Garden Photo of the Day

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

By: Kim Charles

Ana Bowers shares her resilient thoughts with us after the passing of Hurrican Irma.

"Our Sarasota, Florida garden is my passion.  However, it can be trying to garden in an area which is prone to having drought for several months at a time, then floods the next month.  This month we dealt with Hurricane Irma.  Although the direct, most forceful hit was in the Naples/Marco Island area of Florida, Irma still punched us with sustained 80mph winds and gusts to 115mph.  It has taken us ten days of working several hours daily just to carry fallen branches near the road for FEMA pickup. We had five uprooted small to medium trees, a palm with a crown that snapped off, and much thinning of our generous live oak tree canopy.  However, our garden is resilient and I already see the recovery process happening.  Soon we will be doing more planning and planting again, as now we have more sunshine streaming in to many areas, giving opportunity for change!  This garden affords me the pleasure of gardening and being with nature every day of the year, and soothes me daily down to the core!  Foliage is the main interest in our garden, and being in this subtropical climate, there are many interesting plants that love living here. The main requirement is improving the sandy soil- which we do regularly by adding oak leaves, compost and chipped hardwood mulch (recycled trees).  The pond we’ve created has invited many creatures to spend time here or live here, and their antics keep us marveling at the wonders of nature.  I have a Facebook gardening page where I enjoy sharing thoughts, photos and ideas with other gardeners several times weekly.  Please feel free to check it out:"  

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 09/25/2017

    Hello there Ana - Your sub-tropical garden is soooo lush and filled with such colourful foliage. You certainly have been busy cleaning up after the hurricane according to your FB footage. Great that you like Aussie tree ferns. The first pic. is a ripper. Is that a Eucalyptus tree in the background or am I dreaming? Glad you were safe during the hurricane. Cheers from Oz

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Hi Frank! I'm not certain which tree you are referring to, but I think it might be a live oak. We have a number of these on our property and they are tough! They withstood winds like champs, and are lovely shade trees.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 09/25/2017

        Obviously a kangaroo loose in my top paddock, Ana.

        1. anabowers 09/25/2017

          Just different countries and plants that thrive there! I'm sure I wouldn't know many of your plants, Frank, although I'd love to. Australia is high on my bucket list!

  2. christianelena 09/25/2017

    Hello Ana,
    You know that I love tour tropical garden.
    Big bravo for to your tenacity after Hurricane Irma.
    It's a real gemme un Florida.
    N'est compliments d'or tour amazing job.

  3. deeinde 09/25/2017

    Your gardens are beautiful, Ana! I enjoyed seeing how you use color, shape and texture in the garden. Glad you weathered Irma with no major damage.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much, Dee. A lot of it just happened naturally!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/25/2017

    Ana, what is that tree next to the little pond? Everything is gorgeous!

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much! The tree is a Ceiba speciosa, or Floss Silk Tree, treasuresmom. An easy tree here that gives nice, filtered shade.

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/25/2017

    I'm so glad that you and your garden came through the hurricane to refresh and revitalize. You have a stunning, colorful garden. Such a visual treat.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thank-you so very much, Tim. Just another gardening challenge!

  6. andreanola 09/25/2017

    What a beautiful tropical garden oasis!

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much, Andrea!

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/25/2017

    Hi, Ana, it's always so fascinating to see tropical plant beauties grow to their full glory in the ground as nature intended. Your balance of garden beds to grass looks perfect. I encourage people to take a minute to peruse your Facebook page...lots more great pictures and informative commentary. The orangey "flowers" of the beehive ginger (at your Facebook) are stunning and so architectural...what fun to grow such interesting things.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much for being interested in my garden, meander1! I only have that one little patch of grass, but I do think it calms the eye, and our dog loves to play, romp and fetch there. Yes, the beehive ginger is surreal. It really looks and feels like plastic. I wish I had more of them. Always hoping to propagate them.

  8. user-4691082 09/25/2017

    Ana, more than your sumptuous garden, I admire your attitude! It is so healthy to accept change as an opportunity. Tell us about the wall in the last photo. You make me almost want to live there!

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks very much, Rhonda. That garden wall was created to shield most of our driveway/utility area from the front of the house. We have a smaller one on the other side of the garden defining the pathway to the front door. They are just a screen of sorts for our contemporary home.

  9. garden1953 09/25/2017


    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thank-you, Cherie!

  10. cheryl_c 09/25/2017

    Good morning, Ana, and thank you, not only for your beautiful pictures, but also for your wonderful outlook. We are in the midst of having 4 trees removed because they were irreparably damaged when our house burned to the ground three years ago. We rebuilt the house, sparing as much of the beautiful surrounding trees as possible. We'd had to have 10 previous trees removed. This time, one is a 90 foot tall red oak, and we are seeing (still mid-process) that there has been collateral damage to a memorial red bud, and four deciduous hollies. Thank you for reminding me that there are now opportunities for plants that I've not been able to grow successfully. Your post couldn't have been more timely for me.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Oh, Cheryl, I am so sorry you went through this. How terribly traumatic. However, it sounds like you still have some beautiful trees left, and yes, there is always the opportunity to plant things that you've always admired that require a bit more sun than you had before. It can and will be a positive for both of us, and we need to approach it that way. The best to you. Ana

  11. cynthiamccain 09/25/2017

    Gorgeous, Ana! My brother gardens in Bradenton, but doesn't quite have your "wow factor." I'll share your photos with him--I know he'll be inspired!

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks, Cynthia. Yes, Bradenton is right next door, so everything that grows here should grow there as well. Not everyone's passion is gardening, however! Thanks for sharing our photos with him!

  12. Coveside 09/25/2017

    Admire the resilience of both garden and gardener!

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thank-you, Coveside.

  13. mariebulgin 09/25/2017

    That has to be one of the most gorgeous gardens I have ever seen. I do envy your wonderful collections of tropical shapes, forms and colors but I don't envy dealing with the results of periodic hurricanes and floods. I admire your resilience! You do deserve a prize for that garden. I'm glad you didn't show us the results of Irma, I would have been devastated at the destruction of such beauty.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much, Marie! This garden has been an incredible learning experience and I've become a much better gardener because of the challenges. The garden is the resilient one. The bones are very much still there, with a few bends and breaks here and there, but the plants that don't recover will be replaced by others. That is the heartbreaking but exciting part too! Now I've learned the trees that can deal with terribly forceful winds and those that can't. Thanks again.

  14. Sunshine111 09/25/2017

    Thank you for sharing your tropical beauty with us. Rebuilding isn't always easy, but in the end change is good for everyone. Enjoy the process!?

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Lily, thanks for letting me share our garden with you. It's fun to share the results of our hard work with others! I am looking forward to shopping for a few new plants now that we have a bit more sun!

  15. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 09/25/2017

    Good morning, Ana. Thanks for showing us your personal botanical garden. You have an amazing attitude for what you just went through. Are these photos post-Irma because if they are, you still have a gorgeous garden? I'll be checking out your FB page to see more.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thank-you very much, Linda. These photos were taken before Irma. We are still working on pickup and righting trees, staking others that are leaning, etc. It will take time. Lots more sun coming through. Right now it means sunburn for some, but in the spring it should bring more vigorous growth and newly planted sun-loving plants! I hope you enjoy my gardening page. I love comments, photos, input, and anything else you'd like to share!

  16. perenniallycrazy 09/25/2017

    Hubba-hubba♥♥♥! Ana, your garden is totally a tropical paradise. I love your garden and equally your positive attitude about rebuilding inspite of the deluge. Having grown up in a tropical country, your garden reminds me of a resort paradise. I would pay to tour your garden for sure. Hope your contributions become a regular feature on GPOD. Thanks for sharing and good luck on the rebuild.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Perennially, thanks so much! You are very kind. Gardening is always providing challenges, but frequently the aftermath turns out for the better!

  17. schatzi 09/25/2017

    Exquisite! You have recreated Eden! Glad the hurricane did not do more damage. Would love to see more pictures. On the down side (to me), what is the temperature and humidity like?

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much, Shirley! You can see lots of before photos on my gardening page, I love to share gardening ideas, thoughts, photos and suggestions with other gardeners. The temperature is still high eighties here, but the humidity is getting a lot better now. We are starting into the wonderful part of year we all love here. October through May are great months, the rest is best in a/c!

  18. Joycelaubach 09/25/2017

    Love the Movement in the Garden Facebook site, and so glad to see Ana getting more exposure. In the 6th photo, what is the variegated plant whose reddish/pink stem is spiraling? It looks like what we see sometimes in PA - Green Dragon, in the Jack in the Pulpit family, but imagine it's something else as it's in FL.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much! It's a variegated spiraling ginger. I bought it without a tag a few years ago and have not been able to get a more precise name for it. It is a lovely plant that is pretty shattered right now. Soon, when I get to it, I will try to propagate the broken stems. I had hesitated to before because it was so pretty and perfect, but now, the opportunity to propagate like crazy with all the broken stems is here!

  19. tennisluv 09/25/2017

    Ana, what a true tropical paradise you and your husband have created. I'm sorry for the damage you sustained from Irma, but glad it was no more than it was. You have so much color and texture that it is hard to see everything. I think a person could spend hours in your landscape and come back the next day and find many new plants to enjoy. The variegated spiral ginger sent me off on a search to see if it would grow in my zone 8a garden. I will definitely tell my niece and her husband about your website as they are wanting to improve their landscape. Thanks for sharing your tropical paradise and happy new plant shopping and planting..

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks so much, Sonya. I'm so happy you enjoyed my garden and I thank you for letting me share it with you.. I love to connect with other gardeners and share real information. I find that what's on the internet is frequently not as valuable as other gardener's experiences, and that's why I created my page. Yes! I will enjoy plant shopping and planting in the next few months to come. Thanks again.

  20. sophiedekkerfurlan 09/25/2017

    Just beautiful gardening is quite different from yours . I'm in western canada. Though we are considered warm for our country it takes a beating every winter .it must be so disheartening to loose such beautiful trees.and plants . Keep up the good work it's really paying off.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      I was just in western Canada last year- what a beautiful area! Thanks so much. It will recover.

  21. GrannyCC 09/25/2017

    Beautiful. Good Luck with restoring your garden. It is amazing how Gardeners and Gardens are so reasiliant.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thanks, GrannyCC. We get used to being resilient because there are so many things that affect the garden, that we need to flow with it. It's just part of gardening!

  22. Meelianthus 09/25/2017

    Wow! such fantastic plants. Most gardeners can only dream of such a setting. Amazing what you can grow with a lot of warmth and much care. Simply beautiful and your pond area is a beautiful setting. I can't imagine winds of such volume. Our winter winds are frightening at 50 MPH! but we are surrounded by giant fir trees which can be daunting during wind. Did you stay in your home during your high winds? glad you made it safely thru Ana.

    1. anabowers 09/25/2017

      Thank-you very much, Meelianthus. Yes, we stayed in our home. We were borderline in an evacuation zone and our home is strong. It sailed through without any damage. Not so the garden, but it will recover!

  23. user-7008735 09/25/2017

    Such gorgeous foliage, Ana! Your photos are really beautiful, but I'll bet your garden is even more amazing in person. Although it's too bad about the hurricane damage, I'm glad you're safe. You do have a great attitude. I remember when I was a new-ish gardener bemoaning the loss of some special plant, how surprised I was by my more experienced friend's almost gleeful cry of "Planting opportunity!" I understand it better now. It's all part of the ebb and flow of life. Thanks for sharing, Ana!

    1. anabowers 09/26/2017

      Thank-you, Lorraine, and thanks for your experience. Yes, not everything makes it for one reason or another. Sometimes I plant the same thing again, but oftentimes I plant something completely different and am glad for it. Only time will tell!

  24. martahirschback 09/25/2017

    Forget about Heaven! This is Heaven on Earth!

    1. anabowers 09/26/2017

      Thanks so much, Marta.

  25. user-7007498 09/26/2017

    Ana, I saw your post this morning, but didn't have time to comment until I just got home from work (12 hours later). Ugh! I love your garden with all the plants nestled together. Fabulous textures. Sorry to hear about the damage from Irma. I saw you video on your FB page. Quite the debris pile. Obviously, most important is that you, and your home, got through safely. As gardeners, we all know we have to roll with what nature throws at us. Thinning of the canopy can be a good thing, and surely will allow other plants to thrive. I can't imagine what it was like to be with our A/C in your climate for 6 days.

    Thanks for explaining the wall in the last photo. When I first saw the picture of it standing amongst the plants, it reminded me of the monolith from "2001, A Space Odyssey" :)

    Thanks again of your virtual tour. Best wishes on the clean-up

    1. anabowers 09/26/2017

      Thank-you so much for your kind comment, Kevin! Yes, the straight-on angle on the wall is confusing, I'm sure. The sun was shining in nicely that morning and I couldn't resist taking a photo at that angle! Cleanup is almost finished, trees are almost righted (still a lot of 2x4's and ropes around), and we are moving on!

  26. bsavage 09/26/2017

    So beautiful, and I am so sorry for your losses. My husband and I had to leave our stunning gardens in Arizona behind when the Great Recession happened... and we were devastated by losing our home and our gardens and ponds. But, with gardening comes hope, and eventually we built new gardens at our home here in Colorado. And, with that rebirth comes hope. I wish you and your gardens a speedy recovery, filled with hope and new possibilities. Thank you for sharing!

    1. anabowers 09/26/2017

      Brenda, so sorry you went through that. I can imagine how sad that made you. You said it so well- that with gardening comes hope! It's so true. So glad you have rebuilt your new gardens in Colorado with the experience gained by your last one. Good luck to you, and happy gardening!

  27. thevioletfern 09/27/2017

    A true tropical oasis — I am in love! I have to clarify if this is before or after Irma??? I don't see any setbacks, just beauty. I would love to chat with you at that little bistro table over coffee (or wine). I have lucked out with some property north of you and cannot wait to establish my own little tropical garden although I am in Z9. Tropical for me as I am used to Z4! Your garden inspires! Turns out I have already liked your FB page LOL.

  28. user-6536305 09/27/2017

    Your garden is look like a paradize. I echo with others! It is like my indoor plants outside. You are so resilient! Thanks for sharing your hard work!

  29. chris_buscemi 10/01/2017

    Beautiful tropical gardens. I am glad you are safe after Irma. That is the most important thing. Your gardens do not reflect anything but beauty. Love your natural paths throughout the gardens. It must be wonderful to garden year round and enjoy such beauty. Here in Maine we have a much shorter growing season. Your gardens are full of structure and texture. A delight. Thank you for sharing with us and inspiring us to be strong during trying times!

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