Snowbird Gardener Inspiration – Vacation to Sunny Florida!


What does a snowbound northerner crave after a brutal winter? GARDENS!

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit the fabulous Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida during spring break for several winters. Many of the tropical plants grown at this garden inspire my gardens in Maine in the summer time. Here are a few of the plants that got my attention this year.


Caladiums – Who needs flowers with leaves like this? I’ve had good luck growing them in Maine as long as I give them a head start in the house. They detest cold soils and may fail to sprout if planted directly in the ground in spring.


Staghorn Ferns make fabulous houseplants. Several of my friends grow them in Maine.


I’ve grown plenty of Alocasia in my garden in the summer but I’ll be looking for this very different one. I love the white markings. Envy!! I start these in a warm area in the house to give them a head start.

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants will become a conversation piece houseplant.
(Nepenthes sp.)

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants love the warm greenhouse at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden.

Tropical pitcher plants

Tropical pitcher plants.

Australian Tree Fern

I have a love affair with fern leaves. This Australian Tree Fern towered over me – beautiful, lacy, sculptural leaves. I’ve got to try it as a houseplant.


The Marie Selby Botanical Garden is know for its world-class orchid collection.


This tropical orchid is related to the beautiful lady slippers that grow in northern areas.

For more information about growing these beautiful tropical plants go to the Marie Selby Botanical Garden website:

I highly recommend a vacation to a warmer area – for gardening inspiration and to recharge your creative energy. When I return to Maine, I’ll be ready to put my hands in the dirt and start my gardening. My suitcase will certainly have room for a few “green travelers” from Florida! (An Australian Tree Fern, perhaps?)

The Benefit of Snow – YOU CAN GROW THAT!

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It’s been a particularly snowy winter in Maine. Skiers and snowmobilers have been ecstatic with the accumulation of the white stuff… but gardeners only measure how much snow has to melt before we see the ground.

On the positive side:
Snow can make a plain little table into a piece of art!


Birds like snow art too!


Snow insulates the soil, buffers the extremes in temperature and protects all my dormant plants.

Snow gives you a different perspective on your garden.


I’ll have to be content to look outside through these windows…


..with my houseplants, patiently awaiting Spring.

October in a Maine Garden

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There’s still lots of color to be found in my Orono, Maine garden.

Hydrangea 'Strawberry Vanilla'

Hydrangea ‘Strawberry Vanilla’ – Pure white in summer and brilliant pink by fall.

Castor Bean Pods

Beautiful castor bean pods (Ricinus communis) command attention but beware, they’re poisonous


Spirea japonica ‘Firelight’ displays a remarkable mixture of pink, gold, orange and red.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ blooms and blooms and …

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis volunteers throughout my garden

Delphinium Envy

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I’ve had Delphinium envy for a long time.
This year it’s particularly intense.

Betty's pale blue delphinium

Betty’s pale blue delphinium

I’ve been coveting my neighbor’s tall blue spikes for weeks.
They’re poking up all over her garden.

Betty's dark blue delphinium

Betty’s dark blue delphinium

I can see why the centers are called bees.

Delphinium bees

Delphinium bees

I’m so glad that my very good friend and neighbor is a gardener.
I can borrow the view across the street.

Next year I will have delphiniums!!

Spring Break

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I  had the good fortune of going to Florida this winter. What does a gardener do when they’re on vacation? You guessed it – get some gardening inspiration.

I took a few Florida Master Gardener classes and learned that gardeners in Florida deal with many of the same things we do in Maine – weeding, watering and maintenance. They have examples of fabulous landscapes and many, many landscapes that consist mainly of plants shaped by people with power tools (boring).

Anthurium veitchii

Anthurium veitchii

I visited the Marie Selby Botanical Garden again.

Clerodendrum quadriloculare 'Brandon'

Clerodendrum quadriloculare ‘Brandon’

It never fails to awe me.

Dendrobium smillieae

Dendrobium smillieae

There’s a greenhouse filled with orchids and lush tropical plants; I love the bamboo;



the koi fish pond



and of course, the banyon tree.



I had the pleasure of attending garden club meetings in North Port as well as Punta Gorda. A highlight of my trip was visiting the garden of Gordon Bower who is a palm tree collector.



I never knew there were so many.

Florida, I’ll be back!

Meet the Family

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Let me introduce my family…

My husband, Steven, had no idea what awaited him when he married me – a person who was happiest, outside in a garden.

Steven Colburn

Steven is chief berry picker

He was a man whose idea of gardening was using power tools to shape vegetation (lawns and shrubs).  Period. He has adapted well. He can now identify some plants and knows enough to react with enthusiasm when I expound upon an amazing horticultural find.

Erik and Sarah

Erik and Sarah

My son, Erik Myers and his wife Sarah Ficke live in Durham, North Carolina. They own a brewery called Mystery Brewing Company  in Hillsborough, NC. Sarah is an Assistant Professor of Literature and Languages at Mary Mount University in Arlington, VA.

This is Miss Nancy.

Miss Nancy

Miss Nancy

She was adopted from the local animal orphanage about 8 years ago.  She’s totally aware that she’s beautiful.

Our newest addition is Pitou, who came to live with us after my parents moved into an assistant living facility. She’s 10 years old.