How My Garden Grows: Four

Bullet-Proof [BP] and Care-Free [CR] Plants!  

Dear Readers,

[After you read this entry, click: How My Garden Grows: Five.]

Even the first-time gardener can enjoy success!  Your plants do not have to look like this:

Bullet-Free [BF] and Care-Free [CF] plants form the “back-bone” of your garden.

And, as promised, I will give you a list of the best ones for NW Florida!

Take the list to your locally-owned nursery and ask to see these plants in “real life.”


When designing your gardens, think of a lofty and enchanting dwelling space, containing five “stories” or “levels:”

The Fifth [Top] Story:  

Let us assume that you have mature trees flourishing on your property.  Although it is true: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago,”  the next best time to plant is today!

We have a pair of mature evergreen Southern Magnolia [Magnolia grandiflora] trees, one on either side of the house.  They provide delightful shade in the summer and protection for the songbirds during all seasons.  The larger of the two trees is over 50 years old and the shorter tree is 25 years old.  These trees typically grow to be 40-80 feet tall, with a 15-40 feet spread.

Proviso:  There is no Southern tree more lovely yet no task more odious than raking up the huge leaves.

A Quercus nuttallii [nuttall oak tree], planted by our next-door neighbors, provides welcome shade, as it towers over our common Garden Wall and generously graces both of our Courtyards.  60-80 feet tall with 35-50 feet spread.

Even better, our neighbors string “Fairy Lights” in the branches of this oak tree.

The Fourth Story:  

We have three mature Camellias [evergreen].  Once established, these plants are extremely resilient.  Proviso:  I have never attempted to grow them “from scratch” so you will have to research the requirements of the young Camellia. Our heirloom Camellias are probably fifty years old.

Two Osmanthus fragrans [evergreen: tea olive] flank either side of the front of our house.  Every garden should contain at least one.  The fragrance of the blooms is like that of crushed, ripe apricots.

Our Magnolia x soulangiana [deciduous: saucer Magnolia] blooms every February:

Six Crepe/Crape Myrtles [Lagerstroemia indica: Natchez] provide a bower for the Front Garden Walk.  These deciduous trees grow to 15 or 20 feet tall.  Remember:  Do not commit “Crape Murder!”  How lovely is the shape of the plant, when left alone!

The Third Story: A

Vines for Vertical Spaces [15-20 feet tall]:

We grow the evergreen vine, Ficus pumila [creeping fig] upon all of our masonry:  upon the Garden Walls, which enclose the sides and back gardens, and upon the Georgia red-brick exterior of our 1947 home.

The evergreen vine, Hedera [ivy] entwines the creeping fig.

The Third Story: B

Vines for Vertical Spaces:  [6-8 feet tall]:

Upon three hand-forged cast-iron arched trellises, we grow Trachelospermum asiaticum [star jasmine or Confederate jasmine].  The blooms offer a delightful fragrance.

A note about vines: “The first year, they sleep; the second year, they creep; the third year, they leap!”

Coram Deo,


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