Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring's Early Arrival

Just as winter arrived early this year, so apparently has Spring. It began to creep into my yard about two weeks ago, and now it is revving up a little more each day. I have never been so excited to see a new growing season because this is our first after completing our Bay-Friendly Landscape Makeover. Plants which have now been in the ground close to a year should be well established, and ready to rock n' roll!

Every day I wander around the yard for a few minutes to see what's growing and blooming. I do a little weeding and pruning, and Rick blows the still-falling leaves from our pathways back to the mulched beds, but those are the only yard chores we have. The grass-free landscape is indeed proving to be as low-maintenance as we hoped. Now time spent in my yard is a delightul choice, rather than mandatory drudgery.

Flax lilies and bulbine
Bulbine bloom
My trusty bulbines made it through winter with flying colors -- and now they ARE flying their colors! I have both the yellow and the orange bulbines and they are exploding with blooms. I am totally in love with this plant and recommend it constantly to friends.

Hot on their heels were my native viburnums, Big Walter (Walter's viburnum) and the Little Walters (dwarf "Mrs. Schiller's" variety). All are draped in their dainty, lacy white flowers. What a spectacular show!

Big Walter (Walter's Viburnum)
Little Walter, our Dwarf Walter's (Mrs. Schiller's) Viburnum

My Shoal Creek Chaste tree, a deciduous shrub that spent all winter completely leafless, already has begun popping out leaves. In fact, it is producing leaves a full month earlier than last year when I planted it.

My patio pink lemon tree is covered in fragrant blossoms. I like to sit by it and just inhale the magical perfume.

Majestic Beauty hawthorne tree

And I am eagerly awaiting the first pink blossoms opening on my Yedda ("Majestic Beauty") hawthorne, an unusual tree-form Indian hawthorne that all my neighbors admire.

Our native beautyberry is shooting out new green growth at a rapid pace as well.

I can't wait to get home every day and see what is sprouting.

Perfect temperatures, bluebird skies, growing plants everywhere. It's the best time of year!

What are your favorite gardening signs of spring?

View of our back yard


  1. I've never heard of bulbine, but it looks lovely. We have the dwarf Mrs. Schillings Delight in front of our house. It has actually gotten quite a bit larger over the years, but still manageable.

    I'm really enjoying these updates and photos of your garden progressing through the seasons.

  2. Aren't bulbines wonderful!! Just discovered them last year thanks to a pass-a-long from a friend. I have added many more and they all did well through the winter.

    Weather is wonderful...just itching to hit the nurseries to add a few plants.

  3. Glad to hear you are enjoying your grass-free landscape. It looks beautiful and can only get better as this great gardening weather continues. I'm lovin' your Walters.

  4. Mariella, You should see Big Walter right now. Spectacular! Glad to hear the Little Walters will get bigger; hopefully they won't be dwarfed by the beautyberry and Simpson's stoppers around them.

    SiestaSister, I'm with you. Trying to keep my "itchy planting fingers" under control, at least till the USF Spring Plant Sale in early April for some replacement butterfly plants. That is the only bed that received significant cold damage.

    NanaK, Our grass-free yard really is less maintenance! I wasn't sure, since this is all new to me, but the Florida-Friendly approach -- especially "Right Plant, Right Place" -- really works. I know not everyone wants to ditch grass entirely, but for us, with no kids and so much shade that made growing turf ultra-challenging, it made perfect sense. I'll pass along the love to the Walters Big and Little.

  5. It definitely is the best time of the year, and your garden is looking great. My favorite signs of spring are orange blossoms and azaleas.

  6. Susan, I love both azaleas and citrus blossoms. Every year Rick and I take a drive to the Haines City area so I can inhale the delicioius aroma of the orange blossoms in the nearby groves. That time is fast approaching this year! I think I'll combine the orange-sniffing tour this year with a return visit to Bok Tower Gardens.

  7. Nanette,
    It's all very pretty and well-designed. Your grass-free zones are indeed looking like spring.Your big Walter's tree is amazing already! Gotta love the free mulch.

    I don't recall if you mentioned it before... did you all plant any native sensitive plant, mimosa strigillosa as a ground cover? I'm wondering what you think of it if you did.

    People are always asking me if it's more trouble to have so many planting beds and I always say no. I don't quite feel as care free as you as I still put in lots of hours keeping them up. But even that's hard to measure since I'm constantly adding more beds. :-)

  8. We didn't plant any mimosa, though I think it's so pretty. I think it likes more sun than it will get in most of my yard. I am using the plants themselves as groundcovers, and when they fill in they should create that mass I'm hoping to achieve (like your gorgeous yard, Meems. The liriope is really starting to spread out and give me that lush dense look. I do have jasmine minima in one strip along my driveway, and I am actually using some chenille plant in the back. I love that little clumping plant with its caterpillar-puff red flowers. The chenille plant made it through winter fine and is now going to town so I'm thinking a trip to Crowley's to get more is in order.

    The one maintenance issue I have is weeds -- one weed, actually, those little clovers that pop up everywhere. I have really good weed mat under a lot of my beds (I just cut through to plant which I think has helped keep weeds down), but those clovers grow in ANYTHING. They are sprouting in my oyster shell pathways which are completely lined with weed mat. I am hand pulling them and they are my biggest pain. When it rains about a million of them pop up overnight, which is another reason I think I'll put more chenille plant in as a groundcover.

  9. Your yard looks lovely. Isn't it wonderful to have more time to garden and less time to maintain the grass? Lucky you! I'll have to look for that bulbine at the Spring Obsession next weekend. Thanks for sharing.