Posted by: paradesign | February 21, 2012

GARDENIA (jasminoides)

Gardenia boasts 60 plus species of shrubs and trees originating from ancient China. Years ago, our grandmothers prized this plant and it was found in many cottage gardens. I remember the fragrance outside and inside of my grandmother’s home in Cocoa Florida. She loving would place her prized blooms floating in shallow carnival glass bowls strategically in every room. I was taught early on, that a complement about her gardenias would guarantee a garden tour, which ended in her orange grove eating sweet fresh citrus. Gardenias appeal is timeless, and we are fortunate to be able to grow them here in our back yards. Many varieties mature and thrive in our tropical temperatures and reward us with their fragrance. Our star, jasminoides is the most widely used variety. The soft, velvety white petals are flat and rose shaped, with double tiers. They are numerous and dense and are the stars of our garden when blooming. The fragrance is memorable and exquisite, so much so it’s found in oodles of candles, healing oils, and perfumes.

We have 46 glorious Gardenia bushes dripping with blossoms. So, close your eyes and think about your special Gardenia memory. Then follow your nose to our sweet smelling garden. So many blossoms, so little time in a tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

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Posted by: paradesign | February 21, 2012



APRIL 5, 2012  at 8am  &  10am &  12n00n

Phil Marks and the Sanibel Master Gardeners  will be welcomed for a private botanical garden tour.

Posted by: paradesign | February 21, 2012



FEB 16, 2012  at 10am – 12noon

Pelican Landings Garden Club will be welcomed for a private botanical garden tour.

Posted by: paradesign | January 3, 2012

Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Exotic egret head in profile shaped flower of vibrant orange, purple, and red. The blossom is large measuring 4-5 inches tall and long. Its long stemmed dark green leaves resemble the shape of a banana plant. All growth starts at the base, the flowers are on their own stiff stalk. What a show stopper, any ornithologist would take a second look!  You can see this non winged wonder in bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Blooming, this tropical plant is a must for cut gardens, with flowers off and on thru out the year. The large substantial flowers are held above the leaves by long stiff stems. They are an explosion of feather shaped color. Petals are dark blue, sepals are bright orange, and they emerge from a vivid canoe shaped bulge at the end of the stem. All over the world, florist love to utilize our star in really beautiful arrangements. In the garden our plant is a naturally shaped shrub with banana shaped leaves and lovely birds peeking thru. The most common question I receive about our star is why isn’t mine blooming?  Here are some considerations: at least 4+ hours of sunlight with regular watering, doesn’t like continual wet feet, and it takes around five years for a plant to mature and bloom. Otherwise, they are easy to care for, everything connects at the base in a clumping manner, which can grow wider or be divided by a shovel and a little muscle. After blooming be sure to clean out the old blossoms, which will start to smell if left unattended. Maximum height for this slow grower is 5-6 feet tall, which makes it perfect for patios with a view. You may plant in full sun or filtered shade, and well drained soil.  It is a non invasive exotic with little or no pests or diseases. Great habitat plant because, birds drink from the flower bases. They are enjoying the collected water and the flowers nectar. Bird ala bird!

Pros: Great low growing shrub – Does well in wet areas – Likes full sun – can be divided and planted other places or share with neighbors – non invasive  – May have bird watcher in your garden – Salt tolerance – Will fill in unsightly areas with little effort – Birds love it!

Cons:  Needs to be separated periodically – Can get dead foliage/ trim away – Need to trim away spent blooms – Not good unless watered regularly – Annoying when they don’t bloom – Non native.

Conclusion: Bring out those binoculars-there are birds blooming in the bushes. No need to worry, they won’t fly away in our tropical eye catching garden. Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

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Posted by: paradesign | December 26, 2011

Starfruit Tree (Averrhoa carambola)

Shimmery green to orangey yellow clumping, cascading, star shaped edged, oblong fruit dripping from a small tree. The flowers can be seen simultaneously while fruiting, are dainty pink throated magenta petals which are attached with bright red stalks.  How can these tiny- tiny flowers transform into this celebrative shape fruit?  Magic!  Just sprinkle some twinkle in your toes and come see Starfruit adorning our tree at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Our tree is about 20 feet tall but can reach 30 feet high. It has a natural shape, slow-growing with textured, dappled gray, trunk and limbs. The spirally arranged leaves are quite lucent and appear glowing green. They do a great job of hiding the treasured fruit with their dense arrangement. You really don’t notice the fruit until you stand directly under the canopy.  We always select the ripe ones, which are glowing bright orange.  We utilize a hand held fruit picker to reach the fruit. It has a long extendable pole with a wire basket on one end. The basket is deep with a small claw around its edge to aid in trapping any fruit.  We are fortunate to have Starfruit in varying stages of maturity about 9 months out of the year. Its taste reminds me of a waxy, mildly sweet combo of apple, pineapple, and kiwi fruit. How do you eat a Starfruit?  First you wash it real good, and then you slice it horizontally starting at one end on to the other end.  Wha-laa !!!

Pros: Unique exotic fruit – Likes full sun – Attractive when fruiting or non fruiting – Insect damage minimal – Easy to maintain/prune – May get the urge to throw more parties – Drought tolerant – Earn some extra pocket money selling fruit – Compact tree for a small space – Lots and lots of fruit – Even if you don’t like the taste everyone enjoys the shape of the fruit.

Cons: Daily clean up oodles of fruit after windy day – Non Native status – Neighbors may be stealing fruit when your not looking – Low salt tolerance – Slow grower – 3-5 years to bear fruit

Starfruit is a party waiting to happen. The best place for any Starfruit is on your party platter; well it also looks good on this gorgeous tree. You got to see, this fruit tree dripping constellations of celestial orange in our paradise garden.

Don’t wanna miss this fruiter!

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