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Sunday, August 11, 2019

How to Have a Tropical Garden in a Non-Tropical Zone

                                                                                                     (Photo: early Summer)
I love to travel and have big dreams of living in a tropical location one day, but until then I will make my paradise in Arkansas.


                                                                                                    (Photo: mid-summer)
This is my fifth year having a "tropical" garden in Arkansas (border of zone 7b & 8a). Let's start with just facing the facts though, you cannot have true tropical plants lower than zone 10. So how do I have a tropical garden? Lots of creativity and thought. Many different plants have come and gone over the years.


                                                                                                                 (Photo:early summer)
The first step is to find cold hardy plants and trees that look tropical but are cold tolerant. The key to a tropical look is something with large colorful leaves. If you can't spot the plant from across the garden center, it is not going to work. 😀 Think of the flowers on the plant as a bonus and just look at the foliage.



Some of my cold tolerant trees and plants:


                                                                                                               (Photo: early Summer)
Loquat tree 

Hardy from zone 7-10

Medium growth rate
Looks very tropical
Does not require much care
Some of the leaves turn yellow and fall off in the hot summer no matter how much you water it!



                                                                                                                (Photo: mid Summer) Windmill Palm

Cold tolerant down to zone 7
The snow doesn't seem to bother them here.
This is the only palm that I have found to survive the winters here.
Put a little slow release fertilizer on them in spring for extra growth. They will do fine without it.


                                                                                                (Photo: early to mid Summer)
Banana Trees

Three varieties of cold hardy banana tress grow here: Musa basjoo, Musella lasiocarpa or dwarf banana, and Musa velutina. All will die completely back to the ground in the winter, but will put up new trees from the roots in the spring. The stem will live if you cut it back and wrap in the fall.



                                                                                                            (Photo: mid Summer)
Cyperus Alternifolius Plant  (Umbrella Palm)

Hardy to zone 7
Easy care
Dies back to the ground in the winter, but returns with vigor
   and will grow to about six foot by then end of summer
Clumping



                                                                                                                      (Photo: early Summer)
Lily Turf

Hardy to zone 5
Easy care
Fairly drought tolerant, I only have to water occasionally




                                                                                                       (Photo: late spring)
                                                     
Canna Lily

Hardy to zone 7 or more
They come is many colors, flowers and foliage
Die back to ground in winter
I fight with leaf rollers all spring and summer on these, but they are worth it.



                                                                                                                     (Photo: early Summer)
Hardy Hibiscus

Some are cold tolerant to zone 4
They die back in the winter and put out new growth in the spring.
Insects love them
If it's a really humid summer, mine get a black mold/fungus on them sometimes.


                                                                                                         
Calla Lily

Cold tolerant to zone 8, but they do fine here
Available in many colors
Bloom in spring only




Bougainvillea

Hardy to zone 9. With that being said, I do have these in the ground and they come back without being mulched for me.

                                                                                                                (Photo: late spring)
Quick Fire Hydrangea

Hardiness Zones 3a - 8b
Bloom out white then turn pink



                                                                                              (Photo: early summer) Pineapple Lily

Hardy to zone 8, but they do fine in the ground here




                                                                                                             (Photo: late spring)

Bush Clematis


Hardy 3b-7b
They are a little picky about the heat here. They don't look great by the end of summer.






Variegated Yucca


Hardy to -30 to -35 Fahrenheit (-34 to -37 C.)



                                                                                                                    (Photo: late spring)
Next, if you are like me, you will find the cold tolerant plants didn't quite give that resort feel you were looking for, so you go for the true topicals. I fell in love with Aechmea blanchetiana bromelaids (the big orange ones) my first trip to the Florida Keys. They are not easy to find for sale, even in Florida. I finally found a lady selling them from her yard and got one. Since then, I have order different kinds from Florida Nurseries and Puerto Rico. I feel like these bromeliads have made the biggest impact in the garden. They are fairly easy to grow and are easy to move indoors in the winter. I am writing a post on their care soon and will share the link here when I post. My mother lives next door, so I can put most of my plants in there. Some of them I bring into my sunroom.

Some of my favorite tropicals: 


                                                                                                                (Photo: early summer)
Aechmea blanchetiana bromelaids



Aechmea blanchetiana bromelaid and Neoregelia Petra bromeliad


                                                                                                                               (Photo: early summer)
Aechmea Blanchetiana 'Lemonade'



Neoregelia  Maria Bromeliad

The bromeliads are in pot in the ground. I just move the mulch back, loosen the pot, and take them inside for the winter.


Orchids




Purple Turmeric



Pineapple plant

These can easily be grown from a pineapple purchased at the store. Just cut the top off and plant in a pot. I put the pot in the ground for the summer.









Coleus

Coleuses are one of my favorite ways to add a huge pop of color. They can easily be rooted from cuttings and carried inside for the winter.




Lastly, add accents that give the feel you want. My taste is a mix between Florida and Bali (with a few other counties thrown in). 😁 Don't be afraid to mix looks! It's your garden and if it makes you happy, use it!



My garden decor: Planters, torches, statues, bamboo wind chimes, bird baths, and lanterns






Fertilizers

I use a slow release fertilizer in the spring and again in the middle of summer. In addition to that, I use liquid Miracle Gro every two weeks during the middle of the summer when it’s so hot and humid. This may sound like way too much, but the plants get so stressed and need these extra nutrients. Crazy, I know, but it helps! On the banana trees, I add about a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the fertilizer mixture once a month or when they look  a little yellow and wilted. This is just what works for where I live and will need to be adjusted for your area.



The plants listed above are just some of the many in my garden. If you see something that I didn't mention and have a question, just ask. 😊 Hope you get inspired to create your own paradise! 





Happy Gardening! 


*Link to blog post two years ago to see more plants
https://www.livelifebehappytravel.com/2017/07/tropical-garden-in-arkansas.html























Monday, July 15, 2019

Charming Alabama Town with Storybook Castles


Located on the shoreline of Mobile Bay, Fairhope’s charm and inviting atmosphere make it the perfect place to visit. This is one of Alabama’s most overlooked cities and by far, my favorite. I love that everyone you meet will treat you like family! It is the perfect little bayside town!

I am sharing some of our favorite spots from our visits below.



Fairhope Municipal Pier



The pier is the perfect place for a relaxing walk, especially at sunset.


Address:

Located at the end of Fairhope Avenue where it meets North Beach Road



North Beach Park



North Beach Park has a long stretch of clean sand. It is located just north of the Municipal Pier.
I think there is a fee for use, but I can not local it anywhere online. We went early morning in March, so no one was there collecting.



 Fairhope Avenue





Fairhope Avenue is the town square with shopping and dinning in a historical district.



Fairy tale Castles


These castles are an unusual sight for the gulf coast and awesome to see in person. You can schedule a tour of the homes here.   
Some construction was happening on the castles when we were there last, so they will even be more interesting!



Sheldon Storybook Castle



I just found out that you can stay at this castle! I will have to check into doing this soon! Here is the Air BnB link



Mosher Castle





Tolstoy Park, The Henry Stuart House





This unique domed hut was constructed in 1925 by Henry Stuart. The house is only around 14 feet in diameter and is built 2 feet into the ground.

Address:

22787 US-98, Fairhope, AL 36532

Turn west onto Parker road and then turn right into the first driveway. It is located among offices that look like apartment. The GPS will take you into the other end of the area and get you lost!

Admission:

Free and open all the time



Fairhope French Quarter





A small New Orleans inspired area with specialty restaurants, boutiques, and gift shops.

Address: 

40 S Section St, Fairhope, AL 36532



Lodging




We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Fairhope-Point Clear.

It was very clean and the staff were very friendly. Great place and excellent price!

Address:

19751 S Greeno Rd, Fairhope, AL 36532




Fairhope is the perfect spot for a laid-back vacation or to stop for a while on the way to Gulfshores, Alabama,Pensacola, Destin, or Panama City. It is only about 30 miles west of Gulfshores, Alabama and about 18 miles south of Mobile, Alabama.

Happy Travels!