Here we feature posts about our Florida-friendly garden.

The majority of what we plant are either
 natives or suggested in the Florida-friendly plant list.

The Nine Florida-Friendly Principals are:

1.  Right Plant, Right Place
2.  Water Efficiently  
3.  Fertilize Appropriately
4.  Mulch 
5.  Attract Wildlife
6.  Manage Yard Pests Responsibly
7.  Recycle
8.  Reduce Storm Water Runoff
9.  Protect the Waterfront

Passionflower Vine

This plant was purchased almost a year ago at Bok Tower,
 a local public garden in nearby Lake Wales.
Here's what it looked like then.

It seems to be quite content covering the rain barrel.
The bonus is that Lil' Guy has a gorgeous display right outside his window.

This carefree plant will treat you to an ongoing exhibit of these eye-catching blooms.

I never cease to be amazed at their intricacy.

Other than the rain water that falls into the rain barrel,
this stunner gets no supplemental watering.

In full sun, there is always an array of prolific blooms
to delight the senses.

The leaves are a favorite of certain types of caterpillars.
There are enough to go around!

Eggs will sometimes be found on the tendrils that wind around themselves
and also cling to anything close by.

The main reason this plant was acquired
was to host these cuties.
The gulf fritillary caterpillar is among one of the favorite visitors.

We are expecting them to arrive any day now.
More butterflies are frequenting our backyard habitat.
We will continue to give them away
and educate people about the life cycle of this astounding creature.

God has gifted us with so much.

Find out more about this extraordinary bloomer here.


Flax Lily

Flax lily is used along our driveway to hug the curved bed.
It adds a variegated splash to the border
and also treats us to a spray of
delicate white flowers with a hint of golden centers.

Another drought tolerant example,
flax lily requires no supplemental watering
and can withstand our hot, humid summers.

When thinning is required,
just dig 'em up and replant elsewhere in the garden.
They also add height to container plantings.
This is a hearty plant that doesn't need coddling.
We'll be featuring just such a project next week on 
The Maple Hill Hop.
You can find it here.

Once every couple of years, they are cut down to the quick.
They regenerate within weeks.

This is one Florida-friendly plant that won't disappoint.
For the gardener who enjoys the beauty without all the work,
this is a superb choice.


African Iris

This is one of the easiest Florida-friendly plants to grow.
It asks for so little 
and gives quite a display of beautiful white blooms most of the year.

The blooms start out in this tightly formed bud.

Over a matter of a few days, the bloom emerges.

The delicate white petals frame a complex and mesmerizing lilac and yolk-colored centre.

It never disappoints.

When the pods dry, the seeds contained within
readily drop, forming new additions to the garden.

The blooms are prolific with absolutely no care whatsoever.

Two years ago, I transplanted a few that were growing in the backyard.

Here's what it looks like now.
They do well in full sun,
but also thrive in partial shade.
The transplants under our weeping elm
are constantly in bloom.
They look like little white birds taking flight.

These drought-tolerant wonders do just fine with occasional watering.
As is the case with many Florida-friendly plants,
no fertilizer is necessary-ever.

They are easily divided, 
so they are a great plant for sharing with others.
(You can see how we did that here.)

You can read more about this
fabulous care-free plant here.


Native Milkweed

This workhorse provides beauty for the gardener,
as well as a home for some fascinating critters.

Its flowers attract butterflies and pollinators alike.
Once established, it is drought tolerant
and does well with minimal care.

The blooms add a pleasant pop of color in the garden nearly year-round.
While it does best in full sun,
it tolerates partial shade just fine.

These cuties thrive on milkweed.
It is the host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

It's important to plant native milkweed.
There are over 2,000 native species of this plant in North America alone,
although less than 30 are used as host plants by monarchs.
You can find a great explanation of the varieties here.

The seed pods will open and, with the help of a gentle breeze,
distribute seeds in other parts of the garden.
This plant is easily germinated, so feel free to share the goodness!

The milkweed is used by the monarch butterfly to lay its eggs.
When the caterpillars emerge from the eggs,
they feed on the leaves of the plant.
As they grow, they shed their skin.


Then, they form this spectacular chrysalis
in which to reinvent themselves.

A week to 10 days later,
it looks like this.


It's an amazing sight to behold.
We will soon be spying many more monarchs,
as the temperatures climb into the 80's on a regular basis.

We plan to give caterpillars away again on Craig's List,
something we started doing last year.
It's wonderful to see the fascination in the eyes of the folks who come to retrieve them.
We explain the life cycle and send them off with
their own nature study in hand.
This year, we may have starter plants to give them as well. 
We are happy to provide this opportunity for learning.

"By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn."

Want to be part of this intriguing process?
You can find a list of native milkweeds by state here.


Plant Profile-Bulbine

With the commencement of spring,
it seemed like a good time to start a new series.
Every Friday, I'll be profiling one plant
from our Florida-friendly garden.
Some will be adaptable to other climates.
I hope you enjoy and learn something new.
Our chosen plant for this week is bulbine.

This South African native is a great addition to the garden,
as it is drought tolerant and requires very little care.
We have both the yellow and orange varieties.

Best planted in full sun, the heat of summer doesn't seem to bother it one bit.
It blooms profusely most of the year here in Florida.
We use it clustered in front of evergreens to add some contrast of color.

It does well standing alone in the corner of our sidewalk planting.
This vibrant perennial expands over time,
so you never really need to buy another one.
It is easily divided for placement elsewhere in the garden.

The yellow variety also self-seeds,
which makes it easy to pass these along to others.

The dynamic burst of color on this vigorous grower
adds a splash of color, especially to partially shaded beds.

The foliage can stretch out to over 4 feet wide,
so give it room to spread.
The spirited citrine spikes can reach 2 feet tall
and sway in the wind over the lush grassy undergrowth.

The sap found in the leaves can be used to soothe burns and rashes,
much as aloe vera is known to do.

Heat and drought tolerant, cold hardy to 20 degrees,
sun, shade; it is unaffected by the whims of weather.
This charmer is the perfect choice for those who are new to gardening.
Success with this plant is inevitable and could very well create an addiction.
Healthy obsessions certainly have their place.

Want more information about this garden treasure?
Read this.
There's a slight coolness to mornings around here as of late.
We've still got lots of things blooming
to get us through the last throes of summer.
Come for a stroll with me.

This sunflower corner is visible from our kitchen
and never hastens to add a bit of cheer to my daily routine.
They share space with the butterfly vine on the trellis.

 The thryallis are enjoying their sunny location on the east side of the house.

The Florida-friendly bulbine is installed in every part of our garden.
Here one brightens up our mailbox area.

This plumbego is not only a feast for the eyes in the blue garden by the front door,
it serves to drink in all the rainwater flowing off the corner of the porch.
Rainbarrels are not allowed in the front of the house in our community,
so we utilize plants to help with runoff.
 By the looks of it, I'd say it's a win-win!

Zinnias remind me of simpler times.
There's something so old-fashioned looking about them.
Lovely simplicity.

The society garlic blooms are a delicate addition to the front bed.
Another Florida-friendly addition, it asks for very little and gives so much.

African Iris buds dry and the seeds fall out,
ensuring that a gardener will always have plenty of these beauties to enjoy.

Someone recently told me that this is an invasive species called a scissor weed.
It doesn't look like any of the pictures I was able to find of that plant.

 With these dainty pink blossoms, it's staying right where it is.
Unless I get confirmation otherwise, I'm assuming it's a keeper.

The frogs have been abundant lately.
Fine by me, they keep the mosquito population down!

Recently a friend moved away and left me with her beautiful orchid collection.
I'm working on finding homes for some of them.

Morning glories soften this succulent area with their sweet heart-shaped leaves.

This Asiatic jasmine is a Florida-friendly groundcover.
It spreads and becomes lush and thick.
We have it planted under our weeping elm out front.


A neighboring friend donated this Porterweed to the blue garden.
It recently started blooming, so I know it's happy!

The morning glories hung in front of the garage are trying to take over!

While the vine on the lamppost is covered in beautiful plum petals.


This weekend we were gifted by this Eastern Black Swallowtail. It was actually inside our porch screen. You can read more about our adventures hosting these magnificent creatures   here and here.
Enjoy the evolution of your day!
It's been hot and muggy around these parts lately.
When you walk outside any time after 9 a.m.,
it's stifling, oppressive and downright uncomfortable.
With our move further north on the horizon,
we're looking forward to a more seasonal way of life.

We've been talking to realtors the last couple of weeks,
trying to decide if we should sell our home
or rent it out for a year.
One of the considerations is the garden.

Buyers may not be gardeners
and renters might not be able or inclined to keep it up.
I have been giving away some of our native and Florida-friendly plants
on Craig's List in the last few weeks, to make it more appealing
 to those who may not be so fond of the outdoors.

Our saltbush trees are hosting these weird-looking nests.

They are made with dried leaves and some type of webbing.

I'm not sure what is constructing these works of art,
but we have had quite a few dragonflies in the yard as of late.

Our new pickets are working out just fine.
I like the way they frame several areas of the garden.

We've been blessed with a few days of rain in the last week or so.
The garden always responds well to Mother Nature's gifts.

giant yellow zinnias

avocado tree

native cotton plant

Wonder what's gonna emerge from here?

sweet potato vine

gloriosa daisy


peace lily


Hoping your garden greets you today with
lots of wonderful surprises.
The temps here are in the 90's pretty much daily.
Summer is moving right through.
We are thankful for those blooms that can take the heat.

Zinnias keep the square foot garden company,
just in case anything decides to crop up.

Here's another type of caterpillar found recently 
near our rain barrels.
They had been noticed eating the plumbego.

We certainly have had our share of visits from cats of late.

These marigolds are a deep orange color with bright golden centers.
They were placed around the small potato patch.

Not only are they pleasant to the eye,
they are rumored to deter harmful bugs.

Our fascination with Black Swallowtail caterpillars continues.

We've been monitoring them daily,
sometimes several times a day, for changes.

These variations took place in just a day. From this to...



Several of our chrysalises should be seeing some action  over the next few days. I'll be sure to post the video if I am able to catch the transformation.

Last week we posted the amazing work of a cat
encasing itself in its protective cocoon.

Looking forward to seeing more of nature's magic.

This trellis was found in a neighbor's recycle bin last week. I've got just the spot for it  where the butterfly vine was recently cut back.


gloriosa daisy bud

gloriosa daisy bloom

The thryallis is reaching for the sky
 and blooming like nobody's business.

This Florida-friendly plant is gorgeous  and not in the least demanding.

The basil has been up for a bit,
and the parsley seeds just germinated this weekend.
We are mostly growing the latter so that we can continue to host
the Black Swallowtail butterflies.

 I see pesto in our future.

Flower seeds can be so gratifying to start.
In just a couple of weeks,
these beauties are ready to be transplanted, pot and all.

 The zinnias never disappoint.

The organic sweet potato I purchased from the grocery
has sprouted quite well.

Soon, it will be cut into pieces and planted in the back bed.
I'm a little late on this project, 
but I think we'll be able to get a harvest.

Taking time to really notice life in the garden
is one of the best ways I find to unwind after a busy day.

There is always something new.

sweet potato vine

The portulaca is making a comeback. They aren't bothered by heat and humidity.

The nasturtium flowers are not only vibrant, they are edible. The leaves are pretty incredible on their own.

As the morning glories make their ascent, the temperatures climb. Not to worry. There is plenty of time for this gardener in the early hours of morning or toward the end of a well-lived day. Enjoy all that summer brings to you.
Sunday mornings are usually spent in the yard.

It's the one day of the week when I know I will have time

to dedicate to gardening endeavors.

Sometimes it's just to pull weeds

(I'm an expert weed grower),

but being outside centers me in a way that nothing else does.

Here are a few things growing 

during this mild winter season.


These periwinkles come up all over the place.

They're volunteers.

These were growing near the rain barrel 

on the southeast side of the house.

 I dug 'em up and transplanted a few in the back bed.

They're low maintenance and don't mind being moved.

 I'm working on filling in all the bare spots out there

and using what we already have.

The look I'm going for is lush, full and bountiful.

The garden will be a reflection of my very abundant life.

 The sweet potato vine seems to be cozying up 

to the Society Garlic.

 Lantana provides for the butterflies that visit.

Plumbego's blue hue adds coolness to the garden.

 I was surprised to see one of the Amaryllis popping up. They are about a month early.

(Excuse our proliferation of weeds.  

It's time for more mulch.)

The bulbine seems to be happy 

no matter where it is located in the garden.

I have some in full sun, others in partial shade.

It just keeps growing.

The Gerbera daisies have been enjoying   greeting our mail carrier each day.

Rosemary lends a pleasant scent  when the mail is collected. 

Love that Florida-friendly and native stuff! 
These Blue Daze were acquired from Leslie

They are esteemed for the periwinkle color of the blooms.

(Periwinkle is my favorite hue.)

They are an essential component of the blue garden we are working on.

They do well with very little care.

Considered a Florida-friendly plant,

as they tolerate heat and are drought-tolerant,

they require only a trim once in a while.

They were starting to spill over onto the driveway

and while I like the softening it adds to the hardscape,

it's not too practical when you are making your way

up the drive on foot.

I'm all about curves in the landscape,

but I thought I'd try something different.

They were trimmed in a square shape.

If I end up not liking the formality,

they'll grow back in no time

and I can let 'em go wild.

Plans have been made to use these beauties

elsewhere in the blue garden,

so I'll attempt to sprout some seedlings.

I took the cut stems and stripped the bottom leaves off.

I used rain water to see what happens.

This is how they looked after 3 days.

Yeah, Mother Nature is a marvel.

Hopefully, I'll have enough to use

and even more to share!

Spring has officially sprung here at Maple Hill.

Enjoy some of our blooms and greenery

and have a fantastic Tuesday!


native salvia


natives and Florida-friendly

Amaryllis bud

sweet potato vine



zinnias are popping up everywhere!

lemon tree

lillies will be blooming soon


tree given away at the Spring Obsession

Just soakin' up the sun...


African Iris is a mainstay in our Central Florida garden.

It's heat and drought tolerant

and is a vision to behold with delicate white blooms.

Check out this recent post by Meems

at Hoe and Shovel,

an amazing gardening blog.

This Florida-friendly beauty started taking over the area

right next to the entrance to the patio.

One of the best things about these plants is that

once you have one, you'll never be without.

They are divided in just a few easy steps, so that you can add them to other parts of the garden.


First, dig up the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

Find a gap in the leaves and pierce it with your shovel.

It may seem harsh, but these babies can take it.

In fact, they'll be better off for your efforts.

Here's what resulted from the trim.

New plants that can readily be used in another location.

What could be easier?

Ahhhh, now it's got room to grow!


One of the goals at Maple Hill is attracting wildlife. 

We use natives and Florida-friendly plants

that can also be used by critters to foster their lives.

We try to provide a variety of plant species

that butterflies and pollinators enjoy.

This bush was all but lost last winter

when the hard freezes visited.

It's a favorite resting spot for butterflies now.

It reminds me of a cat's whiskers.

Zinnias are a staple here.

There are such an array of colors, sizes and textures

that we really can never have too many!

Milkweed is a native and a host for Monarchs and others.

The seeds spread themselves readily

when the wind blows just right.

You'll find great information here.

Enjoy all the critters in your garden!


Last year, we added this curve to the front of our house

using flax lily as one of the main plant materials.


We promptly got a letter from the HOA

stating that it hadn't been approved.

Yeah, whatever...

I like the movement it gives the front entrance.

As an avid reader of Hoe and Shovel,

I remembered Meems posting about the unsightly issue

with the leaves

and how to deal with them.

She suggested something mighty drastic.

If you've read her blog (and you really should!),

you know that she is quite an accomplished gardener.

I trust her implicitly.

So I did it.

Right down to the quick!

Know what happened?

They grew back beautifully!

The leaves seemed more vibrant and healthy.

Flax lily is a Florida-friendly plant.

It is drought-tolerant, has year-round color,

blooms, and easily multiplies itself.

What's not to love?

As part of the "blue garden makeover" project,

these lovelies needed to be moved over

to make room for other plant material.

They will also be divided at this time,

to give more flow to this bed framing the driveway.

They are easily segmented by digging them up

and gingerly separating the roots.

This was the first step in simplifying the front beds.

Happy gardening y'all!


I picked up these beauties at the recent

Spring Obsession last month.

What a wonderful idea that turned out to be!

These Florida-friendly plants are thriving in the heat.

With minimal watering and almost full-day sun,

they have already grown three times

the size they were when I bought them a few weeks back.

These will most likely get divided once they stop blooming.

I would love to pair them with something

in the purple or blue family.

Maybe salvia?

The tall spikes of bright yellow blooms

pour out of thick tufts of green foliage.

I'd call them spires of sunshine.


Bulbine has become a popular plant in Florida because it is drought tolerant, grows well in poor soils, and blooms repeatedly with cheerful flowers that are yellow or orange, depending on the variety. It is suited for gardens in USDA Zones 9-11 and is hardy to the low 20s.

It makes a great ground cover since each plant will grow over time to form a clump that can reach up to four feet wide. This clumping habit also makes bulbine a great passalong plant.

The succulent, grass-like foliage grows to about a foot tall, while the flower stalks typically reach two feet, dancing above the leaves throughout the summer months."

The foliage alone is amazing.

It reminds me of green pasta.

Maybe it's the Italian in me.

How sweet are those flowers?

We presently only water twice per week,

so I've been checking on these

to see if they needed any supplemental water.


When everything else in the garden is sweltering,

these glorious wonders of nature

just keep on blooming and growing.

I'll be looking for more of these at an upcoming garden event.

Next to natives, Florida-friendly is the way to go.

They leave a gardener feeling very satisfied.


I have a thing for blooms in shades of blue.

My favorite color is not blue,

it is periwinkle.

This native salvia spiraling toward the sky

has a wonderful texture.

White phlox with magenta centers.

These wildflowers are a sweet lilac color.

What a wonderful bouquet they would make.

Love the star shape of this subdued beauty.

This popped up the other day.

No idea what it is, but it is delicate and glorious.

Agapanthus blooms are worth waiting for,

as they are quite dramatic.

I look forward to dividing these so that we have even more

to enjoy and share with neighbors.

Meems at Hoe and Shovel has some striking photos

and as always,

lots of great information

about these amazing creations.

These lantana have a deeper purple than is apparent here.

The butterflies just love 'em!

You can't go wrong with petunias.

They look cheery no matter what the weather.

A spattering of white on purple gives an heirloom effect.

Do you have a favorite color scheme in your garden?

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