Anthropocentric as [the gardener] may be, he recognizes that he is dependent for his health and survival on many other forms of life, so he is careful to take their interests into account in whatever he does. He is in fact a wilderness advocate of a certain kind. It is when he respects and nurtures the wilderness of his soil and his plants that his garden seems to flourish most. Wildness, he has found, resides not only out there, but right here: in his soil, in his plants, even in himself… But wildness is more a quality than a place, and though humans can’t manufacture it, they can nourish and husband it… The gardener cultivates wildness, but he does so carefully and respectfully, in full recognition of its mystery.Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education
Hurricane Dorian killed the bougainvilleas I had been growing around the arch leading to our front door. Well, technically, I killed them by moving them indoors and then evacuating for over a week. There aren’t any good places inside our house for plants to grow because we have a large porches running the length of the front and back of the house. The porches protect the house from the intense sun in the summer, but they do not let in enough light for house plants (except orchids). I wish we had defied the evacuation orders and stayed, because it only ended up being a tropical storm here and I lost a bunch of plants.
I decided to replace them with these mandevilla. Aren’t they beautiful? Since I bought several of the plants, I am hoping to get them to cover the archway and run along the railing of the front porch.
My cape honeysuckle also decided to bloom again this fall. Cape honeysuckle does well in (frost-free) coastal areas since the plant can tolerate salt. They are technically a vine, but you can train them to grow as a shrub 6+ feet in size. (They are very similar to bougainvillea like that.) The only downside to the plant is that you have to religiously trim back the tendrils it sends out along the ground, otherwise it will suffocate neighboring plants.
This plant will stop traffic when it blooms. I’m not kidding. I have never had so many people stop their cars in front of our house to ask what it is. As the name suggests, the plant is from South Africa.
Some of my azaleas are also blooming. They will do this again in the spring, along with the lavender azaleas. I have a hedge of lavender azaleas along the entire perimeter of our house, and it is incredible to see when it blooms. All of Florida is incredible when azaleas bloom, really.
Every year I tell myself that I am not going to plant bulbs, and every year I end up doing it anyway. It’s truly compulsive behavior and I wish gardening addiction specialists were something that existed because I would certainly seek professional treatment for it. I cannot walk past the tubs of bulbs in a garden center in the fall and leave empty-handed. And it’s not like I only get a single bag. Last year, I planted close to 200 gladiolus bulbs. My gardens are already packed with plants, so this is a huge problem logistically. I need one of those shock collars people get for dogs that zaps me whenever I walk into a garden center in the fall.
This year, I have 120 Dutch iris bulbs and a few dozen Persian buttercups. Because, sure, why not.
Before we moved here, I did large beds of tulips. You can’t really do tulips here because it does not get cold in the winter. But I did consider chilling tulip bulbs in a drawer in our refrigerator for a couple months and then planting them in January. I can already picture the look on my husband’s face when he opens the drawer looking for celery and finds a couple hundred tulip bulbs instead. He’d probably have me fitted for a shock collar then.