Saturday, April 4, 2020

Gardening in Florida Chinoiserie Style

Carolyne Roehm

I love gardening and really fell in love with the bones of my Florida property - a very large corner lot with a huge lanai and pool sited right on a lake, with mature live oaks and gorgeous palm trees. Unfortunately, the divorced man who owned the property had really ignored the garden and it was in poor shape when I moved in - even had the painted red mulch!

Well fast forward a few months of my watering, fertilizing, pruning, and general TLC and the yard is gorgeous. I was able to keep everything I had and filled in bare spots with a camellia bed, large Eugenia topiaries, agave, bromeliads, and topped everything with nice dark brown double shredded hardwood mulch.

Now comes the fun part. I am really enjoying using blue and white Chinese porcelain outdoors here in Sarasota. So far, I have used primarily ginger jars and garden stools, but would love to add some boxwoods in blue and white Chinese planters.

Two problems - English boxwoods don't grow here in South Florida and I don't have drainage holes in my blue and white Chinese porcelain containers. I take the palms out of my blue and white Chinese porcelain fishbowls to water them. Fun fact - I chose Areca palms because I live on Areca Boulevard. Every street where I live is named after a palm.

1. Has anyone successfully drilled drainage holes in Chinese porcelain? Tips?

2. What is a good substitute for English boxwood in South Florida? Perhaps Japanese boxwood?

Next question for you gardening experts. I have three of these shrubs in my garden and they were in horrible shape when I moved in. I debated yanking them. Now they are looking much better - but what are they? Beautyberry perhaps? They have small white flowers at the end of arching stems that turn into berries/fruit as you can see. The leaves look like variegated dogwood but the flowers and berries are not consistent. My best guess as I said is Variegated Beautyberry - perhaps Callicarpa Dichomata????



And next subject.....

When I moved in, the flower bed in the lanai was pathetic with 2 dying ferns. I decided to see what a little TLC would do for them. Now I have a bed with dozens of ferns, some almost 4 feet tall. And it has turned into a little resort for lots of my gecko friends - their correct named is Brown Anoles. I even have babies. The top one pictured below has become my buddy and pops out of the ferns whenever I am over there and listens to me talk to him - they hear and see very well. I even put a blue and white Chinese porcelain water bowl there for them.







12 comments:

  1. Hey, that looks just like my garden, hahaha. it is exquisite. The plant you have is not beauty berry. The beauty berry we grow in FL is busy like a large shrub with strong erect branches and has purple/violet berries along the stem. Your plant looks like a variety of Durante golden mound. Yours looks like a variegated vining type that flowers and then puts on yellow/gold berries. I have grown the low chartreuse hedging type that has very few blossoms, and the light green that grows into a standard w/profuse lavender blooms that become gold berries. these are brittle and leggy in need of regular hard pruning. I would cut mine back to no foliage a couple times a year usually before the hot summers when I prefer air conditioning. I'd be afraid to drill a porcelain but recommend using a bit for china if you do. I love boxwood too & have grown it in hedge or ball form but it's finicky & dies suddenly, the best alternative I've seen is Eugenia used at Disney World. the conicals are readily available but the name escapes me. your garden is lovely. glorious weather right now whilst we're all homebound. Pamela

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    1. Pamela - Thank you so much! Being new to Florida, these tropicals are all brand new to me. You are correct - it is a Duranta Variegata. Eugenia would definitely work - I put in very large triple ball and spiral ones and they are doing beautifully. Lowe's and Home Depot have many topiaried forms. Thanks again for all your advice.

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  2. Lamp makers take porcelain and glass jars and drill holes in them to wire them - you might ask at a lamp shop if they would consider drilling your pots for drainage. I don't know if that is beautyberry or not - plants have "local" names sometimes but I know that what we call beautyberry here is highly poisonous to dogs (and children too) Love the little bowl for the lizards. We have a condo time share in The Keys and love watching the lizards!

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    1. Thanks. I believe it is Duranta from another comment I received and it is highly poisonous - the leaves and berries have killed cats, dogs, and children - yikes!

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  3. Maureen (Osprey, FL)April 4, 2020 at 2:12 PM

    You need to connect with my friend, Debbie Benedict in SRQ. You two have a lot in common: style, blogging, gardening, etc. www.debbibenedict.com She can make some excellent suggestions for gardening and also local vendors who can help you with drilling of holes in porcelain. We do have a kind of "boxwood" that does well here in SW FL.

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    1. Thanks so much. I just checked out her blog. I would love to connect with her.

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  4. Hi Beth, I would use Gardenias instead of boxwood. They should grow well in Florida, they are glossy evergreen and give you the most divine flowers to pick and bring inside and scent your whole house. You can get small leaved ones, medium sized or ones that will grow tall so look around. They like a dose of Epsom salts if the leaves start to yellow in late spring. You can clip them to keep them in a good shape. Love your friendly lizard. If you find any snails or slugs I am sure that he will appreciate the gift.

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    1. I love this idea. I have a dozen jasmine behind my lanai and the scent is incredible. I would adore gardenia. Thank you!!!!!

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  5. So so pretty! I asked an expert and he said you should buy a 'glass drill bit' in a hardware store to make those holes in the bottom. He said you can very easily do it but don't press too hard when you are drilling--gentle does it. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks so much. I will do that and experiment with an expendable one first so I get it right. Much appreciated!

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  6. I'm sure you can drill holes in porcelain. You just have to use the right drill bit. I think it's cute that you have created a little "spa" for the geckos, Beth. The blue and white porcelain looks fabulous with green. I can't wait to see how everything turns out.

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    1. Thanks so much. I love animals large and small. One gecko actually emerges every time I go out to interact with me. It's amazing.

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