Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Plants from Up North Are Nice, but Florida Has Winners, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Plants from Up North Are Nice, but Florida Has Winners, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: Elizabeth Seney, Shorelines columnist

I received a pleasant surprise in the mail the other day. A friend from my old hometown sent me a package of photos she took this spring after I commented to her about how much I missed the springtime bulbs and cherry blossoms that bloomed in my front yard up north.

As a result of our conversation, my friend took a walk with her camera down my old street, snapping photos of delicate pink blossoms holding desperately onto the branches of a cherry tree, seemingly aware that a gust of wind or heavy rain would threaten their hold. She took pictures of proud golden daffodils lording over fading purple crocuses that so gallantly weathered, weeks earlier, the freeze the area always delivers just when residents, both indoors and out, think that winter is gone for good. And she took pictures of blushing tulips that would make the rubber-banded bunches I spent the spring impulsively buying in the grocery pale in comparison.

When my family and I moved from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to North Florida 10 years ago, there was precious little that I missed. Old friends and familiar flora were tops on my short list. I stay in touch with old friends through frequent phone calls and e-mails, but the soft Kentucky bluegrass and spring flowers are things of my dreams.

My reality now is hardy St. Augustine grass, pretty to look at, miserable to walk barefoot on. It's towering, spindly pine trees that threaten to snap when hurricane-force winds skirt the area. It's palms that I thought were absolutely fabulous until I realized how frequently they need trimming to look neat. It's the exotic beauty of hibiscus, poinsettia and bougainvillea and the fragrant gardenia and jasmine, plants that up north are grown in hot houses and arrive in homes and hospitals during the holidays wrapped in bright foil with a ribbon. …

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