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My Secret Garden - Participant# 110 || 2004 Contest

Drawn by the greenery
by Christina Butz (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)

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Hello, my name is Christina Butz, I live in Sailboat Bend, a Historic Neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I live across the street from the New River and on the same land as the Tequesta and Seminole Indians did many years ago.


I bought my house in 1999, drawn by the greenery that surrounded the property, though much of it overgrown and taking over. Later, I learned that the original homeowner's son was a groundskeeper at a nearby state park and most likely responsible for many of the mature palms and surprises I uncovered once I began turning the overgrown backyard into a garden of my own.  

Acalypha hispida

Acalypha hispida

As I began clearing the aggressive plants that were claiming the yard, I found jewels such as the Acalypha Hispida (Chenille Plant), which I moved to a sunny location and is now flourishing.

Acalypha wilkesiana

Myrciaria cauliflora

Myrciaria cauliflora (Jaboticaba)

The Jaboticaba Tree, a rare fruit tree from Brazil which I understand is used to make jellies and wine, a Mussaenda and a small bed of heliconia's which would now take over the entire yard if I didn't pluck the unruly ones.

I added a Brugmansia in the middle of the bed.

Myrciaria cauliflora

Myrciaria cauliflora

The task of turning this unruly landscape into a beautiful garden was daunting, especially with absolutely no idea where to begin or what would grow where. I found that by dissecting the yard into zones to work on, I can focus on one zone at a time and not feel so overwhelmed.

Clerodendrum quadriloculare

Clerodendrum quadriloculare

In the area in the very back of the yard, I removed a sea of Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plants) and began creating a new bed starting with an Areca Palm, a Traveler's Palm, an Adonidia Palm, Shell ginger, Ti Plants, Costus, purple Pentas, Blood leaf, Spreading Lantana, Pedilanthus tithymaloides (Devil's Backbone), Clerodendrum and potato vines. With all the summer rain, things are really taking off and the potato vines, though really beautiful need to be trimmed frequently.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

Pedilanthus tithymaloides



I added another bed in the back, opposite side, and had originally planned on it being a white bed, however, could not resist adding a little color and recently added some purple and blue plants. The foundation started with a Pandanus Utilis (Screw Pine), donated by a neighbor. As warned, it has very nasty edges and has been planted in the back corner out of danger from being brushed against. I also added a Musseanda, Colocasia, white Pentas, Salvia leucantha (Mexican sage), Caladiums and Blue daze.

Screw Pine, Colacasia, white pentas, Mexican Sage, Blue Daze, Bromeliads

In the north side of the yard, I added a split leaf philodendron, a Bird of Paradise and Bromeliads.

Bromeliads are amazingly easy to grow, spread fairly fast and make great fillers. I tuck them in just about every bed.

Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa


Banana, Triangle Palm, Lantana and Bromeliad

On the south side of the yard I added a Banana tree, a Triangle palm, Lantana and Dracaena to the existing Ferns, Psychotria nervosa (Wild Coffee) and Crotons.


Recently, another neighbor has shared several Ginger and Heliconia varieties including some amazing lobster claws. They have not yet bloomed but I anxiously await the show.

When this journey started, I didn't know anything about gardening. Now, I cannot wait to get my morning cup of coffee and head to the garden with my faithful feline sidekick, Pooky, to see what new is in store. From the critters scampering in the morning sun to the thrill of a new bloom it has become what some (my entire family) refer to as an obsession. From the pictures shared, I can see I am not alone.

Happy Gardening………..

Colocasia sp.




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