Today we’re visiting Lillian Miller’s garden in St. Petersburg, Florida.
I have gardened in Italy; Germany; Tacoma, Washington; and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Now I am retired, but this is the most difficult place to garden because of the year-round heat and poor, sandy soil. Despite that, plants flourish, annuals become perennials, and everything is vivid and grows to be huge.
The whole garden is also filled with looming oak trees and lined by an old brick road, so although it’s hot, there is sufficient shade. Gardening is a wonderful activity any time, but it is really life-supporting during retirement, pandemic, and intense heat.
Cast-iron plants (Aspidistra elatior, Zones 7–10) with variegated foliage, backed by a philodendron with bright orange new leaves. All of these make great houseplants in climates where it is too cold for them to live outside.
Monstera deliciosa is another plant best known as a houseplant in most areas, but in Florida it can live outside, get huge, and even produce these unusual-looking flowers.
A purple bromeliad backed by the colorful leaves of a croton (Codiaeum variegatum).
More crotons and other colorful foliage plants make a bright display in the shade of the oaks.
This tall red Chinese pagoda clerodendrum (Clerodendrum paniculatum) is practically a weed in Florida, growing vigorously and easily.
Variegated pandanus (Pandanus utilis) is striking backed by the pink-blossoming medinilla bush, which is fragile if not watered enough.
Masses of crotons make a durable, long-lasting, colorful display outside in frost-free climates, and they are great houseplants or annuals in colder climes.
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