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Monday, July 17, 2017

A Tropical Retreat - Tropical Garden in Arkansas


What started as a love for palm trees has turned into a garden filled with lush foliage and colorful flowers. I was not sure how to pull off a tropical feel with plants that were cold hardy, but I had a vision in mind and set out to accomplish it. I have experimented with different plants and trees over the last few years and have finally found some that work. I wanted to share some of the plants that have been growing for me in zone 8 (really 7b)  Hope you enjoy a photo tour of my garden! 😊

The Windmill Palm is the only palm tree that I found to actually be cold hardy. They stay green year around, even covered in snow. I have tried the Mexican Fan, Pindo, and others that clam on the label to live in my zone, but they don't! The Needle Palm is a bush type tree that thrives here. The only bad thing is that it has very long needles around the bottom!

There are three varieties of cold hardy banana tress that I grow are: Musa basjoo, Musella lasiocarpa or dwarf banana, and Musa velutina. All will die completely back to the ground in the winter, but will sprout back up in the spring.

Musa basjoo is the largest and least hardy of the three. The roots need to be mulched through a hard winter. I usually do not do anything to them if the winter is mild. The tree will grow 5 -10' tall in one season. Sometimes, small bananas develop right before the frost gets them. This particular tree is used in pots around the house as well as in the ground.

Musella lasiocarpa typically grows to 3-5' in one  growing season and has yellow blooms. I have yet to see a bloom on mine!😞

Musa velutina has white flowers that are quickly followed by very small,hairy, pink bananas. I have heard that they are edible and sweet, though full of seeds. They are so small that I have never thought of trying one! They will reach 4 - 6' tall in one growing season. They are very hardy and multiply quickly.

This is my first year with the red banana. I'm not sure if it will survive outside all year, but I am going to give it a try. I have it in a protected area near the house where I hope to leave it all winter. I will mulch it and maybe ever add some kind of extra protection. It is a very fast growing with very large leaves.

Crape Myrtles add a brilliant pop of color in the summer!

 I love my two sun tolerant hostas! The largest one is Afterglow. It dies back in the winter, but is early to pop back up in the spring. It typically grows 24 inches tall by 48 inches wide

 The hosta "Sun Power" has a standout lime green color.

Cannas are one of my favorite plants! I love the large leaves and beautiful large flowers. I have about ten different varieties in the garden. All of them will die back in the winter.

Tropicanna Black foliage is a combination of purple and black and has a red flower. It grows about six feet tall. It is definitely a show stopper!

Hardy hibiscus are a great way to add tropical flair. White, pink, and red varieties are my favorites.

Pink Oleander bush

Ginger plants are easy to grow, cold hardy, and the blooms smell amazing! The variegated and solid with white blooms both are thriving.

Elephant Ears

Aucuba japonica, commonly called spotted laurel is an evergreen bush. It grows to about six foot tall and prefers the shade.

There were several Lily Turf plants growing around the yard when we bought the house about 12 years ago. I was not too crazy about them at the time, but saved them over the years. I am so glad that I did. I absolutely love them mixed in with the tropical plants!

I discovered by accident that Dusty Miller 'Silverdust' will live outside.. This plant is three years old and is huge!

The Cyperus Alternifolius Plant  (Umbrella Palm) reaches a height of around 4 foot.  It is claimed to be hardy here and able to reach heights of 13- 16 feet, but I have not seen this. It dies back in the winter and the growing season is not long enough to obtain much height.

Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange’ is one of my favorite plants. I fell in love with this plant on my first trip to the Florida Keys. I searched forever to find one to purchase. The only places they could be found  were wholesale sites and landscape businesses. I was finally able to locate a lady living in Florida that was selling them on eBay. It is very low maintenance and needs full sun for best coloring. It turns completely green when brought inside for the winter, but will quickly return to a beautiful orange when put back outside in the spring.

Bougainvillea and sun coleuses are in large cobalt blue pots throughout the garden and around the house for an extra pop of color.

Sun Tolerant Coleus come in so many beautiful rich colors and are able to tolerate full sun.

The black elephant ear is new for me this year. It is in a large pot that will be wintered indoors. I think they are supposed to be cold hardy in this zone, but my mother has not had any luck leaving them out through the winter.

 I hope you have enjoyed the quick walk through of my garden! 😊 It has been a battle with storms and insects lately, but I think I am beginning to get ahead!

The banana trees, gingers, and cannas are just starting to grow and fill in the area. August - October is usually when the garden is at it's peak!

Happy Gardening! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tigertail Beach - Marco Island - Naples, Florida

Tigertail Beach was a place that I had been wanting to visit for several years. It was just too far out of the way from the route we were taking on each of our road trips to Florida. Well, this time I was determined to visit.

 My husband and I were staying on Sanibel Island for several days and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity, since it would be a easy day trip from there.

I can not explain how happy I am that we went. This is now at the top of my list of favorite beaches in Florida! The water color is amazing!!! The look of the water is unlike any other beach in Florida. Standing on the beach made me feel like I was on a Caribbean island somewhere... minus the palm trees. 🌴

Wading across a shallow lagoon is the quickest way to get to the beach. The crossing area is marked with a little sign. It does get above waist deep in areas.

Once you reach the other side of the lagoon, there is a short hike down a trail to reach the beach.

I was so glad to finally be reaching the beach! I'm sure the hike seems longer if you are carrying an armload of beach stuff and it's 95 degrees...

I was shocked at the amount of shells to choose from! They say that the north tip of the beach is the best shelling, but it was a little too hot to me for us to make it that far. I tried though! 😕

I love that the water is shallow for a good distance from the shore.

Up until my visit to Marco Island, The Keys were my favorite place to just sit and look at the beautiful water. Now, Naples is in that top spot with the Keys. I think my next Florida trip might just be a week or two on Marco Island.


430 Hernando Dr
 Marco Island, FL 34145

Happy Travels! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Behind The Scenes: HER Magazine Photoshoot

I was excited to get a chance to watch a photo shoot for HER Magazine last week . To even make it more exciting, my daughter-in-law was the model!

HER is a  magazine designed primarily for women with articles about local events, fashion, stories to inspire, and other informative features. It can be found in paper copy at local business or online here.

The photos taken at Historic Washington State Park will be in an upcoming article about the Jonquil Festival. The dress she is wearing is similar to what an upper-middle class woman, of the 19th century, would have worn.

The shooting locations were the Sanders Farmstead barn and 1883 Goodlett Cotton Gin, two of my favorite places in the park. If you are interested in seeing these and other buildings at the park, you can schedule a tour here.

The 49th Annual Jonquil Festival will be held March 17 - 19, 2017. Unique crafts, entertainment, and mouthwatering food (including funnel cakes) are just some of the things that can be found throughout the park during the event. The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and  9 a.m.- 4 p.m. on Sunday. 

Ashley's beautiful hair and makeup was courtesy of Paige Martin, a makeup artist and owner of The Lace Anchor online boutique. She is also my daughter. 😊

Be sure and look for Ashley on the cover of the March issue!

Happy Reading!