Garden Photo of the Day

Creating a Garden From Nothing in Florida

Getting plants from friends makes for a low-cost garden makeover

Jennifer Hubbs here. I have only been gardening in southwestern Florida for the past two and a half years. I come from a family of gardeners, love visiting gardens, and couldn’t wait to get back into gardening after a long hiatus. I haven’t had the opportunity to garden over the past 15 years due to condo living.

Our new home was a blank slate two and a half years ago, which is fun, but it can seem overwhelming. I decided to get as many free plants from fellow gardeners as I could to get started.


The side garden before

frangipaniA beautiful frangipani (Plumeria, Zone 10)

vincaThe side garden after. All of these plants were donations from fellow gardeners except the vinca (Catharanthus roseus, Zones 10–11 or as an annual). I love the green and white in this garden, especially with the white fence as a backdrop.

sweet potato vineI planted sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas, Zones 10–11 or as an annual) to cover my neighbor’s chain-link fence. Best decision ever! It was inexpensive and offers beautiful color, low maintenance, and privacy.

angel trumpetI love this angel trumpet (Brugmansia, Zones 8–10 or as an annual)—another cutting from a neighbor.

DaturaA Datura flower as seen from below

I have added some grass to add movement and a soft fluffy accent to this spiky garden. Included here are foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus, Zones 10–11 or as a houseplant or an annual), Agave, Dracaena, and some other donations. I take whatever anyone gives me!

Wide view of the garden today

Another view of the garden

The blank slate just two and a half years ago


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. nwphillygardener 11/13/2019

    Thanks for including that "before" image, Jennifer! It's so impressive to see how dramatically you've changed the daily experience of coming and going to your house by designing this exciting bed of "spikes" with so many textures. And although you haven't focused on it, you've made the house more contemporary with the color changes to walls and windows. Such BEFORE/AFTER images tell us what great gardens are all about!

    1. nwphillygardener 11/13/2019

      I will say, though, that the terra-cotta colored pot in that bed is a distraction from the cohesive design. You might try locating it in the radius of the rounded corner of the paving, or removing it all together.

      1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

        Thank you so much for the great design advices. I was trying to make the house look more modern so I’m glad that has been achieved. Good critique about the clay pot, I will take your advice, thank you so much. It’s great to have a critical uninvolved eye! Take care

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/13/2019

    Wow, great work. Especially love that foxtail fern. It looks so fluffy. Here where I live their stems are sort of thin. I suppose your weather is probably responsible.

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      The foxtail is getting a lot of positive feedback! The texture is so unique.

  3. cheryl_c 11/13/2019

    Your combinations of succulents with foxtail ferns is brilliant! You have some wonderfully generous friends to have gifted you with such healthy and well behaved plants. Thanks for sharing!

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Thank you! Of course some of the gift plants were small & scraggly but Florida makes it easy to rejuvenate plants. This year I need to fertilize more- that is an area that has not been a priority but necessary here.

  4. Musette1 11/13/2019

    this is lovely - and it's great that you are using plants relevant to your zone, rather than trying to force plants that will not thrive. Love that foxtail fern!

    btw - I agree with newphillygardener and am glad you do as well - it's not a big thing, moving that pot, but I'll bet you will really enjoy the visual, once it's done!

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Husband tried to move it today but with our rains last night so heavy! I am going to move it for sure, never thought about it- but now that it’s been said, totally agree!

  5. Joycelaubach 11/13/2019

    Jennifer - I am always alert to fellow Florida transplants. I've been in SW Florida for two years and have been on a similar journey, building up to sharing my own photos. The fact that you've accomplished so much with donated plants makes your accomplishment especially notable. But then, we gardeners typically take a lot of delight in sharing our bounty, and our climate here helps provide lots of pups and offshoots. Kudos to you. You have significantly enhanced the beauty of your formerly plain property. If you haven't already considered it, you might look into your county's Master Gardener program. I completed it last year here in Charlotte County, learned a lot, got introduced to so many wonderful people, and gained access to many new plants.

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Awesome comments- thank you so much. I have thought about the Master Gardener program- just haven’t taken the next step. Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. btucker9675 11/13/2019

    The angel trumpet is so beautiful!

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Peach angel trumpet was part of the donation project. I have seen it as a large tree here. It’s crazy, it loses leaves and looks horrible, the. Perks up again. I know they are water & food hogs- so again I need to get on the fertilizer.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 11/13/2019

    Love your before and after photos! What a great improvement! I have never seen such a healthy and beautiful foxtail fern, ever!Thanks for sharing!

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Before & after photos are the best whether gardens or home remodeling. I’m so glad I had them to share and remembered to include them!

  8. Cenepk10 11/13/2019

    Looks fabulous!!! Crazy about that Foxtail fern bed with all of the spiky plants. Also - the sweet potato vine on the fence was cool. Very nice work.

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Foxtail fern is the winner today! I love the texture. Glad you do too!

  9. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/13/2019

    Yowza on the chartreuse wall created by the sweet potato vine. Confession has never occurred to me to plant it in such a way that it would grow up. I've only let it sprawl. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

      Glad you like it- I had it in a container in my pool area, it was growing up a plant stand but leaving so much debris in my pool. I thought let’s try it outside to block this ugly fence and it worked! I always figure let’s try it and if it doesn’t work, don’t do it again!

  10. SWFLgardener 11/13/2019

    I just realized that in the before photo of the white garden, you can see the white ugly chain link fence (towards the back of the photo) before I planted the sweet potato vine. Check it out-

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest