I used to live next door to Maria’s house, before moving to Athens, GA, and I also grew up in Orlando so I am familiar with many of the plants that thrive in Central Florida. Maria has always gardened, as did her mother before her and I assume her mother’s mother, so on and so forth. I visited Maria’s garden in December, 2016 and every day I was there the weather was in the mid-80s (someone forgot to tell Florida it’s winter). Due to the lack of winter, the garden was quite alive!
Camellias are one of my favorite flowers in the world. Although they do not thrive in Missouri, they do quite well in Central Florida. My mom has a lovely variety of camellias in her yard and she regularly starts new ones from cuttings. Along with the beautiful variety of flowers, the foliage on camellias is quite pretty. My visit was a bit before the peak blooming period, but I still managed to see a number of beautiful flowers.
Though I love the camellias, I think that the fruits and veggies are really the stars of my mom’s garden. On her one acre of land, my mom grows food year round for her family and others. In addition to many citrus trees, she grows persimmons, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, mangos, papayas, avocados, figs, apples, etc. She also has several small vegetable garden areas. It is amazing and inspirational to see what is possible on 40,000 square feet. She also has five chickens that lay semi-regularly. One of the new and more interesting things she is growing is loofahs, like the bath sponges. I had no idea that they grew from vines! Below are several other pictures from her garden.