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So… here’s a beginning post on Florida gardening – on my trip back to Kansas!  I went back with my oldest daughter and my twins to see my parents (who still live in my childhood home) and my sister’s family (in from Brooklyn).  My sister had her newest sprout, who is just 8 weeks old, and beautiful.  I also got to see my dearest best friend, Maria, although not as much as I would have liked.   (We used to live on the same street, so it may never be that good again. )

With me I took some Florida roots.  I dug up some elephant ear roots, and also took some ornamental ginger roots (looks like dancing girl ginger, but not sure if it is.  They’re from my friend Luisa, who is a dancing girl herself.)  My mom has always had elephant ears.  She keeps them in pots, and puts them in her shed in the winter, since they don’t survive the cold winters.  I was supposed to take some agapanthus and red lips kalanchoe, too, which I forgot.  We’ll be home in July, again, though, so I’ll have another chance.

And while we were there, we spent lots of time in the yard.  The kids always say, after a day of playing in Grandma’s yard, “I wish we lived in Kansas!”  Not something you hear from most Floridians, but mine are transplants.  I couldn’t help but take some pictures around the yard. (These are by no means all the cool things in her yard, but you’ll get an idea.)

My beautiful mom standing by pin oaks that were planted when I was in 1st (maybe 2nd?) grade, and by some lovely roses.  I love this path, and the native (to Kansas) limestone that defines the flower beds.  (The flat, yellowish rocks.)  I wish we had some pretty native rocks readily available here in Florida.

The cousins are burning off some energy in Grandma’s back yard.  A small peek at all the sedums and thymes (asparagus in the back) that mom put by her pond, which I adore.  Here’s a closer look at that.

Sedums by the pond.

Sedums, thymes, and asparagus by the pond. (And Mom weeding.)

When we lived in Kansas City, Mom used to send plants home with me all the time.  And, just like then, I flew back with a big box full of starts!  We walked around the yard with a trowel and shovel, and I said “yes” to just about everything she offered.  I may have asked for a few things, too…  Yes, some of these sedums and thymes came home with me.  (Yay!)

Mom has put a lot of sedums in around her yard, because of their heat and drought tolerance, their ease of propogation (like here in Florida – break off a piece and stick it in the dirt), and the beautiful colors they turn in the fall.  (Mom took a picture last fall by the pond.  If I get a hold of it, I’ll post it.)  Here are some more places that mom has sedums.

An old spreader with sedum.

A corner of pots teams with sedums. A clematis climbs the fence in the corner. The flamingos are cute! An reminder of the old days at the yacht club.

Something I didn’t bring home, sadly, were hostas.  I heart hostas.

Hosta with a bloom coming.

Variegated hostas amid pretty companions.

Here is a Harry Lauder walking stick.  It’s a nice large tree.  Mom sent some cuttings, just to see if they would start here.  We like to experiment.

Something familiar here…  A Florida native happy in Kansas.  Inside that bush (roses and clematis, I think) along the fence was a cardinal nest, with two little eggs.  (Not pictured.  They like their privacy.)

Planters of transendentia overlook the pond and backyard.

And another of my favorites, that came home – hardy geraniums.  The leaves have such a pretty, delicate shape.

Hardy geraniums in the center of the mix.

Another fun find, of which there is no photo, is the purple perilla.  Mom always called it purple basil, but someone at a farmer’s market told her it was perilla.  And funny enough, I already knew that!  It looks just like the green perilla my friend Janet gave me, and has the same anise flavor.  I also have a pretty variegated one from Annie’s Garden shop.  The purple grows like a weed in Kansas just like the green does here in Florida, but I brought it home anyway.  The purple is so pretty.

When my mom dug up starts, she left a little dirt and clay on the starts. We wrapped some of them in moist newspapers, and put them in plastic grocery sacks.  (Some we just put in the bags.)  The sacks went into a cardboard box, which we taped shut but not airtight.  When we came in from the flight, I opened the box, and everything looked perfectly fresh!  Not stressed at all.  Then it rained on the box, and they all looked just about as good the next day at planting time.  It will be interesting to see how much of it will make it here.  There are a few things I didn’t really know (or maybe didn’t remember),  and more than a few things I’d be sad to lose – like bloody sorrel, hardy geranium, a low-growing ornamental ginger that she got from my Aunt Lois in Minnesota, and an start of arum.

So, if anyone reading this knows how to grow any of these plants in Florida, please comment below!  Especially the sedum.  I don’t see it around here much, but it seems like it would do well, like the kalanchoes.

Oh, and guess what my husband did while I was gone?  He re-sodded the front yard.  It really makes all the new beds I put in the front yard look so much better!  (And there was a lot less sod needed, since I mulched so much of the yard for new beds.)   I’ll do some “before and later”  (since there’s still lots of work to do) pictures later.

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