'm enjoying this weather and I'm paying close attention to what/where needs better structure, too. Great post.

  9. Floridagirl - I'm afraid I let my mind journey into spring as well. It's back into winter now. The weekend brought almost freezing temps. BRRR... We need to wait a little longer before planting and trimming up. "They" say after Valentine's Day. That's only a few weeks away.

    FlowerLady - you should be in the prime spot to grow cardboard palms. I'd love to see a picture of yours sometime. Roses and tropicals make a fun mix don't they?

    Darla - I feel spring is just around the corner. How large does your abutilon get? I'm going to trim mine severely to see if I can get it to be bushier this year.

    Susan - I'm glad to know you loved the white camellia too. I now have four camellias. Last year I just had one tiny Shishi Gashira. It did very well for me, so I am putting more in the garden.

    Ami - The Alyssum was grown from a packet of seed. Try it now as I'm sure it will be too hot for it down your way soon. There's a new type at Home Depot, Snow Princess, that's supposed to be more heat tolerant. It's sold as plants not seed.

    ChrisC - Oh yeah, camellias are my new best friends.

    sanddune - I like the blanket flowers too. Even if my mother used to consider them weeds. I've pretty much gotten over that:)

    Meems - I do think you would have good luck with the cardboards under your oaks. Mine were only $1 a piece at the Falkenburg Jail plant sale so I figured they were worth the risk. Of course, I'm going to have to wait a long time to see them with any size on them. But, if I ever run into a bigger one at a good price, I won't be afraid to get it.


Thank you for travelling down My Garden Path with me. I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment and share what is going on in your gardens.