Monday, September 26, 2011

Tour of Native Landscapes

This past weekend I went on a tour of native plant landscapes sponsored by the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. This annual event is a self-guided tour of homes featuring all or mostly native plants. The tour is two days -- with South Pinellas homes on Saturday and North Pinellas locations on Sunday. Last year I did the South Pinellas tour -- this year I decided to see what homeowners in North Pinellas are up to, figuring that their climate, soils and plant selections would be more similar to my Tampa landscape.

On any garden tour, It's always inspiring to see what clever, creative ideas other gardeners are implementing that I might want to "borrow" myself. I always take photos to jog my memory later when I'm looking for an interesting planting scheme or a new way to use yard art.

This tour has the special twist of featuring an amazing variety of native plants -- most of which, sadly, can be only be purchased from a native plant nursery or grown from cuttings or seeds bestowed by generous native-loving friends (which is how I got most of my more unusual natives).

I tend to prefer landscapes with structure and design, and I found plenty to like on the North Pinellas tour, like this inviting natural path in a Clearwater back yard lined with firebush, beautyberry, tropical sage and ironweed.

I was also captivated by the charming seating area at this home, framed by an arbor bursting with coral honeysuckle, a favorite nectar source of hummingbirds.
Water features were present at almost all the homes. I loved this waterfall cascading down to a quiet pool bordered by ferns, salvias and other overhanging plants that give it a lush, tropical feel.
Or this large, beautyberry-fringed pond at a Safety Harbor home.
At the tour stop in Oldsmar, I admired the way the owners blended the natural vegetation -- pines and palmettoes -- with unusual natives like Lizard's tail and even exotics like crinum lilies and orchids. The landscape islands were bisected by a beautiful, curving brick walkway.
Who wouldn't want to sit here and just enjoy the scenery?
Or wander down the brick walkways and explore some more?
Yard art aficionado that I am, you know I honed right in on these whimsical little slippers planted with lovely native wood violets.
I don't think my own yard will ever be entirely native -- there are just so many wonderful non-native but Florida-adapted choices available -- but I love mixing the natives into my garden. They can't be beat for toughness and resilience, and our native butterflies and birds often prefer or even require them. As time goes on, I am bringing more natives, especially wildflowers like this dotted horsemint, into my landscape, joining the tropical sage, scorpion tail, mistflowers and narrow-leaved sunflowers in my Bay-Friendly plant palette.


  1. What a lovely tour that must have been. Thanks for sharing. Love the slippers!

  2. I adore the slippers too, Daisy! Wonder if she sprayed anything on them to keep them disintegrating? Darn. I should have asked!!

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. I am going to plant some slippers in my garden also. Thanks for shearing.

  4. Gardenmom, me too! I love those slippers. They were tucked in to the garden like they belonged there. I love the idea of using old household items in the garden, and now eyeing the "junk" in my shed in a whole new light.

  5. Nanette,
    I'm with you on 'structure and design' ... natives can look messy and untamed otherwise. Which works for roadsides and parks but not my garden. I really like the first photo... so naturalistic yet defined enough for a home garden. The curving brick pathway is nice, too. Thanks for taking us along on this tour... great photos. Meems

  6. Yay,Meems! Great to see you posting here. I love natives, and it makes sad when they are not showcased in a way that encourages home gardeners to use them. They can fit so beautifully in a more traditional landscape as well as in a more casual, cottage-style design.

  7. I love how the old shoes were used as a pot for that plant. The landscape is simple yet it preserved its beauty.