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Showing posts from May, 2011
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When Good Plants Go Bad
 Assigning the term "weed" is a really subjective thing, mostly. The bulk of the gardeners out there use the term casually ( kill it ! It's a weed ! ), among all the other colorful phrases that go with weed incursions into a garden or landscape. If you ask 10 gardeners what defines a weed, you will likely get at least 6 different answers. A lifetime ago in college, I heard the best definition of all: 'weeds are plants growing out of place'.  This is, in my opinion, the best of all definitions, since what makes a weed in my garden may be a valuable plant in yours, just across the street. We have removed a great many Cluster Fishtail Palms at Pinecrest Gardens to remove the sources of itchy seeds and rampant growth that comes with this species. Across the street in a different environment, the plant is a valuable landscape specimen. In many lectures I make the point that the fabulous Royal Poinciana Tree is a gorgeous, valuable tree in almost…
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The Joy Tree


Michelia alba, the Joy Tree

Normally I would not single out a species for this blog, but there are some plants which captivate everyone who sees them. I have visited many public gardens and I could construct a short list of plants that have a huge "wow" factor to them. Some of these plants are temperate, such as Tuberous Begonias, Camellias, Peonies, Fuchsias and Meconias, but some are tropical. Unfortunately, not all really spectacular species can grow in South Florida for the long term.One of the flashiest trees of all is the legendary lady Amherst Tree, Amherstia nobilis, but the tree is so temperamental that the closest most people will get to seeing one is in a book.Some species, however, actually are good landscape plants, and the Joy Tree is one of them.
Some years ago, I encountered a Joy Tree, Michelia alba. I was smitten immediately by its fragrance, a rich but light mix of jasmine, peach, and fresh bananas. This tree is now considered by some taxonomi…