Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mango Season in South Florida

Cutting them up to store in the freezer
Mangoes are here!!!   Our South Florida mango season usually runs from June to part of August.   It depends on the variety of mango but some of them can have another productive fruit season during our fall months like the Thai variety 'choc-anon'.  How awesome is that!?!

We are very blessed to have wonderful friends that have bountiful harvests on their mango trees this year and have graciously shared their wealth.   Just a word of advice for those of you without trees, if your neighbor has a tree it is always advisable to ask the homeowner for a few mangoes before you take them.   Mangoes can make people do crazy things lol!!!   Our freezer is full of chopped mangoes ready to be made into one of my famous mango smoothie's or one of Kendra's infamous Mangorita's (OMG Good!) or my healthy mango salsa or my grandmother's mango bread or even mango popcicles (add rum or bourbon for the adults)....whew, the delicious list goes on!   I thought it would be a great idea to add a few recipes for you all to try.   So go out and get you some mangoes!!!

Mango Breeze recipe from my beautiful 2009 Bahamian Calendar.
These are beautiful works of art you can purchase every year for a great price!
Mango-Tamarind BBQ Sauce from my gorgeous 2010 Bahamian Calender
Thai-Style Mango Salsa
2 cups cubed mango (about 2 medium sized mangoes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 1 1/2 Tbs. Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbs. low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar or to taste
salt & pepper to taste
2 recipes of baked wonton crisps
In a food processor with a knife blade, pulse the mango until finely chopped but slightly chunky.  Transfer to a small bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except wonton crisps, stirring well to combine.  Let stand about 10 minutes at room temperature for flavors to blend; stir before serving with crisps.
Baked wonton crisps

12 wonton wrappers
2 tsp Chinese hot oil, peanut oil, or plain sesame oil
garlic salt or table salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400F - Arrange wonton wrapper on large ungreased baking sheet & brush the tops with oil.   Turn over & brush with remaining oil. With a sharp knife cut wrappers diagonally in half.  Sprinkle with salt.    Bake at center rack for about 5 minute until golden, keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Cool slightly & serve with mango salsa.
Our friend's mango trees at their family run marina in Deerfield Beach, Pennell's Marine
The mangoes in the picture at the top of the page are from these trees.

My mango salsa has black beans (I use canned black beans & rinse them), corn (either cut off the cob/frozen/canned; up to you), diced fresh tomatoes, finely chopped red onion or shallots, finely chopped jalapeno pepper (without seeds), diced avocado, diced mango, chopped fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice and salt & pepper.  All of the ingredients are to taste so feel free to add more of one than another.

My Grandmother's (Gisele Vermeire) Mango Bread Recipe (circa 1972)
½ c butter
¾ c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ c sour milk, I’m guessing this could be buttermilk?
¾ c golden raisins (I usually leave them out & add ¼ c more nuts & mango)
½ tsp grated lemon peel
2/3 c mashed ripe mangoes, which should be 1-2 mangoes
2 c flour
½ c chopped nuts
Cream butter and sugar, then add egg, butter milk; mix well then add sifted dry ingredients.  Fold in the lemon rind, mangoes, raisins and nuts until evenly mixed through Bake in greased loaf pan at 350F for 50-60 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before cutting.
Hope you are enjoying your summer as well as your mangoes!
Happy Gardening and Many Best Wishes,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mounts Botanical Gardens - Tropical Fruit Festival 2014

Well my friends, it's that time of year again...what!?!     Mango season you say???  

It's only on Saturday, June 28th from 10 am to 3 pm so be sure to put it on your calender!

Last year it was super hot, very humid & lots of sun!   So like with any outdoor event here in South Florida always come prepared.   Be sure to bring hat(s), sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, snacks, water & umbrella(s).    I also brought a hand fan & boy was I glad since their wasn't much of a breeze that day.  Also wear comfortable clothes that can breathe like shorts, t-shirts and 
walking shoes as there is lots to see! 

Their press release jargon goes a little something like this...
"Join us on a culinary journey around the world as we explore delicious tropical fruit.   Exciting activities in the Garden include cooking demonstrations, guided tours, tropical fruit display featuring over 100 tropical fruits, tropical fruit samples, plus fruit and fruit trees will be available for purchase.    Palm Beach County Extension Master Gardener Booth, Family and Consumer Sciences food displays, 
food trucks and live music by DYMiN."

Mounts Botanical Garden is located on the west side of the Palm Beach International Airport.

Let me know who is going so we can organize a "meet-up"!

Wishing everyone a great summer!
Happy Gardening & Best Wishes,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Flowering Trees in South Florida

Ahhhh May, how we love this time of year...signaling spring has sprung here in So'Fla!  The weather is absolutely incredible today at 70 degrees F.  A very nice break from the mid 80's we have been experiencing.  Today is a perfect day for the beach or a picnic at your local park!  

Now is the time when many of So'Fla's plants are starting to get their grow'on while others are getting their flowerin'on.  Also, this is the time of year in many parts of the world flowering trees are bringing people from across the globe to see their beauty.  Atlanta just had their 78th Annual Dogwood Festival.  Beijing, China has their cherry blossom festivals throughout April into May, which are sure to impress any visitor.  As well as many of our northern neighboring states, like our nation's capital, Washington DC which celebrates the blooming of it's 3,000 cherry trees planted in 1912 as a gift of friendship from Japan.   

Here in So'Flo we don't have the cherry trees though we do have some pretty spectacular flowering trees that will be sure to stop you in your tracks!

So let's take a tour to see what's showing your their very best this time of year.  
Yellow tabebuia picture from Richard Lyons Nursery

Pink & yellow tabebuia picture from

Yellow & orange poinciana picture from

Apple blossom cassia picture from Terra Mirabilis blog
Rainbow cassia picture from Tree World
Rainbow cassia's actually change their colors as the flowers age.
I think this is a cassia marginata, Butterfly World has them in their parking lot.
A close up of the Butterfly World cassia's, cassia marginata?
Desert Cassia
Desert cassia picture from Plant Creations Nursery
Desert Cassia picture from Plant Creations

Jacaranda picture from UF/IFAS Okeechobee extension
Jacaranda picture from All Things Ruffnerian blog

African tulip tree picture from
African tulip tree picture from

Bulnesia picture from Plant Creations in Homestead, FL.
This gorgeous yet huge Bulnesia aka Verawood is in Deerfield Beach

Golden Shower Cassia picture from The Wild Papaya Nursery

Queen's Crepe Myrtle or Lagerstroemia speciosa
This incredible Queen's crepe myrtle is in Deerfield Beach.
Close up of the huge Queen's crepe myrtle flower, about 4-5 inches!
If you are considering planting a flowering tree in your landscape here are a few things to consider.   Flowering trees are usually considered a medium to large canopy tree, able to grow from 25-50 ft.

Flowering trees as beautiful as they are in bloom, the blooms have to go some where...yes, they drop to the ground, as you can see in some of the above pictures.  Plus most flowering trees are either deciduous or semi-deciduous, meaning they also drop their leaves 1-2 times a year.   So make sure where ever you plant the tree that you don't end up with flowers & leaves in your pool, on your cars and/or all over your patio.    Because we all have waaaay better things to do than pick up leaves & flowers on the weekend! ;)   

Lastly, you can figure that the root system of any tree is 2/3rd's larger than the width of the canopy.  So make sure where you plant the tree isn't going to pose any problems either with it's canopy and/or root system once it gets larger.

And with that my friends, get out there & enjoy your weekend...go on, get off the computer and get some sun on your face!
Happy Gardening & Many Best Wishes,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Landscaping With Native Plants in South Florida

Today I was thinking we could talk a little bit about using native plants.   When I first started gardening as a youngster (in the southern end of Miami now called Palmetto Bay) it was lots of fun visiting the plant nurseries with my parents picking out all kinds of cool stuff.   Upon our return I would either draw the leaves or emboss it by put a leaf under paper then rub over it with colored crayons leaving an imprint of the leaf and all it's veins.  They were fairly detailed even with their botanical names and everything.  Gosh I wish I still had those.  Any way the older I got the more I wanted to know about "exotic tropical" plants.  I would ride my bike around neighborhoods far-and-wide searching for unique species.  I would trade any of my plants I had multiples of for plants from other people's collections or ask for a cutting.   In my mind I was on my way to having to have the ultimate plant and orchid collection!  By the time I was a senior in high school, my parents allowed me to build a shade house in our backyard.  I had that thing so filled to the brim with plants and orchids that my parents thought for sure I would be a botanist.

Then in August of 1992 Hurricane Andrew came and left.  In it's wake were miles of destruction, devastation and parts of South Florida that were in complete desolation.  Within the previous sentence was also my shade house, my entire collection and lots of hard work....just gone, all within a few hours.  I had a few months before I had to be back at college, so our neighbor, also a collector, and myself decided to scout through the wreckage to see if we could find any of our plants.   This adventure lead us to amassing a brand new collection of plants.  We found plants among the wreckage though not our own.  We found our local Home Depot was actually throwing everything in dumpsters, yippee for us (even their wooden pot benches from the garden center).   People actually found us by word of mouth and literally gave us their orchids because they couldn't take care of them.  And we also unfortunately we found them in abandoned homes.
Our house after Hurricane Andrew came through August 24, 1992
The top picture was after we did weeks of cleaning & clearing.
The bottom two pictures were the day after.
My boyfriend (at that time) & I building my greenhouse (1989/90)
 & then after Hurricane Andrew made it into firewood (1992)
So why the long story about me...well, because even though I liked natives I didn't consider them something of value.  Back in the day my mind set was all tropical..."jungle exotics from afar, oh my!"  So speed up to present day, yup, you guessed collection's a combo of tropical's and native's, the best of both worlds!   Believe it of not , natives are now becoming a hot commodity as much of our natural lands are being destroyed for a new strip mall or bank or gas station or coffee shop.  Hopefully this post will help those non-native folks think kinder thoughts and reconsider using them in their landscapes and/or help preserve the lands we have.  By the end of this post you are going to be surprised at how many beautiful native plants there are to choose from!

For conversation sake in this post, the plants will be native to Florida.

First, the best place I suggest you start is a field trip to visit some of the following.
While you are there take some pictures of the plants you like so you can look them up and/or talk to the guides/employees/rangers utilizing their vast knowledge as to what the plant species are.
- visit your federalstate and county parks to see what a natural habit in your area looks like and see what native plants are indigenous to your area;
take a hike and/or bike through some local trails;
- visit botanical gardens like The Deerfield Beach Arboretum in west Deerfield Beach,
Flamingo Gardens in Davie,
Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale beach,
Miami Beach Botanical Garden on Miami Beach,
Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables,
Vizcaya Gardens in Coral Gables
Pinecrest Gardens in SE Miami,
The Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove,
Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach
Mounts in West Palm;
- take a walk around your neighborhood to see what grows well in your area; if you see a neighbor's yard you like, strike up a conversation with them to get their feedback and experience with what worked for them;
- visit native plant growers like Plant Creations in Homestead or Native Choice Nursery in Boynton Beach, Living Color in Davie and Nuturf in Pompano Beach;

Now that you have picked out a few natives you thought would be great for your yard, lets go to the internet.  This is a good place to get acquainted with additional pictures of the plants, their names, their growing requirements, how big they grow and where you can purchase them.  Please note, not all plant nurseries carry native plants so it's best to call first.
Try looking for some of the following:
- gardening blogs;
- try using websites like Plant Real Florida to find local native plant nurseries in your area;
- native plant societies like Florida Native Plant Society and their blog, or just google 'Florida native plant societies' and you will be sure to find a local chapter you can contact;
- your local university extension offices like the University of Florida and your county agricultural departments like Broward, even your city will have information like Coral Springs and Pompano Beach;
- look to booksmagazines & websites to gain additional knowledge and inspiration;
- look for local gardening clubs like Boca Raton's, these are a great place to share information;
- also online forums like Dave's Garden Forum and Palm Talk are great places to learn from;
- talk to local landscapers with knowledge in natives and/or find inspiration from international landscape architects like Raymond Jungles;

Ok so we have educated ourselves on some natives we like, now it's time to get dirty.  We have to find out where in your yard will these lovely plants go?  A few questions will help us determine that.  For an example let's use the wild coffee, so far we found out that it does best in filtered sun as an under story plant, can sustain short dry periods and prefers moist forest type soil but can be grown in different soil types such as alkaline, acidic, sandy, loamy, etc.

We also found out that it has added benefits for/to the environment.  Wild coffee has berries that are staples to many birds and animals diet, many native butterflies like the zebra longwing butterfly drink the flower nectar and for you it is a very low maintenance plant, yippee.

We have already asked the question about the plants growth habit, "is this an aggressive growing plant?", "what is the maximum height and width this plants gets?", "does it drop it's leaves every year (deciduous plant)?", "is this the right place for this plant?".  With which we learned that wild coffee is an incredibly easy plant to grow with it's dense round shape growing to about 7 ft high by 4-6 ft wide.  It is an evergreen, meaning it does not drop it's leaves like deciduous plants do.  Wild coffee's are a very tame multi-stemmed shrub that stay put where you plant them.

So back to the question "where in my yard do I put this native?"  Through our small bit of research we know exactly where to plant the wild coffee...under the black ironwood tree along the perimeter of your property for a beautiful bright green low maintenance privacy hedge.  See you did it, yippee!

To quote the amazing Ms. Martha Stewart "it's a good thing" to use as many native plants specific to your region as possible whether you live in South Florida or elsewhere.  With a little bit of research, I am sure you can find some wonderful natives you will love.  So now that you have the tools to find native plants for your area, get out there and start planting and sharing your knowledge!

Feel free to contact me with any questions and/or comments!

Happy Gardening and many best wishes,

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pest Control in South Florida

"AAAAaaaahhhhhh......eeeiiikkkk!!!  There is a cockroach in the bathroom, quick honey, kill it!"
How many times have I done that one, um yeah, just a few.  

Or what about this little diddly, 
"...smack (sound of hand slapping one's self)....smack...smack...crap (one exclaiming aloud)...smack...crap...damn mosquitoes!!!"

But this one is my all time favorite, 
"I think I have white fly all over my ficus plants."
"um, yes I think you do."

So my friends, what to do!?!  Who to call...who to trust?

PIP Termite & Pest Control is who you call.
Our good friends at PIP, located on Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point, 
are some of the most amazing folks around!
If you are in the South Florida tri-county area,
that is Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, then PIP is definitely for you!
PIP handles every issue you may have.  Most of us are very familiar to many South Florida's
insects and animals that can plague our daily lives, like cockroaches, antswhite fly,
 termitesbees and of course the all might rodents.
Visit their website for a full list of their services.
Their staff is extremely knowledgeable, very friendly, always dependable,
immensely helpful for all the 'do-it-yourself'ers', excellent customer service and well priced.

Summer is here & we South Floridians love our outdoor activities, especially the kids.
PIP's mosquito misting system is exactly what you need to keep those pesky insects away to enjoy your days and nights.  Believe me when I say these amazing systems are more affordable than you may think and are worth their weight in gold.
Last year Florida reported their first cases ever of dengue fever in Martin county.  The last time dengue fever was documented was in Key West over 70 years ago.  While Florida is still battling to control the West Nile virus, 2012 reported record high numbers of infections.  What better way to
protect your family, pets and/or your customers than a mosquito misting system!

We had our house & attic sprayed with their pyrethrum-based (derived from the chrysanthemum flower) insecticide for our termite infestation.   We didn't even have to leave the house.  Happy to say that was one of the best things I did last year...still termite free!  :)

Call Wayne & Cheryl at PIP Termite & Pest Control to schedule your free pest control audit!
954-570-5307  Deerfield Beach/Fort Lauderdale
561-883-3884  Boca Raton/Delray Beach/Lake Worth/Boynton Beach

While you are there let them know you saw them right here on Gardening in South Florida's blog.
Life is more enjoyable knowing the companies you work with are experienced & reliable!
Enjoy your weekend and Happy Gardening!

Best Wishes,

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's been soooooo long!

Ugh it feels like it was just yesterday I posted last, but alas it was much longer!
It's so hard to believe it's been almost two months.  There were sooooo many days I was jonesing to blog but work pulled me away....well to work.  :)

Good news is I'm back and gots lots of time on my hands!
Yippee for all of us because I have some amazing stories to tell and many awesome stuff to show you.
So I guess it was meant to be cause now we have much to catch up on!

Until then my fellow gardeners and gardenerettes...Happy Gardening!

Best Wishes,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fort Lauderdale Gardening Club's Secret Garden Tour

Ok so I have to put it on the line here...first of all I want to note that this originally started out as a very long snarky sarcastic yet critically negative post of my Saturday and the bijiggity people I met along the way.  Though half way through, realized I was only mirroring the negative people I met on the garden tour today.  I mean really...aren't gardening people supposed to be nice and welcoming?  Aren't we supposed to be a happy bunch?  Deciding being the nice person I am is the way to post, I needed to just let it go plus no one needs any additional negativity in their lives.   So I revised the previous post to this condensed version of my experience, though somewhat still snarky, a tiny bit critical and nonetheless disappointed I have to be honest with how I feel.  Ok here goes, in my opinion the "Fort Lauderdale Gardening Club's annual Secret Garden Tour" Saturday was a total a waste of tiny third of an acre property has more to offer than the multi-million dollar landscapes I saw Saturday.   There I said it and boy I feel better.

This was my first time attending this event and I was really looking forward to it for a year now.   I have been on garden tours in Atlanta (those are some real gardens!) and Miami Beach so I was super excited to see what Ft. Lauderdale has to offer.  Were my expectations high?  Sure, wouldn't yours be too?  All I got was a glossy pamphlet, disappointed and old lady attitudes.  This "garden tour"...pshhhaw...tsk, all for nothing I say, what a bust!  I wish I could show you pictures of these landscapes (I wouldn't even begin to call them gardens) just so you could see what I saw but alas they did not allow photographs (by the way no where on their website or info does it say no photographs).  Well at least I got to practice my drawing skills on the envelope my ticket came in, lol.  I had a better time just driving through the neighborhoods taking pictures of other peoples extremely nice landscapes and well design I will call this The Un-Garden Tour Extravaganza of 2014.   LMAO!
I will now proceed to show you some landscapes not on this tour.
Thank you to those who un-participated, lol.
My sketch of a few design ideas
My sketch of a few design ideas

Here's the thing...I don't mind that parking at every house was a pain in the arse (it is a garden tour plus I can only imagine what the neighbors thought in these exclusively private communities) or
that people came to a complete stop along a pathway to stare at something or chatter away (we all like to admire things) or
that most of the houses were grandiose compared to their greenscape (some things are just more important to others) or
that no pictures were allowed inside the homes (it is a garden tour right?) or
that I was the youngest person there (no problem, I respect my elders until today...I really dislike the pretentiously disgruntled) BUT....

What I did mind was that you couldn't take pictures of the landscapes at all, as I heard a volunteer say "to respect their privacy" (their house is on a garden tour right?) and
that three of the five properties were all patio, driveway and zero lot lines (where's the garden?) and
only one house actually had a real plant collection (thank you Botanical Concepts) and
the volunteers were selective about who they spoke to or whether they chose to greet you at all (whatever) and
that drivers as well as pedestrians had no idea the rules of the road (need to go back to driving school ) but
what really set my awful day off, was at the very end of my frustrating "you can't take pictures" day, a miserable barnacle of an old lady volunteer was extremely rude to me for no reason of which I will not get into because it was old lady stupid nonsense.

Am I disappointed?  You better believe it!  Can I get over it?  Yeah.  Would I ever go again?  Not on your life!  Is it time to start a new movement in garden clubs and gardening tours?  You bet your sweet ass!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh February, how I heart you!

February is the time of year I think I love the's when Spring has sprung, birds are singing their most romantic songs, plants are beginning to bloom their best flowers for our viewing pleasure, love is in the air with St. Valentine, the weather is sunny and cool and well of course the best part is my birthday (the 18th)!  Yippee for me!  :)

Nothing grandiose to write home about lately, just trying to get back into the swing of things after being sick with the flu for so long. Since the weather here in South Florida has been perfect to start planting, many of our landscape jobs came in during my down time, so we have been playing catch up with our schedule.  I think being cooped up inside forced my plant fever to flourish.  While I am at the nursery's picking up plants for our clients, I am also a few for me too, hee hee.  I am currently redesigning our front island and will be posting on the progress soon so stay tuned.

In the meantime here are a few things in our neck of the woods today...
Just perfect for Valentines Day...coleus, bloodleaf & alocasia 'lutea'
One of our new additions: colocasia 'blue Hawaii"...super saturated colors in the light!

Ornamental bananas, aloe blooms, dracena 'lemon-lime'
and green wart ferns growing as ground cover.

Yes, you are seeing correctly, this "lost-tag" orchid is growing upside down in
our simpson stopper tree but it's still producing beautiful flowers (top right).
Lower right is one of our air plants blooming.
Where ever you may be in the world, I wish you lots of love on this St. Valentine's Day!
Happy Gardening and enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Butterfly Gardening in South Florida

I have to preface the below post was written last week and yes I eventually ended up with the flu so I didn't get to finish it until now...see where bragging gets you, sick, lol.

After a long weekend with our friends up in Melbourne Beach we have resorted to being quarantined here at the house due to the flu...boooo.  Thank goodness for social media to find out who in the group is next in line to get this highly contagious cold...blach!  Luckily for moi, I seem to have been spared (so far) though I do not want to be the one to blame as the carrier of the cold, so I am here with you blogging, yea for me hee hee.  
Melbourne Beach, Fl.
Here in South Florida (So'Flo) we are finally enjoying the cold weather for a decent period of time.  Soon to be adding a third week of 40-70 degree weather to our locale, yippee!  Though I know our lovely winter weather will soon turn into Spring where temperatures stay relatively in the 70's for a few months.  They will then jump up to the 80's and before you know it we are in the Summer months of 90+ degrees.  Now that it's chilly and you're sitting inside with a tasty hot beverage in hand why not start planning a beautiful butterfly garden!  

Butterfly gardens are so easy to do, cost efficient, can be adapted to an existing landscape and/or can be a container garden.  I will always remember the day I came home from work a few years back to find our new neighbor standing along our adjoining side yards looking up.  We said our hello's, then with a huge smile on her face says, "I was just standing here watching all the butterflies flying around in your yard.  I am so amazed at how many different butterflies there are!  I am inspired, how did you do that?"  I laughed as I replied, "all I did was plant the plants they like and they showed up."  Yes, that is how easy a butterfly garden can be, all you need are plants and a plan.

There are some very tried-&-true plants which will always bring butterflies to their flowers, like the firebush (hamelia patens), jatropha integerrima (peregrina), wild coffee (psychotria nervosa)/Bahama coffee (psychotria ligustrifolia), native milkweed (asclepias incarnata) and desert cassia (senna polyphylla).  Though the most important factor to remember for a successful butterfly garden is to have nectar plants for their food as well as host plants for them to lay their eggs on and to eat once they hatch into caterpillars.  
From top left to right: desert cassia tree, swamp milkweed with
monarch butterflies, spicy jatropha tree & firebush with zebra
longwing butterflies.
So like any well designed plan the first thing you need is a location for your new butterfly garden.  You could either have a designated butterfly garden where all the plants are in the same area.  Or you could add a few plants here and there throughout your landscape. Or if you are an apartment/condo dweller then a container garden is the way to go.  Or all of the above.  My first butterfly garden I did what most people do, have a designated area in the landscape filled with a handful of small butterfly plants.  What I found out was I ended up with alot of caterpillars all at one time, who ate all the plants all at one time, cocooned all at once then hatched into hungry butterflies looking for food.  Basically the plants didn't have enough time to grow back their flowers for the arrival of new butterflies.  So I would scramble to buy more plants and the insanity started all over again.   I lamented to my Mom who already had quite a few years of butterfly gardening under her belt and she suggested an alternative....have small vignettes of plants throughout the yard with a larger variety of plants, the butterflies know there are other food sources and will seek them out.  This way all their eggs aren't laid on one food source.  So when the time came to redesign our landscape I did my research on larger butterfly plants, trees and shrubs to add in with the smaller plants.  Viola, a perfect balance of food sources for a variety of butterflies!
The top left giant swallowtail caterpillar is on our wild lime and the butterfly to the right 
of it is on a purple porterweed we used to have. The black swallowtail caterpillar 
in the lower left is on our dill & the black swallowtail butterfly picture is 
from Stephanie Sanchez's website.
So what I did here is give you a list of So'Flo butterfly plants that I believe do very well here.  Yes, most of them are native but how else will you attract native wildlife, right?  I categorized the butterfly plants into groups which will help you decide on the right plant for the right location.  You should also make sure the plants you choose will grow in your area by finding your location on the hardiness zone chart.
For the monarch butterflies, milkweeds are their "must-have" plant, you can find what kind of milkweeds do best in your area here...

Host Plants for South Florida Butterfly Gardens 
Herbs, Vegetables & Fruits

Flowering Plants, Ground Cover & Shrubs
Canna lily
Cudweed- Gamochaeta pensilvanica
False Nettle – Boehmeria cylindrica
Indigoberry- Randia aculeata  Sphinx moth
Frog Fruit – Lippia nodiflora
Hibiscus – Hibiscus denudatus
Legume family
Orange sesbania – Sesbania punicea
Partridge Pea – Chamaecrista fasciculata
Pearly-everlastings – Gnaphalium
Shrimp plant (green)– Blechum brownei
Spanish needles- Bidens alba
Snapdragon – Antirrhinum major
Sunshine mimosa- Mimosa strigillosa
Swamp milkweed- asclepias incarnata
Western peppergrass- Lepidium montanum
White clover- Trifolium repens
Wild Coffee- Psychotria nervosa
Wild lime- Zanthoxylum fagara

Bahama Cassia- cassia chapmanii
Biscayne prickly ash- Zanthoxylum coriaceum
Black Cherry- Prunus serotina
Black Ironwood- Krugiodendron ferreum
Coontie- Zamia integrifolia
Desert Cassia- Senna polyphylla
Hackberries – Celtis
Locust berry- Byrsonima lucida
Oaks – Quercus
Pawpaw – Asimina triloba
Red bay – Persea borbonia
Sassafras – Sassafras albidum
Sweet Bay – Laurus nobilis

Corkystem passion flower vine- Passiflora suberosa
Passion-vines – Passiflora
Pipevines – Aristolochia
From left to top right: an orange-barred sulphur butterfly emerging from it's
chrysalis, a polydamas catterpillar on our Dutchman's pipe vine, a gulf
fritillary butterfly just out of its chrysalis & a spanworm on 'snow-on-the-mountain'
bush which will turn into a small white-tipped black moth.
Nectar Plants for South Florida Butterfly Gardens
Flowering Plants, Ground Cover & Shrubs
Alliums (onion family)
Beach verbena- Glandularia maritima
Beautyberry - Callicarpa americana
Bee balm / Bergamot - Monarda didyma
Black eyed Susan- Rudbeckia hirta
Blanket Flower- Gaillardia pulchella
Blazing Star or Slender Gayfeather- Liatris gracilis
Blue Porterweed – Stachycarpheta jamaicensis & S. utricifolia
Bloodberry- Cordia globosa
Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidii
Butterfly Sage – Cordia globosa
Butterfly weed – Ascelpias tuberosa
Buttonbush- Cephalanthus occidentalis
Common Snowberry- Chiococca alba
Cone flower- Echinacea purpurea
Coral honeysuckle – lonicera sempervirens
Cosmos – Cosmos bipinnatus/ Cosmos sulphureus
Elderberry- Sambucus canadensis
False heather – Cuphea hyssopifolia
False indigo- Amorpha fruticosa
Firebush – Hamelia patens
Firespike – Odontonema stricta
Golden dewdrop – duranta repens
Heliotrope - Heliotropium arborsecens
Hibiscus – Hibiscus denudatus
Jamaican caper- Capparis cynophallophora
Jatropha - Jatropha integerrima
Joe Pye weed- Eupatorium fistulosum
Lantana (native) – Lantana involucrata
Lion’s Ear - Leonotus leonurus
Mallow – Malva spp.
Mexican sunflower – Tithonia rotundifolia
Panama rose- Rondeletia leucophylla
Pentas – Pentas lanceolata
Purple coneflower – Echinacea purpurea
Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata
Oregano – Origanum vulgare
Spanish needles- Bidens alba
Swamp milkweed- asclepias incarnata
Tickseed - Coreopsis grandiflora
Wild Coffee- Psychotria nervosa
Wild Lantana- Lantana involucrata
Wild lime- Zanthoxylum fagara
Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

Desert Cassia- Senna polyphylla
Golden shower tree- Senna pendula
Red cassia tree - Cassia roxburghii
Sweet acacia- Acacia farnesiana

Blue pea vine- Clitoria ternatea
Mexican flame vine - Senecio confuses
From left to top right: a question mark butterfly, a monarch butterfly
& the topside of the question mark butterfly.
Now that you have a list of host plants the caterpillars like to eat and the plant list of the nectar plants the butterflies like to get their meals will your butterfly garden look?
If you already have a butterfly garden, we would love to know what you did and how it looks.  If you are just starting, here are a few you like the rambling wild flower prairie look or a cottage style?  This is how most flowering plants grow in the wild thereby creating a natural element in your garden.
Wild flower prairie style or cottage form with an organized chaos look.
Most flowering plants will self seed allowing more plants to grow.
Pictures from the book Butterfly Gardening for the South by Geyata Ajilvsgi.

Or do you prefer a more formal and elegant feel?

Or why not add a few tropical elements of flair into it for a South Florida style?
These pictures are from my last visit to Jesse Durko's Nursery.
Or come up with your own unique plant layout like I decided to do.  If you really want to be inspired, take a visit to Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, FL"butterfly capital of the world".  It is a bit pricey but they usually have coupons online which help.  Though which ever direction you decide to take, I am sure glad you are planting a beautiful butterfly garden!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might think of or if you need any help.  Good luck my friends and have fun!

Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Solutions for Soggy Soil in South Florida

Hi there fellow garden friends, it's been so rainy here lately...
Pompano Beach
that I thought we could explore a situation most people have encountered in their gardens and/or landscapes....soggy soil, wet patches that never dry, mucky ground, boggy bottoms and/or air conditioning unit drip lines.  Many of us live in areas that stay wet most of the year.  Here in Florida, our state is unique in the fact that we have incredibly diverse ecosystems. Even though we are barely above sea level, we have a vast variety of ecological wonders all over the state like the everglades, swamp lands, pine lands, scrub lands, oak forests, coastal dunes, variety of hammocks, coral reefs, islands, sink holes, fresh water springs, rivers, tributaries, tropical forests, underground springs/streamscaverns, sandy beaches, mangroves, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, maritime forests, pine flatlands, dry prairies, rocklands, sloughs, shell mounds, intracoastal waterwayswet flatwoods, sand hills....whew dat's alotta stuff!  Florida is surrounded by water on all sides except for the north end of the state, which theoretically is the only thing attaching us to the mainland or else we would be part of the Caribbean islands, lol.
If your ground is wet then build a deck above ground
with bog plants like papyrus, ferns & colocasia's.
A rain chain & natural stone help disperse water rather
than have a river run through it
Use native bog type plants in areas that remain moist and shady.
Plant a "rain garden"...I saw this picture on Houzz and though I think this is a very creative
idea. Though I would have attached a long perforated pipe to the downspout &
buried the pipe in the ground as a French drain to move the water further from the
house.  This looks like it would create a mess by pushing that beautifully done job
right outta there.  Never underestimate the force of water, lol.
Eco-pavers for your driveway or pathway
This little area was a continual problem for one of our client's.  Their a/c drain line constantly made this area a mucky algae mosquito pit.  We dug about 14" down, regraded the area to slope towards the ferns, layered it with course sand, crushed rock and topped it off with decorative landscape rock.  We also added a few water loving ferns in a mulch bed which will fill in nicely.  There is so much under the ground here like pipes, concrete footers & partial slabs that simple is sometimes the best solution.
Add a dry creek bed sloping water away from the beautiful is this just on it's own!?!
Great job Lisa Wilcox Deyo!
Water features, rain chains and rain barrels are all excellent
solutions to water issues as well.
Some great aquatic plants for wet lands are canna lily, pickerel weed, alocasia's, weeping willow, lots of different types of ferns, cord grass, hyssop, colocasia's, anthurium's, scarlet hibiscus, horsetail, beebalm, spiderwort, wax myrtle, ginger's, rushes, coffee, sedges, lotus, lilies, buttonwoods, cypress trees, cabbage palms, holly's, asters, maple's, oak's, bay trees, water hickory and coreopsis just to name a few.

All you need it a little creativity, some labor on your part and viola...soggy soil solved!  Where ever you may be in this arctic blast, sending you warm tropical wishes from this So'Flo gardening girl!
Happy Gardening Y'all!