My Secret Garden - Participant# 103 || 2004 Contest

Passion in Progression
by Patricia Reynolds (Northwest Florida, USA)

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Life changing events are always so traumatic, whether they are good or bad. Having to move from one part of the state (Florida) to another and start a new life in a new zone, ALONE, have been both a blessing and a curse.

I choose to look at the brighter side of things with a new slate (landscape) with the obligatory foundation plants (azaleas in full Florida sun… duh??) and the largest U-haul truck along with a U-haul trailer full of all of my favorite plants that are ready to share in this new adventure of mine.

Some of the challenges faced was trying to put 300-some plants from ? acre place into a lot that is 75’ X 150’ (not an easy task) dealing with a steep slope in the backyard that erodes away with heavy rainfall and a swamp-like area filled with brambles, blackberry bushes, and lots of dead trees and brush. Canna
My first order of business, being a wildlife enthusiast, was to put in a hummingbird and butterfly bed. I laugh when I look back at the pictures of the progression as it went from small... to medium to “okay, I’ll make it the whole front yard” size...

It wasn’t long before the hummingbirds located this new smorgasbord and the butterflies and bees were soon right behind.



Butterfly bed


Musa Nestled among the native flowers, annuals and perennials you will also find pots of my “super tropicals” such as Musa ‘Royal Lavender’, several cultivars of Bauhinia, several different cultivars of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Strelitzia regenia and nicolai and several adeniums. Hibiscus
The ugly pots strategically hidden in the middle of the beds with the ornate pots decorating the outer edge.

Clearing out the area that I now affectionately call my “Secret Garden Swamp” left me scratched, banged and bruised for weeks and although far from being complete, I am very pleased with the progress that I have made.

Canna There I planted cannas, gingers (hedychium, kaempferia, costus, globba, zingiber, alpinia, curcuma and others) lots of colocasia and alocasia, musa, and brugmansia in the moist, rich ground and left my different cultivars of heliconia in their pots, as they will need to be brought in for the winter.




Hedychium 'Elizabeth'


The process has been slow since I am doing all the work myself but it has been rewarding and I look forward to see the progression of the garden with the passing of time.

... A couple of pictures of my Bauhinia aculeata that I have growing here in NW Florida. I came by the plant as a cutting about 4 years ago from the main tree that believe it or not was huge and growing pretty much north of the zone for Bauhinias in Green Cove Springs, Florida (where I use to live until this April). Although the main tree was a TREE, this plant has continued to stay small and is in a 3-gallon nursery pot. For the first few years I had it planted in the ground in zone 8b and it did return each Spring but the zone did not allow it to grow bigger or stronger as it was cut back with our freezes in the winter.

Bauhinia aculeata This Bauhinia really is nice for those living outside the tropics and it over-winters nicely in a freeze-free environment. As in the wild, I do let it go dormant in the winter while it overwinters but after all freezes are done it goes back out with its naked branches that are soon full of new life within a few weeks.

Bauhinia aculeata

Bauhinia aculeata

PHR (zone pushing in the panhandle)


A note from TopTropicals:

Patricia's beautiful secret garden by the little natural spring was totally destroyed as well as the butterfly bed in the front of the house by Hurricane Ivan on September 16, 2004.
We are with you, Trish! We'll make it beautiful again. Stay safe!

Tatiana & Mike

Bauhinia aculeata

This is a photo after Hurricane Ivan. 13 hummingbirds!

"...I just can't get over it... I counted 13 in this one shot.. they are
swarming the yard.. what a wonderful wonderful treat.. I wish you all could
see it. Trish..."