Garden Photo of the Day

Nancy’s Florida Garden

Learning to garden in a new zone

collage of different orange, red, and yellow plants

Today we are visiting Nancy Martin’s garden.

I will be 72 years old in September. I live in Apollo Beach, Florida. However, I am a native of Virginia and lived there most of my life. In the summer of 2016 we moved into our current home. This house was a new build on a small lot, a blank canvas. I was unfamiliar with gardening in Florida. I had lived in a home on a large wooded lot on a lake in Virginia for over 30 years. All the plants in my Virginia home were large and well established. I soon found a grass lawn fired in the summer heat in Florida, and my yard was so small there wasn’t much room for a yard and garden too. I dug up all the grass in my backyard and planted my Secret Garden. All of my trees were started from seed and many of my plants from cuttings. I found that even full-sun plants could grow in some shade; I think they even enjoy it. These photos are a journal of my 2022 garden.

collage of different parts of the garden and unique garden artIt is clear that Nancy has learned how to make plants happy in her new climate!

collage of different white, pink, and purple flowersApollo Beach is warm enough that a wide range of plants can be grown, including the Phalaenopsis orchid at the top, which is familiar to most of us as a houseplant but can live outside as long as temperatures stay mostly warm and above freezing.

collage of different orange, red, and yellow plantsSome of these flowers are familiar to Northern gardeners, like the daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid, Zones 4–11) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus, annual). Others, like the Bulbine frutescens (Zones 9–11) in the bottom center of this collage, are specialties of warmer climates.

collage of different white flowersI bet all these icy white flowers look cool and marvelous in the Florida heat.

collage of pink, purple, and yellow flowersMany of the plants pictured here, like the Caladium (Zones 9–11) in the top left, are familiar to Northern gardeners as annuals for growing in the summer, but they are perennial and long-lived in Florida.

collage with different pink and purple flowersSome things are the same with gardening in every climate: Plant enough flowers and you’ll get visits from beautiful pollinators like this butterfly!

collage of different foliage plantsBeautiful foliage is always welcome in the garden, from a dramatic variegated agave (perhaps Agave americana, Zones 9–11) to the universal favorite coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides, Zones 10–11 or as an annual).


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  1. User avater
    simplesue 09/08/2022

    Wow so many beautiful plants and flowers! And you even grew many from seeds and cuttings- I'm impressed!
    I was wondering if the butterfly bushes go dormant in Florida like they do up north or if they stay green with flowers in all months?
    Love your photos!

  2. Iamzlady 09/08/2022

    Thank you for your kind remarks. My butterfly bush does lose it's leaves in winter. We can occasionally reach temps in the 20's. Many plants that would be grown as annuals in the north can be grown here as perennials.

    1. User avater
      simplesue 09/09/2022

      Thanks for answering my question!

      1. Iamzlady 09/09/2022

        My pleasure. 😊

  3. fromvirginia 09/08/2022

    Lovely pictures and range of plants.

    1. Iamzlady 09/08/2022

      Thank you! 😊

    2. Iamzlady 09/08/2022

      Thank you! Most of my neighbors grow tropical plants (gorgeous), I do have a few, but I want mine to be more like a cottage garden.

  4. [email protected] 09/08/2022

    Beautiful pictures! Didn't realize Florida could get that cold! Of course, these days, weather "norms" are all over the map. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Iamzlady 09/08/2022

      Thank you! It doesn't get that cold very often and if it does, it doesn't last very long.

  5. btucker9675 09/08/2022

    Your garden is a lovely fairy land!

    1. Iamzlady 09/08/2022

      Thank you! I always have heard you need to leave room in the garden for fairies and angels to dance. 😊

  6. sheila_schultz 09/08/2022

    Nancy, we're the same age and I also understand what it takes to relearn creating gardens that fulfill our inner needs of beauty! Yours are magnificent with magical blooms and the lushness of foliage. I moved from the Midwest to Denver and relearned my skills. Now we live in the low desert of Tucson and I'm working on it all over again! A gardeners life is never complete until their garden pleases their eye. Yours certainly pleases mine. Kudos!!!

    1. Iamzlady 09/09/2022

      How kind, thank you. I hope you are having as much fun as I am., gardening is good for our body and soul.

  7. Maggieat11 09/09/2022

    Your garden photos were a very welcome surprise!!
    Being from NY, I wasn't expecting to see so many
    familiar plants. Your photos are wonderful and I also
    was pleased to see your inclusion of garden art.✨
    Congratulations on great transition to a new climate
    for your gardens....and "Happy Birthday"!🎂🌻🎂

  8. Iamzlady 09/09/2022

    Thank you, I'm happy that you enjoyed my garden. I forgot to include one of my favorite things, a little sign that says 'Weeders Welcome'. 😊 Thank you for the birthday wish too.

  9. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 09/12/2022

    Thank you for sharing your lovely garden. As a former resident of Florida, I am deeply impressed with all that you've accomplished. I wish I had been a gardener back then when I lived there. All those missed possibilities. Now I'm living on another continent and much different climate zone. Finally, the gardening bug reached me though :) Thanks again for posting.

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