Archive for the Flowers Category


Posted in Flowers with tags , , , on August 15, 2011 by PickMeYard

We tend to gravitate toward growing edibles in our yard.  If we’re going to take the time and money to feed, water, protect, nurture and whisper sweet nothings to our trees and plants, then we’d like to get something in return.  Vitamins and other nutrients are the goal from our edibles, but we’ll settle for flavor sometimes.

Our ylang-ylang tree (Cananga odorata) doesn’t give us any edible delights, but this tree gets a free pass in our yard anytime.  It provides us with the most extraordinary and divine flowers we’ve ever known.  Just one cut flower in the center of our table makes the house smell better than any store-bought “smell-good” ever could.  My husband couldn’t believe how great the house smelled when he came home the other day.  It was aromatherapy at its finest.

A highly aromatic ylang-ylang flower.

I planted two small ylang-ylang trees in our yard about four years ago.  I knew I was taking a risk by trying to grow them in our zone because they’re so sensitive to frost, but I had to try. We’ve had some unusually cold winters in our zone 9b over the past few years and it kept damaging the young ylang-ylang trees.  I didn’t cover them or help protect them from the cold in any way.  The trees survived though and would recover from the cold and frost each year.  By the time our Florida rainy season would start in the summer, the trees looked like they’d never seen a cold day.  It seems like we waited forever for them to flower.  We were wondering if they ever would.

It was such a wonderful surprise this summer to find the trees full of flowers.  To stand under the tree is intoxicating and heavenly.  It was definitely worth the wait and our family is in complete agreement about that!

A medium sized ylang-ylang tree in our yard.

Picking a ylang-ylang flower.

A close-up of a ylang-ylang flower.

A young ylang-ylang flower developing on the branch.

A cluster of ylang-ylang flowers.

The flowers are hard to spot on the tree.

Ylang-ylang flowers in different stages of developement on the branch.

The kids enjoying the scent of a ylang-ylang flower.

Click on for a more on this special tree…  their site has a wealth of information.

Come grow with us!

Florida Roses

Posted in Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by PickMeYard
The roses on the left are ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Mr. Lincoln’ on the right.

About 3 years ago, I decided to create a fragrance garden in our yard.   The focal point is a beautiful michelia champaca tree.  I have gardenia bushes and several edible jasmines too.  However, nothing overshadows the beautiful rose bushes.  They’re always the shining stars of the fragrance garden.  They bloom all year round in Southwest Florida.

My favorite roses to grow in our hot and humid zone 9b are ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and ‘Mr. Lincoln’.  They’re grafted onto ‘Fortuniana’ rootstock and grow great in Southwest Florida.  They both bloom constantly and have a heavenly fragrance.  Click here for more information on Florida rose rootstock.

Mr. Lincoln long-stem roses from my fragrance garden.

I dead-head my rose bushes constantly, so they do require maintenance.  This allows them to focus their energy on growing more flowers.      They require a lot of fertilizer in Southwest Florida too.  It’s recommended to feed them monthly.  I use a time-release fertilizer on them, plus lots of rabbit poop and old coffee grinds.  It is ideal to plant them in full sun.  Nelson’s Florida roses  are my favorite choice.   

I only have two varieties of rose growing in my garden, but I have several bushes of each.  I always have extremely fragrant blooms to bring inside for our enjoyment.  I love that I don’t have to buy fresh flowers all the time.  My daughter likes to nibble on the petals and I don’t have to worry about what they’ve been sprayed with.  Since I grow them, I know  they are completely free of chemicals and she can munch to her heart’s content.  Sometimes I add the petals to a jar of sugar.  It gives the sugar a lovely and light floral flavor.  I use the petals as garnishes too.

When I think of roses, I think of the designer Betsey Johnson.  She absolutely adores roses and centers most of her designs around them.  Her colors are influenced by the rose as well.  My 4-year-old’s favorite dress is by Betsey Johnson.  I’ve never met anyone as inspired by the rose as Betsey.

A photo I took of Betsey Johnson in Jamaica in 1990 (I think). She's so fun!!

Betsey Johnson.

Betsey decorates all her surroundings with rose inspired designs and colors, not just clothes. 

Julian Lennon in a villa decorated by Betsey Johnson at Round Hill, Jamaica.

I love this photo… it’s one of my favorites.

 Roses are nostalgic for me and for so many others.  It’s no wonder that it’s one of lifes greatest symbols of love. 

My daughter smelling a 'Belinda's Dream' rose... right before she ate it.

Happy Valentines Day!

Come grow with us!

The Florida Hydrangea

Posted in Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by PickMeYard

I’ve seen beautiful hydrangeas growing in the mountains of Jamaica (the weather is very cool).  Unfortunately,  it’s not a plant I would try to grow in Southwest Florida.   Hydrangea’s like it colder than Southwest Florida can give them.  However, we have a wonderful substitute.

Mayer from Riverland Nursery  turned me onto a plant called the Seminole dombeya.  It’s also called the Florida hydrangea.  Mayer is passionate about plants and knows what to to grow in Southwest Florida.  He told me I would love this plant.  I bought two of them last year from him and planted them right away. 

The honeybees sure love it.

The bees can't get enough of these flowers.


The entire plant is buzzing with excitement. The bees bump into each other and frantically dart around.

The butterflies love it too.

A gulf fritillary butterfly on my Seminole dombeya.

I’ve also heard this plant referred to as a tropical rose hydrangea.  It’s flowers do have a delicate, rose-like aroma.  It has the most beautiful and prolific display of  hot pink flowers and blooms from November to June.  The Seminole dombeya’s a warm weather plant though.  One of my plants suffered frost damage last winter but recovered quickly.  It was a small plant and last year was an unusually cold winter for Southwest Florida.  The plants have grown quite large this year and I’m sure they will be able to handle our winters just fine from now on. 

Mayer was right, we do love this plant.   My kids visit it daily to study all the honeybees on it and to see what else will show up.  It has some pretty interesting visitors.  It is very alive with an assortment of excited (and a little intoxicated) bugs that are diligently working.  We’re enjoying this plant so much that we’ve decided we need more of them.  We’re going to try our hand at grafting it.  

I don’t recommend planting the Seminole dombeya by an entrance.  There are an enormous amount of bees, butterflies, skippers and (other bugs I can’t identify) all over the plant.  This is one of the sole reasons we love this plant so much, but I wouldn’t want to continually dodge them while trying to enter an area.  

A full shot of the Seminole dombeya.

Also called... the Florida hydrangea.

Come grow with us!

Our Family Garden: Part II

Posted in Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by PickMeYard

Flowers in Our Garden

I wanted to plant more than just vegetables this year so I dedicated an entire garden bed to flowers.  I am so glad I did because we are enjoying them immensely.  I know I will be picking flowers out of this bed for years, but I don’t mind.

Johnny Jump-Ups

The Johnny-jump-ups look like a small army of flowers standing at attention.  Grayson says they taste like lettuce.  Loring loves to pick them and we are fine with that because it keeps the new flowers coming.  Johnny-jump-ups are a cool season plant. They don’t survive a Florida summer.  However, they will re-seed themselves and jump-up again in the fall in our zone 9b.  I always use them as a garnish for the kids meals because it makes their meal more interesting.  Sometimes I float one or two in their drink.  They should only be consumed in moderation and eaten only when they are grown in your own garden without pesticides. 


The zinnias are wonderful for cutting and bringing inside.  They have added an amazing pop of color to our table.  Zinnias are a warm weather flower and are best grown from seed because they don’t transplant well.  They come in every color except blue and some varieties can grow up to 4 feet tall.  We are planning to save the seeds from our zinnias to continue growing them. 

She feels like a real princess with all these flowers to pick

I don’t think our garden will ever be without flowers again.  We have enjoyed them too much to be without them.


These marigolds are as big as my fist and smell like summer.  I’ve noticed that marigolds grow throughout the year in my garden. I’ve decided they should be a permanent fixture.  We’re just going to keep growing them everywhere.  There are many types of marigolds.   


The kids have been keeping a close eye on this sunflower.  They’ve been watching it transform into edible sunflower seeds.  Loring says the flower looks happy and keeps giving it kisses.  We’ve planted a whole lot more sunflowers because we want to see a lot more of them in our yard.  They seem to scream, “it’s summer!”  It is definitely a great plant to grow with kids.

We will never leave flowers off our “grow list” again.  It has been so rewarding to learn about the different varieties and watch them grow and bloom.  I think our food tastes better when we eat our meals around a vase of freshly picked flowers.

The Family Flower Picker

Come grow with us!