Friday, July 5, 2019

Things to do 'South Florida Style' = Miami-Dade version

Happy Spring-Summer ya'll!!! 

This is such a great time of the year to be in Florida...the weather has gone form somewhat mild to super hot!!!  Though summer is great here as the amount of people on the road noticeably lessens and there is always some kind of outdoor activity going on.  I know this isn't necessarily related to gardening but I thought what tha' heck let's shake it up a bit since my garden is in flux right now.  So whether you live here or are visiting, I put together a detailed list of things I think you might enjoy to get a bit of 'South Florida Style' in your system!  Some are total Florida 'must-do's', some are historical visits, some local hangs and some are just for the fun of it.  But they all will give you a totally South Florida experience like you know what you're doing and/or if you've never done it before!

I added links to some great websites giving you more information on the places I talk about.  But don't let my suggestions stop you from exploring on your own to some local-yocal-off-the-beaten-path spots...like with anything in life be mindful of your surroundings, be respectful of the environment, stay safe and enjoy.
Just a side note: I put this together myself, I'm not getting paid by anyone or endorsing anyone....just endorsing my awesome state of Florida and some great things to do here!  Keep checking back as I will be adding to it along the way.
This is my Dad, my sister, me and my brother canoeing in 1980-something.


First 'must-do' is: you must visit at least one of our beaches...
Pick one any one....Miami-Dade County is a fairly large county BUT most of the beaches are on the barrier islands in the northeast end of the county.  Sunny Isles Beach, Golden Beach, Haulover, SurfsideMiami Beach, Biscayne National Park and Key Biscayne.  This is partly due to much of the middle to lower section of the county being protected preserves and sanctuary's in order to keep the coast line a healthy ecological system.  Having our coastline full of it's native mangroves and plant life helps buffer storms/tidal surges plus it keeps the ecosystem untouched for animals, plants and waterways to continue thriving.
Mangroves in Biscayne National Park from my kayak
Here's a satellite view from the internet...you can see how much coastline is
mangroves and protected land then look at all the over development
behind it.  We need to build less and redevelop natural habitats! Just saying!


The second 'must do' here in South Florida is to visit our parks...
whether it's a state park, county park or city park, we have some great ones. Each one has it's own unique amenities, some are even aquatic parks ya'know!  Some are parks in the sea that you snorkel in!
Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables
Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay (my stomping grounds as a youngster)
Dante Fascell Park in South Miami (another one we used to frequent)
Crandon Park in Key Biscayne
Biscayne National Park in the bay
Haulover Park in North Miami
Oleta River State Park in North Miami
Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables
Kendall Indian Hammocks Park in West Kendall (aka K-town)
You can even camp at some of the parks which are usually a state or county park.
Our campsite last November...we camped with 6 of our friends' families
for Thanksgiving and it was so much fun!

Third 'must-do' is to do something salty...
like a fishing charter or kayaking or SUP (stand up paddleboard) or canoeing or rent a boat or go sailing.  Some great places to seek out fishing charter captains and/or a local guide are out of:
Black Point Marina - Capt. Mark Hall,
Matheson Hammock Marina Remix SportfishingCapt. John Emery
Coconut Grove Harbour Marina - Double Threat Charters, Hot Shot Charters, Nomad Charters, Miss Britt - Coconut Grove also has a sailing club
And many, many more in the downtown Miami and Miami Beach marina's.
Climb on board a water taxi to cruise the intracoastal waterway and see Miami from a different vantage point.
Rent kayaks to get a more personal perspective.
Visit our protect bay called Biscayne Bay with one of these trusted guides.
Oleta River State Park
Kayak rentals on Virginia Key
Kayak or SUP from Deering Estate or Chapman Park
We rented kayaks at a state park and caught (& released) some red drums!
This is us boating in the intracoastal waterways.

Fourth 'must-do' is eat at one of our old-school Florida style restaurants...
Here are my and our families fav's that we've been going to my whole life.
Starting from the ones furthest south going north...
Black Pointe Ocean Grille is a local secret.  It's a great casual place with live music located right in Black Pointe Marina right off Biscayne Bay.  Insider tip: they even cook your catch!
Shivers BBQ is an old school place down in South Dade and one of the last OG BBQ joints in So. Fla...nutin' fancy just awesome every time with a great staff!
Golden Rule Seafood in 'P-Rrine', ok it's really Perrine but that's how us kids said it.  Either way you say it, this place was a staple in our lives growing up. Delicious fresh seafood at a great price.  They now have a restaurant as part of the market & goodness it's good!  Another place that will cook it right from their seafood market for you...how fresh and delicious is that!?!
Sandbar Sports Grille in east Cutler Bay is cool local place to hang with great Florida fare!  Try their alligator tacos or their ribs or their philly cheesesteak! Not only do they have lunch specials but daily ones as well.
Captain's Tavern in Pinecrest, is another family favorite that you won't be disappointed...they also have a fish market on site.  This place is a local favorite so it's a good idea to call ahead. Try the frog legs, they're better than you might think.
Shorty's BBQ in another OG BBQ in South Miami that has been in the original location for almost 70 years!  They have multiple locations in Dade they're so you know their good!  Insider tip: there is usually a wait time at the Dadeland location, so call ahead.
Flannigan's started out as combo lounge liquor stores- smoking lounge on one side and liquor store on the other side with a pass through door into each side.  Since then they've made the lounge into restaurants and a few still have a flagship liquor stores adjacent to the restaurant.  There are multiple locations in the tri-county area and are known for their grilled chicken teriyaki sandwich & their baby-back ribs.
Greenstreet Cafe is one of the last original restaurants that's just pure deliciousness in a constantly revolving door of restaurants in Coconut Grove.  As well as The Last Carrot, a small vegetarian sandwich & juice shop still serving my favorite veggie pita on Grand Ave!
What used to be Scotty's Landing in the Coconut Grove marina is now Grove Bay Grille, same beautiful views of Biscayne Bay, with a similar menu but has elevated itself outta the dive bar status.
Rusty Pelican out on Virginia Key is another one of our family's favorites...try it and you will see for yourself how delish their food is and gorgeous the views are!  One of Miami's best places to happy hour!
Then of course to round out this food fest is Joe's Stone Crab on Miami Beach.  This is not for the faint of heart with finances so be prepared to spend some cash but you'll leave with good times and a full tummy.  Also, a good idea to call ahead for reservations because wait time can be insanely long.  Insider tip, you save a few bucks by getting some 'to-go' at their take away shop and head to South Pointe Park for a picnic.  They have tables there as well just in case it's too hot for a picnic.
The complete opposite of Joe's is the historic Blue Marlin Fish House in the Oleta River State Park for some super casual fare, delicious smoked fish dip and fresh fish dishes! Easy on the wallet too!

Or visit one of our 'dive' bars... 
around town for some tall tales, unique local folks and a nice cold one!  We got lots of the above!
Peg's Pocket is an off the beaten path pool hall tucked away in the pocket of a strip mall which backs up to my old neighborhood of Palmetto Bay. This place is still around and lots of no frills fun!
This picture was taken at one of my brothers' birthday parties at Peg's Pocket
sometime in 1980-something. That's me in the white shirt just in cast ya
wanna know, hee hee.
Keg South is a small joint that has withstood the test of time; even Hurricane Andrew tried with all its might.  The Keg South sign ended up in our neighbors pool after H. Andrew blew threw in 1992 and we lived about 5 miles away from Keg South!  Still known to this day for their infamous burgers and brews.
Hole in the Wall Pub actually is a cool place with great food, it used to be kinda divey but now it's totally a local secret with delicious food cause its such a great place to keep coming back to.  So you're welcome ;)
Club Deuce is just the best! We were Deucie's in the early to mid 1990's when Miami Beach was just called "The Beach", it was the epitome of grunge in So. Fla. and most places were cheap rent with lots of live music venues and art shows.  Now it's super expensive and super high end but "the Deuce" is still there and hopefully stays there for a long time to come!
Little Hoolie's was a spinoff from another local hangout called Hooligan's (which isn't around anymore) but is a more casual sports bar/bar food version of it.  It's a place where all of us locals would come hang out when college was out and/or when you came home for a visit to catch up with friends also in town.  It's still like that today but not so krusty but, lol.

The rest is a general list BUT seriously...you gotta check just one off at a time...no rush...sit back, relax and enjoy.

Ok let's get Down in Dade! County that is...let's do this!

Let us start in the heart of Miami-Dade County by taking a drive through the lush verdant streets of Coral Gables on your way out to the Everglades.

While you are in Coral Gables, you may want to stop in at The Biltmore hotel for either a round of golf, indulge in one of their spa packages, have a delicious Sunday brunch and/or just site see this beautiful historic hotel.

Rent or bring bicycles at Shark Valley in the middle of the Everglades to see alligators, birds, butterflies and diverse wildlife.

While you are out there you can visit Everglades City and go kayaking, hiking, boating or fishing.

Go on an exciting air boat ride out in the Everglades at the Miccosukee Indian Village then watch the professionals "wrestle" alligators, definitely don't try this on your own.  The Miccosukee Tribe is trained and it's actually more of respectful  choreograph movements between the gator and handler, uhm still dangerous yeah so do not do this at all!  While you are on their reservation, take some time to learn about the Tribe's history and talk to some of the Miccosukee Tribe members to hear their stories and perspectives. You'd be glad you did, we need to support our Native American cultures!

On your way back, either jog north to visit the heart of Hialeah to stroll down Calle Ocho, aka 8th Street.  Or head south to visit Homestead/The Redlands area.

If you turned north to Hialeah, you must try at least one or more of these delicious latin flavors empanadas, cortadito coffee, guava & cheese pastries, lechon asado, croquetas, media noche sandwich and/or cuban sandwich.  Versailles Cuban Bakery is an iconic place to go but there are so many delicious Cuban restaurants to visit you can't go wrong.

If you turned south or went east from the Everglades then driving into Homestead/The Redlands area to sink your sweet tooth into Knaus Berry Farms infamously de-LISH-ous cinnamon rolls and drink their milkshakes at (fyi. they're seasonal so check before you go since they're closed in the hot summer month and it's cash only).  You can also pick strawberries and tomatoes here and buy fresh vegetables.

While you are in The Redlands, don't be scared to stop along the way and sample all kinds of roadside foods along Krome Avenue, buy a chicken or goat or bring home some orchids or plants.

Redland Fruit and Spice Park always has some cool event or festival happening.  Spring and Summer months are a perfect time to visit because you can taste all of the edible fruit in the park as long as it has fallen on the ground (no picking from the trees so others can enjoy too).  Make sure you read the park rules because it's important to know before you go.  And always a good idea to bring water, hat and sunscreen since our summers can be extremely hot with intense sun.

For the adventurous shoppers, this is one of our local places with serious charisma, Redlands Market Village, a combination flea market and farmers market and sooooo much fun!  It's on Dixie Highway either on your way back to the north county or on your way down south to The Florida Keys.

Zoo Miami is a really cool place to experience an outdoor activity with the kids especially if ya'll are physically active.  Side note: is it's all outdoors so you could have full sun and/or rain to deal with and there is lots of walking.  Although you can rent a bicycle type of golf cart to get around.  Good idea to bring umbrellas you can use for sun or rain, sunscreen and hats.
Circa 2011 when we ran/walked Zoo Miami's annual walk for the animals.
I took this picture in 1988-89 at Zoo Miami

Great places we love to stop along the way for tantalizingly delicious quick bites:
-Gotta check out Flava's in Perrine...delicious soul food with Caribbean flair!
-Meet "Ms. Babe Froman" (fyi not her real name lol) at her amazing butcher shop Babe's Meat & Counter on US1 in Palmetto Bay known for her sausage & meats.
-North of Babe's on US1 is Kings Bay strip mall where two great places are, House of Bagels are my fav bagels...my 'go-to' for lunch in high school was to race here for an egg bagel toasted with lox cream cheese and a diet coke, then head back to school. Oh take me back!
-And next door is Delices of France is a French bakery and OMG good!
-Just a few buildings north of Kings Bay still on US1 is the The Butcher Shop known for their Cuban cafeteria style food and butcher shop.
-Keep heading north on US1 for some delicious Greek food at The Daily Bread, we used to pick up fresh baked breads, falafels, spanakopitas.
Now you know some local hot spots too...you're in the know now!

Cool down on a hot day with a swim in Miami's famous landmarks, Venetian Pool, an old rock quarry turned public pool which is fed by a natural underground spring in the heart of Coral Gables.

Check out the old Parrot Jungle which is now called Pinecrest Gardens, they also have a rockin' Green Market every Sunday with ah-mazing BBQ guys, kettle corn, my favorite Jamaican ginger sorrel slushie (look for the smiling dancing Jamaican), Zak the baker, poke bowls, plant people galore and so much more.

Vizcaya Gardens  and Matheson Hammock Park are two gorgeous places in east Coral Gables to visit with spectacular views of Biscayne Bay.

If you visit the Coconut Grove area drive through the beautiful streets full of tree canopy, gorgeous landscapes and incredible houses along Old Culter Road.


From Coconut Grove, head north along Bayshore Drive to take a trip east across the Rickenbacker Causeway to visit some really unique places on the many Keys out there. You can access the Keys either by bike or by car.  For the more bohemian adventurer try Hobie Beach which is litereally just a stretch of sand connecting the mainland to the Keys that we turned into a "quasi-beach".  You can try your hand at windsurfing or stand up paddleboarding. Take some Instagram pictures at the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key.   Bike around historic Virginia Key Beach or rent kayaks at Virginia Key Outdoor Center.  Still feeling adventurous, jump back on the causeway and head out to Key Biscayne Crandon Beach to sun your bum at the nudist beach.  There's no sign you just have to ask around but it's on the north side of Crandon Beach.

Not getting that tingling feeling of adventure...probably partly due to that party hang over or just wanna chill, then stop to check out historic Virginia Beach park while you are winding your way through to the Village of Key Biscayne.  On your drive, slow your roll and enjoy the lush verdant surroundings.  The north end of Crandon Beach has some beautiful massive parks with lots of nature trails to walk through that can lead you to the beach; very au natural, wink wink nudge nudge.  Maybe have a BBQ picnic at Crandon Beach then walk over to one of Miami's best kept secrets...what used to be the old Crandon Zoo was miraculously saved and turned into a quiet yet gorgeous park you can walk through.  Amazingly many of the animals still live there on their own accord.  Though be respectful and look at the animals please do not harass or touch them.  No one wants to ruin a good thing and I told you a secret, sooooo you gotta represent goodness yeah!  Keep going south to the end of the key and you will drive right into Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.  There is an entrance fee but it has a disappearing sinkhole, historic lighthouse, beautiful beaches, a cafe and grille, Robin's birding trail, biking, fishing and a harbor with no name.
If you wanna get fancy and dine at some posh places then Key Biscayne has some serious delicious fares to find.

On your way to Miami Beach via MacArthur Causeway, stop in at one or both of these awesome places for the kids, Jungle Island which used to be Parrot Jungle and the spectacular Frost Science Museum which recently opened.
My handsome Dad at Parrot Jungle circa 1969?


Of course Miami Beach is Miami Beach but on steroids, not the same as it was when we hung out there in the 1990's & early 2000's.  Honestly it's not for everyone but is good to experience nonetheless.  Insider tip, bring lots of patience, remember it is an island so there isn't much parking, the streets are usually one lane and usually one way, people jaywalk across streets all over the place so go slow.  Also you will be towed lickity split and/or ticketed if you park anywhere but designated parking locations and that is a huge expensive bummer to your day.  So don't be surprised what you will pay for parking, just shut up and pay it cause it's cheaper than hocking your car from the tow truck compound, especially if you don't speak Spanish or some version of it.  Oh yeah don't park in someone's made up parking lot telling you can park there for cheap, chances are they are just making a quick buck.  But go have fun, enjoy Miami Beach before it disappears under water, lol, no seriously just check it out, it's an experience.
Boating South Florida's waterways

Wow, looks like you did make it to Miami Beach, well while you are here...
get your groove on salsa dancing at Mango's Tropical Cafe;
take a nice stroll down Lincoln Road to people watch, eat & shop;
grab some to-go at Joe's Stone Crab take-away or make a reservation for a sit down meal there (don't forget to say hi to Joe);
watch the cruise ships while walking through South Pointe Park;
be a patron of the arts by experiencing all the splendid galleries and museums; visit one of the many Miami Beach iconic hotels like The Palms (my sister had her wedding there), The Delano, Eden Roc or The Fountainebleu;
you can be posh for a day while dining at some world renown restaurants;
and yes Miami Beach has a botanical garden so go see it!

There is always an art walk, street fair or outdoor event to be a part of!

Back on mainland and heading to the north of the county, you can check out the new section of downtown Miami called Wynwood that borders historic Overtown.  This area now a trendy hot spot called Wynwood, was run down and derelict like other parts of the downtown but is now expensive and gentrified.  Overtown (a historically black neighborhood with so much amazing history) still houses the original Miamians who are still poor, still struggling and are still in need of major help.  In my opinion the city pretty much glossed their eyes right over Inner City Miami to focus on big building, tourism and other BS which is ultimately pushing the people in these neighborhoods right out with no where to go.   To create places like Wynwood and the downtown high-rises, others end up sacrificing.  Don't let me stop you from getting your Instagram face on in front of the trendy "Wynwood Walls."  Though while you are in the area please visit the surrounding local shops in Overtown, Liberty City, Brownsville, Model City, Little River, Lemon City, Allapattah, Little Haiti and help support local businesses.  Help keep the local people in their homes and support a balanced fair place to live by understanding what is actually going on in their lives.  So now you are woke to what's happening in the downtown 305...you're welcome! ;)   There are so many amazing  people to meet, restaurants to eat at, boutiques to shop at, salons to get gorgeous at and places to visit in these areas so please don't skip out on it or you'll miss out on a true OG Miami experience.
South Florida sunsets are always spectacular!

Ok, so once you've experienced some of the downtown areas, head a skip-n-a-beat northwest to see some amazing revitalization along the historic Miami River and packing district.  Stop for a break at Sewell Park or Lumus Park Historic District.  Or eat at one of the delicious fancy restaurants along the river for a true Miami experience like Casablanca or  Kiki's .  If that's not your style, keep heading NW along NW North River Drive (NW 20th Street) to El Palacio de los Jugos (AKA. Juice Palace) for some authentic Cuban food and fresh made juices, a Miami favorite!  Or dip south of the river to go to La Camaronera, a family run Cuban seafood place, delish!
South Florida natural area with saw palmettto & sabal palms, pine trees and oak trees.

With your belly sated, your heart happy and your spirit full of Miami soul you are either going to head to Miami International Airport to fly back to your home sweet home if visiting or take a short drive back to your casa if local.   Either direction you head, thank you very much to hanging out with me in Miami-Dade County ya'll...hope you come back to visit the next three counties on the list of travel...Monroe County to the south while Broward and West Palm Beach Counties are to the north.  Come on an adventure with me cause I know you'll have lots to talk about and experiences to share!  As always a few tips when traveling: be nice to others, pick up trash when you see it (keep our planet clean), talk to locals about their lives (sometimes you get great local recommendations), look out for wildlife, have fun, be patient and be safe.
My niece & nephew say, "sad to see you go but excited to see you next time!"
Happy Gardening my lovelies and enjoy your weekend!
Best Wishes,
Sheri B.
xoxo

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ground Covers South Florida Style v.4

Hi Ya'll how's everything going with you!?!  So glad you stopped by, cause today I thought we'd discuss some really neat ground covers.  As a landscaper (designer and installer) and as someone who also does the maintenance in many of our completed projects, I get hands on knowledge as to what species grow best in what locations and what type of environments.

South Florida tropical style pool side at one of our favorite clients home.

South Florida is home to many different ecosystems with lots of smaller niche natural habitats.  What!?! you say, no way...isn't it just palms, beaches and traffic?  Just kidding on the traffic, it's not an ecosystem...hmmm or is it???  It may not seem like it because much of our native ecosystems don't exist anymore.  Much of it due to city developers allowing for much of it to be destroyed for another strip mall or apartment complex we absolutely don't need BUT what still exists is the footprint of the natural habitat that was originally there.

Look how beautiful our natural Florida is!

Here's what all this means...if your garden is close to the beach (east of or a bit west of Federal Highway) then your soil is probably pure sugar sand and/or silica sand maybe with coral rocks if you're on the rock ledge east of the beach. Or if you are west of the turnpike then you would have really rich dark organic muck for soil because the everglades swamp was there long before your house was.  I've even heard of trash dumps existing on a plot of land prior to a housing development being built. So it's always a good idea to do a little research as to what your soil consists of and/or get a soil test done.  Plus take a look at what type of ecosystem was there before your house was built.  It could be one or more of the following of these basic regional descriptions: scrub land, beach dune/coastal berm, tidal flooding, variety of hammocks, slough/swamp/marsh or grasslands/dry prairie.  If you would like to get more detailed information, visit The Institute for Regional Conservation's website.  With a little information you will be informed with knowing what plants will grow the best in your area whether they are Florida natives or tropical varieties.

Gorgeous South Florida, au natural!

Today is all about ground covers that grow well South Florida Style...
Any questions?   Hand raise...Yes, what's the question?
Question: what is a ground cover plant?  Ahhhh good question!
Answer: any plant that grows relatively close to the ground and grows over an area of soil to keep the soil and moisture contained in that area.  Ground covers are a great help to control soil erosion and drought, especially on hilly or elevated plant beds.

Here's some of ma'fav's!!!
Started alphabetically...I know, I know...sooooo OCD, lol ;)

The alternanthera family has lots of varieties to choose from.  One of the best part about these plants is they're brightly colored plus they super easy maintenance, take full sun to part shade and not expensive.  They range from 6 - 24 inches high, some will be low mounding while some are more of a small shrub habit. Some popular varieties are: 'little ruby', 'red threads', 'Brazilian red hot', 'yellow threads', 'snowball' and 'red carpet'.
At my Dad's house I used alternanthera 'Brazilian
red hot' with 'yellow threads' and variegated liriope in back.
Alternanthera 'snowball'
Alternanthera 'red carpet'...looks like a rainbow!
Here I used alternanthera 'little ruby' with bougainvillea 'pixie queen'

I have found that as beautiful as ajugas are, they can be picky about their placement, but when they're happy it's an incredibly gorgeous super low maintenance ground cover.  They are about 6-10 inches high with a sprawling carpet like look.  Some popular varieties are: 'bronze beauty', 'mint chocolate chip', 'burgundy glow' and 'golden glow'.
This is ajuga 'mint chocolate chip' with violet flower spikes
Variegated ajuga


This is a secret gem I like to use in shady moist areas, the Australian trailing violet (viola hederacea).  This is a true trail blazer...it will trail all over the place with its verdant leaves and small white and purple violet looking flower.  It's dainty to the touch but don't let that fool you, it's a hardy grower.  Trailing violet can take some full sun but not drought tolerant.  Grows up to 4-5 inches high.
Talk about those trails...am I right!?!

Baby sunrose (aptenia cordifolia) can be also called 'ice plant' though it's alot like a creeping succulent.  It loves muy caliente (very hot) weather, it's like it thrives it the heat.  A little water, full sun and super hot weather and by gosh you've got yourself one heck of a beautiful plant!  I love using this in rocked areas to soften the look.  It's about 3-4 inches high.  There are two colors: magenta flower, sherbet orange flower and a variegated leaf with magenta flower.
Baby sunrose
At this clients home I used lots of baby sunrose as a ground cover to soften
the gigantic amount of rock they have.
Here is another view of the baby sunrose I
used to soften the large areas of rock. 


This trailing beauty, the beach sunflower (helianthus debilis), is perfect if you need lots of square footage to cover fast and/or if you are beach side with a sand dune that needs planting.  You can watch the flowers follow the sun throughout the day.  Super drought/salt/wind tolerant, a fast grower (will need regular maintenance to keep in check and is known to irritate sensitive skin), needs full sun, will reseed and air layer itself all over the place and that's pretty much it.  Though this is another one that can decline in health if over watered.  Grows about 18-24 inches high.
Beach sunflower or sometimes called dune sunflower


Blue daze (evolvulus glomerata), blue dazzzeeee, on my mindddddd...ok sounds like a song but it's one of the neatest ground covers around.  And when I say neat, I mean really neat.  It doesn't drop leaves, grows in a super tight mound, it never stops flowering but you never see them drop (it's magick). Grows in full sun and can take some shade.  Blue daze will grow to be about 12-18/20 inches high and loves to spread by air layer itself.
Blue daze
Blue daze
Look how pretty blue daze looks with the bright pink purslane/portulaca.


This brilliant plant is bulbine (bulbine frutescens), you just can't go wrong having bulbine in your garden.  It's brightly colored flowers rise above the gorgeous green finger-like projections which never seem to quit blooming.  Thrives on our full sun, hot humid and/or hot dry weather conditions, almost no maintenance required...whhhhhaat!?! Yup!   Bulbine grows in a clumping habit and can over time occupy up to four square feet of space.  This succulent grows about 12-14 inches high while the flowers can reach twice that height.  Some popular cultivars are: 'marmalade'with orange and yellow flowers, 'pure orange' and 'pure bright yellow'.
At this clients home I used 'marmalade' bulbine with agave attenuata
Bulbine 'yellow'


Coral creeper (baleria repends) is a superb choice if you have lots of square footage to cover on a budget.  As it's name implies it will wind it's way through the space eventually creating a nice thick ground cover with pretty flowers.  And as all creepers go, it'll need maintenance to control it's growing habit as it can grow right over other plants and walkways.  Coral creeper grows in full sun to part shade, gets between 12-24 inches high.  There is a coral color flower and a pink flower.
Coral creeper


This species is catching fire in the landscape world, it's the giant leopard plant (farfugium japonicum).  Such a cool specimen to have in your landscape, one that most people won't have....cause your the coolest on the block, yeah!  Layers of deep green glossy round leaves that slightly curve under give the leopard plant such rich texture in the garden.  When it's happy, the leopard plant will raise its bright yellow flower heads saying hello.   Prefers to grow in part shade/part sun and will burn in full sun.  Needs to have consistent watering in well draining soil during our dry season but during the rainy season irrigation usually isn't necessary.   Doesn't do well in constantly wet soil.  Grows to about 24-36 inches high.
Here I used the farfugium as textural break in the palm action...very tropical!
Giant leopard plant...farfugium japonicum
Love how the leopard plant is used here with calatheas and cannas


Oh gosh what to say about ferns that you don't probably already know, geez ferns are such great additions in any garden.  Variety of big, little, full sun growers, shade lovers, you name it and it grows here (even invasive species).  Ferns are a little bigger than the technical definition of a ground cover but I consider them a great ground cover cause they love to explore the space where they're planted. There are so many to choose from here in South Florida like, wart ferns, native sword ferns, autumn fern, holly ferns, maidenhair ferns, bird's nest ferns, cinnamon fern, swamp fern, southern shield fern, leather ferns and fishtail fern.  Just please stay away from invasive ferns that can quickly take over the native habitats. Gosh looks like I need to do a post on ferns!
Ferns with bamboo ginger
Autumn ferns


So this plant is one of my favorite natives that gets little street cred'...meet the golden creeper (ernodea littoralis).  That's right, this plant is a gangster grower here in So. Fla but no one pays any attention...are you trying to give it a complex or what!?!  Another creeper type grower that can take over a space pretty quickly and ramble over other plants and hardscapes so will need maintenance if desired.  But it's gorgeous dragon's eye green color is a brilliant show stopper and can actually be trimmed tight as a small hedge line.  Grows about 12-24 inches high in full sun, salt and drought tolerant (actually doesn't do well with too much water).
I took this picture in Pompano Beach, here the city used
golden creeper as the perfect median plant. How gorgeous!
Golden creeper in a Pompano Beach median


I'm sure you have seen green island ficus (ficus microcarpa) everywhere in South Florida, like everywhere...almost to the point of being overused...nurseries can't keep this slowish grower in stock people use it so much. It's pricier than most ground covers but is an extremely long living evergreen plant.  I have come to tolerate green island ficus since it serves certain purposes in a landscape.  Namely, once it's grown in, green island ficus is excellent as a natural retaining wall to keep soil and mulch in place.  Easy to maintain as a sprawling ground cover or trim it as a small ground cover hedge. Grows in full sun to part shade, tends to drop leaves with too much water and watch out for the milky sap that oozes out of the stems when cut.  It's extremely sticky, could irritate sensitive skin and stains your clothes.  Grown as a ground cover you will want to keep it in the 8-10 inches up to 18 inches high range.
At this Ft. Lauderdale clients home I used the green island ficus around the
carpoxylon palms along with dwarf mondo grass in the center.  Gorgeous!
Green island ficus


This is another sure fire ground cover plant...meet the ground orchid (spathoglottis).  This beauty is similar to the bulbine, it has a clumping "grass" like base with a beautiful deep green color while the flowers rise above and sway in the wind.  The ground orchid blooms all throughout the year. They can grow in full sun but do better with part sun/part shade conditions.  I have found they can be fairly drought tolerant in shadier areas but do need some consistent irrigation in full sun.  Depending on the cultivar they grow between 12-26 inches high with the flower spikes usually double that height.  Some popular varieties are: plicata, 'sprinkles', 'mellow yellow', 'tropical punch', 'grapette', 'yellow', 'berry banana', 'white angel', 'cabaret' and 'plum passion'.
Ground orchid - spathoglottis 'mellow yellow'
Ground orchid - spathoglottis 'grapette'
This is one of our clients landscapes we did where I used the
'mellow yellow' ground orchid.

Of course you cannot go wrong with adding edibles in your landscape...try using herbs like mint and thyme along a walkway between stepping stones or in a hard to grow area like where the drip spout from your A/C unit is....mint with thrive there!  I've even used herbs like parsley and chives as a border edging in landscapes....how cool is that!?!  Depending on where you live depends on which ones will grow the best for your area, for just a few bucks a piece try them all: parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil, bee balm, chives, catnip, cilantro, culantro, lemon balm, sage, sweet marjoram, lemon verbena, nasturtium and tarragon to name a few.
I incorporated a vegetable & herb garden along with an
orchard into this Boca Raton clients home. 

The ice plant or pigface (carpobrotus) is a coastal succulent extremely adapted to hot, dry, salty, windy climates.  It's a relatively unknown plant here in Florida but is gaining attention of landscapers in The Keys.  This plant has been known to do well in certain test areas here in South Florida but genetically the species likes a cooler California climate.  The hybrids seem to handle the Florida climate much better.  Ice plant is a perfect creeping plant for rock gardens, beach dunes, hanging baskets and xeriscaping.  Grows up to 4-6 inches high depending on the cultivar; the one most common to find for sale in South Florida has magenta flowers with conical spear like leaves.
Ice plant
Ice plant

Many of you know my dislike for jasmine minima as a ground cover.  In case you didn't...I think it's ridiculous to have an aggressive growing twirly vine as a ground cover, plus my lower back would agree!  But there are those that like to use it so I'll put it in as a ground cover, leaving my bias out of it, lol ;)  It's alot of work to keep it contained, it will take over everything if not.  Be advised that it has milky sap that's extremely sticky and drips out when cut, it'll stain your clothes and if even if you don't have sensitive skin it's a good idea to wear long sleeves when trimming or else your skin will be covered in sticky sap that's really hard to get off once dry.  It does have a lovely white flower that smells delicious but because it's being constantly trimmed to keep it a ground cover it might not ever bloom.

Last up is an all time Florida favorite, lantana, a sprawling blooming beauty with unique scent to boot.  There are lots of hybrid varieties but only one with a golden flower that is native (lantana depressa) so please make sure to buy lantana from a reputable seller.  Though no one will be mad at ya' if you fall succumb to the gorgeous varieties available...disappointed but not mad ;)  It grows about 18-24 inches high.  Grows in full sun and drought tolerant.
Lantana depressa


As porky pig say's "that's all folks!"  We will leave it here for today don't want ya gettin' bored on me now.  The next post will be another round of ground covers with much more info for your minds to consume.  Sending you lots of good wishes and hope to see you soon!

Thanks so much and Happy Gardening Ya'll!
Sheri B.
xoxo