Hurricane Michael did a lot of damage to Steve's neighborhood at Lake Talquin but he's OK and his place is mostly intact. We wish him and all of our fellow Floridians a speedy recovery and quick restoration of power. I've been living in Kentucky so I'm fine and look forward to returning to the area next year. I miss Florida now more than ever. Be good and grow. Jack
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is a handsome North American native that tolerates a range of soil conditions (including wet conditions), is seldom bothered by pests, and its leaves make a colorful autumn display - even in the Deep South. However, the spiny dangleball fruits are a bummer to clean up and even worse to step on in bare feet.
Depending on weather, the little southern turkey oak (Quercus laevis) will have brilliant scarlet leaves one autumn and dull red-brown leaves the next. But there are many other species that gardeners in the Deep South can plant that will produce spectacular fall foliage displays most every year. More tree species with colorful autumn leaves for The South:
Visit Floridata's Master Plant List with filter set to Fall Foliage Plants to see more species whose leaves turn in autumn.
If I were spending the winter down South I would be planting a winter vegetable garden. I'm in Northern Kentucky now but I might plant a few of these anyway - last season I harvested arugula and Bibb lettuce all winter even though it was pretty cold and I didn't take very good care of them... Read profile »
Here are a few winter vegetables that that I love and that the deer hate:
The deer like these as much as I do and always decimate my crop before I manage a single taste but I usually planted them anyway:
Steve lives in North Florida (Zone 8) where he maintains an All Year Vegetable Garden. We send our prayers and wishes for the best of luck to Steve and his neighbors for a speedy recovery from ravages of Hurrican Michael.
Steve grows shiitake mushrooms on lengths of water oak log. He sent this picture of his mushroom garden (download large version), just refreshed by a passing rain show. They are nutritious and delicious and you can easily Grow Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms.
Back home in North Florida (Zone 8), the Mexican bush sage is blooming now along with the big yellow forsythia sage and a pretty pink autumn sage that looks pretty boring most of the time but makes up for it at this time of year. Members of the genus Salvia are often referred to collectively as the "sages". While many gardeners are familiar with the bedding annual, scarlet sage (S. splendens), there are many other ornamental Salvia species to consider.
The familiar culinary sage (Salvia officinalis), of turkey dressing fame and other savory dishes, is a hardy perennial (to Zone 5). In addition, this easy-growing plant produces beautiful blue blossoms in summer. Here is a sampler of just a few of the Salvia species profiled at Floridata:
Japanese hornbeam (Carpinus japonica) is a smallish deciduous tree. Its compact form, handsome profile and interesting fruits make Japanese hornbeam a suitable landscaping choice for small spaces. This low maintenance little tree is ideal for shady areas under big pines or oaks in USDA Zones 4-8. Read the profile »
Here are two other Carpinus species that you can read about at Floridata:
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
You'll find more links on our Articles and Resources page.
Look for mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), a North American wildflower, blooming along roadsides, ditches and fencerows at this time of year. Mistflower native range extends from New Jersey, west to Wisconsin and Kansas, and south to Texas and Florida.
In late summer the orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) in my garden will have a sudden growth spurt (some get 7 feet tall!). They then burst into full bloom creating a colorful mini-jungle of yellow and orange. This annual is very easy to grow and attracts swarms of bees and butterflies for food and fun.
Spotted horsemint (Monarda punctata) is another native American wildflower that you can see blooming at this time of year. It is native to eastern North America from Vermont to Minnesota and south to Florida, eastern Texas and Mexico. It grows on road shoulders, in old fields and thin woods, and in disturbed areas. Click to download a large version (800x600) of this image for a closer look at the actual spotted flowers hidden beneath the pretty purplish bracts.
Brassica oleracea var. acephala includes both collards and kale including several ornamental selections with particularly colorful or otherwise interesting leaves that are planted in mild-climate winter gardens often with other frostproof ornamentals like pansies (Viola x Wittrockiana) and dusty miller (Senecio cineraria). This pretty purple one is one of the 'Peacock Series' with lacy, colorful leaves that are particularly showy. Download a large version (800x600) of this image.
This is another member of the showy 'Peacock Series' of ornamental kale Brassica oleracea var. acephala. These things remind me of undersea corals and I would like to plant some but they would remind the deer of food. Download a large version (800x600) of this very attractive vegetable to display on your desktop.
Plant bulbs like daffodils (those are 'Ice Follies' daffodils in the photo), tulips and hyacinths this fall (now!) for beautiful flowers next spring. Those living in the Deep South and similar warm climates have best success with the daffodils (Narcissus spp., includes jonquils, narcissus, etc.). Read the article and then check out Floridata's Narcissus spp. Profile.
More fall-planted bulbs for your spring garden:
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