Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Florida, the land of flowers, has long lured visitors to exotic tropical gardens with beautiful plants. Just count the old attractions with the word "Gardens" in the name: Cypress Gardens, Sunken Gardens, McKee Jungle Gardens, Everglades Tropical Gardens, Bok Tower Gardens, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Busch Gardens, etc.
Today there is a movement in Florida to just plant native species of plants as they are drought tolerant and ideally suited hosts for native species like butterflies. But what do you do with tropical non-native plants you really, really like? Well in the case of one giant bird of paradise, the best option for me was to cut it down. Planted by one of my house's previous owners, this plant created a wonderful green wall between our porch and our neighbors house. Unfortunately it was also 2 stories tall and growing right into the power lines and on both sides of the privacy fence. Its leaves touched the house and overlapped the roof. And to see its beautiful exotic flowers of this plant that is native to South Africa, one had to look over top of our home. Looking like a banana tree on steroids, its thin stalks had grown into trunks.
So I instructed the tree trimming service to cut it down. But a the last minute, I had him leave some of the smaller clumps. If I'm not diligent, it will soon be over the house again. I want to do what's right for the environment, but I'm still tempted, like those who came before me, by the exotic, tropical side of La Florida.